The Best Dehydrators for Beef Jerky

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    OUR TOP CHOICE

    Key Features

    Materials: stainless steel (machine and trays), tempered glass (door)

    Power: 120 v, 600 watt

    Trays: 6, expandable up to 12

    Tray capacity: approximately 195 square inches per tray (approximately 1170 square inches total, not counting expansions)

    Temperature range: 95 degrees to 167 degrees Fahrenheit


    dried tomatoDehydrators are a niche tool, in many ways, but invaluable for certain purposes. Particularly, you can’t effectively make beef jerky without one (unless you’re willing to spend the time doing it the traditional way).

    Jerky is a great travel food, a quick way to get energy up that stores well and is hard to go wrong with as a snack on a hike or after strenuous exercise of some sort. It’s also expensive to buy from the store; many times more expensive than what it takes to make jerky out of a good cut of meat.

    So, jerky lovers would naturally want to pick one up. But it can be hard to figure out what you want to look for in a dehydrator, especially since not only are they not all created equal, different machines might not even be suitable for jerky at all, instead specializing in drying fruit or what have you.

    So I’ve put together a quick buying guide, along with a few of my favorite dehydrators that should be perfect for making delicious jerky.


    Here are the best dehydrators for beef jerky you can buy:

    For the complete product list, please continue reading…


    Top 7 Best Dehydrators For Beef Jerky (2020 Reviews)

    1. Rosewill Professional Food Dehydrator

    Pros:

    Easy to use digital temperature selector
    Great long term timer
    Perfectly regulated air flow for even heating
    Great temperature range
    Excellent capacity
    Sturdy stainless steel construction

    Cons:

    A bit expensive

    2. Ivation Stainless Steel Tray Electric Food Dehydrator Machine

    Pros:

    Strong plastic shell
    Stainless steel trays
    Great capacity
    Easy to use digital temperature controls
    Excellent timer work in 30 minutes increments up to 19.5 hours
    Excellent price for the performance

    Cons:

    A bit lower power and a smaller temperature range than many options

    Specifications:

      • Material: plastic (machine), stainless steel (trays)
      • Dimensions: 19” x 15” x 14”
      • Power: 480 watt
      • Trays: 6
      • Tray capacity: approximately 156 square inches per tray (approximately 936 square inches total)
      • Temperature range: 95 degrees to 158 degrees Fahrenheit
      • Total weight: 14.97 lbs.

    A significant drop in performance also comes with a significant drop in price for this steel dehydrator.

    There are two main things that put this model behind our winner: lower power, and a smaller temperature range overall. Still, the performance is good compared to models in the same relative price range, and it’s significantly more durable overall than those cheaper plastic models, while retaining a price point about half what our winner demands.

    Much of the things to like about our winner are still here, with 6 nice steel trays that are sturdy but easy to clean, and provide plenty of space for whatever you want to put on them; especially since they’re adjustable in height for weirdly shaped foods (strawberries are a big offender here, as you can see).

    The temperature range is good, but not perfect, running from 95 degrees to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. This is great for most purposes, and works well for jerky, but isn’t quite the optimal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher required for some things, or for speeding up the process. The power output is also a bit lower, so it will likely take a bit longer than other units of this size to heat up.

    Still, even with those drawbacks, it’s an excellent choice, and my pick for second best dehydrator here.


    3. Weston Realtree Edge Digital Food Dehydrator Plus

    Weston

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    Specifications:

      • Material: plastic
      • Dimensions: 16.1” x 12.6” x 13”
      • Power: 800 watt
      • Trays: 6
      • Temperature range: 100 degrees to 160 degrees Fahrenheit
      • Total weight: 12.38 lbs.

    This powerful steel dehydrator is expensive, but well worth it for dehydrated food enthusiasts. It’s a high performance, sturdy and well built machine that makes a good addition to any collection of useful home appliances.

    This is a solid midrange model, somewhat like a middle ground (in both price and performance) to our winner and the cheaper models down below.

    The size and performance aren’t in question here, with its power being the highest of all the units here. That’s kind of the thing with this one in general actually; it has a few things which are great on paper, but superfluous in practice. There’s no need for this to put out 800 watts of power when 600 does just fine, for instance.

    The size of each tray is good, and I like the tiered design of it as opposed to the closed box design in many ways. It makes it easier to load and stack each of the trays, but also does sacrifice a bit in terms of even air flow.

    The temperature range is great; 100 degrees to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, essentially deleting the least used temperature range of 99 degrees and below, though losing the top end as well, further begging the question of why it has so much power. It’s also easy to use, and quite a good buy for the price, but it may be hard to justify when you could shell out only a little more for our runner up.


    4. Hifashion 6 trays Electric Food Dehydrator Machine

    Pros:

    Excellent sturdy stainless steel construction
    Great capacity between 6 trays
    Easy to use
    Great temperature range
    Adjustable tray height

    Cons:

    Extremely high price point
    Fairly short timer compared to other dehydrators

    Specifications:

      • Material: stainless steel
      • Dimensions: 16.5” x 13” x 10.6”
      • Power: 110/220 v, 600 watt
      • Trays: 6
      • Temperature range: 95 degrees to 167 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees to 75 degrees Celsius)
      • Total weight: 16 lbs.

    This powerful steel dehydrator is expensive, but well worth it for dehydrated food enthusiasts. It’s a high performance, sturdy and well built machine that makes a good addition to any collection of useful home appliances.

    The strong stainless steel construction is the main draw here. A lot of dehydrators are made of plastic, which can vary from fine to great, but none are as durable and long lasting as steel. This is the kind of dehydrator you could use for years without needing to replace it, so long as it’s decently maintained.

    The interface is made up of a pair of simplistic knobs, but it provides good performance. While a digital control interface would be preferred, these function just fine, and will be easy to repair over time.

    The temperature range is excellent, going from 95 degrees to 167 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees to 75 degrees Celsius), which give you the perfect temperature for anything you’d care to do, from the most delicate options (nuts and fruit) to any kind of jerky you’d care to imagine.

    You get 6 sturdy trays, easily removable and easy to clean. Each has a pretty solid capacity, and can hold a large amount of food, and heights can be adjusted to potentially fit more or accommodate a tray or two of slightly large food.

    The only potential issue here is the timer, from 0 to 12 hours. For most purposes this is fine, but can make recipes that take a bit longer than 12 hours annoying. Aside from that, the only thing holding you back is budget; this dehydrator is expensive, more than 3 times the cost of some others here, and is also a bit more expensive than our winner, though not quite as good. Still, it’s worth picking up if you like how it functions over the Rosewill option above, especially if you can find it on a good sale.


    5. Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

    Pros:

    Good price
    Sturdy, thick plastic is built to last
    Easy to use
    Decent temperature range
    Great capacity; compatible with up to 12 trays
    Efficient air flow design

    Cons:

    Small individual tray capacity

    Specifications:

      • Material: plastic
      • Dimensions: 13.8” x 22.1” x 13.9”
      • Power: 120 v, 600 watt
      • Trays: 5, expandable up to 12
      • Tray capacity: approximately 182 square inches per tray (approximately 911 square inches total, not counting expansions)
      • Temperature range: 95 degrees to 160 degrees Fahrenheit
      • Total weight: 8.15 lbs.

    As far as plastic dehydrators go, this is one of the best around. The plastic here is sturdy and thick, built to stand up to a lot of abuse, which is exactly what you want in an appliance like this.

    On top of that, it’s modular, coming with 5 trays, but compatible with up to 12, giving you a huge amount of potential space to use, even with its somewhat smaller than average trays.

    The temperature range is good though not great, and it’s easy to adjust with a thick and sturdy knob. Making up for the lower temperature range is the Converga-flow technology, which promotes fast and even drying of whatever food you put into this, maximizing the dehydrator’s efficiency and the quality of the final product.

    You can’t go wrong with this one; it has power, speed, longevity, and comes in a compact package, with a price that isn’t going to make your eyes pop out of your head.


    6. Cosori Food Dehydrator Machine for Beef Jerky and More

    Pros:

    Easy to use
    Good temperature range
    Solid capacity
    Easy to clean
    Dishwasher safe
    Great price

    Cons:

    Plastic construction is flimsier than other options

    Specifications:

      • Material: plastic
      • Dimensions: 13.8” x 11.8” x 13.8”
      • Power: 120 v, 450 watt
      • Trays: 5
      • Tray capacity: approximately 190 square inches per tray (approximately 950 square inches total)
      • Temperature range: 95 degrees to 165 degrees Fahrenheit
      • Total weight: 9.25 lbs.

    This nice little dehydrator combines a lot of great traits into one easy to use and reasonably priced package.

    You get 5 trays worth or drying capacity, each tray giving you about 190 square inches to work with overall. Each of the plastic trays is lightweight and easy to clean. They’re also BPA free, so no worries about any leached chemicals into your food while dehydrating.

    Cosori Original Food Dehydrator is the perfect dehydrator for beginners. It has a good temperature range (from 95 degrees Fahrenheit to 165 degrees Fahrenheit), and can work on an automatic timer for up to 48 hours; plenty long enough for pretty much any needs.

    The main problem is the construction, being primarily plastic. While this does have some advantages (making it easier to clean, and even dishwasher safe), it leaves much to be desired in terms of longevity and sturdiness as compared to a model made of stainless steel or even a harder plastic.

    The 1 year warranty gives you that much peace of mind, at least, but I wouldn’t expect it to last much beyond that coverage.


    7. Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator

    Pros:

    Inexpensive
    Exceptionally easy to use
    Great capacity per tray
    Perfect temperature for jerky

    Cons:

    Low overall capacity
    Preset temperature is great for jerky, but terrible for everything else
    No built in timer or similar quality of life features

    Specifications:

      • Material: plastic
      • Dimensions: 14.5” x 15” x 6.2”
      • Power: 120 v, 450 watt
      • Trays: 4
      • Tray capacity: approximately 210 square inches per tray (approximately 8340 square inches total)
      • Temperature range: 165 degrees Fahrenheit (locked)
      • Total weight: 8.05 lbs.

    Cheap, Presto Dehydro one has over a lot of the competitors. While everything else falls behind by a bit in some places, and a lot in others, it’s hard to argue with something half the price of the better options on this list.

    It’s not all that bad in the grand scheme, but loses out primarily on versatility and size. The durability is much the same as the Cosori option above, and similar thin plastic dehydrators.

    This unit has a single fixed temperature: 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and no power switch whatsoever. It flips on to that preset temperature the instant it gets plugged in.

    In some ways, this is a good thing. In terms of ease of use, this is the best around; you put what you want in the tray, plug it in, and let it go until it’s done. No frills, no extra steps.

    This is absolutely perfect if all you want to make is jerky. However, it makes this dehydrator completely unusable for anything else; drying fruit or what have you for different purposes.

    That lack of versatility combined with the low durability and small capacity make this a niche option. If all you want to do is make jerky,  go for it. If you even think you might want to make something else, give it a hard pass.


    Final Verdict

    RosewillCheck Price on Amazon

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    While the Rosewill remains my favorite, I like all of these to an extent. The great thing about these is they’re models that don’t really step on each other’s toes in terms of price and performance. Lower cost gives you a drop in performance, fair for what they’re asking, unlike many products where the issue is often that the drop in price is much smaller than you’d expect for massively lowered performance.

    I’m comfortable recommending any of these so long as they suit your budget and needs at the time.


    What Should I Look for in a Dehydrator?

    Dehydrators are overall simple machines. What makes one good comes down to only three factors: construction, size, and performance (plus price, as always).

    A good dehydrator can be made of either steel or plastic, though if it’s made primarily of plastic it should be a thick and sturdy variety. While normally I’d say steel is the absolute preference for an appliance like this, that’s usually because the price difference isn’t so marked as it is here; whether a dehydrator is steel or plastic is the big determiner of price, and steel dehydrators cost on average 3 times what a plastic dehydrator will run you.

    Whatever the material, you want a good size; roughly 900 square inches of usable space spread across about 5 trays is the average. The exterior space should be large enough to hold that, with adjustable heights if possible, but remain compact.

    Finally, performance refers mostly to temperature. The golden zone for jerky specifically is 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, though the ability to do lower temperature is desirable as well, as things like nuts and fruit will need different settings. Finally, remember to keep an eye on air flow; good air flow will produce more even heating, and so a better final product.