Many home cooks are looking for better ways to preserve their fruits, veggies, and herbs without having to freeze the food or dry them under the sun for days. A food dehydrator is a handy device used for drying all kinds of food for hours.
Naturally drying food without a dehydrator can take hours or even days and can be a stressful task. Besides, most processed store-bought foods are not free of additives and preservatives like they claim.
Having a dehydrator in your home will save you from buying processed food at exorbitant prices. Moreover, investing in a food dehydrator is a step to healthy living, and you can find a wide range of them on a low budget.
Without much ado, read on to find our review on the top 5 best cheap food dehydrators on the market and a guide on making the right pick for your cooking needs.
Reviews of The Top 5 Best Cheap Food Dehydrator Consumer Reports
COSORI Premium Dehydrator
- DESIGNED IN CALIFORNIA: Cook delicious and healthy treats in less time with a 600W rated power, a max temperature of 165°F / 73°C, and hot air circulation from the rear fan
- FULLY EQUIPPED: Your food dehydrator comes with 6 stainless steel trays (12 x 13 in), 1 mesh screen, 1 fruit roll sheet, 1 user manual, and a 50-recipe cookbook. Search for C267-2MS or C267-FR to find more accessories
- LARGE CAPACITY: Dehydrate enough snacks for the whole family with up to 6.5 ft² of drying space
- PRECISE TEMP & TIME: Use the digital control panel to set the timer for up to 48 hours. Dry foods at the exact temperature you want between 95°–165°F, with accuracy down to the degree
- PREMIUM MATERIAL TRAYS: Made with 304 food-grade stainless steel, the trays are safer, more durable, and dishwasher-safe. Wash the trays on the top rack of your dishwasher and remove them before the drying cycle
Topping the list is a quality dehydrator equipped with the necessary items needed to start preparing your favorite jerky or snack. It is equipped with six stainless steel trays, a fruit roll sheet, a mesh screen, a cookbook, and a user manual.
This ETL-certified dehydrator is one of the budget-friendly options on the market with zero noise when in operation. It is made from a food-safe stainless steel material that does not emit toxic substances. Plus, the transparent door offers you a clear view of your food as it dehydrates.
Cosori premium comes with four simple touch dials that allow you to customize the temp and timer to suit your cooking style. The temperature ranges from 95 degrees to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and the timer ranges from 30 minutes to 48 hours.
One outstanding feature of this model is the memory function. The dehydrator remembers the previous settings used. Besides, integrated into this product are several safety features such as auto shut-off and overheat protection for maximum safety.
- Food safe material
- Ultra-quiet operation
- ETL approved
- Automatic shut off
- Dishwasher friendly
- Stops working due to overheating
Excalibur 9 Tray Dehydrator
- Large Capacity: Equipped with 9 easy-to-clean Excalibur dehydrator trays, this large food dehydrator boasts 15 square feet of drying space
- Accurate Temperature Control: Features a built-in on/off switch and adjustable thermostat with a range of 105 to 165 degrees F – low enough for fruits and vegetables but high enough for dehydrating meat
- Low & Slow for Immune Boost: The perfect dehydrator for food and jerky, dried fruit leather, fruit roll-up puree, pet treats, homemade yogurt, veggies, nuts, and even bread, it cooks food at 115-118 degrees max, which preserves nutrients and enzymes
- Efficient & User Friendly: This meat and fruit dehydrator dehydrates food faster, retains more nutrients, and helps food look and taste better without tray rotation thanks to patented Excalibur Hyperwave technology and horizontal Parallex drying
- Includes: Digital download Guide to Dehydration, so you can quickly and easily learn how to dehydrate all types of foods; Made in the USA with USA- and globally sourced materials
Excalibur 9 Tray Dehydrator is one of the best cheap food dehydrators that is designed for large families. It is made from top-grade food-safe plastic that is free of toxins and bad smells. This product is perfect for making zucchini chips, jerkies, snacks, and other foods in large quantities.
This product dehydrates your foods evenly without you having to rotate the trays at the interval. Plus, with ample cooking space, you can dry different types of foods at the same time. Although the 9 poly screen trays are easy to clean and maintain, the other interior parts can be difficult to wipe clean.
This USA-made dehydrator comes with an adjustable built-in thermostat, and the temperature ranges from 105 degrees to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
One downside of this model is the absence of a drip tray. However, it also features an on/off button and has a blue backlit screen that easily reads the set temp.
