Choosing the Best Dehydrator for Perfect Jerky

Of course, we need food to live. But, it’s been a long time now that food is much more than a source of energy. We enjoy eating, discovering new tastes. And, besides having actual meals, we love snacking. What is the deal with it?  Different snacks exist all over the world and for a long time. We eat them during parties when celebrating or just binge eating to kill boredom.

In the United States, and across the European continent, potato chips have been considered the king of snacks for decades. But have you noticed that this started to change? In the past years, an increasing number of people opts for meat snacks like jerky and dry sausage sticks. In fact, experts believe that the sales of meat snacks will continue to increase, and will reach about 4.9 billion dollars in 2022. Meat snacks quickly become the favorite food of many Americans, given that an average household in the U.S spends on meat snacks about $25.81 every year. And this is more than we spend on cheese, popcorn, and other munchies.

Indeed, this amount of money doesn’t seem like a lot. But do you know that it is possible to enjoy your favorite meat snacks at an even lower price? The only thing you need is a meat dehydrator, and you can have your jerky, dry sausages, etc., in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.  We know you will tell us “Yes, but who knows how to choose jerky maker? You know how many models are out there?!” Yes, we know!  We also know that most people don’t have time to read all the information online, etc. In that sense, of course, it is way simpler to buy jerky. However, as we are thinking about your budget and your health we decided to investigate and help you determine what to pay attention to when you want to find only the best dehydrator for jerky.

Top 5 Best Dehydrators for Jerky: Comparison Table

Model Drying System Number of Trays Trays Material Temperature Range Dimensions
NESCO FD 75A  Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator Converga-Flow Drying System 5 (Can be expanded to 12) Plastic 95°F – 160°F 13.75 x 22.13 x 13.87 inches
COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine Horizontal flow 6 Stainless steel 95°F – 165°F 13.4 x 17.8 x 12.4 inches
Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator Vertical flow 4 Plastic 95°F – 165°F 14.5 x 15 x 6.25 inches
Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator Vertical flow 6 Plastic 100°F – 160°F 10.5 x 13 x 11 inches
Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine Horizontal Flow 7 Stainless steel 95°F – 165°F 15 x 13.5 x 19 inches

NESCO FD 75A  Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

This best jerky dehydrator comes with an adjustable thermostat to accommodate your particular needs. This machine comes with an incredibly powerful fan – 600 watts.  When you buy it you will get five trays. However, you can add up to seven more trays as per your needs. It comes with Opaque Vita-Save exterior, which is a fantastic feature because it prevents nutrient loss.

What We Like

What We Don’t Like

  • A beautiful white and grey design that fits in any kitchen
  • Lightweight
  • A lot of space
  • Easy to clean
  • It can take a bit of time for the food to get ready

COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine

This fantastic jerky cooker is made of food-grade stainless steel. The front door is made of glass. It is ideal for making healthy snacks like jerky, dry fruit, etc. You can even make homemade dog treats if you opt for this machine. Plus, it is simple to use. 

But the great thing about it is that it is quiet, so you can work or study while preparing your favorite snacks. It comes with six racks which are enough for 3.5 to 4 pounds of meat.

What We Like

What We Don’t Like

  • Attractive design
  • Easy to use
  • Quite an operation
  • It can dry a lot of food at once
  • It tends to overheat

Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator

Do you remember that, on average, you need about 25 dollars yearly for meat snacks? Well, if you buy this cheap dehydrator for jerky, you will for just a bit of extra money you will be able to enjoy delicacies for years to come. It comes with a transparent cover so you can monitor the progress of the dehydration.  It also has a fan on the bottom that allows for consistent airflow.

What We Like

What We Don’t Like

  • Affordable
  • Racks are dishwasher safe
  • It is possible to add racks
  • It can be challenging to put the racks

Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator

It is a top-rated dehydrator for jerky, which comes with a 48-hour timer with auto shut off. It also has a see-through lid so you can easily check the food. Another great thing about it is that it comes with an adjustable thermostat which means that you can set the temperature to suit the specific type of food.  It is a powerful machine that works at 500 watts.

What We Like

What We Don’t Like

  • It is well designed. Despite being small, it can dry plenty of food at once
  • Drying time can be a bit long. However, if you want to make it faster, cut thinner pieces of food
  • It is excellent for drying herbs
  • The only thing that we don’t like is that it is a bit noisy

Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine

If you want maximal heat distribution, this best dehydrator for deer jerky is precisely what you have been looking for. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to waste time rotating the racks since it has a back drying fan and airflow technology that promotes even drying. It is one of the best gifts for meat smokers because it comes with a timer and thermostat that allow you to enjoy meat how you like it without a lot of effort.

