What's the Best Food Dehydrator?
When shopping for the best food dehydrator, you have a lot to choose from. Typically, the best-rated dehydrators are the Excalibur and the Nesco Gardenmaster. The Excalibur is especially popular among the raw food community (as well as other dried food enthusiasts like jerky lovers).
Food dehydrators have come a long way since they first appeared. Many years ago, I watched the Ronco dehydrator informercial and discovered homemade beef jerky. It was the first time an informercial got me to order anything. That first model was slow, but it was the only one I'd had, so I didn't know any better.
Features and Benefits of the Top-Rated Dehydrators
These days, you can find food dehydrators in various shapes and sizes. The round ones are good, but the square versions are better. You get more usable space because they don't have a hole running down the center. Efficiency is up because there's no wasted space.
They also vary in drying method. Some have a bottom mounted heating element, making the bottom trays dry faster. Depending on what you're making, it could mean that you'll need to remember to rotate the trays. Also, there could be a dripping mess, making the product a pain to clean.
One disadvantage to the square dehydrators is they're not expandable. So, if you can afford it, get the larger model so you won't need to upgrade later. Even if you get a round one that can grow, you'll still have to buy additional trays.
Carnivorous Meat Lovers, Raw Vegans, and Everyone in Between
If you like eating meat, you probably enjoy jerky. Make your own and save a ton of money. The Excalibur excels at jerky because of the design. The heating elements are in the rear, so there's the marinade drippings won't cause any trouble. And it can do it a lot faster.
Raw vegans will find the Excalibur to be the best food dehydrator too because of its huge capacity. During my time eating just raw, I often bought too much fruit and vegetable to finish in time. Dehydrating extends the life of food, so I didn't worry as much about spoilage anymore. My dehydrator has paid for itself in saving me from food waste. Also, I would make a lot of anything at one time, so there was always food in the kitchen.
For everyone else, you'll find the Excalibur versatile enough to take care of anything. Trail mix, energy bars, turkey jerky, banana chips, and fruit roll-ups are just some of the possibilities. Save money making your own snacks. With the best dehydrators, you'll save time too.
Excalibur 3000 Series
The best food dehydrator is one from the Excalibur 3000 Series. These are their top of the line models and come with either five (3500) or nine (3926t) trays.
- 8-15 square feet of drying space
- Adjustable Thermostat: 85-145 degrees F
- 400-600 watts
- Optional 26-hour timer
- Special packages for Outdoorsmen
- Special packages for Raw Foodists
- Special packages for the Health Conscious
- Special packages for Gardeners
- 10 Year Warranty (+$30)
- Prices from $189.95 to $249.95
Quality and Value from Excalibur Dehydrator
It's the top food dehydrator on the market. If you get a cheaper model, you're likely going to end up frustrated and end up with the Excalibur anyway. If choosing between the 5 and 9 tray, get the 9. You'll be surprised how much you'll enjoy drying things and soon will want the extra capacity. They have a 30-day return window, so go for it.
More Top-Rated Food Dehydrators
If your budget won't allow for an Excalibur, the next best food dehydrator would be a Nesco or L'Equip. These cost $50 to $100 less than an Excalibur, but they're fine appliances.
- Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator All-In-One Kit with Jerky Gun
- List Price: $82.99
- 4.5 stars out of 5
- 500 watts of power
- All-in-one kit
- Includes 5 trays
- Expandable to 12 trays
- Includes 2 fruit roll sheets and 2 clean-a-screens (herbs, fruits)
- Top-mounted fan
- Airflow goes down, through and across trays
- Includes Jerky Kit - jerky gun, 3 tips, and 5 cures and 5 seasonings.
- Nesco American Harvest FD-1010 Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
- List Price: $149.99
- 5 stars out of 5
- 1000 watts of power
- 4.5" Fan and 2400-RPM Motor
- Includes 4 trays - 1 sq ft per tray
- Expandable to 30 trays
- 64-page recipe book
- Pressurized heated air flows through and across trays
- Eletronic adjustable thermostat (95 to 155 degrees)
- Includes one solid sheet, one mesh sheet, and one packet jerky spice
- L Equip FilterPro Food Dehydrator
- List Price: $159.99
- 5 stars out of 5
- 535 watts of power
- LED time and temperature display
- Eletronic adjustable thermostat (95 to 156 degrees)
- Includes 6 trays
- Expandable to 20 trays
- Micro-processor maintains controlled heat for even drying
- Air filtration maintains clean air for best flavor
- Includes yogurt accessory, 2 fruit leather trays, and 6 mesh screens
How to Choose a Dehydrator
It's hard to go wrong whether you choose an Excalibur or something else. The Nescos are very popular because they work just fine and are a little cheaper. Your choice depends partly on how much you plan to use your dehydrator. One of the reasons raw foodists recommend the Excalibur is because they use it all the time. When they "cook," they're drying, so they need to have a machine that can handle the workload.
If you expect your dehydrating will be once a week or less, you would do great with a lower-priced Nesco Gardenmaster. If you think you'll be dehydrating food daily, your best dehydrator is the Excalibur.