Best Food Dehydrator Review 2017
Magic Mill Pro
The best food dehydrator for your needs is discussed in more detail below; first, let's take an introductory look at food dehydration.
What is a Food Dehydrator?
Food drying is the process of removing water/moisture from foods so that it makes it easier to store the food, keep it for longer or transport it.
Water can make up 60-95% of foods so there is a massive reduction in overall size and weight once dehydrated. Removing the water allows us to be able to store the food without worrying about whether bacteria is starting to form, spoiling the food.
Who Would Use a Food Dehydrator?
There are so many reasons why you would want to dehydrate your food! To be honest, it is really addictive. As a testament to that, there are forums on the internet that are dedicated to only this subject.
If you are someone that loves to store food, dehydrating your food is an excellent way to save space and keep food for longer without compromising on taste.
Have you got a large vegetable/fruit garden and at certain times of the year harvest a lot of one type of food? Here is a way to preserve that food so that you have it all year round.
Do you enjoy the great outdoors, backpacking and hiking, boating, multi-day off-road biking? Well dehydrating your food will massively decrease your pack weight.
"The options and benefits are endless, and once you get going it really is a great deal of fun"
How Does a Food Dehydrator Work?
A typical food dehydrator works by passing warm to hot air over your food and, over the process of a few hours (4-16 hours) removes the moisture.
The air is usually displaced by way of a fan (horizontal unit) or normal air movement as heat rises (vertical units).
Benefits of a Food Dehydrator
"As mentioned above, there are forums dedicated to the subject of Dehydrating. There is a good reason for this - it’s super fun!"
But why would a person want to purchase and use a food dehydrator, and how would it improve their lives?
For people who love to shop for bargains, once you see that mangoes are in season and extremely cheap, for example, you can buy in bulk for dehydration and enjoy all year.
Create Healthy Food
When you dehydrate fruit, you seal in the flavour! Plus, you aren’t required to add sugar etc so all the flavour is natural. You keep the lion's share of the nutrients and vitamins also.
Increase Shelf Life
By removing moisture from food you decrease the risk of spoiling. The general rule of thumb is that when dehydration is performed properly, the shelf life is 1 year. However, I have seen foods stored for up to 2 years.
Optimise Your Storage Area
It is so nice to open up my food pantry and see all our food laid out with enough room and not just crammed in. I have food dehydration to thank for this. By removing water you MASSIVELY reduce the size up to 95%.
It is so easy to have all the food you need at the reach of a hand. I love to front-load my work by sacrificing a day or two, and then enjoying the spoils for the next months.
If not for anything else, it is worth it for that one time you get home from work and simply don’t want to cook anything. You know there is a dehydrated curry waiting for you to add some water, bring to the boil and serve - easy.
What Are the Limitations of Food Dehydrating?
When you dehydrate food you are essentially reducing the size of that food. So its is very easy to overeat, or eat more than what you would normally consume.
The worry here is that the foods are usually high in sugar (fructose) and/or calories.
Another obvious advantage of dehydrating food is that you can keep and store that food for longer. However, compared to canned food, the process takes much longer.
The Best Food Dehydrator of 2017 - Reviews
Thanks to modern advances in technology food dehydration has come a very long way. No longer do we have to ‘air out’ air food for days on end and hope for the best. Welcome to the age of digital displays, automatic thermostats and powerful yet quiet motors.
The below are the tried and tested that will perform the best for 2017 (and beyond). There is an option for each budget level and each skill level.
I enjoyed compiling the food dehydrator reviews below, and loved the results of each. There really is no wrong choice, one will just be better for your situation.
Which is the best food dehydrator?
The Excalibur 2900ECB 9 Tray Economy Dehydrator was designed for the aspiring professional food dehydrator. Boasting a massive 15 Sq Feet of space, you have the ability to dry almost any food you like.
The 9 tray capacity gives you the option to bulk dry your food, or to dry bulky foods by removing trays.
Combine this advantage of space with the strong motor and you have a winning combination.
