What would true foodies do without the dehydrator? The nifty countertop appliance is favored by professional chefs and home cooks alike for its ability to suck moisture out of ingredients, like meat, fruits and herbs. This not only intensifies flavor but transforms textures entirely, helping to preserve nutrients and enzymes. Dehydrators are great for making things like beef jerky, fruit leather or potato chips, and they can also be used to create dried herbs, powders and seasonings.
The machine itself is basically like a compact oven that’s permanently set to low. They typically have seven to 10 shelves, so you can dehydrate multiple things at once easily and efficiently. The majority also feature a digital thermostat and timer to automatically shut off the machine once cooking is complete to prevent any burning.
Ready to dive into DIY dehydrating? We’ve selected four of the top models on Amazon to get you drying ingredients like a pro.
1. SAHARA 7-Tray Food Dehydrator
Like the Transformer of appliances, Sahara’s seven-tray dehydrator can fold to one-third of its size in just a few seconds. This means it’s easy to hide when not in use—it even comes with a custom zippered case—and won’t take over your bench space. Powered by dual 700-watt heaters, it quietly and efficiently dehydrates your fruit, vegetable, herbs and more. While it’s not the biggest on our list, it still provides 11 square feet of drying space, which is more than enough for most home cooks. The easy-to-use controls allow you to program two different cook times and temperatures, and the machine can withstand 198 hours of continuous use.
2. VVinRC 10-Tray Food Dehydrator
If you’re planning to get deep into dehydrating, you can’t go past VVinRC’s commercial-grade design. It features 10 regular trays, plus one drip tray, to give you ample space to dehydrate. You can also adjust the distance between the trays if you’re using bigger ingredients. It’s powered by a 1,000-watt rear-mounted dehydration fan that effectively dries all kinds of fruits, meats and veggies while emitting only 35 to 50 decibels. The dehydrator can run for 24 hours at a time and has a temperature range of 86 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit. Finished in sleek 304 stainless steel, the dehydrator is plenty durable and very easy to clean as all the racks and trays are dishwasher safe.
3. Excalibur 9-Tray Food Dehydrator
Excalibur has been producing dehydrators in the US since 1973 and is renowned for its high-quality designs. This nine-tray dehydrator has a 15-square-foot drying area and cooks ingredients low and slow to preserve nutrients and enzymes. Thanks to its patented “Hyperwave” technology and horizontal “Parallex” airflow system, the dehydrator circulates the warm air evenly and efficiently. This means you don’t need to worry about rotating trays to ensure things cook correctly. The machine features a 26-hour timer and adjustable thermostat, which ranges from 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. As an added bonus, the trays are fitted with flexible poly-screen inserts that work to prevent ingredients from sticking.
4. Magic Mill 10-Tray Dehydrator
Designed for die-hard dehydrators, Magic Mill’s generously proportioned brute allows you to dry out more than 11 lbs of food at once. It features 10 stainless steel trays, as well as a special hanging rack for making jerky. The machine is powered by a 600-watt rear-mounted drying fan that dehydrates ingredients evenly and features a transparent window so you can watch the entire process. The adjustable thermostat spans 95 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and the cooking time can be set anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. There’s a countdown timer to show when the cooking is complete and the machine features an automatic shut off to stop overheating. Best of all, cleaning is a cinch and the trays can be thrown straight in the dishwasher after use.