Best Dehydrator for Jerky: Review and Buying Guide

November 4, 2022

My choice of the best dehydrator for homemade jerky is the Nesco FD-75A, after which comes the Cosori CP267-FD. They are some of the most effective dehydrators for jerky because of their heating power and larger drying surface. 

Why do you need a food dehydrator for jerky? Well, fresh meat rots pretty quickly under good or poor storage conditions because of the water it contains. Dehydrating meat removes the water content, makes it tastier, and allows it to be stored longer. 

Remember I showed you how to make beef jerky? This time around, I’ll be introducing you to the types of dehydrators that get the job done best. In this article, I’ll review the 5 best dehydrators for jerky and give you a short guide to buying one. 

Best dehydrator for jerky

5 Best Jerky Dehydrators Review 

Without further ado, here are our best dehydrators for jerky making in your home kitchen:

1. Nesco FD-75A Food Dehydrator

Editor’s Choice

Highlights 

  • 60 watts of dehydration power 
  • Possibility of stacking up to 12 tray
  • Adjustable thermostat 
  • Holders for liquids or herbs

If you regularly consume jerky and other dried food or want to prepare enough for a large family, the Nesco dehydrator is a serious jerky maker with a remarkable production capacity. 

Although this food dehydrator comes with five trays, you can add more if you want. You can stack a dozen to have plenty of fruit rolls, jerky, or other treats for the entire family. The jerky maker has round trays, which means you can rotate trays during dehydration.

The drying power here is 600 watts. The noise produced turns out to be quite tolerable. And I found that the operation speed is noticeably above average: of course, it takes a few hours to achieve proper drying. 

The main advantage is its quality and lifespan. If I could still rate it online, I’m giving it 5 stars. 

It is particularly designed to dehydrate jerky. That’s probably why Nesco included three sachets of dedicated spices. For other types of food, you have two solid supports and two mesh supports: versatility is ensured for soups, herbs, fruits, vegetables, and meat.

The basic dimensions of the device are 13.74 x 22.13 x 13.86 in, for a weight of 7.76 lb. Note, therefore, that it’s not really compact nor easy to store, especially if you have chosen to buy additional trays. So, you have to provide a dedicated place for it.

The ease of use is great: everything is done using a button on the top of the device. You can have the temperature control set at 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit temperature range. This is ideal for making jerky. On the other hand, I didn’t particularly appreciate that there was no on-off button. You always have to plug in and unplug the food dehydrator. All these reasons are why I seriously think it’s one of the best food dehydrators on the market. 

 Pros 

  • For foods that need varying temperature settings
  • Expandable to 12 trays
  • Round design makes tray rotation easy
  • Fast dehydration and large capacity
  • Made for true jerky lovers.
  • Comes with a sample of jerky seasoning and cure 

Cons 

  • No on/off button 

2. Cosori CP267-FD

Best Food Dehydrator for a Large Family

Highlights:

  • 50 recipes 
  • 600 watts of dehydration power 
  • 6 stainless steel trays
  • Rear fan 

Do you have a large family? Would you want to offer them the best possible recipes based on fruits, herbs, and dried meat? Then, the large capacity and good efficiency of this dehydrator will meet your needs. 

Note that this machine is almost double the price of the first option. It’s also a bit larger. However, it is an ideal size if you want to delight the taste buds of as many people as possible on a daily basis. This dehydrator comes with six 12 by 13-inch stainless steel trays soyou can dry plenty of food in one go.

With this food dehydrator, you also have a 10.7 by 11.8-inch mesh grid and an 11.8-inch fruit roll tray. All of these are easy to clean and dishwasher-safe. Just pop them in the dishwasher.

One of the main advantages of the Cosori CP267-FD is its quiet operation, despite the rear-mounted fans.  The fan and heating element generates a low noise level.

You can make dried beef, tomatoes, limes, lemons, apples, pineapples, and peaches. Everything is perfect, even for newbies. 

It comes with a book with 59 recipes that teach you how to adjust the device. It is also easy to clean.

With a touch, the digital control panel allows you to set the dehydration time you want, up to 48h in 30 min increments. You can also adjust the thermostat to a temperature range of 95 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit

The device automatically shuts down when the procedure is complete or if it overheats. With the transparent window, you can monitor the progress of dehydration. A memory function will allow you to keep your settings.