That being said it is not for the budget buyer as it is one level above in terms of cost. However, if quality, functionality and a 10-year guarantee are important to you, then the Excalibur 2900ECB will be a wise choice.
"Massive 15 Square Feet of Drying Space: This enables you to cook a range of different types and amounts of foods. If you have a large family, this could be a great option for you. Or, if you have a large garden and harvest at times of the year, this dehydrator is for you"
Cook your food to perfection with an Automatic On/Off Switch. This is particularly important for people who are following specific diets, such as The Raw Food Diet and want to ensure things are not under/over cooked.
Have complete control over your cooking temperature with an adjustable thermostat. Don’t worry about using your own digital thermometer.
The poly screen inserts that fit snugly on top of the trays are super easy and fast to clean.
Get the job done right with a powerful 400 Watt motor. The powerful yet quiet motor is one of the best on the market, ensuring that the Excalibur is one of the best food dehydrator units on the market.
The vertical design ensures drips fall straight to the bottom of the unit, away from the fan. Aids cleaning and longevity of the unit.
Remounted fan provides excellent airflow across food.
The Excalibur 2900ECB uses a rear mounted 7-inch fan to blow heated air horizontally from the rear to the front.
As the air does not have to travel far from its power source, there is a better chance that your food is dried evenly, in practice. In theory, I have gotten best results by alternating the very two top trays with the very two bottom trays depending on what I’m drying.
Overall, the heat distribution is excellent as there is ample space between the shelves and the power plant does an amazing job of heating the air.
As there are over 15 square feet of space in the unit it is safe to say that a normal household sees most of its food dehydration demands met by this unit. Even if someone has a large vegetable garden that cyclically puts out medium to large amounts of produce.
Additionally, you have the ability to remove alternating trays out of the unit and fit in oddly shaped or bulkier items - which is a very nice feature. If you are someone who loves to dry food en masse this could be the best food dehydrator for your needs.
As mentioned, there is an adjustable thermostat built into the unit which allows you to cook almost anything to perfection. Also, there is an automatic on/off switch that allows you to preset your unit to automatically turn off at the desired time.
Both of those features are very important to people who are following Raw Diets and require their food to be cooked to tight specifications.
What I didn’t like about the Excalibur 2900ECB
I loaned the unit to some friends and they mentioned that due to a small kitchen, they had to place and run their unit from their kitchen table and not from the kitchen itself. There is a larger footprint than other units but it is not very heavy and it's quite easy to move so it is not too much of an issue, to be honest.
There have been reports of people saying the motor is “very loud”. For our household, this was not the case. Expect the same sound level as a dishwasher humming along or a bathroom ceiling fan.
The unit is overkill if you are a casual (2-3 times a year) dehydrator of small quantities. You may not find this one is the best food dehydrator for your needs.
Who Is This Unit Best For?
The Excalibur 2900ECB 9 Tray is best suited for the household that has 2 or more adults and wishes to dry food en masse. If you have a vegetable garden, you will be very happy with this unit. Food dehydration enthusiasts will also love this unit as it has all of the capacity and features that anyone would ever need.
Specifications (Test Edition)
Weight: 22lbs/10kgs (Approx)
Size: 17 x 19 x 12.5 in
Temperature Range: 85°-145°F/30° - 62°C (Approx)
Wattage: 440 watts
Fan: Heavy Duty 7 inch Fan
Air Flow: Horizontal, Back to Front
Aroma is well-known for creating quality products that get the job done.
This unit is no exception.
"Built for the Beginner-Intermediate food dehydrator enthusiast who seeks out a unit that offers more than the base level of capacity and features, but who doesn’t want to be burdened with unwanted and complicated functions."
The Aroma 6 Tray offers a balanced combination of easy of use and all the features that a typical household would demand.
The Aroma 6 Tray is heated and powered by a rear-mounted motor that pushes air from back to front, horizontally across your food. This feature allows an even and consistent drying and ensures that all areas are heated uniformly.
The large capacity of the cabin is powered by an equally large capacity motor. The motor is designed to operate at very quiet levels. So it is suitable to be left in the kitchen and should not intrude too much on those who happen to be near the unit while in operation.
