Best Food Dehydrator For Making (Beef) Jerky in 2022

By Eric Mitchell •  Updated: April 8, 2022 •  43 min read

Whether you buy a simple, small, inexpensive model, or a large model with all the extras, a dehydrator is always a good investment so if you’re looking for the best food dehydrator for jerky in 2022, you are on the right page!

Jerky is a very healthy way to eat meat, given that only lean meat is used, it is not cooked with any oils or fats, and nor is all the nutrition boiled out of it. Home-made jerky is even better, in that you can control what ingredients are used in the flavoring and don’t need to add artificial preservatives or flavorants.

Our Top Picks

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Top Choice
Hamilton Beach 32100A
  • Hamilton Beach 32100A
    Hamilton Beach 32100A
  • My Rating:
    4.4
  • Temp Range:
    100-160 °F
  • Airflow: Vertical
  • Drying Space:
    5 trays
  • Power: 500 watts
  • Material Type: Plastic
  • Price:
Presto 06301 Dehydro
  • Presto 06301 Dehydro
    Presto 06301 Dehydro
  • My Rating:
    4.4
  • Temp Range:
    90-165 °F
  • Airflow: Vertical
  • Drying Space:
    5 trays expandable to 12 trays
  • Power: 750 watts
  • Material Type: Plastic
  • Price:
Ronco FD6000WHGEN
  • Ronco FD6000WHGEN
    Ronco FD6000WHGEN
  • My Rating:
    3.5
  • Temp Range:
    133 °F
  • Airflow: Vertical
  • Drying Space:
    5 trays
  • Power: 125 watts
  • Material Type: Plastic
  • Price:
Nesco FD-1040
  • Nesco FD-1040
    Nesco FD-1040
  • My Rating:
    4.4
  • Temp Range:
    90-160 °F
  • Airflow: Horizontal
  • Drying Space:
    4 trays expandable to 20 trays
  • Power: 1000 watts
  • Material Type: Plastic
  • Price:
Excalibur 3948CDB
  • Excalibur 3948CDB
    Excalibur 3948CDB
  • My Rating:
    4.1
  • Temp Range:
    95 - 165 °F
  • Airflow: Horizontal
  • Drying Space:
    9 trays
  • Power: 600 watts
  • Material Type: Polycarbonate
  • Price:

We will review the top dehydrators for making jerky and that have variable temperature controls with a maximum temperature of at least 160°F. We are also going to look at the various aspects that make them suitable for making jerky.

If you’re looking for the best dehydrator overall, not just best suited for making jerky, read our in depth food dehydrator reviews where we go into a lot of details, plus comparison charts, buying guides, tips plus FAQ and a lot more.

The dehydrators are listed in order of their popularity, from the most popular to the least.

1. Hamilton Beach 32100A 5-Tray Review

The Hamilton Beach 32100A 5-Tray dehydrator is a very affordable vertical flow dehydrator with rectangular trays and digital controls that make for an attractive, compact and practical appliance that is easy to use and to store. It has a clear lid to make it possible to monitor the dehydration process without having to open the unit.

History

Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc., a subsidiary of NACCO Industries, is one of the leading distributors of small kitchen appliances in the USA, with its roots going back to 1904. The Hamilton Beach Manufacturing Company was founded in 1910 and produced a wide range of motor-driven appliances. Its most famous brands include Hamilton Beach, Proctor Silex, Eclectrics and TrueAir.

Safety

The supplier has stated that all plastics used in their product are BPA-free in all food zones.

Capacity

Features and Controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

The Hamilton Beach 32100A 5-Tray food dehydrator has a limited one year warranty on material and workmanship (up to five years in Canada).

Summary

PROS

CONS

READ OUR FULL Hamilton Beach 32100A 5-Tray Review

2. Presto 06301 Dehydro 6-Tray Digital Electric Review

The Presto 06301 Dehydro Digital Electric 6-Tray has built-in digital timer and temperature controls, making it more suitable for making jerky than the basic 06300 model. It is an attractive, affordable vertical airflow dehydrator with circular trays that can be inverted to reduce its vertical height for storage.

History

Presto originated from the Northwestern Steel and Iron Works, a maker of pressurized steel canners, established in Wisconsin in 1905. The name ‘Presto’ was the trade name of the first saucepan-style pressure cookers that the company produced, and this became such a widely recognized household name that in 1953 the company changed its name to the ‘National Presto Industries, Inc.’, now more commonly known simply as Presto®. With a pedigree like this, Presto is a highly respected brand with a reputation for quality products.

Safety

The base and cover of the dehydrator are made of polycarbonate which, in earlier models, may have contained trace amounts of BPA. In response to concerns expressed by some customers, Presto Customer Service Department responded in May 2016 with the following statement:

“Current production of all Presto Dehydrators no longer contains BPA … Note: Prior production contained BPA in the cover, the indicator light, and an internal fan. Keep in mind that none of these parts come into contact with food.”

Capacity

The capacity of the Presto 06301 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator is not indicated in its literature. Six round trays at approximately 14.5” diameter gives a drying area of about 1 sq. ft. per tray, or 6 sq. ft. when all four trays are used. The unit is expandable to a maximum of twelve trays, increasing the total drying area to approximately 12 sq. ft.

Features and controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

It has a one year limited warranty on materials and workmanship. Unfortunately, from customer reviews, it seems that this unit suffers from a high rate of failure, and quality control needs to be improved.

Summary

PROS

CONS

READ OUR FULL Presto 06301 Dehydro Review 

3. Ronco FD6000WHGEN EZ-Store Turbo with 5 Trays Review

The Ronco FD6000WHGEN EZ-Store Dehydrator Turbo is a low-cost, compact, square-shaped vertical airflow dehydrator that will not take up much counter space, and can also to be stored away in a small cupboard. It has an economical 150W heating element, and the 5 trays with which it is supplied can be supplemented by a further 2 trays.

History

Ronco Holdings Inc. states that the company has more than fifty years’ experience manufacturing small kitchen appliances such as countertop rotisserie ovens, chopping gadgets, pasta makers and food dehydrators.

Safety

None of the literature relating to the Ronco dehydrator states whether the plastics used in its manufacture are BPA-free.

Capacity

Features and controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

The Ronco FD6000WHGEN EZ-Store Dehydrator Turbo has a One Year Limited Warranty regarding material and workmanship providing the owner registers the product within thirty days of the original purchase date.

Summary

PROS

CONS

4. Nesco Gardenmaster FD-1040 4-Tray Review

The Nesco Gardenmaster FD-1040 cylindrical, stackable tray food dehydrator has a powerful 1,000 watt heating element with a maximum temperature setting of 160°F. It is a compact, attractive food dehydrator that will be an asset to any kitchen.

History

Nesco is a well-known and trusted name in home food dehydrators. The Nesco Gardenmaster FD-1040 is assembled in the USA using overseas parts, and is shipped with 4 trays, a flexible mesh tray insert, a fruit roll-up insert, a recipe and instruction book, and a jerky spice packet and cure.

Safety

Its food contact surfaces are all BPA-free, for safe use with foodstuffs.

It has a top-mounted fan and heater unit that is not vulnerable to the potential problem of food particles and juices falling into the unit and burning, or causing electrical faults.

Capacity

Features and controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

The Nesco Gardenmaster FD-1040has a one year limited warranty on materials and workmanship.

Summary

PROS

CONS

READ OUR FULL Nesco Gardenmaster FD-1040 4-Tray Review

5. Excalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Digital Review

Excalibur, one of the leading US producers of food dehydrators, has recently released its latest 948CDB 9-Tray Dehydrator model with a digital timer and fluctuating temperature setting. The timer can be set to two different temperatures that can run for different lengths of time, up to a total of 48 hours, with automatic switch-off at the end of the cycle.

This enables fast removal of surface moisture to prevent mold and bacteria growth, followed by a longer drying cycle at a lower temperature in order to draw interior moisture to the surface for evaporation.The ParallaxTM Horizontal Air-flow System combined with HyperwaveTM Fluctuation Technology ensures even drying of foodstuffs in all areas of the dehydrator.The lightweight polycarbonate unit has a clear door and the body is available in only one color – black. It’s square, 9-tray design offers flexibility with efficiency.

History

Excalibur has been manufacturing food dehydrators in Sacramento, California, since 1973, making it one of the most trusted names in dehydrators.

Safety

The food trays in Excalibur 3948CDB Digital Dehydrator are made of BPA-free polypropylene #5, the safest plastic for use in contact with food. They are safe for cleaning in the top tray of a dishwasher.

The casing material is FDA-approved polycarbonate, which will not give off harmful fumes at the temperatures at which the dehydrator operates.

The clear polycarbonate sheet in the door is lightweight and shatterproof, so it is less likely to be dropped and broken.

The electrical components are housed in an enclosure at the rear of the unit, and the unit has three separate safety mechanisms to protect against electrical malfunction.

Capacity

Features and controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

There is a one-year warranty on all units.

An extended 10-year warranty can be purchased, but sometimes will be offered free on a special. The 10-year warranty is included if the unit is purchased directly from Excalibur or from one of its authorized dealers, and must be registered online at www.drying123.com directly after purchasing the unit.​

Summary


PROS

CONS

READ OUR FULL Excalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Digital Review

