Customers swear they’re the easiest way to make jerky and fruit leathers.

By Catherine Lamb
March 06, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

There’s a new food appliance you may have seen making its way around the internet in interviews with famous chefs, DIY home cooking experts, and blogs: the food dehydrator.The countertop machine sucks the moisture out of foods like meat, fruits, and herbs, not only preserving them, but also intensifying their flavor.

With food dehydrators, you can easily make snacks like beef jerky, fruit leather, or oil-less potato chips, or dry herbs like rosemary or thyme with lightyears more flavor than the stuff you’d buy in jars. It’s also an excellent tool for experimenting with seasoning salts, innovative new popcorn toppings, and something called pickle powder. Oh yeah, they’re also simple to operate, a great way to preserve bulk purchases, and can cost as little as $60.

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Do you need a food dehydrator to experiment with drying your own food? Absolutely not! If you’re interested in occasionally making your own vegetable chips or dried apricots, you can try and mimic their effects by drying them slowly on kitchen cooling racks in an oven set to low. But if you’re looking for a compact, user-friendly way to preserve more fresh foods (or start your DIY jerky empire), a food dehydrator is a worthy investment.

To help you sort through the options and find the best food dehydrator for your needs, we’ve turned to reviews from actual customers on Amazon who have purchased and used the appliances for themselves. No matter if you’re looking for a small appliance for tight spaces or a professional-level tool to really dive into DIY dehydrating, these best-selling machines have near-perfect ratings and rave reviews describing why they’re so great.

Keep reading to learn everything about the internet’s top food dehydrators, including which one is right for you.

Best Overall: Nesco Gardenmaster

Amazon

If you’re looking for a food dehydrator that’s speedy, consistent, and easy to use, the Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster is an excellent pick. This sleek appliance comes with eight trays and can expand to fit up to 30 trays total if you have a truly massive harvest. It boasts 1,000-watts of drying power and features a specially designed 4.5-inch fan and 2,400-RPM motor to dry food quickly and quietly without rotating trays.

The device’s light-blocking exterior preserves more nutrients during the drying process, while its adjustable thermostat ranges between 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you can dry foods to a variety of different temperatures (say, low for apple slices and high for beef jerky). It also comes with useful accessories like fine-mesh mats and fruit-roll sheets. Bonus—the covers and trays are all dishwasher safe, which means easy-peasy cleanup.

These Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster are so popular they’ve earned themselves an impressive 4.5-star rating with more than 500 reviews. Shoppers rave about the appliance for its capacity and user-friendliness.

“I am an avid dehydrator junkie,” wrote a user. “I dehydrate my own meals for backpacking, make my dogs chicken jerky, beef jerky for humans, and even eggs. That being said, I have burned through two other dehydrators by Nesco. This one packs 1000 watts of power to dehydrate, it dries meat in a shorter time (eight to nine hours) than their other smaller dehydrators (10 to 14 hours), has larger tray size and comes with the mesh and trays for each rack. This model is well with the money!”

To buy: $109 (originally $180); amazon.com

Best Rated: Cosori Premium Food Dehydrator 

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The internet can be a tough crowd, so we pay attention when a unanimous favorite rises to the top. Case in point: the Cosori Premium model, which has an incredible 4.8-star rating with hundreds of reviews.

Customers love the Cosori machine for how easy to use and clean it is, as well as its high-quality design. The appliance has six dishwasher-safe stainless steel trays and a glass door so you can easily see how your jerky and fruit leather is coming along. Its digital panel features four simple buttons to give you complete control over dehydrating, including a memory function and a customizable timer that goes up to 48 hours. The machine is also incredibly quiet, making less than 48 decibels of noise.

“It's quiet enough that it doesn't interfere with a normal level conversation even right beside it,” one reviewer said. Another added, “This thing can take on a LOT of fruit! I have dehydrated apples, pineapple (my absolute favorite), pear, nectarines, mango, strawberry (second favorite), dragon fruit, cantaloupe, and a few others I cannot think of. Love the temperature control and timer adjustment options.”

To buy: $160; amazon.com

Best Budget-Friendly Pick: Presto 0630

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This streamlined model from Presto may not have all the bells and whistles of higher-end dehydrators, but it’s an excellent bang for your buck. It’s a surprisingly powerful workhorse, reaching temperatures of 165 degree Fahrenheit to dry everything from fresh produce to herbs. The plug-in device can expand to fit up to eight trays and a transparent cover so you can monitor the drying process of the food on the top tray. Additionally, the drying trays and cover are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.

Amazon customers love the compact dehydrator for its durability and reasonable price; more than 1,400 have rated it a perfect five stars.

“I have been curious about dehydrators for awhile, and after using my oven to dry a few vegetables, I decided to invest in a dehydrator...but I didn't want to put a lot of money into it in case I didn't use it often,” a shopper wrote. “After reading the reviews of this product, and noting the inexpensive price tag, I decided it wasn't too big a risk to take. The first thing I tried in it was kale chips. I was amazed at how quickly the dehydrator works. It's also easy to clean. It's easy to use in general, in fact. For the price tag, this product far exceeded my expectations. I can't think of anything about it I don't like!”

To buy: $39 (originally $60); amazon.com

Best Entry-Level Pick: Nesco Snackmaster Pro

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Anyone new to food dehydrators wants to learn on a quality, user-friendly device that won’t break the bank. For those looking to spend less than $100, the best food dehydrator for your money is another Nesco option: the Snackmaster Pro. Just like the Gardenmaster, it has an adjustable thermostat to dry fruit, vegetables, and meat quickly and features a light-blocking exterior to conserve nutrients. However, the Snackmaster Pro has slightly less drying power (600 watts) and only accommodates 12 trays (it comes with five automatically).

