The 5 Best Food Dehydrators for 2024

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If you’re looking for a dehydrator and wondering which one you should buy, you’re in the right spot! We tested the best food dehydrators to determine our favorite models. In this post, we talk about what features are important, different dehydrating use-cases, and which models offer the greatest value. 

Graphic depicting the five best dehydrators

There are so many incredible uses for a food dehydrator, from preparing backpacking meals to storing fresh seasonal produce!

While there are a lot of different dehydrator models out there, once you understand all the different features and how they can affect your personal use-case, it becomes a lot easier to make a selection.

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In this article, we’ll talk about a number of dehydrator features to consider, and we share our suggestions for a few of the best food dehydrators that we have personal experience with and feel offer a lot of great value.

So let’s jump into it and find the best dehydrator for you!

At a Glance: Our Top Picks

Best Buy: Nesco Stainless Steel Digital Dehydrator
A great machine for beginners and pros that gives you a ton of bang for your buck

Best Top-End Model: Brod & Taylor SAHARA
With tons of great features and a one-of-a-kind folding design, this is a great option that is well worth the investment

Best Budget Pick: Nesco Snackmaster 75
This budget-friendly dehydrator is a solid machine with many of the important features you’ll need to get started with dehydrating

Personal Note: We were on the fence for years before we bought our first dehydrator. We thought it was going to be really complicated, and frankly, we were a little intimidated. If you find yourself in the same boat, we would highly suggest taking a look at our Dehydrating 101 article. It covers all the basics and will give you the confidence to start dehydrating on your own!

Three images showing dehydrator features

Dehydrator Features to Consider

How much any one of these features matters to you will depend entirely on how you plan on using your dehydrator. So as you read through these, think about the types of applications you want to use your dehydrator for. Weekend packing meals? Thru-hiking meal prep? Storing seasonal produce? Or just making fun snacks like fruit leathers, beef jerky and dried fruit?

Capacity

The capacity of a dehydrator is measured in terms of tray space, frequently in square feet. This will determine how much food you will be able to dehydrate in a single cycle. If you’re dehydrating large quantities of food for the end of harvest or thru-hiking, a large capacity can be helpful. Some dehydrators, like the Nesco Snackmaster, have expandable tray capacity.

Five dehydrators arranged to show varying sizes

Unit Size

What size is the actual dehydrator? What’s the length, width, and depth? This is important information when determining if it will fit on your counter or inside your kitchen cabinets.

Note: There is currently only one model on the market, the Brod & Taylor SAHARA, which features a folding design. This allows it to have a high capacity, but the unit size can be folded down to ⅓ the size when not in use.

The fan of the Cosori Premium dehydrator

Fan And Heat Element Position 

There are three different locations where the heating element and fan can be positioned: the bottom, the top, or the side. Each offers its own pros and cons. 

Bottom: Given that heat naturally rises, dehydrators that have heating elements on the bottom are generally more efficient at removing moisture in the food than those with the heating element on the top. The internal fan doesn’t need to work as hard to circulate the air. However, any drips from the food can potentially fall down onto the heating element if it’s not protected. 

Top: Dehydrators with top-mounted heating elements–like the Nesco Snackmaster–need a more powerful fan to continually push the hot air down. This generally results in warmer top trays and cooler bottoms trays, so you will need to occasionally reshuffle the trays to ensure even heating. 

Back Mount: A hybrid solution is the back mount heating element. The fan blows the warm heat through the middle, allowing for more even heat distribution. Most high-end models utilize this design. 

The temperature dial on a nesco dehydrator

Temperature Range & Controls 

One of the main reasons why dehydrators work better than home ovens to dry food is that they allow you to control the temperature (especially at low temperatures). With the exception of some low-end models, nearly all dehydrators allow you to control the temperature, so you can choose the correct drying temperature for a variety of foods.

105°F–160°F / 35°C–73°C is the general range you want to be able to control for. Some models have a manual knob while others have a digital timer. Each different ingredient has an optimal temperature for dehydrating (which we cover in-depth in our dehydrating basics guide). Low-range temperatures (90°F-115°F) matter most if you’re drying herbs or want to dry ingredients within the “raw food” temperature range.

