Best Dehydrator for Jerky: Top 5 Picks

Best Dehydrator for Jerky: Top 5 Picks

Updated on - . 15 min read

Say goodbye to store-bought and hello to DIY! Whether you're a spice guru, a serious jerky maker, or a savory aficionado, making jerky at home puts YOU in the driver's seat—flavors, ingredients, crunch, you name it!

But here's the catch: to make those jerky dreams come true, you need the right dehydrator. That's where we step in! We've sifted through all the options to bring you the ultimate list of the five best food dehydrators out there. From budget-friendly to high-end, we’ve got the best food dehydrator for every jerky maker!

Ready to become the Jerky Master you were born to be? Let's get this snack party started!

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5 Best Dehydrators for Jerky

  1. Best Overall: COSORI Food Dehydrator: 6 Trays
  2. Editor's Choice: Magic Mill Food Dehydrator: 9 Trays
  3. Best Compact Option: Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator
  4. Best on a Budget: VIVOHOME 5/8 Trays Food Dehydrator Machine
  5. Best for Users Seeking Capacity: VEVOR Electric Food Dehydrator Machine

1. Best Overall

COSORI Food Dehydrator: 6 Trays

The Cosori Food Dehydrator offers a well-rounded set of features, making it ideal for users interested in a variety of dehydrated foods, from jerky to fruit leathers. With an emphasis on performance, ease of use, and space efficiency, it stands out as a reliable all-rounder.

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What We Love

  • Even Drying: Consistently produces jerky with excellent texture and taste.
  • User-Friendly: Easy to operate and clean, ideal for dehydrating newbies.
  • Compact Design: Doesn't hog your counter space, fits well in smaller kitchens.
  • Fully Equipped: Comes with 6 stainless steel trays, a mesh screen, and a fruit roll sheet.
  • Quiet Operation: Works at less than 48dB noise level, allowing peaceful multitasking.

What to Keep in Mind

  • Limited Capacity: With 6.5 sq. ft, it's smaller than some other models, so plan your batches accordingly.
  • US & Canada Only: 120V, 600W voltage specific to USA and Canada.

Why It Might Be Right for You

You're a busy parent who values both health and convenience. You can see yourself setting the Cosori Food Dehydrator before bedtime, waking up to nutritious, homemade snacks for the family's lunchboxes. The compact size saves your precious counter space, and the easy operation means even your teenager can join the healthy snacking trend. This machine isn't just an appliance; it's a step toward a healthier lifestyle for your family.

Customer Review (source: Amazon)
I bought this as a gift for my mom but ended up using it myself for dehydrating Morels. It's incredibly user-friendly, easy to clean, and more quiet than other models I've tried. The size is a bit bulky, but it's a small price to pay for its efficiency. I'm so impressed, I'm planning to buy one for myself!

2. Editor's Choice

Magic Mill Food Dehydrator: 9 Trays

This unit is designed for those who are deeply committed to jerky making, be it for personal consumption or as a business venture. With nine adjustable trays and advanced features like a rear-mounted drying fan and precise temperature control, it provides an excellent experience for dedicated jerky makers.

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What We Love

  • No Tray Rotation: Rear-mounted drying fan ensures even drying.
  • Whisper Quiet: Operates silently except for the end timer.
  • Big Batch Friendly: Suitable for large volumes, whether for personal or commercial use.
  • Versatile Temps: Adjustable temperature range between 97 to 167 degrees F.
  • Safety Features: Comes with overheat protection and BPA-free construction.

What to Keep in Mind

  • Large Footprint: Similar in size to a beverage refrigerator, requires ample space.

Why It Might Be Right for You

You're a jerky aficionado, not just a casual snacker. Every slice has to be just right, from seasoning to texture. Enter the Magic Mill Food Dehydrator. Its advanced features allow you to venture beyond the simple salt and pepper jerky, maybe into teriyaki or spicy chili realms. This isn't just an appliance; it's your culinary studio, where you craft not just food but experiences. Quiet enough not to disturb your thoughts but powerful enough to handle even your most ambitious projects.

Customer Review (source: Amazon)
I splurged on this 10-tray stainless steel dehydrator and it's worth every penny. It's a relief to move away from my old plastic trays that kept breaking. First run of fruits and jerky came out perfect, and it's surprisingly quiet! I was initially concerned about noise and potential damage during delivery, but those worries were unfounded. It's so quiet I can't even hear it over the TV. Still need to master the fruit roll-ups, but so far, I'm extremely satisfied.

3. Best Compact Option

Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator

The Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator is an excellent choice for those who need a compact and user-friendly dehydrator. It's particularly suitable for smaller kitchens or for users who appreciate the convenience of a smaller, efficient unit. With its essential features and straightforward operation, it's perfect for beginners or those who want to dehydrate food with minimal fuss.

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What We Love

  • Extended Timer: Up to 48-hour timer with auto-shutoff gives you the freedom to set it and forget it.
  • Temperature Control: Choose between 100°F and 160°F for versatile food drying options.
  • Multi-Functional Sheets: Includes a fine-mesh sheet for herbs and a solid sheet for fruit rolls.
  • Even Drying: Continuous airflow guarantees uniformly dried food items.

What to Keep in Mind

  • Power Consumption: With a 500-watt motor, consider your energy usage.

Why It Might Be Right for You

If your kitchen space is at a premium, but you're eager to explore the world of food dehydration, the Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator is your ideal match. Imagine tucking this compact unit into a cozy corner of your countertop, where it quietly works its magic, transforming fruits, meats, and herbs into dried delights. It's perfect for those who want the satisfaction of homemade dehydrated snacks without the need for a bulky machine. Whether you're a beginner in dehydrating or a seasoned pro looking for a convenient unit, this dehydrator offers the simplicity and efficiency you need.

Customer Review (source: Amazon)
Switched from an Excalibur to this Hamilton Beach dehydrator and I'm thrilled. It's compact, efficient, and the clear lid lets me easily check on my nuts as they dehydrate. Noise level is noticeable but not annoying. My only wish is for more mesh screens and a nut recipe in the manual. Overall, Hamilton Beach continues to impress me with their well-designed products.

4. Best on a Budget

VIVOHOME 5/8 Trays Food Dehydrator Machine

The VIVOHOME Dehydrator stands out as the most budget-friendly option, offering great value for those who want to explore the world of food dehydration without a significant financial commitment. Its combination of power, capacity, and versatility makes it an excellent choice for families or individuals looking to try a variety of dehydrating projects without breaking the bank.

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What We Love

  • Powerful Drying Capacity: 400W power ensures efficient moisture removal and flavor retention.
  • Adjustable Timer & Temperature: Customizable settings for optimal drying.
  • Large Capacity: 5/8 food-grade drying racks for bulk processing.
  • Premium Material: BPA-free stainless steel and plastic, with a digital LED display.
  • Versatility: Suitable for a wide range of foods, including meats, fruits, and herbs.

What to Keep in Mind

  • Cleaning: Some parts are not dishwasher safe.

Why It Might Be Right for You

For the budget-conscious food enthusiast who doesn't want to compromise on quality, the VIVOHOME 5/8 Trays Food Dehydrator is a dream come true. Envision filling up its trays with slices of beef for jerky, or apples for a healthy snack, all without straining your wallet. This dehydrator is a boon for those who love to experiment with a variety of foods but are mindful of their spending. It's not just about saving money; it's about unlocking the potential of your culinary creativity, making it an excellent choice for families, hobbyists, or anyone looking to step into the world of dehydrating without a hefty investment.

Customer Review (source: VIVOHOME)
I received my dehydrator on time and have already used it for everything from jerky to melba toast, and it works great! Cleaning the trays is a breeze, and I'm happy to say I have no complaints.

5. Best for Users Seeking Capacity

VEVOR Electric Food Dehydrator Machine

The VEVOR Electric Food Dehydrator is the go-to choice for those who have large-scale dehydrating needs. With its substantial 10-layer capacity and robust construction, it's particularly well-suited for users who frequently dehydrate in bulk, such as for large family gatherings, meal prepping, or even small-scale commercial ventures. Its precise temperature control and efficient drying system make it ideal for handling extensive dehydrating tasks with ease.

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What We Love

  • Large Capacity: 10 stainless steel trays, each holding up to 1.7 pounds.
  • Precise Control: Adjustable timer (0.5-48 hours) and temperature (86-194°F).
  • Quality Material: FDA certified, corrosion-resistant 201 stainless steel, and BPA-free trays.
  • Efficient Drying: 800W power with 360° hot air circulation for even drying.
  • Versatile Use: Ideal for a wide range of foods, from jerky to fruit leather and more.

What to Keep in Mind

  • Size: Requires significant kitchen space due to its large size.

Why It Might Be Right for You

The VEVOR Electric Food Dehydrator is a powerhouse, designed for those who take their dehydrating seriously. Picture yourself preparing batches of artisanal jerky, sun-dried tomatoes, or crispy apple chips in large quantities, all with professional-grade results. Whether you're catering to a large family, planning for extensive meal prep, or even running a small business, this machine stands up to the task. Its capacity and efficiency make it an indispensable tool for anyone who often finds themselves needing more space and power for their dehydrating projects. With this dehydrator, you're not just preserving food; you're elevating your culinary productions to a new level.

