The beef jerky dehydrator is one of the best tools you could have when making homemade beef jerky. I have tested and reviewed 4 of the top dehydrators on the market to find out which one is THE BEST DEHYDRATOR FOR MAKING BEEF JERKY.
Jerky dehydrators work by passing heated air over the beef to remove moisture in order to dry it making what everyone knows as Beef Jerky. There are two main different types of dehydrators you will find when looking for a unit.
The first is a unit that has a fan mounted on top or bottom of the trays and blows air vertically through the trays to dry the beef. These units tend to be round and less expensive than the second type of dehydrator, the "professional" style dehydrator.
The professional style unit has a fan at the rear of the unit and blows the air horizontally over the beef from the back of the unit to the front. These units tend to be square in construction.
Below I reviewed two of the top selling dehydrators from each style and have ranked them from what I thought was the best dehydrator for the casual beef jerky maker. Some of the things I took into account when ranking these units included: even heat distribution, unit capacity, running noise level, ease of use, accessories, etc....
*I tested the heating of the dehydrators by placing 1 hot dog with a thermometer inserted at a spot closest to the fan and one hot dog with a thermometer inserted at a spot furthest away from the fan. I chose hot dogs because they were the same size and an easy constant when determining the internal temp. This method was used to find out how long a dehydrator took to heat up and if the hot dogs reached the safe internal temperature of 160°F that beef jerky needs to be heated to in order to kill bacteria. Click here for more Jerky Safety Tips.
Beef Jerky Dehydrator Reviews:
These reviews are strictly reviewing how well these dehydrators are for MAKING BEEF JERKY. They all have capabilities to dry other products such as fruit, but these reviews will focus ONLY on how well they are for making jerky. So here we go... Read below to find out what the number one dehydrator I would recommend buying to make Beef Jerky.
#1 - Excalibur
The Excalibur is the #1 dehydrator I would recommend for someone looking to buy a dehydrator for making beef jerky. The first thing you notice is the over all size & capacity of the unit, allowing for a total of 6lbs of meat to be dried at once.
This dehydrator is made in California and is of very high quality. The unit comes with a 10 year warranty, the best and longest warranty of all the units tested. The 600 watt fan is mounted in the back of the dehydrator blowing air horizontally over the 9 trays. More trays can NOT be added to this unit to increase the capacity.
The Excalibur has a temperature control that ranges from 105° to 165°F and a timer that will let you set the unit to dry for a certain amount of time and automatically shut off.
It took 75 minutes for the test food to reach an internal temperature of 150°F and 180 minutes to reach 160°F. The temperature did differ 15°F from the back of the unit (closest to the fan) to the front of the unit. Because of this, I would recommend rotating the trays half way through dehydrating.
The Excalibur was the third noisiest dehydrator reaching a high of 63 decibels while running.
- Temperature control 105° to 165°F
- Built in timer
- Dishwasher safe trays
- Built in the USA
- 10 year warranty
- BPA Free Trays
- High cost
- Have to rotate trays during drying
- Fixed number of trays, cannot increase capacity
#2 - Nesco
Coming in at #2 is the Nesco Snackmaster Pro! This unit is made in Wisconsin and produces great beef jerky! The Nesco comes with 5 trays which will handle about 3lbs of meat, however, 7 extra trays can be purchased (a little over ten dollars for a pair of 2) making a total of 12 trays for 7.5lbs of capacity. That's a lot of jerky!
The design of this unit allows a 600watt top mounted fan to evenly distribute the heat throughout the unit for even and fast drying. A temperature control allows you to select a temp from 95° to 160°F. Out of the 4 dehydrators tested, this was the only unit that maintained the same temperature throughout the entire unit making it great for drying jerky evenly.
It took 92 minutes for the test food to reach and internal temperature of 150°F and 195 minutes to reach 160°F. The temperature between the top and bottom trays never differed more than 2°F.
The Nesco was also the second quietest unit, reaching a high of 58 decibels allowing it to be run in the kitchen without bothering you while watching tv or having dinner.
- Low cost
- Temperature control 95° to 160°F
- Expandable tray capacity
- BPA Free Trays
- Quiet when running
- Built in the USA
- No timer
- Trays are NOT dishwasher safe
- Only 1 year warranty
#3 - Ivation
The Ivation Dehydrator came in at #3, powered by a back mounted 480 watt fan. This dehydrator is quiet! You almost don't even know that it is running. It came in at a max 55 decibels, the quietest of the four dehydrators tested.
The Ivation comes with 6 trays which can hold about 4lbs of meat. There is a 9 tray unit as well. The clear front window of this unit allows you to keep an eye on your jerky without opening the unit.
