Best Dehydrator for Jerky in 2021

Jason Webster
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Looking for the best dehydrator for jerky in 2021? I’ve reviewed and tried 26 different models to find the top 4 that you can buy!

If you enjoy the flavor of homemade dried meat jerky, you’ll find nothing better than the real thing. Unfortunately, if you try to make it in the oven or a cheap dehydrator, you’re most likely going to end up disappointed and with dried-out meat.

You need a quality dehydrator to make really great jerky with the perfect texture. So, which one of the 26 models out there will you choose?

NameCategoryProduct
Excalibur 3900B 9-Tray Electric Food DehydratorBest OverallExcalibur 3900B 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food DehydratorBudget PickHamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator
Excalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator Clear DoorUpgrade PickExcalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator Clear Door

1. Excalibur 3900B 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator

Our rating: 9 / 10

Excalibur 3900B 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator

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Pros:

  • The most popular name in dehydrators
  • Sturdy and dependable construction
  • Can dry a number of things other than just jerky
  • Produces perfectly dehydrated food

Cons:

  • This model has a few reported malfunctions
  • Reportedly needs a manual for more satisfying results
  • Takes up lots of counter space

If you’re interested in making beef jerky at home, then the Excalibur 3900 Dehydrator is the best way to go. Consider this the Mercedes of the food dehydrator market.

The Excalibur 3900 Dehydrator features an extremely sturdy yet lightweight construction made out of BPA-free trays.

It’s a great option for drying large batches of fruits, veggies, breads, and more, but it does excel when it comes to making jerky.

2. NESCO FD-75A

Our rating: 8 / 10

NESCO FD-75A

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Pros:

  • Inexpensive compared to other dehydrators
  • Easy to clean
  • Large enough to dehydrate even large amounts of food
  • High-quality motor without overheating
  • Multiple settings pertain to different drying tasks
  • Solidly built and solidly made

Cons:

  • A bit noisy
  • Takes a while to dry foods

Our eyes were immediately drawn to this dehydrator from the moment we laid eyes on it. Dehydrating food has become an extremely popular method of preserving food and increasing its shelf life over the past few years.

The Nesco FD75A is designed to allow the food to “breathe” and have room to dry. We love the unique square shape of the drying trays in this dehydrator.

There is a built-in fan and adjustable thermostat, so you can set your drying time to exactly what you need it to be. A huge bonus is that the machine does not overheat, which prevents spoilage and oxidation.

3. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator

Our rating: 8 / 10

Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator

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Pros:

  • Air cooled for drying fruit and vegetables
  • Chain with 3 different temperature settings
  • Elements are removable
  • Dishwasher Safe

Cons:

  • The quality of the fruits and vegetables doesn’t last very long after dehydration
  • Heat rises from the bottom up so it takes longer to dry items

If you wish to make your own fruit leathers, jerky, yogurt or dried fruit, the Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator is an excellent choice. It has 4 trays for many different foods, and the temperature can be controlled by moving the temperature setting up. Chain dryer

The Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator is an effective tool to preserve food. Unlike a lot of dehydrators, the drying goes on the bottom of the machine, not the top, so you don’t have to worry about having pieces falling down into the bottom elements. With an air cooled system, the fruits and vegetables do not get too hot while they're drying.

A machine is obviously not going to be able to process large amounts of fruits and vegetables at once, but for a small family or couples, this product is great for creating a supply of healthy snacks on a consistent basis.

4. Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator

Our rating: 8 / 10

Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator

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Pros:

  • Equipped with 5 smooth-running, steel mesh trays
  • A Digital thermostat, which allows for precise and convenient temperature settings
  • An adjustable thermostat from 70 degrees to 155 degrees

Cons:

  • The timer is the only control
  • Durable, but not the sturdiest of options
  • Digital panel sometimes glitches

Hamilton Beach is on a roll with the notable 5-tray food dehydrator. We love this dehydrator because it comes in a variety of colors for you to choose from.

