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Dehydrating food is the best way to enjoy it later. And jerky is one of the most loved dehydrated food out of all. While it is easy to season beef jerky, dehydrating the strips is the actual part. And there are some good food dehydrators for jerky that dries the strips the way you like.

Making beef jerky at home using a dehydrator sounds a little intimidating. But it is actually not with a reliable unit. In fact, homemade jerky is cheaper than store-bought ones. Plus, you can add herbs and spices according to your taste when dehydrating meat at home.

Not only for beef jerky, but a good quality food dehydrator is great to make other snacks like apple chips, banana chips, fruit leather, etc. In short, you can experiment with various fruits and vegetables to enjoy your favorite ingredient all year round. When properly dehydrated, the snack can last for months without spoiling which makes it perfect to take to picnics, camping, and traveling.

Types of Jerky

Jerky is not only related to beef. It is a lean trimmed meat that is dried to its core to last longer and also use as a healthy alternative to processed potato cheaps.

  • Beef Jerky
  • Pork Jerky
  • Turkey Jerky
  • Chicken Jerky

Best Jerky Food Dehydrators

Here is our review of the best food dehydrators for making jerky at your home or can produce jerky at commercial levels.

1) Excalibur 2900ECB 9-Tray Food Dehydrator with Adjustable Thermostat, Black

Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator with Adjustable Thermostat

Love to snack on beef jerky? Then a compact food dehydrator wouldn’t be a great help as the jerky strips shrink on dehydration. You lose nearly 50-70% of your product weight. So Excalibur 9-tray food dehydrator is our top pick as it offers an impressive 15 square feet of drying space. Plus, there are 9 trays to dehydrate your favorite snack that lets you dehydrate a good amount of product in one round.

Even though it comprises 9 trays, the horizontal airflow of Excalibur is powerful enough to dehydrate food evenly, no matter whether it is placed on the top tray or the bottom one. Besides, the patented parallax horizontal airflow helps the food dehydrate faster, retain more nutrients, and taste better without having to stop and rotate the tray in between the process.

On the top part of the jerky food dehydrator, is an adjustable thermostat knob. The thermostat ranges from 105ºF-165ºF which is low enough to preserve nutrients of various fruits yet high enough to kill harmful bacteria of meat jerky.

A quick-drying guide just next to the adjustable thermostat saves time. The guide contains the ideal dehydrating temperature for jerky, vegetables, fruit rolls, fish, meat, etc. You’ll not have to search for the manual or recipe book every time just to look for the right temperature.

Our Verdict

Pros:

  • Better air circulation dehydrates the food quickly
  • An adjustable thermostat makes it safe to dry the meat for jerky
  • No need for tray rotation
  • Made in the USA
  • Great for making yogurt other than fruit rolls, herbs, etc
  • You can remove trays to increase the height needed to dehydrate bulky items or raise dough
  • Best large-capacity food dehydrator for jerky and fruits

Cons:

  • Lacks timer
  • Does not come with additional accessories

Key Features:

  • 9-tray
  • 15 sq ft drying space
  • 400-watts
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Patented parallel horizontal airflow
  • Made in the USA
  • Weighs 22 pounds

2) Nesco Food and Jerky Dehydrator, 15.25 x 10.25 x 15.63 inches, White

Nesco Food and Jerky dehydrator,

If you’re not so serious about dehydrating food and looking for a budget food dehydrator then go for Nesco FD-80. This affordable yet effective unit is great for home use. Equipped with 4 square trays, each measuring 14.5″ x 14.5″, Nesco small food dehydrator is perfect for dehydrating food in small batches. However, you can increase the overall drying area by expanding the unit with additional trays.

Do not worry about toxic elements incorporating into your food as all the plastic trays are made with high-quality food-grade material. Plus, the material is BPA-free that gives you peace of mind while using the unit. While there is no timer, Nesco food and jerky dehydrator comprise of an adjustable thermostat on the top. Plus, there is a popular guide around the thermostat knob for a convenient temperature setting.

Instead of throwing hot air directly on trays, Nesco’s Converga-Flow drying system forces air down the exterior pressurized chamber. Then the hot air is forced horizontally across each tray for even drying. Not only this helps in quick drying but also saves energy while you’re drying high fluid foods like chicken jerky, beef jerky, apple slices, etc.

And once you’re done dehydrating your favorite snack, let the device cool down for a while. Then remove the trays and pop them in the dishwasher for effortless cleaning. Always clean the trays after use to remove the smell.

