Best Food Dehydrators
An electric food dehydrator can be a convenient and healthy way to make dried snacks at home, for school lunchboxes, camping, or to save extra fruit and veg from your summer home harvest. Knowing how to select a dehydrator that's right for you doesn't have to involve guesswork.
Available with either 6, 8 or 10 trays, the Biochef Arizona successfully dehydrates a wide range of foods, including fruits and veggies, meat and herbs. It also lets you prove dough and yoghurt, and even create dried flowers and clay art.
Dries food evenly
Makes delicious food
Good value if dehydrating frequently
- Build Quality4.5 (6)
- Value for Money4.3 (6)
- Ease of Use4.8 (6)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 4.8 (6)
- Noise Level4.7 (6)
The Ezi Dri Snackmaker Drier allows you to dehydrate fruit, meat, vegetables, herbs and flowers. The set-and-forget function allows you to leave food to dry overnight, and wake up to delicious snacks.
Great for dried fruits and veg
Can dry foods overnight
- Build Quality3.0 (3)
- Value for Money2.7 (3)
- Ease of Use3.7 (3)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 3.0 (3)
- Noise Level3.0 (3)
The $129 Kmart 3-in-1 Air Fryer is a multi-purpose kitchen appliance, serving as an air fryer, oven and dehydrator.
Multi-functional cooking appliance
Doesn't always function smoothly
- Build Quality3.4 (41)
- Value for Money3.5 (43)
- Ease of Use4.0 (43)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 4.1 (43)
- Noise Level3.4 (41)
- Power1,800 W
- Temperature Range65℃ to 100℃
- Dimensions 370 x 350 x 335 mm
This $139 vertical food dehydrator from Sunbeam is designed to make healthy, preservative-free snacks at home, including dried fruits, muesli, vegetables and beef jerky.
This horizontal dehydrator features a dual-airflow fan for powerful dehydrating. Two separate drying compartments let you choose between using the whole dehydrator or just half of it, depending on how much food you’re drying.
Latest review: My 6 tray dehydrator gets a real workout as I effortlessly make fruit and vege snack while I sleep The timer allows me to start dehydrating at night and waking up to 6 different natural healthy
Latest review: My Ezidry dehydrator is by far the best I have used. It holds up to 30 trays (although I only have 21) and dries my mangoes within 24 hours - depending on the humidity factor (we are in North
Latest review: Have only used it so far to dry my Chilies and it did a great job. Took two days, which was a lot longer than the instructions suggested but it was filled chokka with chillies. They turned out very
Latest review: I was looking around for a dehydrator and stumbled upon sprout, what good luck , Nathan gave the best price and 5 days later we have a great unit ready to use . it was tracked all the way from Qld to
Latest review: Compact kitchen-friendly design. It sits easily on the bench and is barely audible when in use. And even on the hottest of days, any increase in the ambient room temperature from the dehydrator in
Latest review: Super easy to use and works brilliantly! My wife, 3 year old son and I have enjoyed finding all sorts of things to try dehydrating in it, my favourite is the jerky and my sons favourites are all
Latest review: Love this dehydrator and the service from Raw Blend! It's compact enough to have in the kitchen, has 11 trays so I can do a nice batch of crackers, chips,treats, or fruit leathers. The trays have a
Latest review: Great service from Echolife and Zesty by Nature, Instructions were very easy to understand. Food dehydrated well and within specified times. Very happy with my appliance. I was able to dry tomatoes,
Latest review: Since date of purchase some 14 months ago I have used the devanti 6 tray food dryer only 7 times and it no longer works. I contacted Devanti to discuss a repair or replacement and they said as it is
Latest review: My first dehydrator, and zero regrets purchasing this one. I've used it to create beef and chicken jerky so far, and will soon start drying fruits as well. The jerky turns out perfect and super
Latest review: Product bought 7months ago to dehydrate chicken necks all ok with that but the plastic tiers have all but 2 cracked and disintergrated even the the lid is cracked ...I guess you get what u pay
What is a food dehydrator used for?
Food dehydrators, also called food dryers, are electric appliances that you can use to dry out food at home. Depending on the dehydrator type, the units can look like a large metal box or a smaller plastic cylinder.
All dehydrators contain a heating element, a fan to circulate the hot air around food, removing moisture inside it, a ventilation system to allow steam to escape, and stacked trays on which the food is placed.
A food dehydrator can be used for the below purposes.
Making healthy snacks
This includes favourites made from dehydrated fruits, like fruit roll-ups and banana chips, as well as apples, apricots and raisins. If you’ve ever munched on a bag of dried veggie chips from the shops, you’ll know that these are pretty tasty, too.