- Customizable thermostat
- Even air distribution
- No rotating of trays required
- Ample dehydrating space
- The lid is not transparent
- It does not come with a drip tray
Excalibur Clear Electric Food Dehydrator
- Large Capacity: Equipped with 9 Excalibur dehydrator trays, this large food dehydrator boasts 15 square feet of drying space
- Versatile Uses: Features a 26-hour dehydrator timer and an adjustable thermostat with a range of 105 to 165 degrees F – low enough for fruits and vegetables but high enough for dehydrating meat
- Low & Slow for Immune Boost: Cooking foods at no higher than 115-118 degrees in a dehydrator preserves nutrients and enzymes; it's the perfect dehydrator for food and jerky, as well as dried fruit leather, fruit roll-up puree, all-natural pet treats, homemade yogurt, veggies, nuts or to even raise bread
- Faster & Easier to Use: This meat and fruit dehydrator features exclusive Excalibur Parallex Horizontal Airflow technology, which dehydrates food faster, retains more nutrients, and helps food look and taste better without requiring tray rotation
- Includes: Guide to Dehydration and 9 flexible non-stick polyscreen tray inserts; Made in the USA with USA and globally sourced materials
Here is another cheap food dehydrator with ample drying space from Excalibur, a well-known brand for top-grade cookware. This product is designed with several unique features such as a 2-temperature digital controller, a glass door, auto shut off, a timer, and more. It is one of the best options for gardeners, hunters, large families, and preppers.
You do not have to babysit the dehydrator as you dry your food and herbs. The timer that was missing from the other model was added to this product, making it easier to set and forget.
Thanks to the transparent door, users have a clear view of the progress of your food without opening the dehydrator. Plus, the lift-off door design offers quick access to all the trays without much hassle.
This product provides you with a wide range of temp to dehydrate different kinds of food. All you have to do is preset the perfect temperature and timer for your food.
- Transparent lift-off door
- Utilizes Hyperwave fluctuation technology
- Automatic shut off
- Adjustable temperature settings
- 48 hours timer
- Difficult to clean
Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
- EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION: 1000 Watts of drying power provides even heat distribution for consistent drying
- ADJUSTABLE THERMOSTAT: Allows you to dry different foods at proper temperatures (95°F - 160°F)
- EXPANDABLE TO 30 TRAYS: Comes with 8 dishwasher safe trays and expands up to 30 trays so you can dry large quantities at once with no tray rotation needed; additional trays sold separately
- CONVERGA-FLOW SYSTEM: Converga-Flow drying system pushes heated air up and across each tray, without having to rotate them
- ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: Includes 8 Fruit Roll-up Sheets, 8 Clean-a-Screens, 1 Recipe Instruction Book, 1 Original Jerky Spice Pack with Cure
Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator is the only round-shaped option on this review with an expandable tray design. It comes with all you need to start dehydrating and is an ideal gift item for all occasions. The temperature setting ranges from 95 degrees to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
This product is designed with a patented Converge-Flow technology that ensures even circulation of heat within the dehydrator. The extra accessories sold alongside the dehydrator include a cookbook, 8 clean screens, 8 fruit roll sheets, a seasoning and curing sample with an instruction manual.
No rotation is required when dehydrating food, and the cookbook provides great tips on using the dehydrator, especially for first-timers. Although this model comes with 8 trays free from BPA and other toxins, the trays can be expanded to 30 trays to accommodate more foods.
The thermostat is manually controlled with a knob for precise control. Plus, the dehydrator features an on/off switch and uses 1000 watts of power.
