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The Best Dehydrator For Making Beef Jerky

The 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.

Disclaimer – Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I have NOT received anything from these companies in return for these reviews. I personally purchased with my own money these dehydrators and the ratings are my opinion from the tests I performed.

Basic Jerky Information:

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….

Nesco Dehydrator Heat Test*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.

The 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.

#4. The Aroma Housewares Pro 6 Tray ($$$)Aroma Dehydrator

The Aroma Housewares Pro dehydrator came in at #4, powered by a back mounted 400 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 Aroma comes with 6 trays which can hold about 4lbs of meat. I believe it could fit about 10-12 trays depending on the height of the jerky strips. These trays would have to be purchased separately, but unfortunately I cannot find extra trays for sale for this dehydrator.

I also like the clear front window of this unit allowing 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.

Aroma Dehydrator Heat Testing

As I mentioned above with the Presto; 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

Aroma Housewares Pro

#3. The Presto 06300 ($)Presto Dehydrator

Coming in at #3 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 1/2 the size of the other units. It also has a clear top that allows you to see the jerky while it dries.

Presto Dehydrator Clear Lid

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.

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

Presto 06300

#2. The Excalibur 3926TB ($$$$)Excalibur Dehydrator

The Excalibur is the #2 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 95° to 165°F. One thing I really love about this unit is that it has a timer that allows you to set it and leave without worrying about over drying your jerky. LOVE IT!

Excalibur Dehydrator Controls

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 95° 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

Excalibur 3926TB


#1. The Nesco Snackmaster Pro ($$)Nesco Dehydrator

Coming in at #1 is the Nesco Snackmaster Pro! This was the first dehydrator I purchased when I began making jerky and I still love using it today. 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.

Nesco Dehydrator Controls

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 t.v 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

Nesco SnackMaster Pro


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I hope this has helped you decide what dehydrator is right for you when making beef jerky. Visit my page on Making Beef Jerky with a Dehydrator for more in depth information on using these great jerky making machines! Then find a great Beef Jerky Recipe, I have dozens to choose from!!!