Best Dehydrator for Jerky

In Indoor Cooking
Magic Mill Food Dehydrator

Best Dehydrator for Jerky

Whether you want the practicality of preserving food or the great taste and texture that comes with Jerky, investing in a food dehydrator is a great idea. Here at King of the Coals we think that a food dehydrator is an incredibly useful kitchen item that has a range of applications. Add in a vacuum sealer and you’ve got one of the most effective, easiest and healthiest ways to preserve food. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re going to look at the best dehydrator for jerky.

Jerky can be made in many ways, from cooking in the oven to smoking in a smoker to using a dehydrator. Each way will produce a slightly different tasting jerky. Our favorite way to make jerky is in a smoker. You can read our guide on how to make jerky in a smoker for more information. We’d recommend an electric smoker for first time jerky smokers. If you don’t have the space, money or need for a smoker then you can use a food dehydrator to make jerky.

What is a food dehydrator?

Dehydration is simply the removal of water from an object. This can be useful for preserving food as the water can act as a source of bacteria and without a build up of bacteria the food is going to last longer. This process can also produce great food, for example dried fruit, veg and of course jerky.

A food dehydrator is a machine that speeds up the process of dehydration by passing hot air over the food to remove the moisture. They are generally pretty simple and usually have a heating element, a fan and a thermostat controller. They generally come in two types. One type has a top or bottom mounted fan that blows the air over the food vertically. These are usually round and tend to be cheaper. The other type are square or rectangular cabinet and tend to have the fan at the front or back to blow the air over the food horizontally. These tend to be more expensive as they can fit in a lot more food. Some of these commercial types of dehydrators can have many trays and can fit several cubic feet of food.

Jerky dehydrators are generally very easy to use and offer a great way to produce quality beef jerky. To find out how long you need to dehydrate the meat for you can use our times and temperatures chart or refer to your specific jerky dehydrator’s manual.

 

Best Low Budget Food Dehydrator

Presto 06300 Dehydro Food Dehydrator

Presto 06300 Dehydro
Presto 06300 Dehydro

Presto have a good range of food dehydrators and the 06300 Dehydro is the smallest and cheapest they produce. This is a 600 Watt, bottom mounted fan and heating element dehydrator that does a very good job considering the low price. You get four trays included with it but have the option to add up to four additional trays to give a total of 8. This gives you enough space to hold about 3lbs of jerky with the 4 trays.

Other features include:

  • See through cover to monitor drying process on the top tray
  • Great design allows for easy storage. The drying trays fully nest inside each other to make it as compact as possible. The power cord also stores inside the base
  • Very easy to clean as the drying trays and the cover are fully dishwasher safe
  • The Dehydro runs at a temperature of approximately 165°F

Overall, the Presto 06300 is a great little dehydrator that is definitely worth your money. But it does have a few features missing that would have been nice to be included. There is no way that you can change the temperature on it, that means you’re limited to just 165°F which might not be ideal if you’re planning on dehydrating several different types of food. It also lacks a timer. This isn’t a huge problem but would be nice to have. There have also been reports of the Presto simply not heating the food enough. This isn’t much of an issue if you’re drying fruit, but when it comes to making jerky you need it to reach sufficiently high temperatures to ensure that it’s safe to eat. Despite these problems we’d still recommend this dehydrator and think it’s the bet low budget food dehydrator for jerky on the market at the moment.

 

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Alternative

Nesco FD-37A American Harvest Food Dehydrator

Nesco American Harvest FD-37
Nesco American Harvest FD-37

Nesco are another company that make a great range of food dehydrators. The FD-37A model is their cheapest and smallest model. It has a 400 watt heating element and top mounted fan. You get 4 trays of drying space that can be increased to 7 with additional trays. What makes the Nesco FD-37A stand out is the fact that it is by far the cheapest jerky dehydrator on our list.

Other features include:

  • Clear top to allow you to monitor the drying process
  • All components are dishwasher safe except the power head
  • Has a preset temperature of 160°F

Like the Presto the Nesco has similar problems. It doesn’t have a thermostat controller and you can’t set a timer. It also only reaches 160°F which means that you’ll sometimes struggle to get the inside of the jerky to a suitable temperature. If this is the case, then you can always put the jerky in the oven to get the insides safe and then finish it in the dehydrator. There have also been some reports of some of the plastics melting after long uses. This isn’t optimal, but you do get what you pay for. Overall, we think this is a good product that does a very respectable job at dehydrating food. It certainly isn’t the best dehydrator for beef jerky, but at this price it might be worth a purchase.

If you’ve read around on King of the Coals you’ll probably see that we tend to recommend the products with better quality and a higher price tag. This is because we strongly believe that a quality appliance will serve you better for a longer time and remove any of the hassle that is likely to apply to cheaper products. But we’ll still give you the options for the low budget products as we like to cover as much as possible. In this case we’d recommend spending just a little bit more and buying a food dehydrator that is in at least our Mid Range section.