Pros 

  • Powerful dehydration 
  • Large capacity
  • Quiet operation 
  • BPA free materials 

Cons 

  • High price
  • Bulky and heavy

3. Salton DH1454

Our Budget Pick

Highlights

  • 5 stacking trays 
  • 1 herb tray and roll-up fruit tray 
  • Made to preserve food items like fruits, jerky, and potpourri 

If you are alone or a couple, have little kitchen space, and want an affordable food dehydrator, you should check out the Salton DH1454. 

This device is quite compact. It measures 12.99 by 12.99 by 8.31 inches and weighs 6.79 lb. So you can get this even if your kitchen lacks space. 

For a device in this price range, the capacity is quite significant, with the 5 trays offering quite reasonable space. Plus, there’s a sturdy stand and a fruit roll sheet for making fruit rolls or drying herbs. It usually takes 4 to 8 hours for a satisfactory result.

It’s ideal for making jerky, especially duck breasts. You can have the internal temperature set at around 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit with thetemperature control. This is possible for preparing jerky or dried fruit, to limit waste, or simply for pure pleasure.

Unfortunately, there is no timer, but it has an on-off button, and the transparent trays allow you to monitor the progress of your food. The food dehydrator is also a 100 percent BPA-free product.

Unfortunately, the plastic design is not that durable. The trays tend to break within the first year. So I don’t recommend this for particularly intensive use.

Pros 

  • Fast, space-saving, and ideal for one or two people.
  • Good capacity-size ratio.
  • Makes dehydrated foods in less than 8 hours.
  • Very affordable
  • Round design for tray rotation

Cons 

  • Disappointing build quality

4. NutriChef PKFD06

Best Dehydrator for Small Space

Highlights 

  • Compact 10.98 x 10.2 x 10.98 inches size 
  • 5 stackable trays
  • Temperature control allows maximum temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Detachable trays 

Dehydrators are not necessarily used every day and often take up a lot of space. With the NutriChef PKFD06, the brand wanted to roll out a compact product that is pleasant for people with moderate needs and limited storage space. It’s a budget dehydrator for jerky-making, perhaps because of its small size and the use of plastics, albeit durable. 

The first advantage of the small size of this product is the ease of cleaning. You only need a few minutes to make the main unit and the plastic trays look new.

The device is very light. It weighs only 3.11 lb. Its dimensions, meanwhile, are 10.98 x 10.2 x 10.98 inches. You can store it easily and even take it with you on vacation or during a business trip.

It’s really compact and quiet. However, you need some patience to use it. You may need to let the product run for almost a full day.

It would have been nicer to have a timer and automatic shutdown. 

However, there are two buttons for adjustable temperature control: one for switching on and off, the other for adjusting the temperature. The maximum heat possible here is 180 degrees. Due to the device’s compact size, the capacity is lower: it is suitable for one to two people.

If you want to prepare dried foods for pure indulgence, it may be better to go for a larger capacity.

However, the NutriChef PKFD06 is the ideal solution if you live in a small apartment or studio and want to avoid waste without spending a large budget on your dehydrator. Meanwhile, the product doesn’t have dishwasher safe trays. They melt in the dishwasher so don’t try this.

 Pros 

  • Inexpensive 
  • Runs quietly
  • Easy to clean, carry, and store 

Cons 

  • Slow in operation
  • Very small in capacity  

5. Excalibur 2400

Best High-end Dehydrator

Highlights 

  • Adjustable thermostat 
  • 4 trays 
  • 220 watts of dehydration power 

Do you want a dehydrator that can integrate into a modern kitchen decoration? In this case, you can get the Excalibur 2400. It is a pretty black dehydrator with trays that look more elegant than other competing models. 

The design is superb, and the reliability is rock-solid. However, its qualities hardly mask its flaws. First, it would have been very desirable to have a timer available. Then, if the heating element could crank up temperature exceeding the maximum of 115 degrees, that would have been better. The precision is not great either, and you will have to adapt gradually.

The dehydration power is only 220 watts. However, the fan is excessively noisy. You have four trays to place your food: in all, you have up to 4 square feet of drying space. Considering the price, I was expecting it to be bigger than this. The Excalibur 2400 would probably be perfect for a large number of buyers if it were not so expensive.

Nevertheless, the Excalibur 2400 remains a good long-term investment: its durability is well in line with its price, and the manufacturer offers a five-year limited warranty.