Our Verdict

Pros:

  • Includes 2 jerky spice and cure packet to make delicious homemade jerky
  • No flavor mixing or need to rotate trays
  • Patented air circulation system ensures fast and even drying
  • Bale handle, plus, dishwasher-safe trays
  • A small footprint takes up less countertop space while square trays offer 1.2 sq ft of drying space each
  • Best affordable, American-made food dehydrator for home use
  • Expandable to up to 8 drying trays
  • Backed by a 1-year limited warranty

Cons:

  • Need to buy fruit roll tray separately
  • Lacks timer

Key Features:

  • 4-tray
  • 700-watts
  • Converga-Flow drying system
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Dishwasher-safe parts
  • Weighs 9.90 lbs

3) Presto 06301 Dehydro Digital Electric Food Dehydrator For Jerky

Presto 06301 Dehydro Digital Electric Food Dehydrator

Buying a new appliance for the first time is exciting for many. And with the see-through top of the Presto digital food dehydrator, you can easily view the entire dehydrating process. This mid-size smart unit is great for beginners who are fond of beef jerky. Presto 06301 comes with 6 trays that let you dehydrate a good amount of jerky in one go rather than doing them in multiple batches.

While many units offer only adjustable thermostat, Presto electric food dehydrator features adjustable temperature and timer. The timer goes up to 48 hours while temperature ranges from 90ºF to 165ºF which is safe to dehydrate various food items at home. You can make jerky from meat, poultry, seafood, and make tasty fruit leather as well.

Speaking of fruit leather, Presto home food dehydrator comes with 2 fruit roll sheets. Place the round sheets over the regular tray and pour the fruity liquid. Refer to the included drying guide that comes with the unit to set time and temperature for precise dehydration of fruit rolls every time.

In addition to precise drying, a digital timer shuts off the machine automatically on the completion of the cycle. This means you no longer have to set an alarm on your phone or keep checking on the device often.

Our Verdict

Pros:

  • Included fruit roll sheets are great for making healthy homemade fruit leather, strips, canned fruits, etc
  • Clear see-through cover lets you monitor the drying process easily
  • Both the drying trays and cover are fully immersible and dishwasher safe
  • Adjustable timer and thermostat for precise results
  • Comes with starter packs of jerky spice and cure
  • The unit shuts off automatically to prevent overdrying and fire hazards
  • Best digital food dehydrator for jerky
  • Nesting trays help with compact storage

Cons:

  • The transparent lid lets you view the top rack only
  • The fan runs a little loud

Key Features:

  • 6-tray
  • 750 watts
  • 48-hour timer
  • Bottom-mounted fan
  • Auto shut-off
  • Weighs 8.50 lbs

4) Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine for Jerky, Herb, Meat, Beef, Fruit, and To Dry Vegetables

Magic Mill Commercial Food Dehydrator Machine Jerky

Beautiful and functional, Magic Mill digital food dehydrator is perfect for countertop use. Its sleek square design blends in beautifully with your modern kitchen. Not only look wise but the digital jerky dehydrator machine is extremely easy to use. Instead of pressing buttons or turning knobs, you just need to touch the panel to set the time or temperature. Thanks to the bright blue backlight on all 4 buttons that let you see them clearly in dark.

The unit comes with 7 completely removable drying trays. Each tray measures 13″x12″ that lets you fit in a good amount of fruit, veggie, or jerky at a time. In addition to 7 regular trays, the box comes along with 2 plastic mesh, 2 nonstick trays, and 2 silicone gloves. In short, it is the best home food dehydrator for making beef jerky, fruit rolls, drying herbs, etc.

Dehydrators are designed to run for long hours. And it is impossible to sit and monitor the appliance for hours. So Magic Mill’s high-end food dehydrator features an overheat protection that turns off the unit as soon as the temperature rises to an alarming level. This protects your home from fire hazards even when you’re not near the appliance.

Besides a safety feature, Magic Mill also features an automatic shut off. This turns off your unit safely when the cycle is over. You can also view the remaining time on the digital display panel to set the rest of the kitchen activities accordingly.

Our Verdict

Pros:

  • Durable and safe stainless steel trays with height-adjustable racks
  • 2 fine mesh trays + 2 fruit leather trays(both dishwasher safe)
  • 1 set of oven mitts to remove the hot steel tray safely
  • Preset adjustable thermostat and timing helps you select the right temperature from 95ºF to 167ºF
  • Runs quietly
  • The large capacity unit lets you have more than 8 lbs of dehydrated food in one go
  • Best rated food dehydrator for chicken jerky and fruit roll-ups
  • A countdown timer with a clear glass door lets you monitor all the trays inside the machine

Cons:

  • Beeps pretty loud on completion of the cycle

Key Features:

  • 7 stainless steel trays
  • 600 watts
  • Adjustable timer & thermostat
  • Rear-mounted drying fan
  • Auto shut-off
  • Overheat safety protection
  • Weighs 16.70 lbs

5) GoWISE USA 17-Quart Air Fryer & Food Dehydrator – Perfect for Drying Beef Jerky, and Dog Treats

GoWISE USA 17-Quart Air Fryer & Food Dehydrator

Nowadays, there are more appliances on our kitchen countertop than the ingredients we cook for a meal. And if you hate a crowded countertop then go for a versatile appliance like GoWise USA air fryer and food dehydrator combo. This smart appliance lets you dehydrate seasonal fruits, vegetables, jerky for you and your family to enjoy off-season or while out camping. It comes with 5 drying trays that are enough to dry a large ziplock bag full of your favorite item.

Other than dehydrating, this GoWise USA is also a fully functional air fryer oven. It comes with multiple accessories that include a shallow mesh basket, rotisserie rod, rotisserie cage, skewers, tongs, and a drip pan. You can do all the things in this digital countertop food dehydrator that you would do in a regular oven.

From making crispy french fries to a roasting whole chicken, this one appliance can replace all other dedicated single appliances on your countertop.

For your convenience, the unit offers 8 preset programs that provide full control over time and temperature. Besides, it includes 2 recipe cooks, one book contains 50 recipes for air fryer oven while the other book contains 20 delicious food dehydrator recipes.

Our Verdict

Pros:

  • A versatile, functional, and practical appliance that works both as an air fryer oven and a food dehydrator
  • Large capacity that can feed up to 8 people in a single batch
  • 5 racks to create healthy treats like beef jerky, fruit leather, granola, herbs, spices, dog treats, etc
  • Adjustable settings with flexible temperature range and different timer setting for over and dehydrator
  • A clear lid on the front lets you monitor the cooking process
  • Best air fryer dehydrator oven under $200
  • ETL listed
  • Full touchscreen display panel with convenient cooking presets

Cons:

  • The bottom tray is a bit hard to access even with the door fully open
  • Complains of even heating

Key Features:

  • 17-quart capacity
  • 1800-watt
  • 60-minute timer(for air fryer oven)
  • 8-hour dehydrator timer
  • 8 preset programs
  • 600ºF heating element
  • Weighs 6 pounds

How to make safe Jerky with a dehydrator?

It is not like you can put the meat strips directly in the food dehydrator to make jerky. Before you place the meat on the rack, it is important to heat the meat at certain degrees to kill harmful bacteria. Below are a few steps that will help you make safe jerky with a home food dehydrating machine.

  • Always use clean racks for better drying. Clean racks are not only hygienic but also prevent the smell of previously dried food to infuse with the fresh batch.
  • Marinate meat at a temperature between 36ºF-40ºF. This is because low temperatures prevent bacterial growth which is very common at room temperature.
  • Heat the jerky at 160ºF to kill harmful bacteria. This is an important step and you should not skip it even if you’re in a hurry. While beef is ideal to heat at 160ºF, chicken and turkey require a minimum temperature of 165ºF to kill dangerous bacteria.
  • The next step is to use curing salt. While it is not completely organic but important to use if you’re planning to store the jerky for a long time. Using the right amount of curing salt on strips will not result in harmful side effects as well as prevent bacteria from growing.

What is the best temperature to dehydrate jerky?

After heating jerky at 160ºF, it is recommended to maintain a constant dehydrator temperature of 130-140ºF. You can increase or decrease degrees according to the amount of your drying.

Select a good quality food dehydrator that maintains a consistent temperature throughout dehydration. This helps to dry the jerky evenly before it spoils by removing water content.

How long does it take to make jerky in a food dehydrator?

The drying time depends on the machine, quantity, and quality of meat. While some units take 5 hours to dry an entire batch, it will take more time to dry thick strips of beef. But on average, you can assume an electric food dehydrator taking anywhere in between 5-10 hours drying up beef, pork, duck, chicken, or turkey jerky.

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Conclusion

Food dehydrators are a wonderful invention. These little units let you preserve your favorite food for a long time without taking away all the nutrients. Easy to use and maintain, food dehydrators are best at drying meat jerky, fruit roll-ups, herbs, spices, etc. Plus, there are many powerful devices that are not limited to beef jerky. You can make chicken, pork, turkey, as well as deer jerky.

These tasty dried up strips and rolls are great to enjoy throughout the year, plus, they pack easily in your lunch boxes to satisfy your craving while camping. And the best part about owning a good food dehydrator is, you can make healthy jerky cheaper at home without adding chemical preservatives or artificial colors.

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