Image showing the digital timer display on a dehydrator
The Nesco Stainless Steel Dehydrator features a digital timer

Timer / Auto Shut-Off 

Many dehydrators have built-in timers that automatically shut off the machine after a certain amount of time. This can reduce your electrical costs and allow you to set up a dehydrating cycle that will finish without you needing to be present. While most foods can’t be “over-dehydrated,” certain things like fruit leathers and jerky can. So, an auto shut-off feature can be a useful safeguard.

Looking inside the SAHARA dehydrator

Viewable Chamber 

Some–but not all–dehydrators have either a glass or clear plastic panel that allows you to see the food as it dehydrates. This can be very helpful in determining when your food is getting close to being done. Or, if your ingredients need to be occasionally blotted to remove fat (such as for jerky). 

Noise 

How much noise a particular dehydrator makes can be a major purchasing factor, however, this is often the hardest quality to determine when shopping for a food dehydrator online. For the models we have personal experience with, we can offer you the following comparison of each model’s operating noise: 

Quietest: Nesco Stainless Steel Digital
Quiet: Cosori Premium and Brod & Taylor SAHARA 
Tolerable: Nesco Snackmaster 75
Louder than we would have thought: Excalibur

Various racks and liners for dehydrator trays

Racks, Sheets, And Mats 

Some dehydrators come with all the rack, sheet, and mat accessories and others do not. All models come with racks. Whether that’s plastic or stainless steel depends on the model—and you’ll have to buy additional racks for models with expanding capacity (ie Nesco Snackmaster).

Mesh mats and solid sheets can also be very useful (for drying herbs and to making fruit leathers respectively), however, these are frequently sold as extras. So it’s worth looking into and considering the price of accessories when comparing models.

Best Food Dehydrators For 2024 

Nesco Stainless Steel Dehydrator product image

Best Overall Value

Nesco Stainless Steel Digital Food Dehydrator

Tray capacity: 6.5 ft2
Unit Size: 14″ W x 16 D x 12″ H
Fan position: Back
Temperature Range: 90°F–160°F / 32°C–71°C
MSRP: $169.99

Overview: Easy to use and with a ton of premium features at a very reasonable price, the Nesco Stainless Steel dehydrator is one of the best dehydrators on the market and one we would recommend for beginners and seasoned pros alike. It’s easy to use and clean, and it’s a great size for most small-to-medium batch projects. But the biggest selling point for us is how quiet it is! We are noise-sensitive people, and it’s so nice to be able to run the dehydrator in the kitchen and barely even notice it’s running.

Features:

  • 7 stainless steel racks (dishwasher safe)
  • Adjustable digital thermostat and timer with automatic shut off
  • Glass viewing door and interior light

Best for: The Nesco Stainless Steel Digital Food Dehydrator is a full-featured machine at a lower price than larger, top-end models. If you don’t need a huge drying capacity, this model offers ample drying space and is our best overall pick of the dehydrators we tested and reviewed.

Cosori Premium Dehydrator

Runner-Up

Cosori Premium

Tray capacity: 6.5 ft2
Unit Size: 13.4”L x 17.8”W x 12.4”H
Fan position: Back
Temperature Range: 95°F–165°F / 35°C–73°C
MSRP: $159.99

Overview: The Cosori Premium food dehydrator is a solid machine with great features at a good price. We’ve used it for the past three years and have been very happy with its performance and reliability. So, why didn’t it take our top spot? While many of the specs are similar to our top pick, it lost out on two factors: weight and noise. This machine is 7 pounds heavier than the comparable Nesco–fine if you leave it in one spot, but if you need to take it in and out of storage, this machine’s weight and bulk make it awkward to lift off of high shelves. As for the noise factor, at the end of the day, this is still a very quiet machine, but the Nesco is quieter.

Features: 

  • 6 Food-Grade Stainless Steel racks (dishwasher safe)
  • Adjustable digital thermostat and timer with automatic shut-off
  • Overheat protection

Best for: This dehydrator gets you a lot of premium features at a lower price point. If you want to invest in a top-of-the-line machine but don’t need the higher volume capacity of the more expensive models, the Cosori Premium is a solid pick.