It has a spacious design with room in each tray for more than 1 tray of fruit, veggies or herbs–meaning you can dry a big batch of things all at once. The large design helps save you time so you can have healthier meals in minutes.

The 300-watt and 5-tray design also allows you to dry more food at once.

5. Excalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator Clear Door

Our rating: 6 / 10

Excalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator Clear Door

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Pros:

  • 9 trays with 48 square feet of drying space
  • 3 adjustable thermostats
  • Excalibur's patented horizontal drying system
  • Compact design
  • Includes a 5-year warranty
  • Users love the automatic shutoff feature
  • Good reviews from dog owners for making bone treats
  • Made in the US

Cons:

  • Smaller capacity than some other models
  • Built-in timer can be a little quiet

The Excalibur Dehydrator is designed to be very user friendly, with an automatic shutoff, timer, and patented “Parallex” Horizontal Air Flow for even and fast drying.

The Excalibur dehydrators are some of the most popular kitchen appliances among internet reviewers. I’ve been using mine for two years now and I have to say I’m very glad I bought it. It performs great and I really like the clear door because I can watch the food dry without opening the door.

I like that you can set the different temp that each tray for even drying. It has really helped to cut down on any drying deficiencies I have had in the past with other products. I have dried everything from beef jerky and various other meats to breads, fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What dehydrator is best for jerky?

If your goal is to make the best jerky possible, then what you’re looking for is a dehydrator with a low temperature setting and an adjustable timer. A temperature setting of around 145 degrees Fahrenheit with a timer to make sure the food dries but doesn’t overcook is the perfect setup for dehydrating jerky.

It may seem counterintuitive but you need to rotate or stir your food around on the racks during the drying process to prevent the pieces from getting too dark or burnt in any one spot. For more on jerky, check out our article, “How to Make Beef Jerky at Home”.

What temperature is best for dehydrating jerky?

The basic rule of thumb is 145 degrees Fan, 155 degrees Convection, 165 degrees for Tropical.

The general idea is that as the temperature approaches the boiling point of water, your jerky will dry much faster, sometimes too fast. So you need to watch the jerky closely at temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is the reason why we have a temperature control on almost all dehydrators. It is very important to match the temperature of your dehydrator to the meat you are trying to dehydrate as they all have different water content.

Also, your dehydrator may have different settings:

  • FAN: If your dehydrator has a fan, that means it circulates the air and you can set the temperature higher.
  • CONVECTION: If your dehydrator has a fan and a heat source on top, it calls for a lower temperature.

Is Jerky better in the oven or dehydrator?

Jerky lovers know that dehydrated jerky, made at home or the shop, is a lot healthier and usually tastier than store-bought versions.

In terms of taste, there’s truly no comparison!

The big question is, are you better off turning to your oven, or would you rather transform your oven into a dehydrator?

Well, it depends on your priorities, but we’re all about providing the best, so we suggest both!

How long do you leave jerky in the dehydrator?

This depends on the type of meat as well as the thickness of the jerky. If you’re looking for a moist, chewy jerky, you’ll need to dehydrate it longer to achieve that. If you prefer your jerky crispy and crunchy, then dehydrate it less for a faster result.

Conclusion

We have come to the conclusion that the best choice for creating great tasting jerky at home is the Nesco American Harvest FD-60 Jerky Xpress.

The Nesco American Harvest FD-60 Jerky Xpress has accurately calibrated thermostats and comes with a programmable timer, which significantly makes it easy to save on time and dish out the quality product every time.

It is quiet, easy and extremely easy to clean. It comes with a drip tray that catches your jerkies as they fall below, without much spillage.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Excalibur 3900B 9-Tray Electric Food DehydratorBest OverallExcalibur 3900B 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food DehydratorBudget PickHamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator
Excalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator Clear DoorUpgrade PickExcalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator Clear Door