While the unit has such a large capacity, the design is meant to be very shelf-space smart. Taking up less than other similar capacity units. People who have a shortage of shelf space will really enjoy this feature of the unit. Friends of ours have this unit and they say that because of it's small footprint in the kitchen, its the best food dehydrator for them.
Cleaning the unit is made easy by a few smart features, and its clever design.
First, all of the trays are removable and held in place by sliding and locking into position. Each tray can be removed completely and washed with warm soapy water. You even have the option to buy disposable inserts (that have very small holes to facilitate airflow) that would be enjoyed by people who have a shortage of time.
Second, there is a handy drip tray at the bottom of the unit that catches any runoff that would likely occur during drying. This tray is easily removed and also effortlessly cleaned.
Once all 6 trays and drip tray is removed, a quick wipe is all the unit requires and it is ready for storage until the next time you require it. This ease of use and cleaning really makes this one of the best food dehydrator units on the market at this price point.
The versatility of the unit will be matched by your imagination. You will enjoy drying a range of foods whether you are:
A weekend hiker and would like to dry your food so that it takes up less pack weight and less space.
Have a vegetable garden that provides a cyclical array of different foods you would like to enjoy all year round.
You love bargain hunting and would like to store your bounty without the food spoiling or going rotten.
Or, would simply like to introduce healthy alternative snacks to your diet.
The different types of foods and items that you can dehydrate in unit are endless but the most suited are;
Dried Fruit - Find a great bargain on apricots, buy up! Or, want to cut down the kids consumption of packet chips, substitute with banana chips. Make your own and ensure that no unnecessary chemicals have been added.
Trail Mix, Spices and Nuts: Make your own versions of these and save hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year!
Pot Pourri and Custom Art Projects: Would you like to finally make that own customised potpourri you have been dreaming about? If you have ever wanted to work with clay then we have even heard of people utilising this unit to help them.
The Aroma Houseware Professional 6 Tray is designed so that it blows heat horizontally across the food. Using a fan, the heat is blown across the food so that no matter what tray the items to be dried are on, all are dried equally and at the same time.
There is ample space between the shelves to allow the effective flow through while still maximising space in the unit, which is a testament to the design by Aroma.
As mentioned, the capacity of the unit will suffice for a normal household, or for someone who has a keen interest in food dehydration.
There are 6 strong trays that are able to carry a load of up to 1 pound each.
The surface area of each of the trays is 11 x 12 inches. Each tray is able to be removed independently so that you can store bulkier items as required.
As an added feature, Aroma has included inserts for the trays so that you can use them for smaller sized items, such as seeds etc.
We really love that the unit comes with the removable drip tray at the bottom, this really reduced the clean time for us compared to other units. Additionally, there is an adjustable thermostat, which allows the user to accurately control the temperature of the drying cabin, handy if you are following strict diets, such as a Raw Diet.
There is an automatic On/Off switch which is excellent for people who would like the unit to turn off automatically. In my opinion, the best food dehydrator on the market must have at least a few key features, Aroma have included all of those in this one unit.
What I Didn’t Like About the Aroma Housewares Professional
Controls for the unit are placed on the top and at the rear of the unit. I place my unit on a high bench in my garage and my partner had to use a chair to reach and see the controls while in operation.
This may not be the best food dehydrator for you if you have small or cramped space for your unit.
It is not a big deal but it should be noted.
Who Is This Unit For?
To be honest, this unit is the step above beginner food dehydrator.
"Mainly due to the capacity of the machine and the price point (a little higher than budget options)."
However, if you are a beginner and plan to do a lot of drying then this unit can be an excellent option also.
It really was a pleasure to take this machine for a test drive and we were very pleased with the results.
Would love to hear your feedback on this one guys! Is this the best food dehydrator on the market?
Specifications (Test Edition)
Size: 13.58 x 17.72 x 12.4 inch
Temperature Range: 95 - 155°F/ 35 - 70°C (Approx)
Fan: Rear Mounted
Air Flow: Horizontal
The Magic Mill Pro 6 Tray is designed to offer all of the features of a more expensive unit for a more economical price.
The unit has 6 spacious trays that are made from stainless steel. This gives you the reassurance that the trays can be loaded up more than competitor units. Plastic trays have been a point of criticism of other units too, as reports are that some bend after a lot of use.
Coming with the unit are 6 plastic inserts that have smaller holes for each of the trays so that you can place smaller objects without risk of them falling through - very handy! It’s important to note that in other, more expensive units, you have to purchase separately.
Another nice touch for the Magic Mill Pro 6 Tray is that the door is made out of clear plastic. This is very convenient for peeking into the unit while it is on to check on the food, this keeps the temperature inside the same and doesn’t disturb the process.
While nothing will ever beat opening the unit to inspect the food closely, it really includes the kids, if you have them, as they are curious and get to see what is going on.
Ensuring that you don’t overcook your precious foods is an adjustable thermostat (95° - 158°F) and automatic shut-off timer (up to 19.5 hours). This feature is really important if you follow Raw Food diets, or you are cooking really sensitive foods.
Upon the timer counting down and the unit finishes, it will beep 20 times so you know exactly when (provided you are in earshot).
The unit is heated by a massive 400-watt power plant that is rear mounted. The air is pushed rear to front horizontally by a fan ensuring even heating of the unit, not matter whether your food is placed at the bottom or the top. During testing, I couldn’t help but switch the top tray with the bottom tray, out of habit, but I don’t know if this had an effect or not.
Another important aspect of the machine that I would like to bring up is the ease of cleaning. When I used the stainless steel trays on their own without the insert, they were easy to clean thanks to stainless steel. The plastic inserts are non-stick and very easy to clean with hot soapy water.
There is also a removable drip tray at the bottom which caught the rest of the drips and crumbs that had fallen through.
As mentioned above, the unit is powered by a 400-watt motor that delivers more than enough power. Air is assisted in the machine to move from the back to the front by way of a rear mounted fan.
The design ensures that the space inside heats evenly.
Magic Mill have stated that you do not need to move around the trays, as in, swap the top and bottom trays. During my test, I swapped the trays out of habit rather than necessity, so I cannot comment on that.
The unit heats excellently and I was very pleased with the results.
This is a large unit that will take up its fair share of space on your kitchen countertop. The good news is that it will satisfy the needs of a large household.
They trays are spacious sized at 12 x 17 x 19 inches a piece. They are stainless steel and hence more rigid. The manufacturer states that you can put 6 lbs+ into the unit safely.
It is important to note that there is also the option of the 9 Tray if needed. It is a similar unit, however, there is a larger capacity motor and a few other small features.
What I didn’t Like About the Magic Mill Pro 6 Tray
The metal trays sometimes stick as they are sliding into the machine. I’m pretty sure this is because it is new, but it is important to note.
Another thing is that the instructions are not very easy to follow or understand. I’m lucky as we have used a lot of food dehydrators so we managed but someone who has not had that experience may find it difficult.
Who Is this For?
This unit is for large families or households that are dehydrating food on a highly regular basis.
If you are an outdoor family who likes to dry your foods before you go camping, this machine will not let you down.
Thanks to the capacity and motor, households that have a good sized vegetable garden will also appreciate this machine come harvesting times.
Specifications (Test Edition)
Warranty: 1 Year
Size: 12 x 17 x 19 inch
Temperature Range: 95 - 158°F/ 35 - 70°C (Approx)
Shelves: Stainless Steel
Fan: Rear Mounted
Air Flow: Horizontal
To be honest, I was not really a fan (pun intended) of the vertical flowing units until I tried the L’Equipe 528 about 3 years ago.
I wasn’t a fan of this set up because I believed that the warm air would ‘group’ at the top of the unit and over dry my food at the top, while the food at the bottom stayed uncooked.
After much trial and error, I found this wasn’t the case at all, quite the opposite.
L’Equipe have found an intelligent way to ensure that the air flows around the unit by cleverly placing a hot air release at the very top in the middle. This allows the air to escape out of the unit and taking with it the humid air and moisture that needs to be expelled in order for the food to dehydrate properly.
Coupled with a fan that is mounted at the bottom of the unit this ensures that there are no ‘stale’ air pockets and that all trays receive equal drying.
The unit is powered by an impressive 500 Watt powerplant that delivers more than the 12 feet of space would need, and it does it in a surprisingly quiet way as well.
I was more than happy with the space that is available to dry within the unit. I was even more impressed with the slim design of the L’Equipe which took up less space on my kitchen top compared to other units of the same capacity.
When in research mode for this dehydrator, I read somewhere that you could fit up to 20 trays. On the website, it suggests that you can use up to 12 trays. In my testing, I only used the 6 trays that they unit comes with so no comment on that.
One feature that the L’Equipe has over the horizontal units that I usually prefer is that you can remove trays. This is a nice feature that could reduce the amount of electricity required to run the unit. This is mainly due to the less space the unit has to heat, leading to a reduction in energy consumption.
You can be confident that the L’Equipe 528 6 Tray is maintaining your desired drying temperature as the computer sensor checks the heat every 60 seconds. As mentioned previously, features such as this are very important for people who are drying foods for a specific diet (Raw) or people who are drying delicate items.
Cleaning is made very easy as there were non-stick inserts included in the purchase. So it was as simple as rinsing the plastic inserts with hot and soapy water.
Due to noise or an economy of bench space in the kitchen, sometimes we dry in another room. After preparing the food in the kitchen we take each individual tray over to the dehydrator. One feature I liked was that each tray had a lip (so they could stack together) but it also doubled as a nice fail safe against food falling over the sides in transportation.
Something that I know a lot of people would want to hear about is that when we bought the unit and we opened the package there was no manual. We called L’Equipe right away using the number on the box. We got straight to a customer support worker and had a manual sent out that same day (and another one emailed).
Customer service is super important to us and they didn’t disappoint!
Overall, we were really impressed with the results of the L’Equipe. We mainly use it for drying fruit, occasionally for drying curries etc for hiking, and a little bit for drying spices.
The capacity was what we needed (big) and there were enough features for us to enjoy without it being too complicated.
When on, the unit made little more than a dull hum, so if noise is important to you, then that is another tick on the list.
As written above, I was a long time sceptic of the vertical design. I was under the belief that you would have to rotate the order of the trays so that the bottom would heat faster than the top etc. But I was wrong.
There is more than enough air movement thanks to a cleverly placed air release at the top of the unit coupled with a very able fan that is placed at the bottom of the unit. The manufacturer states that you should not have to rotate the trays. In my experience, this was the case.
Everything cooked evenly, each time.
There are 12 square feet of space in the unit which we found more than enough. It was nice to make a variety of items, and it was nice to be able to remove trays altogether when dehydrating smaller quantities.
If you are drying bulkier items a lot of the time, you will be frustrated as you only have the set space in between each tray. Compared with a horizontal unit where you can remove trays for such an occasion.
There were more than enough features to keep the enthusiast happy, without going overboard with unnecessary gadgets. The highlight for me is that there is a sensor that checks the temperature each 60 seconds and adjusts accordingly.
What I didn’t like about the L’Equipe 528
One aspect that I didn’t like (and don’t like as a rule for the vertical designs) is that in the case of when food invariably drips, there was nothing to catch it at the bottom but the base of the unit. This results in more cleaning. However, if you have excessive dripping then you are doing something wrong in your dehydrating process.
Who Is This Unit For?
While I would not recommend this unit for someone who has a large garden and harvests, I would recommend for a family with average to high dehydration requirements. This is because of the limiting nature of the space in between trays for this unit. That being said, though, each tray has a different depth (some more than others) and that should suffice 99.9% of the time.
Keen dehydration enthusiasts, as well as beginners, will get their monies worth with this unit!
Specifications (Test Edition)
Warranty: 10 Year
Size: 17 x 11 ⅘ x 10 ½ inch
Temperature Range: 93 - 143°F/ 33 - 61°C (Approx)
Material: Plastic (BPA-Free)
Shelves: Plastic (BPA-Free)
Fan: Bottom Mounted
Air Flow: Vertical
There are no two ways about it, this is a premium dehydrator. If a BMW and a Jaguar had a love child and it was a food dehydrator, it would be the Tribest Sedona Express 11 Tray (Stainless Steel Edition).
From the moment that you unbox, you can’t help but notice the quality and attention to detail the manufacturer has taken.
Before you continue reading.
I just want to let you know that this unit is for the food dehydration enthusiast that demands exceptional quality from their dehydrators, plus have a budget to match those expectations.
Let's begin with the digital computer that is able to finely control the temperature of the heat inside the unit. Other units control temperature also but in the process, they sometimes go over the set temperature, then adjust and fall under the set temperature. Depending on the unit this could be a large fluctuation. However, the Tribest Sedona Express is able to much closely monitor the temperature and make faster micro adjustments that keep your food at the best temperature for drying.
On the rear of the unit, you will find a port where you will be able to update the software of your dehydrator as the manufacturer brings out new updates (I said it was an advanced unit!).
The digital display on the front of the unit has a very clever function that allows you to switch over to a “Raw” setting as mentioned above. On this setting, the unit will adjust heat levels accordingly so that you don’t overcook delicate object, which is a very handy feature. This ensures that you keep all of your nutrition inside your food and it is not “cooked out”.
You have the ability to set the timer to a maximum of 99 hours, which is more than suffice for any food that I know of. However, you have an additional setting of ‘continuous’ where you can dehydrate for 150 hours before the unit will turn off.
There is a very nice tempered glass door that has a very generous weight to it. It is hinged to the left of the dehydrator and swings out of the way so that you can access your food very easily, then quickly shut it minimising the hot air escaping.
A nice feature is that when you open the glass door of the unit, there is a light that comes on similar to a refrigerator. This adds to the quality feel of the unit as well as the functionality.
When I unboxed the unit my first thought was “How did they fit 11 trays in there?”. The unit is so sleek and compact that it’s deceiving. There is so much space! It is great to have so much freedom of food choice as well. You have the option to spread your food out over the 11 trays or, if you have bulky food items, you can take trays out to suit your needs.
Like everyone, I don’t like my food dehydrator unit taking up all the kitchen bench space. Even though there is the huge capacity in the unit, it still takes up a small footprint. So I was happy for it to be left in the kitchen while in use.
Powered by a 470 Watt motor and fan combination that is mounted at the rear that is so powerful it provides one of the only FDA Approved heating levels of any dehydrator on the market.
Turn on the dehydrator from cold and within seconds you can feel warm air starting to circulate in the unit. The quality of the unit extends to the sound of the motor when in use. It is one of the quietest dehydrators I have ever used/tested and once or twice I had to check if it was still ‘on’.
However, don’t let that fool you. The unit has excellent airflow and everything that I wanted dehydrated was done to perfection.
The luxury of having 11 trays is a feature I got used to very quickly! It is very nice not to have to ‘group’ all your foods onto a limited amount of shelves and have everything spaced out.
It is also nice to have the option to be able to remove shelves for bulkier items.
This unit has so many features and it really makes it a pleasure to use. All of the controls are easily accessible and all of the displays are big and bright.
What I Didn’t Like About the Tribest Sedona 11 Tray
Beginners will probably not even notice most of the features or not properly know how to use them. Also, the less tech-savvy amongst us may get confused by the controls when they are new to the unit. However, it is a quick learning curve and once learned very logical to operate.
Barely an audible hum is omitted. I was very pleased with the level of noise when in operation. People who have kids will appreciate this over other units on the market.
Specifications (Test Unit)
Warranty: 10 Year
Size: 12 x 17.5 x 14 inch
Temperature Range: 77 - 167°F/ 25 - 75°C (Approx)
Shelves: Stainless Steel
Fan: Rear Mounted
Air Flow: Horizontal
Hope this guide has helped you understand what food dehydrating is and which unit is the best food dehydrator. Know of another excellent option that is not on the list? Let me know in the comments!