Make Your Own Camp Food with the Best Food Dehydrators in 2022


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We all love dehydrated camp meals for their ease, but they are becoming incredibly expensive and are often high in sodium and sugar. However, if you’re willing to invest a little bit of money and time, you can create your own camp meals with a food dehydrator.

Food dehydration is excellent for preserving food, general preparation, and making trail snacks. If you want custom camp meals and snacks for your next adventure, check out our list of the best food dehydrators.

The best food dehydrators

Editor’s pick: COSORI Food Dehydrator

cosori food dehydrator

  • Stainless steel finish with glass door
  • Temperatures range between 95ºF to 165ºF
  • Silent operation
  • Six stainless steel trays included
  • Automatic timer
  • Overheat protection
  • 50 recipes included

The COSORI Food Dehydrator is known to be thorough, easy to use, convenient, and safe. It comes equipped with six stainless steel trays, a mesh screen, and a fruit roll sheet.

It comes with a manual and a fifty-recipe book. The control panel and timer are easy-to-read. All you need to do is place your food inside the dehydrator, set the timer, and let it do all the work. There is even an automatic shut-off function that will kick in once the time is up. Another key safety feature will kick in if the dehydrator begins to overheat. Once you’re done, you’ll be glad to know that the trays are also fairly easy to clean and dishwasher-friendly.

See COSORI Food Dehydrator on Amazon

See COSORI Food Dehydrator on Walmart

Most tray space: Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator

excalibur 9 tray electric food dehydrator

  • Nine trays with flexible poly screens
  • Adjustable thermostat between 105°F to 165°F
  • 26-hour timer
  • Suitable for a range of food types
  • Parallax Horizontal Airflow system
  • Preserves nutrients and enzymes

The Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator can dehydrate fruits and vegetables, raise bread, or even make yogurt. With a total of 15ft² of drying space and up to nine trays, this is a heavy-duty machine.

There is an adjustable thermostat and up to a 26-hour timer. Also, with a seven-inch fan and up to 600 watts of power, this machine will deliver delicious evenly dehydrated products fast. It is both safe and easy to use and has poly screen trays to keep food from sticking. The patented Parallex Horizontal Airflow helps to distribute air evenly over each tray, drying food faster for a better taste. The trays are also super easy to clean.

See Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator on Amazon

See Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator on Walmart

See Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator on Home Depot

Least counter space: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

nesco snackmaster pro food dehydrator

  • Adjustable thermostat; 95°F to 160°F
  • Equipped with five trays, expandable to 12
  • Opaque exterior
  • Fast, even, and nutritious drying
  • Compact design to maximize counter space
  • Powerful top-mounted fan

Next up is the Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, which is ideal for making homemade dog treats (seriously) and on-the-go snacks for hiking and backpacking. It’s a great choice for the home too, with an adjustable thermostat to tackle various food types and 600W of drying power. Despite this power, it’s also energy efficient.

The trays are expandable and the Converga-Flow technology evenly dries food with no need to rotate. If jerky’s your thing, it comes with free spices to get your grub on immediately. Overall, it’s a reliable, powerful dehydrator at a great price.

Be sure also to check out our list of the best air fryers for more great items like this.

See Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator on Amazon

Great for jerky: Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine

magic mill food dehydrator machine

  • Seven stainless steel trays
  • Temperature range of 95°F to 165°F
  • Digital thermostat and timer for temperature control
  • Dishwasher safe parts
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Overheat protection

Boasting a massive nine pounds of potential, the Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine is our premium pick for dehydrating food. It has multiple metal trays, hanging racks, and a timer to dry everything to perfection.

The rear fan guarantees even heat distribution and the timer can be set up to 19.5 hours. It’s quieter than a microwave and the overheating protection prevents parts damage. The unit is well built, and even with heavy use, it should last a decade-plus.

See Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine on Amazon

Easy monitoring: Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator

presto dehydro electric food dehydrator,

  • Equipped with four trays
  • Temperature range up to 165°F
  • See-through cover
  • Bottom mounted fans
  • Compact size

The Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator is a compact option for smaller kitchens. While it only has four trays, these are expandable.

The see-through cover helps you check what’s going on in there and it heats quicker than you’d expect, reaching optimum temperature in just twenty minutes. It doesn’t distribute air as evenly as other models, but we can’t complain too much considering the price. The heating element and the fan are top-mounted, so you’ll want to watch your top few trays closely.

Our handy guide to the best slow cookers features more great products like this.

See Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator on Amazon

See Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator on Walmart

Easily extendable: Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator

nesco gardenmaster food dehydrator

  • Eight dishwasher-safe trays, expandable to 30
  • Quiet 2400 RPM motor
  • Adjustable temperature range, 95°F to 160°F
  • Converga-Flow dehydration system for consistent airflow
  • Opaque Vita-Save exterior blocks light and traps nutrients and vitamins

Quiet and consistent, the Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator boasts multiple trays. It’s quiet but powerful with an adjustable thermostat. The heating element sits on the bottom, and the fan moves the heat between the trays. While going through the drying cycle, keep a close eye on the bottom trays as they may dehydrate faster.

The air distributes evenly, while the opaque construction prevents sunlight from damaging the food, maintaining essential nutrients and minerals. You can extend the trays up to 30 layers.

See Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator on Amazon

See Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator on Walmart

Quietest dehydrator: Samson Silent Dehydrator

samson silent dehydrator

  • Six BPA-free trays with 6.5ft² of drying space
  • Temperature range of 95°F to 158°F
  • Easy-to-reach controls on top of the machine
  • Push button with LCD screen makes information easy to read
  • Automatic fan ensures consistent drying and prevents overheating

Silent by name and silent by nature, the Samson Silent Dehydrator is our quietest selection. It’s perfect for those sharing apartments. The back fan dries evenly across the 6.5ft² of interior space, allowing ample tray space and preventing overheating.

It’s both fast and efficient, doing the job in around 12 hours (depending on the food type). The buttons are easy to reach and any settings you desire are straightforward.

See Samson Silent Dehydrator on Amazon

See Samson Silent Dehydrator on Walmart

Easy to use: Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator

hamilton beach digital food dehydrator

  • Five stackable drying trays
  • Temperature range of 100°F to 160°F
  • 500-watts of power
  • Continuous airflow
  • 48-hour timer
  • Includes one fine-mesh sheet

The Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator is one of the most popular food dehydrators on the market, with over 1,200 reviews on Amazon (and most of them positive). It has 500 watts of power and five stackable drying trays. The stackable design allows air to flow continuously, which dries the food evenly. The adjustable digital thermostat lets you set the temperature from 100°F to 160°F. It even comes with a fine-mesh sheet for drying small foods like herbs.

If you’re looking for a way to get into food dehydration, this isn’t the most expensive machine, it’s super easy to use, and the results are fantastic.

See Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator on Amazon

See Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator on Walmart

See Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator on Home Depot

Best curb appeal: VIVOHOME Electric 8 Trays Food Dehydrator

vivohome electric 8 trays food dehydrator

  • Eight layers of large-capacity drying trays
  • Temperature range of 95°F to 168°F
  • 400-watts of power
  • 24-hour timer
  • Stainless steel base
  • Digital LED display

In our opinion, the VIVOHOME Electric Food Dehydrator is one of the best-looking food dehydrators on the market. It has eight plastic trays, equally spaced apart, that are completely transparent. You can see right into the dehydrator and watch as your foods dry out. It’s equipped with 400 watts of power circulated by the rotating fan. The hot air moves evenly around the food, drying everything simultaneously. This method gives you a vitamin and mineral retention rate of 97%.

You can also adjust the drying temperature from 95°F to 158°F and the timer from zero to 24 hours. This allows you to experiment until you find the perfect settings for whatever foods you’re working with. All of this is controlled using an easy-to-use digital LED display. Our favorite feature is by far the clear view, allowing for easy monitoring. While dehydrating, watch the lower layers.