It may be slightly less powerful than its brethren, but the Snackmaster Pro still attracts legions of fans. It’s Amazon’s best-selling dehydrator, with more than 5,800 reviews and an impressive 4.5-star rating.

“I was afraid because of its price I wasn't going to get a ‘quality’ product,” a customer wrote. “I am amazed at how well it works. It is quiet and works without flaw. It dehydrates evenly and it cleans up easily. The temperature control is nice and easy. I would HIGHLY recommend this one to anyone, but beginners, especially.”

Another added, “I love my dehydrator. I've had it for about two years now and it was one of the best purchases I have made. The price is great for what you are getting and so far I've had great results with mine.”

To buy: $62 (originally $89); amazon.com

Best Mid-Level Pick: Excalibur 3926TB

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If you’re ready to graduate to large batches on a weekly or bi-monthly basis, the Excalibur 3926TB has enough room and power to make your wildest dehydrating dreams come true. It comes with nine trays that measure out to 15 feet of drying space, a 26-hour timer, and an adjustable thermostat that ranges from 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Its heating element and fan are in the back of the appliance, distributing cool air evenly over the trays without manually rotating them.

Thousands of shoppers, including hundreds who rate the dehydrator five stars on Amazon, swear by the power of the machine. Reviewers talk about how consistent and long-lasting their Excalibur devices are, saying they’re worth the price.

“This Excalibur 3926TB is the Cadillac of dehydrators,” a customer said. “I could have saved some money by skipping the Pinto through Edsel stages and bought this at the beginning, but hey, we learn. Anyway, this one does it all. It has NINE large trays, and the rest is automatic. I just place all my sliced-up X, Y, or Z on the trays, set the timer to whatever it is, and go back to sleep in the hammock. It shuts itself off when done, so I don't even have to worry about being there when it's finished.”

To buy: $239 (originally $295); amazon.com

Best for Small Spaces: Brod and Taylor Sahara Folding Food Dehydrator

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Home cooks tight on counter space (apartment dwellers, we see you) should consider Brod and Taylor’s Sahara. The square device provides more than 11 square feet of drying area and other niceties like stainless steel shelving, dual 700-watt heaters, and automated temperature controls. It also has a washable, reusable air filter which prevents smells and tastes from contaminating your dried foods.

But the coolest part about the Brod and Taylor Sahara is that it folds to one-third of its size. Yep! A foldable food dehydrator. That means you can tuck it away when you’re done making your latest batch of jerky.

Priced more than $350, the Brod & Taylor Sahara isn’t a budget buy. However, if space is a premium in your kitchen, it could be worth the investment. This Amazon reviewer certainly thought so: “I recently downsized into an apartment and feared that I would not have the storage space for a dehydrator,” they wrote. “However, the unique design allows the entire unit to fold up and fit easily within a kitchen drawer. I am ten uses in, and the quality of the appliance is evident. Thick, high-temperature plastics, sturdy glass doors, and stainless-steel components make the product feel like no corners were cut. I have pulled jerky, veggie crisps, and fruit roll-ups out of this thing (for a fraction of the store-bought cost), and I have had zero complaints whatsoever.”

To buy: $349; amazon.com

Best Stainless Steel Pick: Magic Mill Commercial Food Dehydrator

Amazon

Some shoppers prefer stainless steel dehydrators because they’re sturdier and easier to clean than plastic versions—and one of the best stainless steel options out there comes from Magic Mill. This commercial-quality food dehydrator has a rear-mounted fan and uses air circulation technology to promote exceptionally even drying. It’s also designed with an adjustable thermostat that ranges from 95 to 167 degrees Fahrenheit, and a count time timer that automatically shuts off the machine when done.

The Magic Mill comes with six adjustable stainless steel trays, as well as fruit roll sheets for fruit leathers and mesh trays for smaller food like herbs. And because they’re steel, the trays are all dishwasher-safe.

The dehydrator has earned a 4.7-star rating, with customers saying how easy the processor is to assemble, use, and clean.

“I just got done with my first batch of jerky and I am very impressed to say the least,” explained a user. “The capacity is amazing, it is easy to load and unload and it dehydrates very evenly, it even came with some handy oven mitts. Also it finished a batch in only 3 hours which used to take my old one 6-7.”

Another added, “This is a high end product with a low end price! Easy to operate and perfect temperature range. The stainless steel racks are high quality and easy to clean. My dog gets excited every time she hears it come on. She enjoys the perfectly dehydrated sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, and green beans.”

To buy: $143; amazon.com

Best for Big Batches: Tribest Sedona Express

Amazon

Want to make big batches of jerky or feed homemade fruit rolls to a crowd? The Tribest Sedona Express can help you do it. The machine has 11 stainless steel trays and a total drying capacity of almost ten square feet. And in terms of dehydrating technology, Tribest is on the cutting edge. You can set your drying temperature manually or choose from one of the machine’s preset programs, which include options for raw foods and speedy dehydrating jobs. It also allows you to start dehydrating at a higher temperature before automatically lowering it for a slow dry to preserve foods’ nutrients and enzymes.

Dozens of Amazon reviewers—especially the jerky curious—are enamored with the Tribest. It has a 4.4-star rating with users praising its high-tech presets and user-friendliness. “I highly recommend this model for anyone that loves jerky,” said one reviewer. “Everything functions as described and is so easy a kid could do it. Works great!”

A second wrote, “I've had dehydrators for 30 years, but never anything like this. It's easy to program, it dries everything beautifully, makes fantastic jerky, and takes up little space. I wish I'd had this a long time ago!”

To buy: $500 (originally $570); amazon.com

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