 

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Best Mid Range Food Dehydrator

Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

Best Jerky Dehydrator - Nesco Snackmaster Pro FD-75A
Best Jerky Dehydrator –
Nesco Snackmaster Pro FD-75A

Another Nesco makes our list, except this time we can’t find many faults with it. The Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro is our favorite dehydrator on the list. You get a 600 watt top mounted fan and heating element that does a great job at evenly distributing the heat throughout the chamber. The Snackmaster Pro also comes with a temperature controller. It allows you to set the temperature between 95°F and 160°F. This allows for a lot more versatility in what you dry out and the Snackmaster Pro generally gives great performance and maintains a very constant temperature.

Other features include:

  • Made in America
  • Comes with 5 trays with the option to add an additional 7 extra trays for a total of 12 trays
  • Includes recipe book, 2 solid sheets, 2 mesh sheets, and 3 jerky spice packets

Overall, the Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro does everything that you’d expect it to and it does it well. It can dry out a lot of food efficiently and effectively whilst running very quiet. The only problem is that it doesn’t have a timer. This is easily fixed with any timer you can get your hands on, but to have one included would have made this basically perfect. If thinking of buying a very well priced jerky dehydrator then we’d highly recommend the Nesco Snackmaster Pro and think that it’s the best jerky dehydrator on the market.

 

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Alternative

Hamilton Beach 32100A Food Dehydrator

Hamilton Beach 32100A Food Dehydrator
Hamilton Beach 32100A Food Dehydrator

The Hamilton Beach 321100A food dehydrator is a great mid range alternative to the Snackmaster Pro. It has a 500 watt heating element and 5 stackable drying trays. Whilst it doesn’t provide as much heating power or as much drying space it does have a great user interface and is very easy to use. It has a simple controller with a built in timer that can be set for up to 48 hours. The timer also has an auto shut off so you never need to worry about leaving it on for too long. The heating temperature is adjustable but isn’t quite a large of a range as the Snackmaster Pro. It can go from 100°F to 160°F which is still very respectable. It’s also usually about $10 cheaper than the Nesco but if you search around you can find it even cheaper.

Other features include:

  • Included fine mesh sheet for drying small food like herbs and a solid sheet for making fruit rolls
  • See through lid so you can see your food drying out
  • The plastic trays are completely dishwasher safe

Overall, this is a decent dryer. It has some great features but is let down by a slightly inconsistent drying area. You’ll probably have to move the trays around to get it perfectly consistent. Also, a lot of people complain at the length of time it takes to dry out food. Despite these small flaws it still a great dehydrator. You’ll get a better dehydrator if you decided to spend more, but for the price you won’t get much better.

 

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Best High End Food Dehydrator

Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator

Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator
Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator

The Excaliber 3926TB is the first food dehydrator that has a back mounted fan. It’s a 7 inch 600 watt fan that allows the hot air to be blown horizontally over a total of 9 trays. It does this very well and creates a very even drying area with the front being just very slightly cooler than the back. The trays are all included with the dehydrator and there isn’t any room for additional trays. They still give you roughly 15 square foot of drying space though, so there is plenty of room for a lot of jerky. The Excalibur has an adjustable thermostat that can manage temperatures of 105°F to 160°F. It also has a built in timer that goes up to 26 hours.

Other features include:

  • Made in America
  • The trays are all completely dishwasher safe
  • Includes a flexible poly-screen tray insert to prevent foods from sticking.
  • 10 year warranty

Whilst the Excalibur is a lot more expensive than the rest of the dehydrators on the list, it does offer great build quality and has a huge range of features. It dries out food and more easily and effectively. The controls are easy to use as is cleaning it. Overall, you won’t get a much better product. We’d highly recommend this to anyone that wants a solid long term investment and doesn’t mind paying a premium. If it wasn’t for the price this would easily have been the best jerky dehydrator on the list.

 

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Alternative

Magic Mill Food Dehydrator

King of the Coals - Magic Mill Food Dehydrator
Magic Mill Food Dehydrator

If the price of the Excalibur is just a bit too much then the Magic Mill Food Dehydrator is a great alternative. It has many of the same features and a similar build to the Excalibur but it is generally a lot cheaper. It’s has a 600 watt rear mounted fan and comes in 6 or 9 tray versions which both give you a huge drying area. The Magic Mill also has a great thermostat and timer. You can choose the temperature from 8 different presets in the range of 95°F to 158°F. This means you don’t even need the KotC times and temperature charts as it’s all done for you. The timer can go up to 19 and a half hours and it even has a countdown timer built in with an automatic shut off system to make sure your food is done to perfection.

Other features include:

  • The racks are made from stainless steel so they are easy to clean and super durable
  • You get 1 fine mesh sheet, 2 nonstick sheets and 1 set of oven gloves included
  • Transparent door to allow you to easily monitor the foods progress
  • Overheating safety protection
  • Drip tray to collect any residue from the drying process

Overall, the Magic Mill is a brilliant alternative to the Excalibur. It almost as good, having many of the same features and is roughly the same size. Where it isn’t as good is the build quality and the warranty. That’s not to say that the build quality of the Magic Mill is bad, it feels sturdy and has some of the best quality drying racks we’ve seen.

If you’re looking for a solid, large area food dehydrator and don’t want to pay a lot of money then the Magic Mill is the best jerky dehydrator you can buy.

 

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

We hope this has helped in your search for the perfect food dehydrator for you. Let us know in the comments if there is anything else you’d like to know and we’ll help out.

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