Best 5 Dehydrators for Making Jerky
Some of my best memories are from hanging out at my Papaw's butcher shop and meat market. I remember there was this one customer that my Papaw kept giving huge slabs of flank steak to -and not taking any money.
I was baffled. I think I was 12 at the time.
I asked him, "Papaw, why do you keep giving that guy so much food for free?". My Papaw laughed and tossed me a bag of home made beef jerky. It was delicious.
Now, I always assumed my Papaw made the jerky that I was always snacking on.. but he didn't. He said, "Jimmy.. some things are more important than money. That man always brings me back that incredible jerky that you love so much".
I was in awe. It was at that time that my addiction to good artisan beef jerky really took a spark.
Since then, I have learned a lot about the art of drying meat into exceptionally, delicious jerky.
What to consider before buying a dehydrator for making jerky
All dehydrators are a little different, but they all serve the same purpose of dehydrating food.
A good dehydrator will allow you to make some really tasty jerky. Choosing the right dehydrator is crucial for the jerky to cook properly. That is why I have made this list.
What makes the best dehydrator for beef jerky? You want a dehydrator that dries food evenly and efficiently. There are a few other things you should keep in mind when selecting the best dehydrator for jerky.
Tray Capacity and Size
You will want to consider how many trays come with the unit and if there is an option to add more trays. Another nice feature is when trays can be removed and gives you more space for larger food items.
Consider where the fan is located within the unit and how air is moving through the dehydrator.
Size of the Unit
How much space do you have to store a dehydrator? Where do you plan to put your dehydrator when it is drying food? These are a couple questions to consider when deciding on the best dehydrator for beef jerky.
Price of the Unit
This might be one of the most important factors for some people. How much are you willing to spend? Some of the pricier dehydrators have options that may or may not be necessary for you to make some yummy jerky.
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The first dehydrator on our list is a number one best seller on Amazon. The reasonable price tag of $64.99 and 4.5 star rating make it a good choice for someone who doesn't want to spend an arm and a leg. One advantage of this dehydrator is the compact size since it measures approximately 13 x 13 x 10 inches. The attractive and modern grey and marble design
A top mounted fan and 600 watts of drying power will allow you to make all types of jerky and dried food. The air is forced down the exterior pressure chamber and then horizontally across each of the trays. Another advantage of the top-mounted fan is you won't have to worry about liquids falling into the heating chamber.
Additionally, there are five drying trays that come with the unit, but it is expandable to twelve trays if you purchase the Add-A-Trays at an additional cost. The unit includes two solid sheets, two mesh sheets, and three jerky spice packets to get you started making beef jerky.
An opaque Vita-Save exterior blocks harmful light from entering the unit and destroying nutritional content of food
If you are looking for an inexpensive dehydrator that gets the job done, then this might be the one for you.
- Adjustable thermostat ranges from 95-to-160 degrees Fahrenheit
- Powerful seven inch top-mounted fan, 600 watts
- Unit can be expanded to twelve trays with additional tray purchase
- No food or tray rotation needed during dehydration
- High noise level
- Round design may be inefficient to store
Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator Review
The next dehydrator is also compact at 12-1/2 x 17 x 19 inches, but costs quite a bit more than some of the more cost-effective dehydrators. The Excalibur is $246.99 and qualifies for Amazon Prime. A ten year warranty can give the purchaser peace of mind that the product will last.
This unit features a fan, heating element and thermostat located at the rear of the unit, so cool air is brought in, heated, and evenly distributed over the trays. The trays are dishwasher safe, which makes cleanup a breeze. Since all the trays are heated evenly, all of your food will be ready at the same time.
Nine large trays and a built in on/off switch with a 26 hour timer are all helpful features of the Excalibur. The thermostat is adjustable and ranges from 105 degrees Fahrenheit to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have a large family or need to dehydrate a lot of meat at one time, this is a good choice because of the great amount of drying space. Furthermore, since the trays can be removed, you are easily able to dehydrate thicker pieces of meat.
- Flexible polyscreen tray inserts keeps food from sticking to trays
- Trays can be removed, but do not need to be rotated during dehydration
- 15 square feet of drying space allows you to dry a lot of food at once
- Costs more than some of the other dehydrators
- A bit bulky in size can make it challenging to store
- The fan makes a whirring noise
Gourmia GFD1650B Review
A digital thermostat with eight preset temperature settings makes this a set-it and forget-it kind of appliance. An advantage of the cube design is the ease of organizing your beef or meat on the trays.
At the time of this review, the Gourmia was listed at $105.92 on Amazon, but was temporarily out of stock. It is eligible for Free Prime Shipping once it is back in stock. The dimensions are 17.71 x 13.58 x 12.40 inches.
Efficient, even drying is made possible with 400 watts of power and the countdown digital timer will let you know how much time you have left in the drying process. The drying temperatures range from 95 degrees Fahrenheit to 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
This dehydrator comes with one mesh sheet, one solid sheet, and a user guide. You also have the option of choosing between black or white for the dehydrator color.
- Digital thermometer for precise temperature and drying time
- No need to rotate the shelves
- Drip pan helps to contain any mess
- Not as much total drying space as some of the other models
- More expensive than some of the other models available.
Aroma Housewares Professional Review
Another best dehydrator for jerky is the Aroma Housewares Professional. The cost of this six tray dehydrator is $129.90 on Amazon and it is made for efficient and even drying.
A flip of a switch gets this dehydrator to start the dehydrating process. The cube-shaped dehydrator is easy to use, easy to clean and easy to lay out your foods. The six racks are removable and can support up to one pound of food each.
One more feature of the 400 watt dehydrator is that the thermostat is adjustable from 95 degrees Fahrenheit to 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the automatic fan promotes even drying, all foods are dehydrated at their best possible temperature. The air dries the food horizontally from back to front.
- Large capacity provides a lot of space for food
- Drip dray collects residue from the drying process
- The unit is quieter than some other dehydrators
- Only comes with one mesh screen
- There is no timer on the unit
Excalibur D900CDSHD Review
The last model on this list is the Excalibur 9-Tray Clear Door Stainless Steel Dehydrator. The hefty price tag of $495.95 makes this dehydrator a purchase for someone who is serious about finding the best beef jerky dehydrator and willing to spend a good amount on their hobby.
This efficient dehydrator is made of stainless steel and so are the nine large trays that are 15 inches x 15 inches each. The actual dehydrator is quite large and measures 12-1/2 x 17 x 19 inches.
A 26 hour timer allows you to walk away while your make your beef jerky. When it is done, the unit will automatically turn off. The 600 watt heater/fan element cycles on and off during the drying process.
An adjustable thermostat can be set for temperatures between 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures in this unit get high enough for safely dehydrating meat for jerky.
- The glass doors lets you observe the drying process
- No BPA plastic touches the food since trays are stainless steel
- 15 square feet of drying space
- Food sticks more to stainless steel trays than to plastic
- There is no drip pan to catch any mess made during the dehydrating process
- Large size makes it more challenging to store when not in use
- Hefty price tag
I hope you enjoyed this list of the five best dehydrators for jerky. Each of these dehydrators has its own pros and cons, but hopefully you can choose one that suits your needs. You should be well on your way to making some healthy, delicious, and convenient beef jerky snacks. Please let me know what you think in the comments and if you like this article, share it!