Buying a Home Dehydrator, Best Dryers & What to Know First

best home dehydrators

Ever since I was little I can remember my parents dehydrating things like apples and strawberries. My parents would sprinkle light things like cinnamon and sugar or different flavors of Jell-O on top of the apples and the whole house would smell so good as they dried. All I knew about dehydrating then was there was going to be a yummy treat the next night. I was excited to learn about dehydrators when I decided to dehydrate my own foods. Dehydrators have changed quite a bit since then. They are much more efficient and user-friendly and take up much less space.

I will help you learn what you need to know about dehydrators so that you will know exactly which one to buy. 

What is dehydrating?

Dehydrating is a form of food preservation that uses a combination of heat, fans, and vents to remove the moisture in foods to an extremely low level. Dehydrating removes 85-95% of the moisture which aids in improving the shelf life by hindering the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast all while maintaining up to 50% of the nutritional value.

How does dehydrating work?

Dehydrating uses low heat (between 130*- 167* F) combined with a steady flow of air through vents and fans to circulate the air for an extended period of time to remove the moisture from food by evaporation. The warm air flowing over the food speeds up the surface evaporation while the warm temperature of the food causes it to release moisture from inside. Because of the low heat temperature, it does not cook the food, it just releases the moisture to aid in the evaporation process.

7 Beginner Tips for Dehydrating Food

How long does dehydrating take?

Dehydrating food can take anywhere from 5-38 hours. There are a few different factors that come into play when deciding how long dehydrating will take. 

  1. Thickness/Moisture level 
  2. Humidity
  3. Machine Wattage
  4. Temperature 
  5. Type of Dehydrator

1. Thickness/Moisture level – Depending on the thickness and amount of moisture the food item you are dehydrating contains, your time can be longer or shorter than the recommended times. Refer to the manual that comes with your specific dehydrator for recommended times based on specific foods.  

2. Humidity – The humidity level of your home can be a big factor in dehydrating times. The higher the level of humidity the longer it will take. The less humidity the less time it will take. Things that can affect the humidity are rainy or stormy weather, using a swamp cooler instead of air conditioning, and the climate where you live in general. 

3. Machine Wattage – The wattage of your machine can determine the amount of time it takes. The lower wattage the longer it will take. The higher the wattage the faster it will be. This does not mean you need a bigger higher wattage machine. You may just need to do smaller batches or it might take a little longer to dry.

4. Temperature – Some dehydrating machines let you have control of the temperature. This may be desirable for some. All foods dehydrate at different temperatures. If you plan on doing a wide variety of food you’ll want an adjustable thermostat. If your machine doesn’t let you adjust the temperature, and it doesn’t say in the manual you can use an oven thermometer to test the temperature so you know where your machine sets the temperature.

5. Type of Dehydrator – There are two types of home dehydrators. Vertical flow with the heating element in the bottom of the machine and horizontal flow with the heating element in the back of the machine.

What are the different types of home dehydrators?

Best Vertical Home Dehydrator
Vertical Home Dehydrator
Best Horizontal Home Dehydrator
Horizontal Home Dehydrator

There are two different types of home dehydrators. 

  1. Vertical flow
  2. Horizontal flow

1. Vertical flow machines are usually stackable machines with the heat source in the bottom. These machines are a more affordable option and take up less counter/storage space.

Vertical flow machines tend to dry slower than horizontal flow machines and may require you to rotate trays as you go. This is just because of the construction of the machine with the heat source at the bottom. The top trays won’t get as much heat as the bottom trays so rotating trays partway through can help with drying time. 

These machines are most commonly used for fruits and vegetables but don’t work as well for meats.

2. Horizontal flow machines have a more even flow of air through the trays with the heat source in the back of the machine. 

While these machines are more expensive and can take up more counter space, horizontal flow machines’ drying time is generally faster than vertical flow machines. 

Horizontal machines do however cost more and take up more counter/storage space but are more commonly used for meat as well as heartier vegetables and bigger batches.

How much does a home dehydrator cost?

Home food dehydrators can range anywhere from about $40 for small vertical flow units up to $600 for commercial-sized units. The price depends on the type and size of the dehydrator you want to get. Vertical flow dehydrators are generally cheaper. For most home dehydrators you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $200.