Customer Review (source: VEVOR)
I only wish I had ordered this dehydrator sooner! I've successfully dehydrated a variety of fruits and made some super awesome jerky. I'm excited to try veggies next and can't wait to use it more this summer. The price was great, shipping was smooth, and it arrived without any issues.

How We Chose Our Top Picks

Our mission is to give you expert insights into these products. Even though we might not have used each one personally, we've done a lot of homework to understand them better. We've looked closely at what real users are saying, especially the customer reviews on Amazon. This helps us figure out how well these products work, how long they last, and how easy they are to use. We also compare them with similar items to make sure you're getting the best one for what you need.

When we pick our top choices, we think about a few important things. We check how well each product does its job and how long it's likely to last. We also look at how simple it is to use because we know that's super important. Plus, we compare each product with others that are similar to see which ones really stand out. This way, we can help you find the perfect match for what you're looking for.

How do Dehydrators Work?

A food dehydrator consists of several common components regardless of their style. The first is an enclosure that houses the heating element as well as the fan. You've also been provided with trays to store the food items.

The entire apparatus is locked to keep the heat in to ensure that food items are rapidly dehydrated in a secure and clean setting.

Once you've finished making your dried snacks, just open the dehydrator, take out the trays, and then clean the dehydrator thoroughly.

You can then store it for the time to make use of it. This is the reason why it is so useful for making homemade jerky.

What to look for before buying a dehydrator

If you're looking for the best dehydrator for jerky making, then you've come to the right place. A food dehydrator is a great way to preserve food, and it's also perfect for making beef jerky. Jerky is a great snack that's high in protein and low in fat, and it's easy to make at home with a dehydrator.

There are a few things to consider when choosing a dehydrator for jerky making. First, consider the size of the unit. You'll want to choose a dehydrator that has enough space to accommodate the amount of jerky you want to make.

Second, think about the features you need. Some dehydrators have dishwasher-safe trays, while others have an automatic shut-off feature or temperature control.

Third, consider your budget. Dehydrators can range in price from around $30 to $200, so decide how much you're willing to spend on this kitchen appliance.

And fourth, read reviews from other customers before making your final decision.

This will help you get an idea of which dehydrators are the best on the market. So what is the best dehydrator for jerky? That depends on your individual needs and preferences. But we've compiled a list of our top picks to help you narrow down your choices.

The best dehydrators possess a few important features that you must be aware of when you shop.


The size of your dehydrator is a major factor. Smaller units aren't capable of dehydrating enough jerky at the same time as larger units.

Dehydrating meat can take a long time, regardless of the type of dehydrator you choose to purchase. Therefore, it is likely that you'll be able to prepare large quantities of jerky in advance rather than making smaller portions when you're in the mood for a meaty snack comes up.

Consider the amount of jerky you'd like to consume in the future and work from there. Get a larger dehydrator even if it's costly if your preference is jerky as your primary everyday snack. Choose a smaller one for jerky that you use only occasionally.

You'll also want to keep in mind how much storage space you have. Choose a smaller option if you don't have the space for a large dehydrator.

Vertical/Horizontal Airflow

The two airflow variations are typical for dehydrators. They are not necessarily superior to one, but each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Vertical airflow dehydrators are equipped with fans that are mounted on the top or at the bottom. They are usually not excessively expensive.
  • They're smaller than horizontal dehydrators, which means they're a great option if you have an overcrowded kitchen counter.
  • They're not as efficient as horizontal dehydrators, but.

This is due to the fact that air that flows upwards or downwards through the dehydrator isn't flowing across the entire length of a particular portion of food. The process of drying and evaporation takes place slightly slower because of this.

You could try shifting the racks in your vertical airflow dehydrator in order to adapt to this.

  • Horizontal airflow dehydrators are equipped with fans that are located in the rear of the unit.
  • This placement of the fan allows each shelf in the dehydrator to receive the same amount of air circulation.
  • The air flows over the entire length of meat, enhancing the evaporation of moisture and ensuring that the entire strip is dried equally.

It's also simpler to inspect your meat racks by using a horizontal dehydrator. The trays typically can be removed like a rack or drawer. It's simple to move meat or vegetables by sliding them out this way.

Noise Level

Also, be sure to check the potential sound levels that a dehydrator can produce. They can be quite noisy due to the fact that they utilize moving air and fans to dry the strips of meat.

It is possible to determine the exact levels of noise of a particular dehydrator in the instruction manual or in the specifications for the product.

Usually, the more expensive dehydrators have quieter fans and soundproofing methods. These are designed to make them easier to operate for the course of a long time.

Less expensive units are likely to be quieter in general. It is advisable to get a dehydrator that is quieter if you intend to use it often.

Temperature Setting

Dehydrators that incorporate some form of temperature control built into their designs are worth a glance. Since temperature plays a huge amount when you make your own chewy, having the ability to regulate it is a huge benefit.

The temperature of the jerky must be at least 160 degrees, except for poultry, which must be 165 degrees F.

Temperature settings allow you to easily prepare your jerky to this safe temperature without the need to constantly check.

You should consider purchasing an instrument for temperature, particularly when you purchase an appliance that does not have a detailed temperature setting.

If your dehydrator isn't able to achieve temperatures of 160degF, you could cook the jerky in an oven before cooking it to the desired temperature. After that, you can put it in the dehydrator until it is completely dry.

But it takes longer than just being able to put the jerky into the dehydrator itself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a dehydrator for jerky making?

There are many methods to create jerky. The production of jerky began hundreds or even thousands of years prior to the introduction of refrigeration which means it's a very primitive method of preserving food. What a food dehydrator can do is make it simple to use, easy, and safe for you to dry meat (and vegetables and fruits).

Are dehydrators worth it?

A food dehydrator is an excellent kitchen appliance for those who like the taste of jerky, vegetable chips, and dried fruits, but even the regular kitchen cook will find plenty of benefits to having a dehydrator.

We've discussed a lot about cultivating the food you eat, harvesting from your meat, and discovering ways to increase the number of foods you have without going to the grocery store.

With prices for food rising, the need for a food dehydrator is even more sense as you'll pay less for foods in bulk and then use the dehydrator to keep any excess food items that you don't take in right away or store in your freezer.

What are the advantages of a dehydrator?

There is no method to make jerky more practical than using a dehydrator for food. The process is easy and quick. It is also completely enclosed.

You don't have to spend hours monitoring the progress, altering the temperature, or coping with having to use an appliance like an oven.

Cleaning the dehydrator also has a benefit over other methods as the majority of components are dishwasher safe or easy to clean and maintain clear.

Contrary to using an oven or smoker, which can be difficult to wash, cleaning a top-quality dehydrator is clean in a matter of only a few minutes.

It's easier to clean the dehydrator than an oven or a smoker, and all the time you'll save will make your life more enjoyable.

The operating costs of dehydrators are also less than nearly every other technique. Food dehydrators utilize electricity to generate heat and a fan to move air.

It doesn't wind with a lot of power. If your smoker is going to be among the most expensive methods, create homemade jerky; the dehydrator is among the most affordable.

Is it possible to dehydrate your meat for too long?

Based on the way you like the jerky you make, you don't have to make sure that you don't dehydrate the meat for too long.

The longer you cook it, the drier it gets, and it's all about what you intend to use for the jerky.

If you plan to store the jerky for a long time, you may prefer to let it dehydrate for longer. However, if you're making it to bring to camp for the weekend, then you (and your companions) may prefer a more flavorful and more convenient batch that doesn't need more drying time.

What is the ideal temperature at which I dehydrate my homemade jerky?

It is recommended to dehydrate your jerky at a temperature of 150-160 degrees. The secret to creating excellent jerky is to make it slow and slow.

Drying your meat to this degree over a long time will ensure that you get rid of the moisture and also any risk of the growth of bacteria.

Of course, the length of time it takes to dry your meat will vary based on the unit you choose to use and the number of batches that you prepare, but you should be prepared to be spending anywhere from 4 to 8 hours drying the meat.

Do you need curing salt for beef Jerky?

Although there are many opinions regarding whether you require curing salt for jerky or not but there are some benefits when using it. Curing salt (sodium Nitrite) aids in fighting certain bacteria that thrive in jerky-making conditions.

Although you may be sick from eating excessive amounts of curing salt, making sure you use the correct quantity is a good option to ensure you and your family members aren't ill with foodborne illnesses.

Do I need to rotate trays in the dehydrator while cooking?

No, you don't need to rotate the trays while cooking; however, it's a good idea to rotate them occasionally so that all the food gets evenly dehydrated.

Items reviewed:

  1. Best Overall: COSORI Food Dehydrator: 6 Trays
  2. Editor's Choice: Magic Mill Food Dehydrator: 9 Trays
  3. Best Compact Option: Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator
  4. Best on a Budget: VIVOHOME 5/8 Trays Food Dehydrator Machine
  5. Best for Users Seeking Capacity: VEVOR Electric Food Dehydrator Machine

Best Overall: COSORI Food Dehydrator: 6 Trays

The Cosori Food Dehydrator offers a well-rounded set of features, making it ideal for users interested in a variety of dehydrated foods, from jerky to fruit leathers. With an emphasis on performance, ease of use, and space efficiency, it stands out as a reliable all-rounder.

Check Price on Amazon

Further Reading

  • If you're looking to master the art of making beef jerky, don't miss the article "How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator" by Jerkyholic.