Obviously, we at FDHQ think Food Dehydrators are a great investment. They provide you with the ability to eat well and eat healthy for a fraction of the cost of pre-dried foods and even fresh foods. They retain nutrients better than cooked foods and they help you reduce waste by allowing you to preserve foods that would normally be thrown out.
These are all great and valid reasons for buying a food dehydrator – but, we are also realistic and we know that people have different needs and especially different budgets. Food Dehydrators can range from the very expensive (in the $200’s and up) to very affordable ($25 or cheaper depending where you are getting it from). But, as with most things, you probably will get what you pay for. That is not meant to mean you can only get a quality food dehydrator by spending the most money.
Here’s our recommendations for the Best Food Dehydrators for every budget (Premium, Economy, and Inexpensive):
Premium Food Dehydrators are going to cost you in the $200’s and up.
Excalibur brand food dehydrators are pretty much considered the best on the market right now. Excalibur is a family owned company that has been producing food dehydrators (and parts) for more than 30 years.
The best premium model is the Excalibur 3926t 9 tray food dehydrator.
Check out our recent review of the Excalibur 3926t 9 tray food dehydrator for more information, but needless to say this is the model for those of you serious about preserving food and interested in drying lots of food. This model costs approximately $260.
other choices: Excalibur 3900 series 9 tray food dehydrator (this one does not have a timer) or the Excalibur 5 tray Small Garden 3500
Following our list we consider the economy class of food dehydrators to be in the range of $50 – $150. These are middle of the road models that will hold up well to regular use, are designed for the average or even beginner user interested in food dehydration and importantly are not overly expensive.
This is where the Nesco brand of food dehydrators make their mark. We have also done a review of the Nesco Food Dehydrators. They are reliable and affordable. They won’t handle the amount of food as the Excalibur models, and they’re not really designed for heavy duty use – but they will do a good job drying out your standard fruits and vegetables, they will make jerky just fine and they clean up reasonably easy.
Nesco FD-75PR 700-Watt Food Dehydrator is my favorite in this category. With 5 trays and plenty of power (700 watts) – this Nesco unit should work great for the average person looking to dehydrate small amounts of food. If you have a small garden space or just want to make sure you aren’t letting too much fruits and veggies go to waste, this unit is for you. A big plus: many reviews say it is an easy cleanup, and it’s size makes it perfect for countertops.
other choices: Nesco American Harvest FD80 Square Dehydrator
Okay, you’re looking to dehydrate some food – maybe it’s your first time trying this stuff and you don’t want to spend a lot of money on something you aren’t sure you’ll continue doing for the long run.
In that case, you have a couple of options. First, check out Craigslist – you may find a dehydrator that someone is selling, but be careful – you probably won’t know whether it’s in good working condition until you get it home and start using it.
Personally, I would prefer to purchase an inexpensive model – that has a warranty – when getting my feet wet, or just to dry very small amounts of food, such as some fruits and maybe a little bit of jerky.
I would go with another Nesco model – the American Harvest FD 37 400 Watt Food Dehydrator. This model is perfect for individuals just starting out with food dehydrating and can be purchased for under $40 in most cases. The unit has 4 trays and a clear top to allow for monitoring of the drying process. According to the manufacturer you will not have to rotate trays (all the models on this list have that benefit) – and another nice addition, almost all of the parts/trays on this unit is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
other choices: none really, you aren’t going to find any that are cheaper and better than the Nesco American Harvest FD 37. Other options for you to save some money though is to check auction sites or freecycle.com
There you have it, our list of recommended models for each budget type. If you have concerns or are interested in any of these models, but would like more information – you should check out the reviews written up on them over at Amazon. All of these models received 4 stars and up ratings by purchasers. As with anything, these are recommendations – you’ll have to try out on your own to make sure they are right for you.
Did we miss any on this list? If you have a favorite please share with us in the comments! We would love to hear your feedback!