- Expandable tray design
- Compact storage
- Dehydrate food faster
- Easy to regulate
- BPA free trays
- Not digitally controlled
Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine
- REAR MOUNT FAN FOR SUPERIOR HEAT DISTRIBUTION – DRIES FOOD EVENLY The electric dehydration machine is equipped with a rear-mounted drying fan and air flow circulation technology to promote even drying, there is no need to rotate the shelves as needed by other brands, monitor the dryer process easily with the transparent door window
- DIGITAL THERMOSTAT AND TIMER- AUTOMATIC SHUT OFF WHEN TIMER DONE -- An adjustable temperature and timer ensure you to have your delicious dehydrated food done to perfect at optimal temperature and exact timing; the Countdown timer will show you when it will be done, once done it will automatic shut off
- SPECIOUS ADJUSTABLE STAINLESS STEEL TRAYS – INCLUDED FRUIT ROLL TRAYS AND HANGING RACK FOR JERKY Use the trays for regular food and the mesh trays for smaller food as nuts and herbs, for fruit roll ups use the fruit leather sheet which can also be used for drip trays!,you will enjoy the special add-on of the hanging rack to simplify your making jerky process you can do a lot in one batch with the Magic Mill dehydration machine, this comes with 9 adjustable trays each tray is 13" X 12"
- EASY TO USE AND CLEAN - DISHWASHER SAFE TRAYS You want to dry Jerky, beef, herb, vegetable, fruit, granola, fruit leathers, bread crumbs, and for preserving herbs, flowers, and much more, cleaning is easy all trays and liner are dishwasher safe and the housing can be easily wiped down with a damp cloth
- SAFETY FEATURE / BPA FREE Overheat protection will activate if the dehydrator overheats. Built with food-grade – BPA Free material
If you are looking for a cheap food dehydrator with all the nitty-gritty of a high-end option, Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine is an excellent choice. It features a powerful drying fan at the rear that evenly distributes hot air over all the trays.
The digital control panel has a user-friendly interface and is easy to regulate. It allows you to set the timer in 30 minutes increment up to 24 hours. The fast dial is used to dehydrate food for 10 hours using 165 degrees Fahrenheit automatically, and the raw dial is for drying uncooked food for 24 hours using 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
A pack of Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine includes:
- Two silicone gloves.
- Ten drying trays.
- One hanging rack.
- Two non stick trays.
- One fine-mesh sheet.
The auto shut-off function prevents your food from getting overcooked, and the Keep Warm function helps you preserve your food at a serving temperature for hours.
The clear window allows you to monitor the dehydrating process without opening the door. The overheat detector function prevents the unit from overheating and ensures optimum safety.
- Keep Warm function
- Extra accessories included
- User friendly
- Digital thermostat
- Safe for the dishwasher machine
- It takes a reasonable countertop space
What to Look Out for When Choosing The Best Cheap Food Dehydrator
Before buying any kitchen gadgets from the market, it is good to know what to look out for to make the right choice for your cooking style.
Food dehydrators are commonly shaped in two ways by the manufacturers, which are round and squared. Every design has its advantages and disadvantages, which need to be considered before you make a pick.
The squared shape dehydrators occupy less counter space but take more food than the round shape design. The heating system is often fixed at the back of the dehydrator for uniform heat distribution. And the trays do not need to be rotated during the dehydrating process.
The round-shaped food dehydrators, on the other hand, occupy more countertop space but take less food. The trays need to be rotated at intervals for even air circulation, and the heating element is usually fixed either at the top or base.
Number Of Trays
The number of trays a unit can accommodate is dependent on the dehydrator size and design. Some products are designed with a fixed number of trays, and others can be customized to create more space for drying.
The more the number of trays, the more food it can hold. Some models, such as the Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator, come with expandable trays, an ideal option for dehydrating food in large batches.
The temperature setting for most food dehydrators ranges from 95 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or thereabout. A wider temp range allows for more precise dehydration. Delicate food items like herbs need a temperature below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and tough food items require a temperature up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature settings can either be controlled manually or digitally operated. The manual thermostat offers the user precise control. Also, some models come with preset functions for different food types.
The noise level of a food dehydrator differs from one brand to another. This feature may not be of great concern to some users. However, most home cooks will prefer a quiet dehydrator. Some models produce zero noise, while others can be a bit loud.
Ensure to look out for how the unit operates before making a pick. If you hate appliances with much noise, you can go for the Cosori premium model in this review.
Most cheap-priced food dehydrators do not come with a timer. They are only equipped with an on/off button or turned on when plugged into a power source. However, most of our selected products feature a timer.
Using a food dehydrator is one of the best and healthier ways to preserve your foods, veggies, herbs, and meat. As long as the dehydrated foods are stored properly, they will last for months and even years.
Dehydration does not damage the enzymes and nutrients in your food but rather preserves them longer in a much healthier state. It also helps you prevent food wastage and save money,
Every home needs at least one of our top 5 best cheap food dehydrators. We hope you find this review helpful in your hunt for a food dehydrator.
Jen Lin-Liu is the founder of Black Sesame Kitchen. A Chinese-American writer and a nationally certified Chinese chef in Beijing. Jen is the author of two memoirs, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta.