If you love meat and enjoy buying it in bulk, you also understand how easy it spoils without proper storage. Did you know, when you buy the best dehydrator for jerky, you also get the chance to preserve more foods, fruits, and vegetables for weeks?
What is a Dehydrator for Jerky?
Jerky is dehydrated meat strips. In food preservation, the meat is cut into thin strips, then slowly dried under a temperature range of 70 °F to 160 °F. In ancient times, this method of food preservation only needed the heat from the sun, but as technology advances, today, you can buy food dehydrators that achieve the same results in lesser time.
A food dehydrator for preparing homemade jerky is a compact kitchen appliance with an adjustable thermostat that allows you to choose the best temperature settings to dry meat. Beef jerky dehydrators come in different sizes, so they don't take up much counter space, but this does not mean you won't preserve huge batches of meat. The food dehydrators use several drying trays that also give you more room to preserve other foods like vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
Dehydrated food is healthy since it preserves all the nutrients. As such, it is good to look for the best food dehydrator that allows excellent temperature control to preserve more than just jerky. That said, choosing one out of the many in the market is not easy. So, we have taken the time to review eight top dehydrators for jerky for you. You need to know their features, pros, cons, and a buying guide so you can make the best decision. Let's get right to it now!
1. Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
- EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION: 600 watts of drying power provides even heat distribution; consistent drying...
- ADJUSTABLE TEMPERATURE CONTROL: The adjustable temperature control (95°F -160°F) gives you the...
- EXPANDABLE TO 12 TRAYS: Comes with five (13 1/2″ diameter) trays and expands up to 12 trays so you...
- VITASAVE EXTERIOR: The opaque exterior blocks harmful light to retain more of the food's nutrients...
- ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: (2) Fruit Roll Sheets, (2) Clean-A-Screens, a sample of Jerky Seasoning &...
Do you need the best guarantee of quality and effectiveness? This food dehydrator from Nesco comes with thousands of excellent reviews, but there is more reason to buy it. It is the best hydrator for jerky that is expandable to twelve drying trays, so you can also use it with other foods. In addition, it works with a temperature range of 95°F -160°F, which allows you to preserve foods with great flexibility.
The food dehydrator also has an opaque exterior, so not even harmful light can tamper with your food's nutrients. The appliance's dimensions are 13.75 x 22.13 x 13.87 inches, and while it will not take too much counter space, it also comes with a carry handle so you can move it when not in use. The hydrator is affordable, has a 600-watt powerhead for effectiveness, and is BPA-free. However, the body is made with plastic, and the trays, though easy to clean, are not very sturdy.
2. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
- NOTE :Item does not have an on off switch. This unit turns on when plugged in.
- Four-tray system for dehydrating foods at a fraction of the cost of commercially dehydrated foods...
- See-through cover to monitor drying progress on top tray; Bottom-mounted fan and heating element...
- Drying trays and cover are fully immiscible and dishwasher safe; Fruit roll sheets, nonstick mesh...
- Easy to store; Drying trays nest for compact storage; Cord stores in base
The jerky dehydrator is compact and effective with a maximum preset temperature of 165°F. It is an electric food dehydrator that does not have an off or on switch. Instead, it starts drying meat when you plug it in, so you need to have set your jerky for the drying process before plugging it in.
It is a four-tray food dehydrator that is also expandable to eight trays to maximize use. Luckily, the easy-to-clean trays are also dishwasher-safe when you finish preserving food. The appliance comes with a bottom-mounted fan and heating element, so the heat is distributed upwards. Additionally, it comes with a clear see-through cover so you can monitor your food.
When you are done preserving food, you will love how easy-to-store the dehydrator is. Firstly, the cord wraps nicely in the base while the drying trays nest inside to take the least space. It is an affordable food dehydrator that also comes with fruit roll sheets and non-screen mesh screens.
3. Cosori Premium Food Dehydrator
- Designed in California: Comes with 6 Stainless Steel Trays, 1 Mesh Screen, 1 Fruit Roll Sheet, 1...
- Stainless Steel: Made with food-grade stainless steel and glass front door. This dehydrator is...