 Pros 

  • The most decorative in a modern kitchen
  • Very sober, elegant black color with a unique square design 
  • Looks great on a counter
  • Even heat distribution

Cons 

  • Low capacity-to-price ratio
  • Lack of features

Buying Guide 

Before purchasing a dehydrator, try to discuss it with each member of the household: perhaps some will express desires that you had not thought of. Then, take the time to reflect, and determine your needs to avoid buying something bigger or lower than the capacity you need.

To make this decision easier, I’ll show you some criteria to consider when making your purchase.

1. Dehydration Time and Quantity 

The dehydrating power of a beef jerky dehydrator determines how much food you can process at a time. The larger the surface area, the more food can be dried in one go. Some jerky makers require 4 to 5 hours while others will need a full day.

Models with a higher capacity are practical if you want to dry larger quantities of meat for your consumption or pets. Most beef jerky dehydrators have 6 tiers. There are also models with 5 to 12 dehydration tiers that are very suitable for meal prepping. 

If you are alone or a couple, a machine with a small to medium capacity should be enough for you. If you are a family, be prepared to invest more in a product like the Cosori CP267-FD. 

2. The Power

The more powerful a dehydrator, the faster it is. However, since capacity and overall design come into play, drying power should be taken as an indicator rather than an absolute value.

It is expressed in watts, and the average is around 400 to 500 watts. However, 600 watts food dehydrators are more ideal for making jerky. 

3. The Temperature Setting

A temperature range of 100 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for making jerky, and allows you to dehydrate other foods. According to the USDA, your dehydrator must be able to reach 160 to 165 degrees internal temperature. Then it has to ensure consistent drying at 130 to 140 degrees throughout the remaining drying process. If your favorite dehydrator doesn’t have this capacity, look for another one. 

In general, 100 to 160 degrees is sufficient for making delicious beef jerky, fruits, vegetables, and herbs

Temperature adjustment is usually made using a knob on the top or front of the unit. Remember to check beyond the minimum and maximum values, the level of precision offered.

Most food dehydrators work the same way by circulating hot air through a fan. Contrary to what is sometimes displayed, its position, above or below the trays, has an impact on efficiency.

4. Ease of Maintenance

Generally, the bottom of the device is designed in such a way that it can receive any crumbs that fall. All it takes is a wipe of the cloth to make it look like new. The trays are also often easy to clean. However, a particular design may make the task more tedious.

Electric Food Dehydrator on the Kitchen Counter

5. Trays and Accessories

The first thing to remember with the trays is how many there are: most often, there are six stackable trays. On some devices, additional trays can be purchased separately to increase the initial capacity. Finally, you should make sure these are dishwasher-safe trays.

The second key point is their size. Unfortunately, this is rarely indicated by the manufacturers. You may check the product images and especially the comments of users online. Feel free to ask question directly in the dedicated spaces on the online stores.

Some dehydrators are sold with specific supports: a support with a very light mesh structure for drying herbs and solid support for liquids such as soups or pressed fruit for rolls. If these brackets are not included, it won’t be as versatile.

Finally, the material matters. Plastic is generally used but ensure that it has no bisphenol A. The durability of the trays is variable. They are never extremely sturdy, but sometimes they are too fragile. 

6. The Weight and Dimensions

If you go on long trips, whether for holidays or work, you may have to buy a particularly light device that you can take with you. If the dehydrator is exclusively for home use, the weight and size factor is important. 

Some products can be particularly bulky. So take measurements and make a choice that suits your kitchen.

7. Design

Since it is not always easy to store a dehydrator, the device might often sit on the counter. In this case, you’ll want a  desirable and decorative dehydrator. Unfortunately, polished aesthetics often come with higher prices, as we saw with the Excalibur dehydrator, but it can be worth it.

Some details are also appreciated: for example, transparent trays allow you to check how your food is progressing without taking out the trays. It also offers less protection against light.

Beyond the aesthetic needs, the design can also be on the ergonomics side. Are the buttons placed in easily accessible places? Is there an LCD screen? Is it easy to grip? Of course, this is essentially a matter of taste. Just choose a model that meets your needs. 

8. The Price

The entry-level price for dehydrators is around $50. The most expensive devices are generally sold for $150 or even $200. Affordable products are often available at prices between $70 and $100. Keep in mind that promotions and price drops are quite frequent. So watch out for them!

Conclusion

The arguments speak for themselves: a beef jerky dehydrator not only makes your jerky healthier, but also tastier. The gentle drying also makes the meat more durable and ideal for meal prepping. 

Unlike other drying methods, a dehydrator preserves nutrients and ensure that the heat is evenly distributed. This is not only better for the taste but also the shelf life of the meat.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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