The dehydrator is well made and has a temperature control that ranges from 95° to 155°F. However, during the test drying, after 4 hours and 30 minutes the test food only reached a max internal temperature of 140°F at the back of the unit (closest to the fan) and 131°F at the front of the unit. This dehydrator failed in reaching the all important 160°F internal temperature for making beef jerky.
If purchasing this dehydrator for making beef jerky, I recommend heating the beef strips in the oven until they reach an internal temperature of 160° before removing them and finishing the dehydration process in this dehydrator.
- BPA Free Trays
- 5 Year Warranty
- Quiet while running
- Clear front window
- Did not reach internal temperature of 160°F
- No timer
- Trays are NOT dishwasher safe
- Made in China
- Low capacity
- High Cost
#4 - Presto
Coming in at #4 is the Presto 06300, 600 watt bottom mounted fan dehydrator. This was the lowest cost dehydrator out of the ones reviewed, but had some good features. It is made in China but appears to be well made.
It comes with 4 trays with the option to purchase up to another 4 trays for a total of 8. With the 4 trays, this unit can hold about 3lbs of jerky, or a total of 6lbs after purchasing an extra 4 trays.
I did like how the Presto allows you to stack each tray inside another for a very compact storage. Out of the four dehydrators tested, this is the unit that was the lightest and easiest to store away being about ½ the size of the other units. It also has a clear top that allows you to see the jerky while it dries.
During the drying of the test food, this unit only differed by 8°, the bottom tray (closest to fan) being hotter than the top tray. However, what was NOT good was the overall internal temperature of the test food. The test food reached a 150°F in 91 minutes, but never reached the all important 160°F internal temperature for making beef jerky. The test food on the top tray only reached a high of 144°.
Because this unit did NOT heat the test food to a safe internal temperature of 160°F, further steps would have to be taken when making beef jerky with the Presto. Does this mean that you will get always get sick if making jerky with this dehydrator? No. But I would not want to risk the safety of my family or friends.
As I mentioned above with the Ivation; If purchasing this dehydrator for making beef jerky, I recommend heating the beef strips in the oven until they reach an internal temperature of 160° before removing them and finishing the dehydration process in this dehydrator.
The Presto was also the loudest dehydrator I tested with a max of 69 decibels when running. This still is not very loud, but louder than the others.
- Low cost
- Requires small storage space, very compact
- Dishwasher safe trays
- BPA Free
- Clear top (see jerky while dehydrating)
- Expandable Trays
- No temperature control (Does not heat to 160°F)
- No timer
- Low capacity with the 4 supplied trays
- Only 1 year warranty
- Noisy when running
- Built in China
We have the Nesco and love it. I did check and the trays CAN be cleaned in the dishwasher per the manual....they do say to avoid the Heated Dry cycle! This was after i had already run them thru that cycle (and they are fine) - but wouldnt recommend it to all....just avoid Heated Dry cycle...at least you dont have to wash them all by hand
Hi I love your site!!
I tried your sweet and hot recipe as well as the sriracha recipe and they were delicious!!
I bought a presto dehydrator and I saw here that you write that it unsafe because it doesn’t reach 165 degrees, what can I do about that?
Thanks Joe! I would either pre=heat the meat or do a post heat treatment in the oven to make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 160F. Check out my jerky safety page for more information.
Ken Cissel says
We actually bought a Corsi Food Dehydrator with six stainless steel racks and we can easily do about 4 pounds of beef in a go if we want. I haven't checked the back to front temperature but when set at 165 degrees it actually gets up to 171 at a peak and 163 at a minimum. It is whisper-quiet, they advertise 48dB, has a rear fan with a 600-watt heater, and does a great job. It's worth looking at.
I'll have to check it out! Thanks!
LARRY D BURLING says
We have one also love it
Sheri C says
I got the Cosori for Christmas love it. Thanks for testing internal temps and letting us know it’s a good machine. On my third batch of jerky love it love my Cosori Dehydrater. Love the recipes included. Best present for me.
Richard Beatty says
At 160 bacteria is killed more or less instantly. At 140 it takes a little longer, like 14 minutes. Check out Sous Vide cooking guidelines.
There is a difference in lethality of bacteria between cooking meat quickly and dehydrating meat over a long time while removing humidity. Bacteria can survive at higher temperatures in a dry environment. That is why the USDA recommends always heating the meat to 160°F for beef and 165° for poultry when making jerky.
I was wondering about the the part on heating the jerky to 160 at first. If it took that long for the unit to reach that temp, would bacteria be growing by the time it reached temp ? Or does it matter since that temp will kill the bacteria once temp is reached? I have 2 units, one is a bottom heating and the other a top,, would that matter? Thank you for the great info.
As long as it reaches 160f within the first couple hours, the jerky should be safe. If you are going to dry at a lower temperature, then preheat the jerky in the oven do it reaches 160f first. I am not sure what units you have, but the bottom or top fan shouldn’t make a difference in the drying. Most units are designed so the air circulates throughout the dehydrator.
Lew Newby says
Great reviews. Based on your recommendations I bought your top 2. The Excaliber was a wedding gift for a Neice who lives in Alaska and they dry a lot of wild game. They love the Excaliber. For me I chose the Nesco dehydrator. I found one on Craigslist for $25 and a short drive. It's quiet and everything else good you said about it. I have had it for 9 months and my primary purpose was to make Jerky. I dried some fruit and then did fruit rollups for the Great Grandkids. Those were a big hit. I start my Jerky on the pellet grill and after 2 or 3 hours I move the meat to my Nesco. I like the smoke flavor after three hours but some in the family prefer less smoke so I do some for 2 hours. Since I manually slice the meat it's not uniform and the Nesco makes it easy to check for done as the meat gets over 3 hours in the Nesco. My wife is sensitive to noise and she has no problem with the Nesco humming along 15 ft. from her as she watches TV. I love your Franks Red Hot recipe with a tsp. of Cayenne Powder.
Mike Palmer says
I have a older version of the Nesco and love it. today I bought a Game Winner brand because it was larger and had a digital readout and timer. Well, made a 5 pound batch (I use ground meat), and it's currently around 6 hours in at the max temp of 158, and it's still not done. Unit is going back tomorrow. Going to order another Nesco, do you think the Gardenmaster is worth the extra $50 over the Snackmaster? With my old Nesco, I could do about 2-2.5 lbs at a time (I had the basic 4 trays), so I always had to do it in 2 batches. Now I can't decide if getting the SNackmaster and getting extra trays is better than getting the Gardenmaster, does the Snackmaster still work as well if you use 12 trays?
I have never used 12 trays on the snackmaster so am not sure how it would hold up with that much meat in it. The gardenmaster has a more powerful fan and can handle more jerky for sure. Extra trays can be bought online as well. If you want to do 5lbs of meat at a time, I would go with the Gardenmaster.
Derek Wilson says
Testing 2 different dehydrators at a time both holding the same amounts of deer sliced meat around 1/4 inch thick with directions followed with the applied amounts of cure/seasonings and as of now at 7hrs in maximum time and proper time shall be 8hrs at 160 degrees Nesco pro dehydrator is holding very positive heat much better than the other which is open country sportsman kitchen which Is very loud
Thanks for the test results Derek. I love the Nesco Pro, such a good dehydrator.
Hi. Do you allow guest posts on jerkyholic.com ?
I have not had any to this point, but it would depend on what the topic is and your website.
South West Cleaning says
Keep up the great work! Thank you so much for sharing a great posts.
I didn't look through all of the comments, but I was wondering if you tested the Nesco with all 12 trays and if they were all consistent in temperature/drying without having to rotate? I am trying to figure out which one to purchase for my jerky making between your top two picks... I like the option to set and forget but the 15 degree difference of the Excalibur has me a little worried. However if the Nesco is the most consistent with the max amount of trays I may just go that route. I currently use a Cosori and am playing with the different ways I am dehydrating my jerky, but wanted to invest into something that is proven consistent. Thank you in advance!
If you want to make A LOT of jerky, check out the Nesco Gardenmaster. It's their dehydrator that is made to handle a lot of trays and meat. A little more powerful than the Snackmaster. I have one and really like using it. I have used it with about 7 trays, but not 12.
Patrick F says
I'm happy to report that the Cabela's 10-tray Deluxe also makes it to 160 degrees on the front of the racks (furthest from the heating element) both at the top and the bottom.
I do not work for this manufacturer and am only posting as I was heating my meat in an oven before using this dehydrator.
The bottom, front rack does bounce between 155 and 160 (assuming when the heater kicks on/off). Do you think this is sufficient to skip the oven process? I've got some jerkey all prepared today and will still use oven out of pre-caution.
I think as long as it hits 160 it should be good to go. It does not need to maintain that temperature, just reach it at some point. I have heard good things about that dehydrator, I'll probably get one soon. Thanks for the comment Patrick!
Donna Overstreet says
I have been using Nesco for some time making dog treats.... I usually make two batches at the time. Somehow one of the batches was turned off shortly after I started it and I didn’t realize it for maybe four hours. If I restart it somehow one of the batches was turned off shortly after I started it and I didn’t realize it for maybe four hours. If I restart it Will the jerky still be good or should I throw it away since it’s been sitting out for four hours.
I wouldn't risk it. If it was me, I would throw it out and start over.
Do any of these dehydrators have a means of catching liquid that runs of the meat? Some of my favorite recipes produce A LOT of fluid run off in the first couple of hours. It's the main reason why I want to switch from my convection oven to a dehydrator. I'm tired of cleaning up all the mess from the collected (or worse, spilled and burned) moisture.
the Nesco has the motor/fan on top and has a catch pan on the bottom of the trays. The Excalibur also can catch liquid in the bottom, but does not have a removable tray which would make for easy cleanup. You would have to use a sponge and soak it up when cleaning, unable to put in the sink or dishwasher.
dave mat says
With the Nesco FD-75a, you say it takes 195 minutes to reach the proper temperature. How much longer do you need to leave it in there after it hits that temp before taking it out?
As long as it takes to finish drying. While drying, starting at around the 3.5-4 hour mark take a piece of jerky out of the dehydrator and let it cool to room temperature (about 5 minutes). Bend the strip, it should bend and crack but not break in half. You should also see white strands of fibers when bending. If this doesn't happen, keep drying for another hour or so and test again.
Faith Romeo says
NESCO FD-75A, Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator How long does this take to dry beef Jerky? Is the machine energy efficcient?
It's a very good dehydrator. Check out my page on dehydrators for more information. The drying time really depends on how thick you slice the meat. If it is sliced about 1/4" thick, it should take about 4 hours. I am not sure on how much energy the dehydrator uses, I can't imagine it is too much.
Geoffrey Jameson says
While testing the dehydrators, does the amount of trays affect the overall temperature? I have the Presto Dehydrator. Love the site! Thanks for all the information!!!
I found that with the Nesco there wasn't much difference in temperature from the bottom tray to the top tray. I can only imagine that the airflow is much less the more trays you have as well as more surface area that the unit needs to heat. I don't think this is a problem with 5 or so trays, but if you tried to go up to 20 it might start affecting things. The Nesco Gardenmaster claims it can dry evenly with that many trays. I have a Gardenmaster and need to order another 5 trays and test to see if this is true.
Gale B. says
Bought this dehydrator and it made first batch of jerky well; do you have any takes on this particular dehydrator?
Cabela's 80-Liter Commercial-Grade Food Dehydrator
•Penta 360-Degree Air flo for even air circulation
•Smart Heat monitors air intake and internal temperature
•Powerful 1,400-watt heater
•Easy-to-red, four-color display with one-button control
•24 high-intensity LEDs allow you to see inside
•Includes 12 removable racks
I have not tried that dehydrator, but have heard great things from other readers on the site. I need to order one and give it a whirl!
Gale B. says
That would be great, Will. I am interested in your thoughts on this dehydrator. New to dehydrating and your site; could you share some of other readers comments on this specific dehydrator? Thanks!
tony palumbo says
Thanks for all the tips. Great website. Had our 1st run at Beef Jerky, used stove, but going to look into Nesco Snackmaster Pro!
No problem! The Snackmaster Pro is a great dehydrator!
I'm just beginning to start getting into dehydrating. I grow a lot of herbs, peppers and tomatoes in the summer and end up freezing most of it, which takes a lot of space in the freezer. I found your website on an Amazon review of the Nesco dehydrator which I ended up purchasing. I was really happy with my choice when I got to your site and saw your review on it. It will be here next week and I'm trying to study up on techniques.
A question that I have is about pre-prepping jerky meat in the oven to reach the safe temperature, which I will definitely do. Would you give a short tutorial on what temp to actually set the oven at ie: 160 for a slower heat up or higher temp for a quicker heat up. Also, with such thin slices of meat how do you get an accurate temperature reading?
So glad to have found your site and am anxious to try some of your recipes. Especially thanks for making my day with your dehydrator reviews.
Hey Cindy! Nice to see that you purchased a dehydrator and used my reviews, welcome to the world of making beef jerky!!! I have an answer to your questions on my FAQ Page, check it out for specific temps and times. I mention it on there, but if the meat is very thin, wrap the thinnest piece you have around an oven thermometer. Hope that helps!
ernest lewis says
thanks for your time
Jeremy VanRuymbeke says
I too am from the great white north in Canada (actually about as south as you can get in Ontario) lol. Anyways, Great website! I love the reviews and info on all this, such a great one stop shop for advice and recipes. I used to own a Salton Vita Pro (cheap unit $40) worked great for a beginner. I just recently purchased the big Excalibur unit like yourself and so far its been great. Wow, you can do a big batch in that thing. I am currently in the process of making 8 of your recipes and one of my own right now and bringing them into work (refinery) for my crew to enjoy and of course critique. Jerky always goes over well with the guys. Again I mostly just wanted to say Thank you for your time and effort on this website. Its a must for anyone getting into the jerky game!
Thanks for the kind words Jeremy. I hear you on bringing jerky to work, it will get the guys on your side quick! I work in the oil field and the guys are always asking for it! Hope the jerky turns out great!
Great site with a lot of great tips! I'm an amateur dehydrator from way up north in Canada. Just making a batch of jerky and had to look up some info and tips tonight it's been a little while since my last batch. Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome work you've done here!
No problem Grant. Thanks for stopping by and checking out the site!
charles l nichols says
a couple points--
why pat marinade dry? the purpose is for flavor, leave it on and dehydrate longer...…..I have the aroma model and put in dishwasher with no issues. make @ 9 batches/year. I use 4lbs top round dehydrate for 8 hours.
Hey Charles! I like to pat the strips dry because if not I have found that the outside of the jerky gets sticky from the excess marinade. I'm not a fan of messy or sticky jerky, so that's why I always do it.
Marie Z says
I've been using Excalibur for many years now, and I LOVE it. My 9 shelves can hold 10 lbs of meat and I never rotate the trays when cooking. I think they are the best dehydrators out there. I researched before I bought it. I find that dehydrators that are cheap ARE cheaply made, I bought one when it was on sale as a back up. The trays were awkward to use and stack, and broke after ONE use. The Excalibur IS expensive, but you get what you pay for, in my opinion.
Thanks for your article. I found the information about safety to be right on! Just a suggestion. I always use parchment paper when making jerky. The meat slides right off the paper. I suggested it to others, who also rave about it. Easy clean up, too.
I was wondering if you had heard of Anfan Kitchen Commercial Food Dehydrator? The temperature goes up to 180 degrees. I am now using an Aroma as I got a good deal at Costco. I like the Aroma and I use curing salt but was wondering how long to dehydrate ground beef at 156 degrees? I have not heated to 160 degrees before dehydrating , it looks done and tastes OK . Thanks
I have not heard of it, but just checked it out on amazon. I might have to buy it and try it out! The FDA recommends heating jerky to 160F because that is the temp that will kill all bacteria. Once you reach that internal temp of 160F, you can turn it down to 140F or so and finish the jerky off. My jerky normally takes around 4-5 hours in my dehydrators but that can vary on how thick you slice the meat. Using curing salt is a good idea if your dehydrator doesn't reach 160F.
Currently have maple pork hanging in oven and also some in my Weston. First time dehydrating. The Weston has a bottom heating element. States heats up to 165. Perhaps I should test that.
Read above where someone covered lid partially with a towel for a bit. Thoughts?
How did the jerky turn out? I always recommend testing your dehydrator temp instead of trusting the dial. You could use a towel at the beginning to help it reach temperature faster, would definitely help it get to 160f quicker.
I use the oven. I works perfectly.
I just received a Nesco Snackmaster Express as a gift and I'm looking forward to making my first batch of jerky. I have a couple of questions for you:
1. I keep kosher, so I'm wondering if you can tell me what cut of meat from the fore-quarter would be a good choice for my jerky?
2. Can I make two different recipes at one time in the dehydrator without worrying about the flavors getting muddled?
uhmmmmmm... I have had several comments where people used brisket for making jerky, but I personally haven't tried it. You can totally do more than one recipe in a dehydrator, I do that just about every time I make jerky!
Good article, Will. Covered some different brands and I would agree with most of your points. Should you have any readers from Australia looking for a quality dehydrator from Excalibur, they are welcome to visit http://www.sprout.net.au - Aussies are starting to love drying their own foods more and more so it's great to see your site full of tips and hints.
I am planning to buy one dehydrator. Mostly I am going to make beef jerky. Could you please suggest something with mid price range
Nesco Snackmaster Pro
Thanks for the information. The thorough detail is appreciated. Glad I stumbled upon this page. Can't wait to get mine.
No problem Carol!
Marielle Rigaux says
I have an "American Harvestor", the big one . How would you rate doing jerky in that one?
I have never used that dehydrator or tested it. It is made by Nesco though, and I like their products.
Ed Matthews says
I have two NESCO 's and I love them. The above Pro's and Con's says it all. I also use the DEHYDRO and it does a good job also. Both are well worth the money.
Thank you for the reviews. These days, I'm trying to prepare as much of what I eat as opposed to buying from outside. And one thing I've found about myself is that I love dehydrated food a lot, especially fried beef. I guess getting a dehydrator is a step towards enjoy more of it. Cheers 🙂
Matt Orf says
I have the presto dehydrator and I get 160-163 degrees by taken a small dish towel and cover about 2/3! Of the Ben hole in the lid. I do this of course while watching closely and the let it stay there about 30! Minutes in the middle of the dehydration process.
I'm curious why everyone keeps saying "you must reach a internal temperature of 160F". If your talking about ground meat then I completely agree, but for whole muscle beef you only need to go above the temperature danger zone and hit 145F internal temp. The removal of moisture is just as important as the heating step, as the moisture is what breeds bacteria. By reducing the water activity and increasing the sodium you create a environment that only extremophiles could live in.
Just wanted to share some science that I felt was relevant to the topic. Happy Jerky Making!
Hey Xander, Thanks for the info. I agree that reaching the internal temp of 160F is much more important with ground meat than with whole muscle jerky as you mentioned. I still heat the whole muscle jerky to 160F because I follow the USDA recommendations. The 160F is also a recommendation because the meat is heated very slowly (unless using the oven pre-heat method) in a dehydrator which can allow the bacteria to become more heat resistant and more likely to survive. Better safe than sorry!
Mike Hosier says
My sister bought a nesco fd60 on sale the only difference i can seefrom the fd75a is the wattage 500 compared to 600.what do you think.with her discounts got it for about $30.00
Hey Mike. I have not used that dehydrator but it does look pretty similar to the 75. Like you mentioned the wattage is a little lower and it comes with 4 trays instead of 5. Looks like for $30 it is a great buy! With any new dehydrator I buy, I always check to see how long it takes to heat jerky to 160F. So I recommend testing that with a food thermometer and then get to making some jerky!!!
Bill A. says
Have you ever tried one of the Cabela's Commercial dehydrators? They come in two sizes 80 liters and 160 liters. I have the 160 liter one and it makes decent jerky. My issue is ether I get the Jerky Over done or under done then add more time and then it get over dry... still working it out... I would be interested if you have ever tried one of them and your opinion on one.
I haven't tried that dehydrator either Bill. I had another reader mention that same one about 3 days ago. I am probably going to buy one here pretty soon so I can check it out. I still over dry jerky every once in a while. Making sure to let it cool for 5 minutes before checking to see if it is done definitely helps prevent over drying!
Test out a LEM dehydrator. Quietest on the market that I've seen and will never give mine up! Easy to fix, great service from the company and I'm even from Canada, and got two day service from them.
I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for the info on it Veta.
ANNE GRIFFIN says
My hubby and I are on a diet so want to save money by drying our own meat. We are looking at making pork, turkey, and chicken jerky as well as beef. I want to make sure I get a dehydrator that will be safe for all cuts of meat. I know you recommend the Nesco Pro. Can it handle those meats and does it still dehydrate efficienlyl if you max out the trays?I was thinking the Nesco's with a 1,000 watts might be better but they got a few bad reviews on if use more than 4 trays. I can't afford the excaliber you recommended but there is a lower model excaliber for$140 on Amazon. Any infor would be great. Thank you
Hey Anne, congrats and good luck on your diet! The Nesco Pro would be a great choice. I have not used the new Nesco Gardenmaster 1000 watt yet, but looks like it would be a good choice as well. I have used 5 trays with the Nesco Pro and it worked great. I usually make 2-3 lbs of jerky at a time which fits fine on 5 trays. I would buy either Nesco model over buying the smaller Excalibur. Now when it comes to making chicken or turkey jerky, I make sure to pre-heat the meat in an oven to 165F before dehydrating as well as use curing salt. Check out one of my chicken recipes to see how I go about making fowl jerky. Hope that helps!
Eldon Branham says
Did I miss the #1 Best Dehydrator?? The article above goes from #4 to #2...
I want to get into making some Jerky, and your input is wonderful, great recipes!
Hey Eldon! Thanks so much for pointing that out!!! There was a line of code in the wrong place that was preventing the #1 review from showing. It must have been like that for weeks and you are the first to mention it. I am glad you are finding the site helpful, and thanks again for pointing that out. It's all fixed now.
molly mak says
I'm just about ready to click the Amazon button for the Excali dehydrator you featured but have one last question (apologies if you already answered this).
Clean up, how hard is the clean up after dehydrating jerky (beef, turkey or chicken).
My 2 concerns are timers & clean up as I'll be using this weekly.
Thank U 🙂
Great question Molly. The trays and mesh screening on the Excalibur are both dishwasher safe, so real easy to clean! I hand wash all of my dishes, so I clean these by hand in the kitchen sink. Both the mesh and hard plastic clean real easy with a sponge. I typically pat dry my jerky strips before dehydrating which doesn't leave much marinade on the trays making an easy clean up as well. If you use a marinade that is thick (has ketchup, bbq sauce...) it tends to stick to whatever dehydrator screen you are using, whether it be the Excalibur or the Nesco. I love the Excalibur! If you are looking at that dehydrator, I say go for it!
Hey Will. What a great dehydrator testing/review. Thank you for the time and effort in sharing your results! I'm a junkie for playing in the kitchen. I've primarily stuck to making salsa/hot sauce but eager, after reading your page, to jump on this beef jerky making band wagon. I love it and tired of paying the insane prices for commercial stuff. I'm ordering your highest pick today. Just curious, how long have you been making jerky? What dehydrator do you use for your personal jerky? And, have you ever sold the stuff? I'd love to taste some of your homemade deliciousness. Danny- Plano, TX
Hey Danny, I have a feeling you are going to like making jerky! I believe the first recipe I made was about 10 years ago with my brother in law & a friend. I haven't turned back since. The top 2 dehydrators on my list are the ones I use to make jerky. I go back and forth between the two. Today I made turkey jerky with the Excalibur and beef jerky with the Nesco about 2 weeks ago. I love both of those dehydrators, you can't go wrong with either one. I have never sold jerky, just give a lot away to friends. If I ever do start selling it, I'll let you know! But that's the beauty of this site, you can make your own great jerky!
Kim harris says
Recommendation on the best meat to use for jerky? Slice across the grain or with? Thank you for info on dehydration and equipment.
Hey Kim! Those are great questions. Check out these two pages I have put together that will give you all the information you need to answer those questions. Cuts of Beef for Jerky & Slicing Meat for Jerky
Thank you for the reviews of the dehydrators for making jerky. Nowadays, there has been a surge in the demand for dehydrators since people want to make dehydrated foods at home rather buy at the store.
No problem! You are totally right, it's getting very popular to make jerky and other dried foods.
Laura Lee Foley says
I have a Ronco dehydrator. I've used it only for jerky, so far. It's been chaotic in my life ( moving across country and other life events.....). I'm going to bestarting making jerky again. It's so expensive to buy it. And I just remember that the jerky I've made tastes soo much better!!! I'm so glad I found your blog!!!
I remember it took like 12 hours to make. But it's been years since I've made it. Maybe I will look at the booklet... yes I still have it. It also came with a huge recipe book full of various food dehydration recipes. I plan on buying some 'extra' foods to dehydrate and store in canning jars. The jerky will not be stored. I like to eat it at night before bed.
ATM I am nursing my last child and I find I need more protein and jerky is perfect!!!
Glad you are getting back into making jerky! You are right, the homemade stuff is sooo much better than store bought.
Nesco says top rack and take them out before drying cycle. Thank You for the awesome web site.
Laurie Lee says
Hi, l make jerky using a Nesco Snackmaster and noticed it was one of the dehydrators you tested. In your review you mentioned the con of the trays not being dishwasher safe....l am hear to report, l put my trays in the dishwasher with no issues for the last 4 years. What was the problem you ran into? Thanks! Don't want to rid my trays!!
I always hand wash my trays and classify them on here as not being dishwasher safe because Nesco claims that they are NOT dishwasher safe. That's awesome that you haven't had any problems, it's so much easier than washing by hand!
Kerry Deardorff says
Great information - very helpful. I came close to purchasing the Presto and decided I should really do some research first. I've never used/owned a dehydrator, but am looking forward to it.
I realize there are a lot of products on the market and it would be difficult (and expensive) to test them all. But I am curious if you have heard anything or have any thoughts about the Hamilton Beach Dehydrator. The reviews I've read for it are generally better than the Nesco and (at Amazon) it's under $50 which makes it attractive to this first-time buyer.
Thanks again for the great information you've provided.
I have not tried or tested that dehydrator so I can't give any advice on it. I would comb through the reviews and look for whether people have to rotate trays to get an even dry on all the jerky. See if anyone mentions the dehydrator heating jerky to 160F. I will try in a couple months to test some other dehydrators, I will make sure this one is on my list.
Very informative video and web page. We'll try this today. On a side note, I never understood the practice of laying down foil to keep surface clean. A simple wipe of the countertop (which was designed for food prep) would clean the mess instead of adding yet another ball of aluminum garbage to the earth.
Thanks for visiting and watching my video! It's a very valid point about the aluminum foil Rob. I guess it's an option for who ever is making the jerky. A quick swipe of the counter with a good cleaning agent would definitely take care of the mess as well.
Dennis Schukman says
What do you think of using an electric smoker for drying beef jerky? Have you ever tried one? I am thinking of getting one and am curious if it would work for bj.
I use one to make jerky quite often. Check out my page on Making Beef Jerky in a Smoker.
Tim Romero says
The Nesco has never failed me however cleaning the trays can be a bit tedious. I'm still trying to find a solution that is not so time consuming. If anyone can pass along any suggestions I'd be grateful.
I hear you on cleaning dehydrator trays, it can be a pain in the butt! Some recipes are worse than others when it comes to clean up, but spraying the dehydrator trays with PAM nonstick cooking spray helps prevent the marinade from drying to the trays. Definitely makes clean up a little easier. Any nonstick spray will work and you can easily find it at your local grocery store.
I just purchased a Nesco, and am gearing up to make jerky this weekend for the first time!
My question is concerning the meat reaching 160 degrees internal temperature. In spite of the max temperature setting being 160, you guys are still getting the internal temperature to reach 160? I’d like to avoid the extra step of heating in the oven first, because, well, laziness lol.
The Nesco snackmaster will heat the meat just fine. I have never had a problem with my jerky reaching 160F internal temperature.
I found that the best thing for cleaning my Nesco's trays was actually a tire brush - short, straight bristles that can get in all the corners and crevices on the Nesco.
spray them with olive oil first I also mix avacodo oil with my meat after it has marinated and just before i put in dehydrator the trays rinse off with hot water
Cissy Hansen says
After packaging my jery, I take the trays to my guest bath, and spray them with scrubbing bubbles. I let them soak about 10 minutes and spray clean with handheld shower nozzle on jet setting. NO SCRUBBING.
Wow. That's the kind of tip I was looking for. Thanks Cissy!
Thanks for the informed reviews on the dehydrators. Would definitely love to get one to make my own jerky. Huge fan of jerky. Which do you think would be the most recommended one if I am on a budget?
Go with the Nesco Dehydrator. I believe it is the best bang for your buck.
Question - I have the Presto, about how long do I let it sit in there for?
It really depends on how thin you sliced the meat. Start with 4 hours and continue from there if needed. Pull a piece out and let it cool for a couple minutes and bend it. If it bends and cracks, but does not break in half; it's finished. This page has some more information about making jerky in a dehydrator.
Richard L. says
Great website! I'm not far down the road from you here in San Antonio so it wouldn't be that far for you to bring me some of your jerky :-). I am in the learning process (trial and error) of making jerky. I believe, as you do, that temperature to kill possible bacteria in the meat is important. I am looking at getting another dehydrator or two in the near future and I appreciate the time you took to test these products. I noticed that you tested temperature with a hot dog. Since the hot dog would be thicker than say an 1/8 in slice of beef, is it possible that the beef (being thinner) might have reached the 160 degree mark on some of these units? Much appreciated! Keep up the good work!
Hey Richard! I love San Antonio! My wife and I make it down there every once in a while to ride bikes down by the river walk (the part NOT crowded by people). That's a great question. I used a hot dog so that the test food was a constant density and size when testing the 4 dehydrators. I know the hot dog is bigger than a slice of jerky, but the only other way to test would have been to fold a slice of beef in half with the thermometer in the middle. Going this route, I thought the slices could vary a little bit and the thermometer would not be totally encased which could allow in hot air, giving me a false reading. Hot dogs are not as dense as a slice of beef, which allows them to heat up faster as well. Also, these units ran for over 4 hours without reaching an internal temperature of 160F. I do not think that these units would heat a slice of beef to the all important 160F. I really appreciate you stopping by! Let me know what dehydrator you get and what you think about it!
You obviously used a meat thermometer meant for measuring internal temp of a burger, steak, roast, etc. You should spring for one that measures surface temperature from a small distance. Considering that finished jerky is not going to be more than 1/4 inch thick, the temp difference between the surface and 1/8 inch deep is going to be minimal, and you will be measuring that actual product being made. These thermometer "guns" are used to measure, for example, the temp of foods on a buffet table and are almost instant in measurements.
Good tip Olen.
Sally Baucus Boydstun says
I got this one and ran the same test you did with excellent results, fyi: Magic Mill Pro Countertop Electric Food Dehydrator, (Stainless Steel) https://amzn.to/33ups6e
In your reply you state that the internal temperature never reached 160 in the 4 hours you tested in any of the units. Am I miss understanding that it took you 195 minutes to reach an internal temp of 160 on the nesco? I’m just trying to better understand this as I am new to dehydrating a jerky making. Thanks.
The Nesco and Excalibur did reach an internal temperature of 160F. It does take a while and will change depending on how thick the jerky is. If you use either of those two dehydrators, you will reach the 160F internal temperature in around 2-3 hours.
I'm looking for dehyders that has 20 shelf's and the air flow is the same as the top one
That's a tall order. I don't think you are going to find one that big that will dry evenly throughout all the racks. I would say you could probably get it pretty even with 8-10 trays on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro.
Weston 28-0501-W Food Dehydrator, 21.5" x 16", Silver......24 trays
Jerry Owens says
grab two of the lem dehydrators sit them next to each other best bet in my opinion. great units good air flow and heat. Jerry
If you will allow one of use to write a review on the machine we purchased, I'd do a write up on the Cabelas unit I purchased. It wasn't cheap, but it was worth it IMO.