Dried fruits and veg offer a handy addition to kid’s lunchboxes, and the big kids’ briefcases when heading out to work. Since drying food intensifies flavours, you might find that even if you're not much a fan of fresh fruits and vegetables, you enjoy the taste of dried ones.
You can also make meat in a dehydrator, including dried snacks such as the ever-popular beef jerky.
Baking and cooking
Food dehydrators can help prepare ingredients for a variety of sweet and savoury dishes. For example, for breakfast, you can prepare yoghurt, proof bread, and make granola in a dehydrator.
For savoury dishes, you can make meat-based foods like biltong for a stew, or dried beef. Meanwhile, dehydrating herbs in bulk allows you to use them in future, without compromising on freshness.
For baked goods, a dehydrator allows you to dry out lemon and orange peels to add to cake batters.
Saving excess produce
If you’ve got a bit of green thumb and your garden has yielded plenty of produce at the end of the season, it can be a shame to watch it go to waste.
A food dehydrator lets you save any extra fruit and veg you can’t eat straight away. This is because drying foods extends their shelf life. When properly dehydrated and stored, dehydrated produce won’t become spoiled, as bacteria can’t grow when deprived of moisture. To extend the life of produce even more, you can store them inside a .
For bringing on the trail
Dehydrated food is often a popular choice among campers and trampers (long-distance hikers) because it’s light and compact. It doesn’t take up much space in a backpack, especially compared to fresh food, and can be easier than packing cooking gear and the associated food supplies.
You can take snacks such as dried fruits and nuts for munching on during walking breaks, or meals that you can later re-hydrate, such as dehydrated hummus.
Is it healthy to eat dehydrated food?
- Food won’t rot or become spoiled as microorganisms like bacteria and fungi need water to grow, which is something that dehydrated foods lack.
- Naturally preserves food as dehydrated food doesn’t require the addition of preservatives like sugar, brine or sulphites to inhibit bacterial growth.
- Loss of some vitamins and minerals such as heat-sensitive Vitamin A and C, and minerals like niacin and thiamin. These nutrients can be reduced or lost altogether. If blanching your foods first - which is often recommended to preserve flavour and colour - this can also deplete B-complex vitamins.
- Higher calorie count than their fresh food versions. For example, 100 grams of dried apricots contain around 260 calories - over 4 times the amount found in 100 grams of fresh apricots, which is 51 calories.
- Doesn’t kill bacteria and parasites in raw meat such as Salmonella and E.Coli, which can cause severe illness. If you're using a dehydrator for beef jerky and other meats, heat meat to 70 degrees Celsius before beginning the dehydrating process for food safety reasons. Once you’re ready to dehydrate, also set the temperature to at least 70 degrees Celsius.
How long does it take to dehydrate food in a dehydrator?
Dehydrating food can take anywhere between 2.5 hours and 16 hours.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a more accurate dehydrating time. While the manufacturer often states what drying times are for different foods, this can be trickier to predict in practice.
Drying times depend on the heating efficiency of your chosen dehydrator, as well as variables unique to each batch, such as the food type, food quantity, moisture content in food, the existing room temperature and level of humidity in the air.
For example, all of the following factors will increase the dehydrating time: choosing a food that’s high in water content to begin with, adding it to the dehydrator in high quantities, and on a humid day.
This is the texture of foods when they’ve properly dried: Dried vegetables should be brittle or leathery, dried fruit may be a little sticky, and meat should be leathery dry. As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to overdry than underdry. If you’re unsure, seal food in a ziplock bag - if drops of water form, food hasn’t properly dried yet.
Types of Food Dehydrators
Horizontal food dehydrators
Horizontal food dehydrators (pictured above, left) have a system of airflow that blows across food, heating it from above and below. This is considered an efficient and effective method of heat distribution for dehydrating foods.
They look a bit like large metal boxes in appearance, sharing a similar design to . They have metal trays that slide into the unit, and a build quality that's typically moee solid and long-lasting than vertical dehydrators.
On the flipside, horizontal dehydrators are more expensive than vertical food dehydrators, and are also bulkier. As a result of their larger size, it’s likely that they won’t fit into a kitchen cupboard, and will need a dedicated storage spot instead.
Vertical food dehydrators
These often have a smaller, cylindrical design, and are also known as stackable dehydrators because the plastic trays stack neat and compact on top of each other. The EziDry Snackmaker is an example of a vertical dehydrator, and is pictured above, right.
Vertical dehydrators owe their name to their vertical airflow, created by a fan that sits either at the base or top of the appliance. Air flows up and down the unit, and since the stackable trays block this flow a bit, the airflow is gentler than that found in a horizontal dehydrator.
This less powerful airflow combined with the limited space between trays make vertical food dehydrators suitable for drying more delicate foods. This includes herbs, berries and thinly sliced fruits such as apple rings.
Factors to consider when buying a food dehydrator
Food dehydrators vary greatly in the capacity of food they’re able to prepare in a single drying session. Source a dehydrator with a capacity that matches your needs.
If you’re considering buying a dehydrator to occasionally make snacks like dried fruit, a small vertical dehydrator is likely to do the trick.
This usually refers to a horizontal food dehydrator with 6 trays or more (many horizontal models have a capacity of up to 10 trays). This may be a suitable option if you have a lot of leftover garden produce at the end of each annual growing season. If you’re a hardcore hiker, a dehydrator with a large capacity can help you dry out nutrient-dense food in bulk.
However, also keep an eye out for the space between shelves. An adequate amount of space, such as one inch, helps ensure that even if the dehydrator is tightly packed, air will still circulate freely to heat foods evenly. Manufacturers don't often advertise the amount of space between shelves, but will state the amount of total space, measured in square metres. As a general rule, a dehydrator with 9 trays should have about 1.4 square metres of space inside it.
Some food dehydrators - namely, horizontal dehydrators - are notoriously large and bulky. This will most likely exclude them from finding a permanent home on your kitchen countertop, so you’ll need to find somewhere else to store them. Generally, the size of an appliance often increases with its capacity.
Vertical dehydrators are more compact, and can easily pop into a kitchen cupboard. Many have the option to add extra trays if and when you prefer to increase the food capacity.
Ease of Use
Some dehydrators require you to stop part-way through the drying process and rotate trays of food to ensure heat is applied evenly to food. Not only is this bothersome, but rotating trays is also inefficient. It requires opening the appliance door, which lets out heat and prolongs drying times.
Type of airflow
The effectiveness of the airflow ‘technology’ used largely determines the heating efficiency of a dehydrator. Airflow should be evenly distributed across trays. Look for dehydrators that alternate the direction of airflow, or the temperature, as this can ensure heated air permeates all food inside the unit.
During operation, a food dehydrator will make some vital signs to let you know it’s working. This includes the fan making noise, and the appliance letting off some warm steam that will be released into the surrounding room. It can be helpful to to determine whether a particular dehydrator is easy to live with.
While there are a number of extra features that manufacturers can offer, the following two will remove some of the guesswork involved with using a new dehydrator.
- Timer: This equips a food dehydrator with a set-and-forget functionality. Since foods can take over 12 hours to dehydrate, a wider time range comes in handy, especially if you’re drying foods overnight. For example, the allows you to set a timer for up to 24 hours. Look for a timer that counts down in minutes to set more precise drying times. A timer that audibly ‘dings’ when the time is up helps ensure you don’t forget about food.
- Adjustable temperature settings: The thermostat of your food dehydrator should be programmed with at least 3 heat settings, and a temperature range of at least 30-70 degrees Celsius. This allows it to effectively dry a variety of foods.
Cleaning and Maintenance
When it comes to keeping your food dehydrator spic and span, cleaning the trays will require the most attention.
Cleaning the trays
With horizontal dehydrators, trays should be removed from the appliance and hand washed separately. It’s generally unsafe to put trays (often made of stainless steel or a similar material) into the dishwasher, as the trays are not made to withstand the high temperatures, and can become damaged.
Trays inside vertical dehydrators will be easier to clean, as they are smaller and usually made of plastic.
Cleaning the appliance body
Units with a smooth, streamlined appearance will be easier to clean. Select a model with minimal dirt traps. This includes around the controls, which should be crevice-free to prevent the build-up of dirt and grime. It’s good to follow the cleaning instructions recommended by the manufacturer to keep your dehydrator in good shape.
A new food dehydrator can set you back anywhere between $100-$600, with many popular models averaging around $200.
The price is determined by the type of dehydrator you choose (horizontal dehydrators are more expensive), airflow technology, capacity, and any extra features.
A food dehydrator may prove to be a worthy purchase if you enjoy plenty of dried snacks, wish to preserve fresh produce, or are packing for a long hike or camping trip. Otherwise, you may be able to use an to dehydrate foods occasionally, with the temperature set between 50-90 degrees Celsius.
When narrowing down the selection of dehydrators on the market, mainly consider the type of foods you’ll be drying the most, and in what quantity.