people's choice

The Best Food Dehydrators on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers

Photo: Courtesy Retailer

Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)

And while we’ve tackled many types of kitchen gear — including microwaves, deep fryers, and juicers — here we’ve delved into the world of food dehydrators, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon.

Best-rated food dehydrator

NESCO FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
$66

With nearly 3,000 five-star reviews, the Nesco Snackmaster Pro is praised time and time again for its cost effectiveness, from a backcountry guide who makes trail-ready chili — “My coworkers love me because of this,” they write — to the many pet owners who turn lean cuts of meat into premium dog treats. “I was frustrated spending upwards of $15 per pound on quality freeze-dried liver and beef treats for my dog,” explains one happy customer. “This dehydrator was the answer! So far I’ve only used it to dehydrate ground beef, ground turkey, and liver strips but it works perfectly.” A proud terrier parent also prefers knowing exactly what their two dogs are eating, saying that in their treats, there’s “nothing added, just pure meat. They LOVE IT to say the least.”

Hundreds of reviewers use this food dehydrator to make jerky for humans, as well as plenty of other foods. “It was really easy for me to use and has brought so much happiness to our kitchen,” writes one satisfied customer, who continues, “My favorite things to dehydrate are banana chips, strawberries, apples and other fruits. I love making fruit leather but it is a bit tricky. We have made jerky with great success, and my family was super excited to receive that as a gift … If you are looking for a great beginner dehydrator, please try this one.”

Best-rated (less expensive) food dehydrator

NESCO FD-37A Food Dehydrator
$42

Many reviewers note that Nesco’s budget-minded dehydrator model is a little noisy; recurring comparisons include an exhaust fan, blowdryer, and vacuum. But most people don’t seem to mind. “It is easily ignored if you put it in a laundry room or a spare bedroom to process,” explains one reviewer. “The great thing about it is it is FAST. Some dryers take days to dry items. This one is done in a few hours.” Ease of use — “flip a button that’s it,” says one person — also earns this food dehydrator high marks among reviewers, along with the considerable amount of money you can save with it. As one reviewer puts it, “4-POUNDS of cube steak made a full 3-pounds of jerky. Cost me $12 dollars from Walmart. Compare that to $12-dollars for 1-OUNCE of jerky from ANYWHERE else.”

And now for some micro-picks of every type of food dehydrator you might be looking for.

Best electric food dehydrator with preset temperature

Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
$40

When a reviewer’s local weather report warned of an early deep freeze, they turned to Presto’s entry-level machine to save their fall produce. “In the last month,” they explain, “I’ve done several kinds of peppers, zucchini, tons of apples, tomatoes, beans, and a few other things … This may not be a commercial dehydrator, but it sure does the trick for me. Best purchase I’ve made in a while.” Other reviewers found its price point reasonable and worth the plunge even if you’ve never dehydrated anything before. “This dehydrator is simple and easy to use,” explains one immediate fan. “You lay the meat, put on lid, and plug it in. There is no power switch or temp control. It is already set for the perfect temp. I will say this, be wary of HOW much time you use this because I got carried away in December making jerky as gifts and my electric bill shot up $70 for that month.

Best expandable food dehydrator

NESCO FD-1040, Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
$101

“I’ve had this for a few days and it hasn’t stopped operating since it arrived,” writes one reviewer of Nesco’s malleable Gardenmaster model, who continues, “Being able to expand this to 20 trays makes this a much better value than any of the more expensive brands.” Another notes, “It is a good size and the expand-ability makes it even better. You can do so much more at one time. We have already done apples, bananas, peaches, and jerky and have only had it like 2 weeks. Make sure to pick up some extra trays and roll-up sheets.”

Several electronic features also make this a must-buy for many reviewers.  As one person explains, “It has a built-in timer and temp control so you no longer have to dehydrate everything at the same temperature and plan your day for when you will start and stop your dehydrator or risk ruining it.” A power user calls it a “reliable workhorse,” too, saying, “I ordered this in 2016 and have run it for as many as 25 days straight during mushroom season. We have dehydrated well over 250 pounds of wild mushrooms and depending on the mushroom species and thickness, it can dehydrate them cracker-dry in as little at 12 hours (8 trays) at 95 degrees.”

Best food dehydrator with jerky gun

Serious gardeners love the Snackmaster Express’s ability to make the most of their major fruit and vegetable hauls. A reviewer who dehydrated chili peppers, squash, green beans, apples, sweet potatoes, eggplants, and several kinds of herbs and tomatoes says, “Owning this dehydrator is like making a slower, less exciting (but certainly more fruitful) episode of ‘Will It Blend?’ You will root through your produce wondering to yourself, ‘Can I dehydrate this?’ The answer is yes. The answer is always yes.” A more experimental reviewer agrees, saying they’ve toyed with everything from seedless watermelons — “It’s like candy!” — to dried cabbage leaves that are well on their way to becoming the next kale chips, admitting, “I’m really surprised that this is my fav.”

As for the kit’s included jerky gun, a frequent user explains, “I thought it was a very silly thing until I read another reviewer’s comment about how it really worked, so I tried it. And it does work! I was amazed. I put in the seasoned ground beef, squeezed it out onto the trays, and in a few hours I had beef sticks!”

Best food dehydrator for beginners

Many first-timers find Hamilton Beach’s five-tray, 500-watt model easy to clean and use, with one reviewer writing, “Maybe I’m being generous with the stars, but it does everything I want it to do and more than likely stuff I have no idea how to do (fruit leather…whaaaat?). Banana chips, kiwi, and strawberries turned out fantastic.” Another beaming reviewer adds, “Umm, I’m gonna need some more stars to check off! This thing is basically my new natural fruit candy making BFF beast!!! Ok, it’s my first dehydrator so I can’t make any comparisons, but even so, I am 100 percent satisfied.” A jerky fanatic also had no trouble figuring it out, saying, “I have made a few batches and can’t wait to make fruit roll ups next. You really can’t mess it up.”

Best compact food dehydrator

NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine
$42

A reviewer who lives in a studio apartment with limited counter space deems the NutriChef a “great buy for the price” and