The Best Budget Food Dehydrator
Are you interested in food dehydrating, but don’t know where to start? Our rundown of the best budget food dehydrators will help get you started enjoying the benefits of a food dehydrator. In this review, we cover 3 top affordable dehydrators: the Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro, the Presto 06031 Dehydro, and the Hamilton Beach 32100A.
All three are solid contenders in the budget price range, but the one that stands out is the Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator. Read our review for the details.
Factors we considered
When compiling the list of the best budget dehydrators, I considered several factors that make up a solid-performing dehydrator:
Even though these are affordable dehydrators, the quality of the unit should be good. The trays should be easy to clean (ideally dishwasher safe) and BPA-free.
Extra points are given to a dehydrator that is well designed. Having the ability to expand the capacity is a nice touch. Having an appealing design that looks good on your countertop is also an important factor.
One important feature of a food dehydrator is temperature control. Having a wide range temperature control will allow you to prepare many different types of food. If you are interested in making beef jerky, a unit that can reach at least 160 °F is essential to prevent you from having to preheat the jerky in the oven to reach a safe temperature. An automatic timer is also nice to have but is not essential.
The key points here are excellent heating/dehydrating performance and quiet operation. The overall design of the heating system of the dehydrator will affect the dehydration time as well as the quality of the results. Look for good airflow and even heating. Also, fan noise while in operation varies widely so quiet operation is an important feature, especially if you are running the dehydrator overnight.
Affordable Price Point
In this review, we focus on affordable dehydrators which provide good value for the money. While they may lack the features of more expensive units, they are solid performers. They’re a great way to introduce yourself to food dehydrating at home.
Best Budget Food Dehydrators
Our overall pick: Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, White – MADE IN USA
Prices and/or availability last updated on 2017-12-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro
The Nesco FD-75A has a good set of features and looks great on the countertop. The tray capacity is 5, expandable to up to 12 trays. The trays are easy to clean (dishwasher safe) and are slightly deeper than many other units on the market. The deeper tray allows you to hold more food thus gives you a larger capacity.
The adjustable thermostat covers a temperature range from 95 to 160 °F, covering the range of temperatures from herbs to jerky. The top mounted fan is quiet and provides great air circulation for even dehydration. It uses a patented technology called Converga-Flow, which pulls air from the outside edge of the tray to the center, providing great airflow over the food and uniform drying.
- 5 Drying Trays
- 2 Clean-A-Screen tray inserts for preventing sticking
- 2 Fruit Roll Sheets – make fruit roll snacks
- 3 Original Jerky Spice Packets
- Recipe and Instruction Book
- Top mounted fan
- Wide temperature range
- Expandable tray stack
- Compact design
Overall the Nesco FD-75A is the best dehydrator in the budget category. It has a unique design and offers great performance. There were a couple of negatives, but they were minor. There is no built-in timer or on/off switch, so you will have to plug it in and use a separate timer to know when to shut it off.
Overall it’s our top pick.Check out the Nesco on Amazon
Presto 06301 Dehydro
The Presto is a round dehydrator with 6 stackable trays and a clear cover to allow you to monitor the drying process. The trays are dishwasher safe and BPA free. Capacity can be expanded to 12 trays total. At 750 watts, it is the most powerful unit in this review.
The temperature range covers 90 to 165 °F, controlled by a digital thermostat. The fan and thermostat controls are located at the base of the unit. It also included a digital timer with a range of 30 minutes to 48 hours for set and forget operation. One unique feature of the timer is a count-up mode, where the timer displays the total drying time since the start. This mode is useful if you are not sure of the exact time to set the shut-off time, but want to keep track of the amount of time the food has been in the dehydrator.
- 6 Drying Trays
- 2 nonstick screens for small or sticky items
- 2 Fruit Roll Sheets
- Instruction Book
- Bottom mounted fan
- Digital thermostat
- Tray stack expandable to up to 12 trays
- Digital time with count up mode
The Presto 060301 is a solid contender, ranking just slightly below the Nesco. The digital controls are easy to use, and the timer count up feature is nice. As for downsides, the trays are slightly bulkier and don’t look quite as sleek when stacked up on the unit. Accessories and extra trays are slightly more expensive than other units.
Overall a very good unit.Check out the Presto on Amazon
Hamilton Beach 32100A
The Hamilton Beach 32100A is a good performing unit, but ranks slightly below the others in this review. It’s a 500 watt unit which comes with 5 square drying trays.
It uses a digital control panel located at the base which controls the drying time and temperature. Thermostat covers a temperature range of 100 to 160 °F, adjustable in 5° increments. The base contains the fan which provides continuous airflow to help dry food evenly. The cover is transparent and includes vents to help eliminate condensation, a nice touch.
- 5 Drying Trays
- 1 fine mesh screen
- 1 fruit roll sheet
- Instruction Book
- 48 hour auto shutoff timer
- Digital thermostat (100 to 160 °F)
- Simple controls
The Hamilton Beach 32100A has some solid features but falls short in a couple of areas compared to the others in this review. On the plus side, the square trays do provide slightly more capacity. The digital controls are easy to use as well. It also has the longest warranty by a large margin at 5 years.
It does have a few drawbacks though. First, the design is slightly bulkier than the other units. Second, it also skimps on included accessories like the mesh screen and fruit roll sheets for the drying racks. Only one of each is included. Finally, in some cases, the fan noise can be louder than expected.
Some nice features, but better performance and value in the Nesco or the Presto dehydrators.Check out the Hamilton Beach on Amazon
Check out our ‘How To’ articles for some ideas on how to use your food dehydrator.