See VIVOHOME Electric 8 Trays Food Dehydrator on Amazon

See VIVOHOME Electric 8 Trays Food Dehydrator on VIVOHOME

Why trust us

Our team at ExplorersWeb has decades of product testing and expedition experience, and we’ve all eaten our fair share of dehydrated meals. The first time I had a homemade one, it was a game changer.

Who this is for

This guide is for anyone looking for the best way to dehydrate foods. We are aiming this guide towards those who are looking to prepare and store camp meals and prepare food for on-the-go adventures. However, there are many more uses for dehydrators too.

How we picked

We curated our selection of the best food dehydrators by prioritizing variety. Next, we looked for variety in price and we wanted plenty of temperature ranges for those who need the best jerky dehydrator or want to make the best fruit leathers. Variety in the amount of tray space and how much food you can dehydrate at once was also important. Finally, we wanted to ensure some of these models had dishwasher-safe trays and that some models didn’t take up too much storage space in small kitchens.

food-dehydrator

Features to look for in food dehydrators

Consistent heat

Without consistent heat, you won’t get consistent results. Because you need everything on the shelves to be at the same level of dehydration, consistent heat distribution is essential. Stackable versions only emit heat from the base or the top, meaning food on the upper or lower levels will get the most heat. For the most consistent results, a horizontal-type dehydrator is preferred. However, stackable options can save money, so if you’re on a budget, we’ve included them too. However, you may need to take extra care to remove food that dehydrates first.

Capacity

A large dehydrator is helpful for those who grow their own produce. Size isn’t everything, though, and most people should be fine with stackable versions. These smaller units are easier to find space for in the kitchen.

Temperature settings

The wider the range of temperature settings, the more control you have over the dehydration. This is more common with shelf-based dehydrators, but more advanced vertical stacked options may provide a temperature range too. If you want to dehydrate meat for jerky, you’ll need higher temperatures than for fruit and vegetables.

Accessories

Accessories like timers, expandability, and different food-type trays are useful. Some options come with cookbooks and spices.

Auto shut off

Humans are not perfect. Most of us have forgotten we’ve left something in the oven at least once. An automatic shut-off feature prevents overheating and over-drying, and ensures there’s no lasting damage to the machine.

Noise level

A noisy appliance is annoying, especially if you live with roommates or want to dehydrate your food overnight. If you don’t want to disturb anyone, consider how loud the unit will be.

food dehydrator

Food dehydrator FAQ

Q: How does a food dehydrator work?

Food dehydrators work by circulating air at very low temperatures for a long period. This removes the moisture from the food through the dehydration process and allows fresh food to become shelf-stable.

Q: What foods can you make in a dehydrator?

Fruit leathers, dried fruits, beef jerky, healthy snacks, and dehydrated meals are just some of the options available.

Q: How should I slice my food before dehydrating it?

The larger the cut area, the faster the food dehydrates. Your slices can be a quarter to half an inch thick. When preparing snacks and meals, think about the size of the food you’ll be able to eat with your camp utensils or while hiking and slice appropriately before dehydrating.

Q: How long does dehydrated food last?

Generally, dehydrated foods are good for one to two years. However, if you vacuum seal the packages, they can be good for up to 30 years. We wouldn’t recommend storing large batches of food for that long, but you could.

Sources:

  1. How to Use a Food Dehydrator – WikiHow
  2. What Features Should You Look For in a Food Dehydrator? – Dehydrator Blog
  3. What are the Different Types of Food Dehydrators?  – Dehydrator Blog

Tuesday Kirby Kahl

Tuesday Kirby Kahl is a native Texan now residing in Portland, OR. In addition to her work as a writer, she’s a competitive climbing coach for youth and adult athletes. When she’s not working, you’ll find her rock climbing, exploring, skiing, and paddle boarding all over the Cascades. When at home, she’s usually tending to her collection or houseplants or painting with a cup of tea in hand.