SAHARA Folding Dehydrator

Best Top-End Model

Brod & Taylor SAHARA 

Tray capacity: 11 ft²
Unit Size: 22″ W  x 14⅜” D x 11″ H
Folded Size: 22″ W x 12¼” D x 3¾” H
Fan position: Back
Temperature range: 85°F-165°F / 30-74°C (also operates fan only / no heat)
MSRP: $395 (Stainless steel) or $325 (BPA free plastic)

Overview: The SAHARA is like the Tesla of dehydrators; it features high-end everything. Its innovative folding design offers both high capacity AND a compact storage size. It has easy-to-use digital temperature and timer controls, positive close glass doors, and comes with a drip tray. It also features an integrated air filter, which removes particulates in the air (dust, pet dander).

Another feature unique to this machine is that it offers a two-step temperature control. For example, you can start dehydrating at 165 F for the first 2 hours then have it automatically step down to 135 F for the rest of the cycle.

Features: 

  • Compact foldable design for easy storage 
  • Positive close (magnetic) glass doors 
  • Dual-heater design automatically switches to low power for more efficient energy use when food is partially dry or for lower temperatures. 
  • Dual time/temperature control allows users to program two times and two temperatures for controlled food drying
  • Filtered air intake to remove particulates in the air (dust, dander, smoke) 
  • BPA free (machine housing and trays)
  • Three year warranty (with product registration)

Best for: If you are ready to invest in a high-quality, high-capacity machine, the SAHARA folding food dehydrator is perfect. This is our top pick if storage size and number of features is more important than total volume capacity.

Nesco Snackmaster Dehydrator

Budget Pick

Nesco Snackmaster 75

Tray capacity: 4 ft2 as sold, ability to expand to 9.7 ft2
Unit Size: 13.75” x 22.13” x 13.87”
Fan position: Top
Temperature range: 95°F–160°F / 35°C–71°C
MSRP: $99.99

Overview: This was our first dehydrator! We used this model for years while learning the basics of dehydrating. It lacks many of the features of higher-end dehydrators, but it is still a very functional unit. It has a small footprint compared to the other dehydrators on this list and is the only one that offers expandable capacity.

From an ease-of-use perspective, this model does leave something to be desired. There is no on/off button—if you want to check on your food or shuffle the trays, you have to unplug the machine to turn the motor off. Since the fan is located at the top of the machine, food can dry unevenly, so you will need to reshuffle the trays, which effectively means disassembling the machine and putting it back together each time.

What it lacks in features, however, it makes up for in its sub $100 price. While there are many “affordable” dehydrators on the market, the Snackmaster 75 is a tried-and-true basic model that won’t let you down.

Features: 

  • Expandable tray capacity
  • Comes with a few mesh liners and fruit roll sheets (extras are easy to find and affordable)
  • BPA free

Best for: If you’re interested in dehydrating but don’t want to invest a lot of money until you determine that it’s for you, you won’t go wrong with the Nesco Snackmaster. And if you do really get into dehydrating, this model has all the important features, so you won’t feel the need to upgrade immediately. It’s basic, but it’s a really good value.

Cosori Premium Dehydrator

Best High-Capacity

Cosori Premium Pro

Tray capacity: 15 ft2
Unit Size: 16.9″W x 21.3″D x 16.4H “
Fan position: Back
Temperature range: 105°F–165°F / 41°C–74°C
MSRP: $299.99

Overview: If you need to dry large batches of food, the Cosori Premium Pro is the food dehydrator machine for you! Like the smaller Cosori Premium, it’s loaded with features like a digital temperature and timer display, auto shut off–but with a huge capacity and higher wattage (which helps it stay efficient at drying food evenly in spite of its larger size). Additionally, this the Cosori Premium Pro is over $100 cheaper than the Excalibur model with equivalent capacity and features. 

Features: 

  • 10 Food-Grade Stainless Steel trays (dishwasher safe)
  • Adjustable digital temperature settings and timer with automatic shut off
  • Two year limited warranty

Best for: If you’ll be drying large amounts of food at the same time and have room to store this behemoth, the Cosori Premium Pro is a workhorse of a machine. Great if you want to get a lot dehydrated after the harvest season or are planning a big thru-hike and need to make A LOT of backpacking meals quickly.


Learn to Dehydrate

Take your adventure food to the next level and create your own delicious meals by learning the ins and outs of dehydrating!

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