What We Like

What We Don’t Like

  • It is well designed. Despite being small, it can dry plenty of food at once
  • Drying time can be a bit long. However, if you want to make it faster, cut thinner pieces of food
  • It is excellent for drying herbs
  • The only thing that we don’t like is that it is a bit noisy

What is Dehydrator and How Does it Work

The dehydrator for jerky is an electrical machine that takes out the moisture from food, which is called food dehydration. And this process is quite beneficial, as dehydrated food is rich in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids etc.

And even though we call it beef jerky maker, you can actually use it for different types of food. For example, besides the meat, you can also dehydrate fruit, veggies, potatoes, etc. This device also comes with trays, vents, heating elements, and a fan for the airflow. 

Thus, the beef jerky machine dries food at low temperatures, using the circulation of the air. Dehydrators have a scale of temperature, you can use. Hence you have to know exactly which temperature is suitable for the type of food you want to dehydrate. Plus, using the right temperature is essential, as it destroys any harmful bacteria in the food. You must also keep in mind that the pieces of food shouldn’t touch each other, so you have to arrange them properly in a single layer.

Kitchen Oven vs. Dehydrator vs. Smoker

While creating our dehydrator for jerky reviews we’ve found out that you don’t necessarily need a jerky dryer, although using it is the simplest way to make this snack. However, you can do it also with a simple kitchen oven or smoker.  If you choose to make jerky in the oven, you need to cut the thin slices of meat and arrange them on the baking sheet. Then set the temperature and the timer, and wait for your snack to be ready.  

And remember – if you are using the smoker, the process will be similar. The difference is that the meat should be hanged vertically in the machine. And the drying and smoking must be done at a low temperature.

  Dehydrator Kitchen Oven Smoker
Pros
  • Easy to store
  • You can dry a lot of food at once
  • Simple temperature control
  • Versatile
  • There is one in every home
  • Doesn’t require a lot of space
  • Practical and easy to use
  • Excellent temperature control
  • Food is evenly dried
  • Enhances the taste
  • They prevent the mat from fermenting
Cons
  • Require space on the counter
  • Some models can be loud
  • Slow
  • It can be challenging to maintain a low temperature
  • It can be hard to make a lot of jerky at once
  • No air vents
  • Drying in the oven can destroy nutrients
  • You cant use it for cooking at the same time
  • There is a risk that the food gets burned
  • Some smokers (charcoal) require more effort to maintain an adequate temperature

Features to Look For in Jerky Dehydrator

Size

When buying kitchen appliances, including the best dehydrator for jerky, you have to think about the size. There are two critical factors to consider. One is the space on your kitchen counter. The second thing is the amount and type of food you want to dry.  But generally, as this process takes time, it is better to buy a machine that allows you to dry more food at once.

Vertical/Horizontal Air Flow

Another thing you need to decide is whether you want the machine with vertical or horizontal airflow. The vertical models are usually smaller and have fans on the top or the bottom. They are cheaper, but also louder. Fans of horizontal models are on the back.  If you want to check how the food progresses, it is easier to do it when you have the horizontal best food dehydrator for jerky.

Temperature Control

Many machines have some temperature control options. That is important because, as we mentioned, the different temperature is needed for different types of food.  The temperature of the jerky generally needs to be about 160. And for chicken jerky, the temperature must be a bit higher – around 165.

Noise Level

Each one of us has a different level of tolerance for noise. And while researching for our dehydrator for jerky reviews we’ve also tested these machines and found out that some of them can be pretty loud. If noise bothers you, make sure to check with the manufacturer how loud is the model you want to buy.

Price

Same as with any other product, the prices of the dehydrator for jerky can vary. Of course, it is better to invest in a bigger machine even if it is a bit more expensive. But if you are on the budget and you want to make your jerky, keep in mind that there are plenty of affordable models that can suit your needs.

What Products Are Best to Dehydrate?

Generally speaking, you can dehydrate almost any fresh food in the beef jerky machine. However, it is essential to know that some foods dry better than others. Besides meat, you can also dehydrate fruits (apricots, bananas, apples, and mango), vegetables (mushrooms, carrots, peas, onions, etc.), nuts and seeds, herbs, crackers, granola, bread, etc.

Food Type Internal Temperature /
Ground meat/meat mixtures Beef, pork, veal, lamb 71/160
Turkey, chicken   74/165
Fresh beef, veal, lamb Steak, roast, chops 63/145
Poultry All poultry 74/165
Pork Fresh pork 63/145

How to Make a Jerky in Food Dehydrator

  •         Make a marinade in a glass container and put meat in it.
  •         Store it in a fridge for about an hour.
  •         Drain the meat and place it on dehydrator racks.
  •         Heat the machine to 160 and let the meat dry for about 8 hours
  •         Enjoy!

Conclusion

If you are looking for a healthy snack, jerky is ideal for you. It is rich in protein and many minerals and vitamins such as zinc, vitamin B12, iron, etc. It is also portable and delicious.  And it is even better when you make it at home, which you can easily do now when you know everything about the best dehydrator for jerky 2021!

Do you know someone who has the best dehydrator for jerky? Have you tried the homemade option?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *