If you want to make homemade beef jerky then the beef jerky dehydrator or a food dehydrator is the best choice for you.
A food dehydrator is not only used for making beef jerky you can also use it to dehydrate fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, herbs, flowers, etc.
In this post, we have reviewed the top 5 food dehydrators and also explains why they are the best food dehydrators for making jerky.
Top 5 Best Food Dehydrators For Jerky in 2021
After extensive research, we have found these top 5 food dehydrators that help you make homemade beef jerky easily. These dehydrators also help you in dehydrating other products too like fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, etc.
Excalibur is manufactured by an American company. It comes up with 9 trays that allow you to make beef jerky for yourself or your entire family. This 600 watts food dehydrator comes up with an adjustable thermostat feature through which you can adjust the temperature between 105°F to 165°F.
At lower temperatures (115-118 degrees), it is perfect for dehydrating foods and vegetables without losing their nutrients, and at higher temperatures, it perfectly dehydrates meat or beef for making jerky.
This 600-watt powerful dehydrator has a 7-inch fan placed at the back of it that blows continuous warm air horizontally over the 9 non-rotating plastic trays. Its 15″ x 15″ plastic trays can dehydrate a good amount of food or meat on a single go.
With Hyperwave technology and horizontal parallex airflow, this machine dehydrates food properly without the need to rotate the trays. Other accessories such as a flexible poly-screen tray are included which helps to prevent food from sticking during the dehydrating process.
A built-in on/off switch and a 26-hour timer allows you to set the unit to dehydrate meat, fruits, or vegetables for a certain amount of time and gets automatically switched off after that.
It is effortless to clean and lightweight, and one can easily move it from one place to another without much effort. If you love eating beef jerky then this machine is worth buying. This is a great dehydrator for making beef jerky at home and also allows you to dehydrate food in bulk. It doesn’t make much noise during the dehydrating process.
- Made in the USA
- Built-in timer
- Thermostat to control the temperature between 105°-165°F
- BPA free trays
- Doesn’t sound much throughout the dehydration process
- Poly screen trays that don’t let the food stick to the trays
- 10-year warranty
- Quite expensive
- Cannot increase the capacity of the trays
NESCO FD-75A Snackmaster Pro is another great food dehydrator that is developed in the USA. It is one of the best and most selling dehydrators on Amazon.
It doesn’t take much space in the kitchen and its lightweight design makes it very portable. Also, the 600 watts powerful top-mounted fan spreads hot air evenly throughout the unit which dries the food equally and much faster without needing to rotate the trays.
The adjustable thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature of the unit that ranges between 95° to 160°F. NESCO comes along with 5 BPA free drying trays that have a size of 13 1/2″ in diameter. You can also expand its size and add up to 7 more trays into it which makes it hold 12 trays in total. This can be great if you wanted to make beef jerky in bulk.
Only 5 trays come along with the dehydrator and if you want to add more trays to it you can buy it over Amazon.
NESCO developed and patented its drying system called converga-flow, which forces the hot air down the exterior pressurized chambers and not through the trays which allows it to maintain the same temperature throughout the unit during the dehydrating process and dry’s the beef jerky evenly.
Its Opaque Vita-Save exterior blocks the harmful and dangerous light and helps in conserving the nutritional content of the food. There is one negative point in this dehydrator and is that it doesn’t have a timer that automatically shuts off the unit when the food is ready. You have to manually turn off the unit.
This product is no doubt worth the money and is one of the best food dehydrators for making beef jerky or any type of jerky.
- Easy to use and clean.
- BPA free drying trays.
- Comes up with 5 trays and can be expandable up to 12 trays. Good for making jerky in bulk for your entire family.
- Vertical drying
- Adjustable thermostat to control the temperature.
- Patented Converge-Flow drying system.
- Very quiet throughout the drying process.
- No timer.
- 1-year warranty.
- No power On/Off button.
Hamilton Beach 32100 is one of the most budgets friendly and affordable digital food dehydrator.
It comes up with 5 BPA free drying trays that can hold an ample amount of food or beef at once. The 500-watt motor provides continuous hot airflow throughout the dryer that evenly drys food without moving the tray.
Hamilton Beach has a 48-hour timer that automatically turns off after the time is up or after whatever time you set below the 48 hours mark.
An adjustable digital thermostat allows you to adjust the drying temperature between 100-160° F for making beef jerky or drying other kinds of food.
2 other special sheets come along with it. A fine mesh sheet allows you to dry herbs and other food that are smaller in size. The other one is a solid sheet that allows you to make fruit rolls.
The dehydrator is very portable, easy to use, and clean, and one can easily understand how to use it just by looking at it.
- Includes two specialized sheets – One is a mesh sheet good for drying smaller foods or herbs and the other one is a solid sheet used to make fruit rolls.
- Adjustable thermostat to adjust the drying temperature between 100-160° F.
- 48-hour timer.
- Auto shutoff Feature – It gets auto-shutoff after whatever the time you set in below the 48-hour mark.
- Easy to clean.
- A bit noisy.
- Uneven heat distribution in the unit.
Elechomes is one of the best food dehydrators for making beef jerky or any other kind of food jerky.
It comes along with 6 BPA-free trays and also includes two additional sheets one is mesh sheets use for drying herbs, basil, thyme, spices, or other smaller foods and the other one is a fruit roll sheet to make your own fruit roll.
Each layer of trays has 2 adjustable heights to make a different variety of dried food in one go. All the trays are dishwasher safe and can be easily removable. You can clean the base of the dehydrator with a damp cloth.
It has 400-watt drying power that provides 360-degree hot air circulation in the dehydrator. It dries the meat evenly without hardening the skin or losing any nutrient content of the foods.
Just put the meat into the dehydrator, set the temperature and time, and leave it no need to worry about rotating the trays. It prevents the food from overheating.
You can set the temperature between 95° F – 158° F via the digital thermostat or control panel and can set the timer between 30 min – 72 hours which will auto shut down after the time you set in.
No doubt this is a great food dehydrator that allows you to make homemade beef jerky in the comfort of your home.
- Digital thermostat to set the temperature between 95°F- 158°F.
- Digital timer – Set the timer between 30 min – 72 hours.
- BPA free trays.
- 2 adjustable height at each layer.
- Two specialized sheets include – Mesh screen (to dry small foods and herbs) and the Fruit roll sheet (make your own fruit roll).
- Easy to clean.
- Dishwasher safe racks.
- No cons found.
Presto electric food dehydrator is very affordable and easy to use. Just plug it in and start using it as there is no on/off switch in it. The power lights will glow green when the dehydrator is plugged in.
This powerful 600-watt dehydrator has a bottom-mounted fan that provides consistent airflow for even drying without requiring tray rotation.
There is no temperature control or timer in it, the dehydrator operates on a preset temperature of approx. 165° F. 4 drying trays are included with the product but if you want to make beef jerky in bulk for your family and friends than you can add 4 more trays into it to expands its capacity. You can buy the additional 4 trays easily on Amazon.
The upper cover is completely transparent which allows you to check the progress of the jerky directly.
It is great if you have a small kitchen as it requires very little storage space as compared with the other dehydrators. When not in use the trays nest reduces its storage space up to 35% and it also has storage space for a cord in the base of it.
This dehydrator does not have those additional features that others do on our list but if you have a tight budget and looking for a good dehydrator for making beef jerky then give this a try. It is surely worth its value.
- Expandable size – This dehydrator comes along with 4 trays and you can purchase 4 more trays to expand its capacity.
- BPA free
- Requires very less storage space and very portable.
- Transparent or see-through top cover. You can easily check the progress of your jerky just by looking at the top tray of the dehydrator.
- Trays can easily be clean in a dishwasher.
- No temperature control.
- 1-year warranty.
- No timer.
- No power On/Off switch.
Is it safe to make jerky in a dehydrator?
Yes, it is completely safe to make jerky in electric dehydrators. People have been drying food for almost centuries for preserving it and it is one of the most common and oldest methods of food preservation.
However, the sun drying method is not recommended due to a lack of consistent heat source and also there’s a chance of getting contaminated by bacteria’s.
How long do you keep jerky in a dehydrator?
There’s no fixed time on how long you should keep jerky in a dehydrator. Many factors decide whether the jerky is perfectly prepared or not. Depending upon the cuts of the meat jerky takes 4-10 hours to be perfectly prepared in an electric dehydrator.
Set the dehydrator at a temperature of 165 °F and leave it for up to 4 hours. After that, you can check whether or not the internal temperature of the jerky reaches 160 °F or above via a thermometer. You can purchase the thermometer via this link.
Again the total time of the dehydration process will depend upon how thick the meat slices are.
Can you dehydrate jerky too long?
Yes, if you put them on a high temperature for too long you can over dehydrate or overcook the jerky. So it is ideal to check your beef or venison jerky throughout the drying process.
How do you rehydrate jerky?
There is no doubt that beef jerky tastes excellent when it’s dried well but what if the jerky goes hard, or tough then it does not feel that great.
One of the most simple processes to rehydrate jerky is to soak it in hot water for around 1-2 hours and remove it when it reaches the aspired or desired texture.
How do you know when beef jerky is done dehydrating?
To find out whether the jerky is done dehydrating or not first, remove the lid of the dehydrator and take out a piece of jerky via a pair of tongs from the drying racks and let it be cool for 5-10 minutes at room temperature.
Now try to bend the jerky with light pressure if it is flexible and gets slightly torn at the bending point then it’s perfectly dried. A perfectly dried jerky will not break in half.
If it gets breaks from the middle while bending then it is not perfectly dehydrated and requires more time in the dehydrator.
A perfectly dried jerky should have a dry and leathery texture from the outside without any signs of moisture. If it feels soft and smooth, it is not yet dry properly so put it back in the dehydrator. If it breaks easily from the middle then it means it gets cooked a little too much or gets overcooked.
How long does beef jerky take in a dehydrator?
In general, jerky takes several hours in the dehydrator to get dried. Depending on the thickness of the meat it takes around 4-10 hours to dry the meat completely in a dehydrator. A thicker piece of meat requires more time to dehydrate as compared to thin pieces.
It does not matter if you like thick cuts of meat or thin you will have to estimate the time of the drying process and periodically check if the meat has dried correctly or not.
What is the best temp to make jerky?
According to USDA recommendations heat meat at 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F before starting the dehydrating process. Any kind of bacteria will be destroyed by the heat during this process.
After heating the meat put that in the dehydrator at a constant temperature of 130 °F – 140 °F during the whole drying process.
The reason behind heating the meat at 160 °F before putting it into the dehydrator is that the appliance will not heat the meat to 160 °F which is required to destroy the bacteria’s. Also, after the drying process is complete the bacteria’s will become more heat resistant so it is better to heat your meat or poultry before putting it into the dehydrator.
How long does homemade beef jerky last?
Homemade jerky can last up to 2 months in a vacuum-sealed container, but once you open it, consume it within a week. Refrigerate or freeze jerky if you want to increase its shelf life without compromising quality and taste.
What is the best-cut meat for jerky?
The best cut of beef for jerky is the one that contains less amount of fat. Eye of round, bottom round, and flank steak are some of the best cuts of beef to make jerky.