- Easy to Use: Use the digital control panel to set the timer in 30-minute increments for up to 48...
- Quiet to Use: Simply press the start button to dehydrate your food and go to sleep. The noise is...
- Safe to Use: Tray liners are BPA-Free. Auto shut off kicks in right when the timer ends. Overheat...
If you love buying meat in bulk, you will either need a lot of storage space in your refrigerator or a big food dehydrator to preserve it. If you want the latter, this Cosori premium food dehydrator is your best buy. It is built to last with six, easy to clean stainless steel trays that will hold large amounts of food for drying.
A glass surface on the door gives you sight into the preservation process, and an interactive digital control panel allows you to set different timers for your processes. As such, this best dehydrator for jerky uses an adjustable thermostat with a 95°F -160°F temperature range. You can adjust the timer with 30-minute increments of up to two days when you want to preserve large beef jerky batches.
It operates with minimal noise, the trays are made with BPA-free stainless steel, and the dehydrator shuts when the timer goes off. With zero chance of overheating your food or over-preserving it, the dehydrator is excellent for you. The trays and tray liners are dishwasher-safe, and the California-made appliance also comes with a fruit roll sheet, a mesh screen, and a 50-recipe book. Additionally, it uses rear-mounted fans for even heat distribution, comes in two color combinations, and is affordable.
4. Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator
- 48 hour timer with auto shutoff and clear lid so you can easily check food
- Adjustable digital thermostat lets you adjust drying temperature (100-160° F)
- Continuous airflow provides even drying
- Five stackable drying trays and powerful 500 watts
- Includes one fine-mesh sheet for drying small food like herbs and one solid sheet for making fruit...
With a 500-watt powerhead, this small appliance will make jerky-making easy. It comes with five stackable drying trays, so not only is it excellent for making jerky, but it is also ideal for making fruit snacks, vegetables, and herbs.
It has an adjustable thermostat with a 100-160° F range for an effective dehydrating process. In addition, it works with an adjustable timer that you can set to preserve your jerky for two days, after which it will shut down to prevent overheating. Like other vertical dehydrators, this Hamilton beach has a bottom-mounted fan that eliminates the need to rotate the trays when dehydrating meat or fruits.
The dehydrator comes with a clear top to observe the dehydration process, and it comes at an affordable price with a fine-mesh sheet for drying herbs and a solid sheet so you can make fruit rolls.
5. Elechomes 6-Tray Dryer for Beef Jerky
- FOOD PRESERVER: Elechomes food dehydrator machine is perfect for food storage like beef jerky,...
- 6 STACKABLE CLEAR TRAYS: Elechomes food dryer comes with 6 stackable BPA-FREE trays, each layer has...
- DIGITAL THERMOSTAT & TIMER: With the digital control panel, you can precisely set the temperature...
- EASY TO CLEAN: Easily clean the dehydrator’s base with a damp cloth or a sponge, all 6 trays are...
- WHAT YOU WILL GET: Elechomes Food Dehydrator, 1xMesh Screen, 1xFruit Roll Sheet, User Manual,...
When you want to observe the drying space as the jerky dehydrator works, you need an appliance that gives you enough visibility, so you don't have to remove the trays. The Elechomes vertical dehydrator comes with six-stackable trays, each with two adjustable heights and with transparent covers so you can see inside.
The BPA-free trays are also easy to clean in the dishwasher, while a digital thermostat allows you to set 72-hour timers with temperature controls between 95°F- 158°F. It has reliable overheat protection when the timer goes off, and the jerky dehydrator also comes with a fruit roll sheet, mesh screen, and 18 months of dedicated customer service.
6. Magic Mill Dehydrator
- REAR MOUNT FAN FOR SUPERIOR HEAT DISTRIBUTION – DRIES FOOD EVENLY The electric dehydration machine...
- DIGITAL THERMOSTAT AND TIMER- AUTOMATIC SHUT OFF WHEN TIMER DONE -- An adjustable temperature and...
- SPACIOUS ADJUSTABLE STAINLESS STEEL TRAYS – INCLUDED FRUIT ROLL TRAYS! Use the trays for regular...
- EASY TO USE AND CLEAN - DISHWASHER SAFE TRAYS You want to dry Jerky, beef, herbs, vegetables, fruit,...
- SAFETY FEATURE / BPA FREE Overheat protection will activate if the dehydrator overheats. Built with...
With the 17 x 14 x 12 inches measurements, this Magic Mill food dehydrator is one of the best horizontal dehydrators for a large family. It comes with six trays served by a rear-mounted fan for even heat distribution. As such, it eliminates the need to remove trays to observe your drying food.
The dehydrator, which is also great for other raw foods like fruits and vegetable chips, comes with an intuitive digital panel so you can set your timer and temperature. It dries food with temperatures between 95°F-167°F and a 600-watt powerhead.
It is durable with stainless steel construction, including the trays, which are also dishwasher-safe. It also comes with an easy-to-clean drip tray, and all parts are BPA-free so that they won't affect your foods' nutrients.
7. Excalibur Food Dehydrator
- DRYING SPACE - 9-trays totaling 15 square feet of drying space offers plenty of room for your...
- PATENTED - Hyper wave technology and horizontal parallex drying removes water from food with a...
- LOW AND SLOW FOR IMMUNITY BOOST - Cooking foods at a temperature no higher than 115-118 degrees in a...
- DIAL IN - Adjustable thermostat 105 degrees Fahrenheit to 165 degrees Fahrenheit featuring accurate...
- EASY TO CLEAN - Poly-Screen trays do not need to be moved or rotated during operation and prevent...
This high-quality dehydrator for beef jerky comes with nine separate trays so you can dry 60lbs of meat at once. It is powered by a 600-watt 7-inch fan mounted at the rear, so it distributes heat evenly. It has the best temperature control ranging from 105° to 165°F, and it shuts off once the timer goes off.
Though it is an expensive dehydrator, it comes with a 10-year warranty and is also made with BPA-free plastic. The trays are easy to clean, while the appliance is compact to make minimal space on your counters.
8. LoyoLa Electric Food Dehydrator
- 4 Stainless Steel Trays Dehydrator——Have 15L rated capacity provide enough space to creatively...
- Side mounted fan & cold air function——Dehydrator the side mounted fan and high-quality heating...
- Food Dehydrator use digital thermostat and timer——Automatically turns off when the timer is...
- Food dryer Machine adopts low DB operation design——The noise is less than 48 dB, the voltage is...
- Dryer Dehydrators safe and easy to clean——The inner cavity of the food dehydrator and the...
You might need an electric food dehydrator for faster results. This LoyoLa electric food dehydrator will dry meat, fruits, vegetables, and herbs faster than other models. It comes with a side-mounted fan and a heater. In application, a stable parallel airflow dries your beef jerky without negating nutrients and vitamins.
The food dehydrator comes with a glass door that reveals the dehydrating process. It also operates with a noise level below 48 dB, has a voltage of 120V, and is powered by a 600-watt powerhead. In addition, it is easy to adjust temperature control for different foods. The appliance comes with four easy-to-clean stainless steel trays and a drip tray. The affordable dehydrator uses FDA-approved materials and takes minimum space in your kitchen.
Why Do You Need the Best Dehydrator for Jerky?
Food preservation has been a tradition of many cultures since ancient times. While seasons of farming can dictate when to dry in-season fruits and veggies, you might have different reasons to preserve meat, such as;
- Jerky-making saves you money. You love to save money with every purchase you make and buying food, especially meat, in bulk indeed saves you a lot of money. Now, if you end up buying a lot of meat, preserving it to eat for the coming weeks and months while retaining the taste and nutritional value is a prudent move.
- Drying jerky preserves the nutritional and organoleptic qualities of your meat. Since you can make your own jerky at home, you will be in charge of how long you dry it, which allows you to do so without adding unhealthy preservatives.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Dehydrator for Jerky
Since using the best food dehydrator for jerky saves you money and preserves nutritional value, here are the factors you need to consider before buying one.
There are two types of food dehydrators for jerky you can get; horizontal and vertical airflow dehydrators. Horizontal dehydrators have heating elements and fans mounted at the back or sides, while a door is placed at the front of the appliance.
Vertical dehydrators have stackable trays and heating elements and fans mounted at the bottom or the top. Their doors or covers are located on top of the appliance.
In application, you might find it harder to operate vertical dehydrators when you stack several trays, unlike horizontal food dehydrators, which provide better temperature distribution and control.
When buying any food dehydrator, you need a strong fan to distribute heat and air effectively. Often, the appliances need 125 to 1000 watts, depending on the size. Small dehydrators will need less power, but larger appliances like the Nesco dehydrator will need more than 500 watts to dry meat faster.
Airflow and design are intertwined features that you need to pay the most attention to. As earlier mentioned, vertical dehydrators come with stackable trays with the heating element and fan located at the top or bottom. With this design, you might end up with disproportionate heating and drying.
For instance, if the fan and heater are mounted at the bottom of the unit, the lowest trays will start drying jerky faster than those at the top, which are exposed to a lower temperature. As such, you will need to either rotate the trays or dry a few trays at a time.
On the other hand, a horizontal dehydrator balances the internal temperature and airflow with back or side-mounted fans and heating elements. In appearance, the unit looks like a small oven with a front door. The airflow is distributed horizontally and proportionally to all trays; thus, there is no need to worry about uneven drying.
Your unit can come with several trays ranging from three to ten depending on the unit's design and size. Subjective of your needs, you can get as many trays as you can. If the model comes with a fixed number of trays, you can also see if the dehydrator can carry more trays to meet your needs and buy them separately.
While buying the best dehydrator for jerky, it is ideal also to consider which other foods you can preserve with it. For example, you can dry many pounds of meat at a go, but when you have smaller batches to dry, you can also use extra trays to dry fruits and veggies.
e) Adjustable thermostat and timer
The best homemade jerky dehydrators work with temperatures between 70 °F to 160 °F. As a rule of thumb, healthy jerky-making needs the lowest temperatures so you can preserve nutrients, aroma, and taste. So, you will need to understand the process deeply to know when to increase the temperature and when to reduce it.
When you put your meat strips in the dehydrator, you can set a higher temperature so that the evaporation can happen faster. Subsequently, when the meat starts to dry, you will need to lower the temperature. That said, you need your thermostat and timer to be easy to set. Pick buttons or knobs that adjust your settings without too much hassle.
Depending on the type of food dehydrator you get, you also need to pay attention to its dimensions. While looking for effectiveness, you will also consider how much counter or storage space you have. In addition, the unit's size also affects portability, so if you want to bring it with you when camping, you need it to be lightweight.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Dehydrator for Jerky
a) Is the best dehydrator for jerky expensive?
You can find jerky dehydrators at different prices. While there are some expensive models, most home food dehydrators come at affordable prices.
b) Should I cook my meat before making jerky?
It is best to heat your meat at 160°F for beef and 165°F for turkey before starting the dehydration process for the bacteria to die. However, since many dehydrators do not reach these high temperatures, you can heat the meat in your oven and transfer it to the dehydrator once the moisture starts evaporating.
c) How long should I dehydrate jerky?
The length of time you need to leave your meat strips inside the dehydrator depends on a few factors. Most important is the dehydrator's power capacity. Then, you will also need to understand the food dehydrator's design and the size of the batch you want to dry.
That said, most dehydration processes take anywhere between seven to 10 hours. If you have a larger food dehydrator with a 500-watt powerhead, you can leave your meat drying for seven hours. Lower-wattage appliances may need around 10 hours to preserve the food.
d) How should I adjust the temperature?
The ideal preset temperature setting for preserving jerky is 158 degrees F. The high temperature hastens evaporation to dry your meat and, while doing so, prevents the proliferation of bacteria. However, while you preheat your meat at this high temperature during the first preservation phase, you might need to reduce it significantly once the meat starts drying.
e) How long will the jerky last?
Like ancient times, food preservation is ideal for prolonging the food's lifespan. Naturally, undried meat needs to be refrigerated and consumed within a few days. However, when you dehydrate the meat, you can store it longer, from a few weeks to a few months, without worrying it will be spoilt.