Best Home Dehydrators for Any Circumstance

Check the price of each dehydrator on Amazon by clicking on the link that is under the name of each dryer in the table below.

NameWattageNumber of TraysTray MaterialBPA freeDishwasher Safe TraysAdjustable timerAdjustable ThermostatFlow Type
Budget (Under $100)- Small Capacity 4-6 Trays, For Basic Use 
Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator600 W4PlasticYesYesNo, preset @ 165* FNoVertical
Elechomes 6-Tray Dryer400 W6PlasticYesYesYesYesVertical
Elechomes 6-Tray Dryer240 W5PlasticYes YesYesYesVertical
COSORI Food Dehydrator350 W5PlasticYesYesYesYesVertical
Mid Range- Medium capacity, 6-9 trays, higher wattage (can be used for meat/jerky) 
Homdox 8 Trays Food Dehydrator Machine with Fruit Roll Sheet400 WPlasticYesYesYesYesVertical
Gourmia Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine600 W6-9PlasticYesNoYesYesHorizontal 
COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator600 W6Stainless Steel Yes YesYesYesHorizontal 
Elechomes Food Dehydrator Machine400 W8Stainless SteelYesYesYesYesHorizontal
Commercial Grade- Large to XL capacity 
STX International Dehydra Commercial Grade1200 W10 Stainless SteelYesYesYes7 Preset Temps.Horizontal
Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine 1000 W11Stainless SteelYes YesYes YesHorizontal

Best home dehydrator Under $100

Elechomes 6-Tray Dryer

Why is the Elechomes 6- Tray Dryer the best dehydrator under $100?

Here’s why…

  • 400 Watt machine (on the higher end for smaller machines)
  • 6 transparent plastic trays- easy to see through to keep an eye on things
  • Tray heights are adjustable to accommodate different foods
  • Adjustable thermostate- you can set the temperature exactly where you want it
  • Adjustable timer- anywhere from 30 minutes to 72 hours
  • Trays are dishwasher safe
  • Fits on the counter nicely 11.6 X 11.4 X 10.9 (LWH) 
  • Light weight- 5lbs. 
  • Comes ready to use

Is buying a home dehydrator worth it?

Buying a home dehydrator is worth the cost for anyone who wants to provide a wide variety of shelf-stable foods as snacks or for long-term storage. While maintaining at least 50% of the nutrients these foods can be stored in airtight mylar bags, jars, or air-tight containers. Dehydrated foods make great healthy snacks as well as great long-term food storage when stored properly.

Worth it:

  • Interested in making healthy dehydrated foods for snacks
  • Interested in storing food long term 
  • You want to have complete control over what foods you are dehydrating and storing
  • You want to store foods that can last on your shelf for 5+ years when stored properly. 30+ years if stored vacuum sealed
  • You have the space to store dehydrated foods in you pantry, storage room, closets or other areas.
  • You like to be prepared with food storage on hand

Not worth it:

  • You don’t plan to use regularly
  • You don’t have access to fresh produce 
  • You don’t have extra room to store food long term

How much does it cost to run a home dehydrator?

Power in WattsEnergy in Kilowatt-hoursElectricity Cost
100 W0.1 kWh$0.012 per hr
200 W0.2 kWh$0.024 per hr
300 W0.3 kWh$0.036 per hr
400 W0.4 kWh$0.048 per hr
500 W0.5 kWh$0.060 per hr
600 W0.6 kWh$0.072 per hr
700 W0.7 kWh$0.084 per hr
800 W0.8 kWh$0.096 per hr
900 W0.9 kWh$0.108 per hr
1000 W1 kWh$0.112 per h
Watts to Kilowatt-Hours (kWh) Electrical Conversion Calculator

What kind of dehydrator should I buy?

The 4 things you should keep in mind when picking a dehydrator are

  1. How many shelves/size you want
  2. How often you are going to use it
  3. The amount of counter space you have available
  4. Vertical or horizontal flow.

The best dehydrator keeping all of these options in mind is the COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator (Check the price on Amazon). It isn’t too big, has plenty of shelf space, is horizontal flow, and is built to last. This dehydrator will also do jerky without any problems.

1. The amount of food you want to dehydrate will help you decide what size dehydrator you will want to get. If you want to do bigger batches to build food storage you’ll want to get a bigger dehydrator. 

2. If you just want to use it for snacks here and there a smaller dehydrator will work great. Purchasing prepackaged dehydrated foods can be expensive so even if you plan on just using it a handful of times a year it can still be cheaper than buying prepackaged dehydrated foods.

3. If you live in a smaller house or apartment and don’t have a ton of space a smaller dehydrator would probably be better. If you have space in your garage you could potentially fit a commercial size dehydrator that can help produce a large amount of dehydrated food at a time. 

4. Vertical flow or horizontal flow? Vertical flow is usually less expensive and has lower wattage. It has a heating element and fans at the bottom of the unit. This usually causes the bottom shelves to dry faster than the top shelves so it will require you to rotate the shelves to get all shelves evenly dehydrated. Horizontal flow is usually more expensive and has a higher wattage. It has a heating element and fans in the back of the unit which creates a more even airflow and is more efficient.

What Can be Dehydrated and How to do it

The below table outlines temperature settings for each type of food that you can dry.

Temperature SettingsUses
95*FHerbs, Flowers, Dough
104*FYogurt
113*FSoft Vegetables
122*FHard Vegetables
131*F Citrus Peel
140*FFruit
149*FFish
158-167*FMeat Jerky, Fruit Rolls
See your dehydrators manual for specific details for your dryer

The below table lists what foods can be dehydrated, preparation, dryness test, and dehydration time. 

Name Preparation Dryness TestTime, Hours (approx.)
ApplesPeel, core and cut into slices or ringsPliable 5-6
Apricots Cut in half or in slices, remove the pitPliable 12-38
BananasPeel and cut into 3-4mm slicesCrisp 8-38
Cherries Pitting is optional, or pit when 50% dryLeathery8-34
CranberriesChop or leave wholePliable6-26
Red DatesPit and sliceLeathery 6-26
FigsSliceLeathery6-26
GrapesLeave wholePliable8-38
NectarinesCut in half, dry with skin side down. Pit when 50% dryPliable8-26
Orange RindPeel in long stripsBrittle8-16
PeachesCut in half, dry with skin side down. Pit when 50% dry Pliable10-34
PearsPeel and slicePliable 8-30
Strawberries Cut into ⅜” slices, other berries whole No moisture8-26
MangoRemove skin, slice ⅜” thickLeathery6-16
ArtichokesCut into ⅓” strips. Boil about 10 minutesBrittle6-14
AsparagusCut into 1” piecesBrittle6-14
Green Beans Cut and steam/blanch until translucentBrittle8-26
BeatsBlanch, cool, remove tops and roots, sliceBrittle8-26
Brussel SproutsCut sprouts from stalk, cut in half lengthwiseCrisp8-30
BroccoliTrim and cut. Steam/blanch 3-5 minutesBrittle6-20
CabbageTrim and cut into ⅛” strips. Cut core into ¼” stripsLeathery6-14
CarrotsSteam until tender. Shred or cut into slicesLeathery6-12
CauliflowerTrim and cut. Steam/blanch 3-5 minutes.Leathery6-16
CeleryCut stalks into ¼” slicesBrittle6-14
ChivesChopBrittle6-10
CucumberPeel and cut into ½” slices Leathery6-18
Eggplant/SquashTrim and slice ¼” to ½” thickBrittle6-18
GarlicRemove skin from clove and sliceBrittle6-16
Hot PeppersDry wholeLeathery8-14
MushroomsSlice, chop or dry wholeLeathery6-14
OnionsSlice thinly or chopBrittle8-14
PeasBlanch for 3-5 minutesBrittle8-14
PeppersCut into ¼” strips or rings. Remove seedsBrittle4-14
PotatoesSlice, dice, or cut. Steam/blanch 8-10 minutesBrittle6-8
RhubarbRemove outer skin and cut into ⅛” slicesNo Moisture8-38
SpinachSteam/blanch until wiltedBrittle6-16
TomatoesRemove skin. Cut in half or slicesLeathery8-24
Zucchini Slice into ¼” slicesBrittle6-18

Kaycee Blair

I'm Kaycee Blair, co-owner of EZ-Prepping with my husband Colton. My family is the most important thing to me in this world. I couldn't bear watching my two little boys go hungry so finding easy and practical ways to be prepared for the future by building food storage and gathering other emergency preparedness items has become a passion to me.

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