The BEST Dehydrator For Jerky | Top 4 Models for 2024

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Dehydrating food has some really great benefits that make it a popular method of food preservation, and it happens to be one of our favorites here on our little backyard farm when we are planning on making snacks and cooking foods.

Here, we make dehydrated everything! The kids love dried fruit in their lunches at school and as snacks at home, as well as fruit rolls (huge hit, they don’t last long when they’re made) but a favorite of mine (and my husband) is homemade jerky.

We absolutely love making beef jerky in huge batches with our own jerky seasoning and marinades. It is a snack that no matter how much we make, it always seems to disappear rather quickly!

Luckily we have a great dehydrator with good drying power that allows us to make batch after batch (in between our other dried foods like apple chips, pear chips and fruit roll up puree on a fruit roll sheet, you can even make homemade yogurt in these).

I do have to say, making jerky is one of my all time favorite things to make in our dehydrator, and it has been for the past few decades.

Here are some photos from our last batch about a month ago before it was marinated:

Rump roast for beef jerky dryingSliced roast for making jerky

What are some of the benefits of dehydrating food?

A dehydrator preserves nutrients in your food very well, and dehydrated food is absolutely delicious to snack on, making almost anything you dry out a healthy treat.

Dehydrating also helps to extend the shelf life of your food by removing the moisture that bacteria and other microorganisms need to grow and thrive.

This means that dehydrated food can be stored for a longer period of time without the risk of spoilage, making it ideal for use in emergency situations or for those who like to stock up on long-lasting food items (if it lasts longer than a day in your house!).

Additionally, dehydrating food can also reduce its weight and volume, making it easier and more convenient to transport, especially for hikers and campers.

The process of dehydration also concentrates the flavors and nutrients in food, making the end result a delicious and nutritious snack.

Lastly, dehydrating food at home allows for control over the ingredients used, ensuring that the final product is free of preservatives and additives, making it a healthier alternative to many commercial snacks.

Huge benefit in my eyes.Making easy jerky

But which food dehydrator is best for making delicious jerky?

Is there such thing as a specific beef jerky dehydrator?

There are some big factors to consider in choosing the best food dehydrators (for your own jerky and all of your other food drying wants and needs), and we are going to cover those all now.

The Size Of Your Food Dehydrator Matters

When we are talking about the size of your food dehydrator machine, we are not talking about how much counter space it takes up. Well, ok in the end maybe we are, but really we are referring to how much square footage of tray space do you get.

When making homemade jerky, whether it is beef jerky from marinated meat slices (which is what you are seeing in most of my photos), or it is dried with curing salt as a salted beef jerky (“dry meat”) or it is ground meat beef jerky made from a jerky gun. Your trays need to have a lot of space as you nee your meat to evenly dry and therefore, they cannot be touching anywhere on the trays.

Also, there is nothing worse than having too much meat than there is room on your trays. Let’s face it, those round roasts, rump roasts and ground beef are not cheap, you definitely want additional trays.

And once they are beautifully marinated and sliced and ready to dry out, you want to have room to spare, not leftover slices.

What Material Are The Food Dehydrator Trays Made From?

This is a big deciding factor if you are planning on making your own jerky (beef slices or from a jerky gun with ground beef).

For us, personally, this was a huge deciding factor as we are trying to get away from plastic in our cooking and baking, but specifically for jerky, plastic is harder to clean than the steel trays are.

When you have stainless trays, you can soak them like you would any kind of trays, but they can also be placed in your dishwasher to sanitize any meat left on, and if need be, you can use steel scrubbing pads on them to get any excess meat off, which works beautifully.Jerky on stainless steel trays

What Shape Is The Food Dehydrator?

Now this point may not seem like a big point, but there are a few things that come into play when looking at the shape of your dehydrator, and we want to consider all factors in this decision.

The two main shapes for food dehydrators include:

  • cylindrical
  • square

In considering the shape of your dryer, here is what you need to know:

  1. First, the shape is conducive to the space you get. It may say you get “X amount of ” square footage of space, but is all of that space useful and convenient for what you are drying? Think of the round stackable trays in terms of corners and edges and how you will be laying down your food.
  2. Secondly, the shape of your food dehydrator will also give you a hint about where the fan is located, which is of greater importance (and we will talk more about this fact and tray rotation that in the coming points).

Cylinder food dehydrators with round trays typically are that shape so the air from the fan, which is usually located at the base of these models, can blow the air vertically through the chambers of trays.square shaped dehydrator and trays

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When this drying process happens you will have to rotate these stackable trays frequently, especially with drying meat, so they all dry evenly on the drying cycle. More on that to come.

Where is The Fan and Heating Element Located?

There are two locations for your fan and heating element, which are always based together so the fan can gently blow the hot air around to dry your food out. These are:

  • At the bottom/base of the unit
  • In the back of the unit

When it comes to your fan and heating element, especially when it comes to beef jerky, (and really anything you are planning to dry and preserve) you want an even heat distribution.

This is an essential point to consider in your search of the best food dehydrator.

When the fan is located at the bottom of your unit, it makes sense that the food items that are closest to it, will dry faster than the ones near the top. This means you are going to have to rotate trays around and almost guess the “doneness” of the food on your trays.

About 20 years ago when I started making dried food and beef jerky, I had a cylinder model.

I wish I knew then what I know now, because if I didn’t get the tray rotation done in time, I would be left with some overdone jerky from the bottom, and jerky that needed more time (and the middle trays would fall in the category of slightly underdone to slightly overdone).

The internal temperature range between the base of my unit and the top of it was so much that my food never dried consistently without constant supervision.

This also means you will probably be taking trays off sporadically, depending on how “done” they are.

The Best Dehydrator in Summary…

For the best dehydrator for jerky, we are recommending a food dehydrator with:

  • stainless trays (steel metal)
  • good square footage of food drying area
  • a brand with longevity in the industry (proven results so you get a food dehydrator that will last a long time)
  • fan and heating element based at the back of the unit
  • a digital timer so you can set it and forget it
  • an automatic shut off time
  • a large capacity for foods if you want to get the most out of your drying time
  • and preferably, one that isn’t too loud so you can have it running in your kitchen without it bothering anyone

Best beef jerky in a dehydrator

This brings us to a small selection of great food dehydrator models that we highly recommend for beef jerky making. These models will of course me excellent for your dried fruit and vegetables, fruit leather and other dehydrated foods.

You can make delicious beef jerky with any dehydrator, it’s true, but the better the model you choose, the more convenient it will be, the more consistent results you’ll get and better quality your jerky making will be.

Let’s get into it, these are the best dehydrators for beef jerky making!

Best Dehydrator For Jerky

Here are the best dehydrator models, in no specific order.

1. The Cosori Dehydrator | BEST VALUE

Check price here

This is the model we have been working with for quite a while. The Cosori dehydrator features a choice between six or 10 trays that are stainless, and a digital control panel with varying internal temperature settings between of 95°F and 165°F.

This dehydrator has a timer function that can be set up to 48 hours, and it comes with a recipe book and a mesh screen for drying smaller items. This product has received positive reviews from customers for its durability, ease of use, and efficiency.

Here is my own Cosori, the same model, on my counter full of delicious pear slices:My Cosori dehydrator

The COSORI food dehydrator machine would be a great option for making jerky because:

  • it has an adjustable thermostat with a digital temperature control feature, which allows for precise temperature control settings that are necessary for dehydrating meat
  • It has steel (stainless) for its trays with a lot of space for drying large batches of beef jerky, while also being easy to clean and resistant to corrosion
  • The dehydrator’s timer function allows for that fantastic set and forget approach to making jerky
  • Most importantly, the fan and heating element are located at the back of the unit, so you will get an even heat distribution without physical tray rotation, plus, if you have marinated meat, it won’t drip down onto your heater and fan

Cosori Dehydrator for Jerky

We really enjoy this dehydrator for so many different foods like beef jerky, dried apples, dried pears, dehydrated tomatoes, and we make a really ridiculous amount of dried fruit leather with it for the kids.

We also recommend this dryer as one of the best fruit dehydrator options as well.

We personally love the even heat distribution this machine gives you, and the results we get are always 10/10.

Here are the stats for this 10 tray model:

  • Product dimensions: 16.9″ x 21.3″ x 16.4″
  • Dehydrator Weight: 40.7lbs
  • Square footage of drying area: 15 sq. feet
  • Fan wattage/power: 1000W
  • Tray material: Stainless steel
  • Noise level: 51dB
  • Dishwasher safe trays: Yes

Here’s a video of us using it for several different dehydrated snacks, it’s quiet and stays permanently on our kitchen counter, this is our own review from our YouTube channel, please subscribe here

2. The Magic Mill Food Dehydrator | BEST LIGHTWEIGHT MODEL + LOTS OF SPACE

Check today’s price here

This dehydrator is a powerful food dryer that is perfect for anyone looking to preserve food and make healthy snacks, and we are giving it a title of one of the best dehydrators for jerky.

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With its adjustable thermostat and internal temperature control settings (plus its spacious interior), this dehydrator can handle a variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats.

Watch their product video on their listing here:

Video of beef jerky

Additionally, the included accessories such as the drying racks and drip pan make the dehydrating process even easier and more convenient.

This specific dehydrator recently changed from a ten tray version to an 11 tray model without changing the outside space at all, so it seems they shifted a few things around to get the most use of of the space it offers, which we just love.

Here are the stats for this 11 tray model:

  • Product dimensions: *Info was not on the listing, we are waiting to hear back from the company and will update this article with the information
  • Dehydrator Weight: 13lbs (27.7lbs lighter than the Cosori)
  • Square footage of drying area: 18.16 sq. feet (3.16 more square feet of drying space than the Cosori)
  • Fan wattage/power: 1000W (same as Cosori)
  • Tray material: Stainless steel
  • Noise level: *Info was not on the listing, we are waiting to hear back from the company and will update this article with the information
  • Dishwasher safe trays: Yes

Overall, this Magic Mill dehydrator would be a great choice for making jerky because it has a large capacity and powerful fan that circulates air evenly, allowing for efficient and consistent drying of the meat.Magic Mill Dehydrator For Beef Jerky

It also has an adjustable temperature control, which is important for making jerky as different types of meat requires a different temperature range.

Finally, the included drip tray and drying racks make it easy to prepare and clean up after making jerky.

Comparing the Cosori Dehydrator to the Magic Mill Dehydrator

If you are choosing between the Cosori and this Magic Mill model, it is going to come down to what is more important for you, as they are both very excellent, high quality models.

The Cosori comes in at a heavier weight and the Magic Mill is very light in comparison and has a bit more space. But do you prefer a heavier model? Do you want it lighter? It’s a matter of preference.

Compare the prices here, these will open in a second window (who knows, maybe one is on sale today and that will make the decision easier!):

See today’s price of the Cosori dehydrator here

Compare with today’s price of the Magic Mill dehydrator here

Let’s throw another model into the mix:

3. The NutriChef Dehydrator | BEST OVERALL

Check today’s price here

This is a dehydrator that dreams are made of, and it makes the list for our best dehydrators for jerky.

This model has a large capacity for food drying, but take note, is often sold out due to its popularity among the serious jerky maker folks and anyone who has fruit trees or a garden and plans to dry a lot of food preservatives and treats.

Check its availability right here

Nutrichef jerky dehydrator model

The NutriChef food dehydrator is a large food dehydrator that still manages to be compact for the amount of food drying space. It is also a versatile machine that can be used to make a huge variety of healthy snacks at the same time.

It features 2 VERY powerful fans and adjustable temperature control, allowing for efficient and consistent drying of fruits, vegetables, and meats.

Here is something I find so interesting, because there are 2 fans, you have the capability of setting each one at a different drying temperature with the adjustable thermostat!

So go ahead and dry your beef jerky on the lower half, and make yourself some apple chips above at a lower temperature! How amazing is that?!

The included drying racks are removable and easy to clean, making the process of dehydrating food even more convenient.

Watch the product video on their listing here:

Dehydrator making jerky video

Here are the stats for this 20 tray model:

  • Product dimensions: 18.11” x 15.75” x 31.89″
  • Dehydrator Weight: 95.8lbs
  • Square footage of drying area: each tray is 398mm x 358mm and there are 20 racks that can hold 13lbs of food at a time!
  • Fan wattage/power: 2000W (double the drying power of the previous models we listed above, likely due to two fans in the unit that can be individually controlled)
  • Tray material: Stainless steel
  • Noise level: We contacted the company to ask about decibel levels, and their response was that it is safe and quiet to use.
  • Dishwasher safe trays: Yes

This would be a really great model for anyone who is a hunter or raises their own meat and want to make a lot of food at once, or for those who like to dehydrate jerky for snacks and road trips. It’s basically fantastic for anyone who wants to make a lot at once for food preservation.

This dehydrator for jerky can dry 13lbs of food in one shot at the correct temperature, and that is extremely impressive. This machine can also increase its temperature by 5 degrees F at a time for precise control.

This is for sure, a dream machine.

4. The Excalibur Commercial Dehydrator | COMMERCIAL QUALITY & CAPABILITIES FOR SERIOUS DRYERS

Check price here

Excalibur is a USA-made brand who makes some really amazing models of food dehydrators. When we were initially choosing between an Excalibur and a Cosori, I went with the Cosori because between the models I was comparing at the time, the Excalibur didn’t offer a stainless tray version for the one I wanted. Instead, there were only plastic trays.

Well, here is a new Excalibur for you to consider, with stainless trays. And not only are the trays stainless, but the entire machine itself is stainless as well; inside and out, making it built for heavy duty use.Best Dehydrator For Beef Jerky

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This model is for serious food preservers out there. This is a model that can handle food dehydration with optimal quality. It is a high-quality dehydrator that has the features necessary for producing high-quality beef jerky.

Its temperature control, large capacity, even drying, and easy cleaning make it an excellent choice for anyone who wants to make their own beef jerky at home.

This model also comes with a ten year limited warranty as well as their patented adjustable hyperwave thermostat, which fine tunes the heat to eliminate over or under drying. The patented horizontal parallex drying system heats and dries all trays evenly.

Here are the stats for this 10 tray model:

  • Product dimensions: 17″ x 20.5″ x 17″
  • Dehydrator Weight: 63lbs
  • Square footage of drying space: 16 square feet
  • Fan wattage/power: 600W
  • Tray material: Stainless steel
  • Noise level: *Info was not on the listing, we are waiting to hear back from the company and will update this article with the information
  • Dishwasher safe trays: Yes

For those of you who are looking to have a business selling dehydrated snacks and foods, or for those who want to ultimate in even drying and high quality jerky and other dried healthy treats, this is the most expensive of the dehydrators we are listing, but it is worth checking out for the quality in the results.Excalibur dehydrator for jerky

COMPARE ALL BEST-SELLING DEHYDRATORS RIGHT HERE

Our Final Thoughts on Dehydrators

Drying food and making dry beef jerky with a dehydrator is a popular method for preserving food and creating healthy snacks at home. A dehydrator works by removing the moisture from food, which inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast.

Dried food can last for months or even years, depending on the food and how it is stored.

Drying food with a dehydrator has several advantages over other methods of food preservation. For one, it can be a healthier way to snack because dehydrated foods are usually low in fat and calories.

Additionally, dehydrating food at home allows you to control the ingredients, ensuring that your snacks are free from preservatives, additives, and other unwanted chemicals in your finished jerky and other yummy treats.

When it comes to jerky, a dehydrator is the best tool for making this popular snack. Jerky is traditionally made by marinating and seasoning strips of meat before drying them out. A dehydrator allows you to dry the meat at a consistent temperature, which ensures that the meat is thoroughly dried without cooking it, resulting in a chewy and flavorful snack.

Aside from being a great way to make healthy snacks, dehydrating food is also an excellent method for preserving food for later use. Drying food with a dehydrator is a great way to store fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you may have an excess of.

Dried food takes up less storage space than fresh food and is less prone to spoilage, making it a great option for those who want to reduce food waste and save money on groceries.

Beef jerky from the best dehydrator

In Conclusion

In conclusion, drying food and jerky with a dehydrator is a great option for home cooks and food preservation fans, whether you like to make it with a dry rub or jerky seasoning, with ground meat and spices in a jerky gun, or you like to marinate it (our favorite method).

It is a healthy way to snack and allows for better control over the ingredients used in the process. Forget preservatives and added chemicals. Just enjoy pure, healthy snacks and treats.

Additionally, dehydrating food with a dehydrator is a great way to preserve food and reduce food waste, you can keep your dried snacks suck as apple or banana chips and dry jerky in canning jars, or you can freeze in airtight bags.

Wondering what else you can dehydrate for snacks, preserves and use as décor?

How To Dry Flowers

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How To Dehydrate Apple Chips

How To Dehydrate Strawberries For A Healthy Snack!

How To Dry Orange Slices for Drinks, Garnishes & Décor

DIY Healthy Banana Chips

Which DEHYDRATOR is the BEST For Fruit (article)

Here are some other resources you may be interested in:

BEST Ways To Use Natural Beeswax In Your Home!

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Shop for the BEST USA-made cast iron cookware HERE

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Shop for beeswax wraps here

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Dehydrator For Beef Jerky

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