Top Choice
Waring Pro DHR30
  • Waring Pro DHR30
    Waring Pro DHR30
  • My Rating:
    4.2
  • Temp Range:
    110 - 175 °F
  • Airflow: Vertical
  • Drying Space:
    5 trays expandable to 9 trays
  • Power: 620 watts
  • Material Type: Plastic
  • Price:
Tribest Sedona Express
  • Tribest Sedona Express
    Tribest Sedona Express
  • My Rating:
    4
  • Temp Range:
    75-167 °F
  • Airflow: Horizontal
  • Drying Space:
    11 trays
  • Power: 450 watts
  • Material Type: BPA-Free Plastic
  • Price:
STX Dehydra 1200W-XLS
  • STX Dehydra 1200W-XLS
    STX Dehydra 1200W-XLS
  • My Rating:
    3.4
  • Temp Range:
    85-155 °F
  • Airflow: Horizontal
  • Drying Space:
    10 trays
  • Power: 600 watts
  • Material Type: Stainless Steel
  • Price:
TSM Products D-5
  • TSM Products D-5
    TSM Products D-5
  • My Rating:
    4
  • Temp Range:
    95 - 165 °F
  • Airflow: Horizontal
  • Drying Space:
    9 trays
  • Power: 800 watts
  • Material Type: Stainless Steel
  • Price:
Raw Rutes - Square Rutes 5
  • Raw Rutes - Square Rutes 5
    Raw Rutes - Square Rutes 5
  • My Rating:
    4.7
  • Temp Range:
    95 - 165 °F
  • Airflow: Horizontal
  • Drying Space:
    5 trays
  • Power: 800 watts
  • Material Type: Stainless Steel
  • Price:

6. Waring Pro DHR30 Professional 5-Tray Review

Waring pro dh30

The Waring Pro DHR30 Professional 5-tray food dehydrator is a basic vertical airflow dehydrator at an affordable price. Most customer reviews are positive about the resulting produce of the Waring Pro DHR30 Professional Dehydrator, especially the jerky that it produces.

History

Waring Corporation, the company named after its founder, Fred Waring, introduced the first electric food mixer – the ‘Waring Blendor’ – to the world in 1937. Waring Corporation now markets in two product segments; Waring Commercial which consists mainly of large-volume food processors and other heavy-duty appliances, and Waring that produces professional-quality consumer products, such as the Waring Pro DHR30 Professional Food Dehydrator.

Safety

According to the product insert for the Waring Pro DHR30 Dehydrator, all surfaces that come into contact with food are BPA-free, making it safe for drying foods including meats.

Capacity

Features and controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

The product has a one-year limited warranty on materials and workmanship, with the option to purchase a 5-year limited warranty applicable to the motor only.

Summary


PROS

CONS

READ OUR FULL REVIEW: Waring Pro DHR30 Professional 5-Tray Review

7. Tribest Sedona Express 11-Tray SDE-S6780 with Stainless Steel Trays Review

The Tribest Sedona Express 11-Tray SDE-S6780 food dehydrator combines a wide range of features in response to feedback received from a wide range of customers and potential customers, resulting in a multi-featured dehydrator with a compact, kitchen-friendly design.

History

Tribest Corporation was founded in Los Angeles in 1988 by Jae K. Choi, in Los Angeles, California.

Tribest is a leading designer, OEM manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of branded, high quality small appliances such as juice extractors, blenders, sprouters and food dehydrators. Some of their most renowned products include the Green Star Elite juice extractor, Sedona Combo raw food dehydrator, and Dynablend Horsepower Plus super power blender.

Now located in Anaheim, CA, Tribest launched the Sedona Food Dehydrator in 2011.

Safety

The Tribest Sedona Express food dehydrator contains food-grade stainless steel trays. The cabinet is made of non-flammable BPA-free plastic in order to reduce the overall weight of the appliance. The dehydrator also includes a BPA-free drip tray.

Capacity

Features and controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

The Tribest Sedona Express has a 10 year limited warranty.

Summary

PROS

CONS

8. STX INTERNATIONAL Dehydra 1200W-XLS 10-Tray Stainless Steel Digital Review

The STX Dehydra 1200W-XLS is a large semi-commercial / industrial food and jerky dehydrator made entirely of food-grade stainless steel, with 16 square feet of drying area on the 10 drying racks. The vented stainless steel door and rear panel containing the fan and heater unit and the control panel are all detachable for ease of cleaning.

History

STX dehydrators are distributed by Mercantile Station 2, a division of an international product sourcing agency that has been supplying to the USA’s largest retailers since 1982.

Safety

The drying racks and body are made of solid 304 food-grade stainless steel, and are not chrome-plated. This will satisfy people who are uncomfortable using plastic food dehydrators.

Capacity

Features and controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

The STX International Dehydra 1200W-XLS Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator comes with a 3 Year – 100% ‘Fix/Repair/Replace” Guarantee valid only in the United States.

Summary

PROS

CONS

9. TSM Products Stainless Steel with 5 Stainless Steel Shelves Review

This is the one that many serious dried food lovers have been waiting for – an all stainless steel food dehydrator! The TSM Products D-5 Stainless Steel 5-Tray Food Dehydrator has a raised panel with thermostat, timer and power switch, and food-grade stainless steel shelves and cabinet.

History

TSM Products is a division of The Sausage Maker, Inc., a company founded in Buffalo, NY, in 1976 that manufactures and sells food processing equipment. All equipment is performance tested by food service professionals.

The D-5 and D-10 range of Stainless Steel Food Dehydrators are made in the USA.

Safety

The TSM Products D-5 Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator is extremely safe for food processing even at its maximum temperature.

All the metal parts (trays and cabinet) are manufactured in 22ga – 304 food grade stainless steel, to avoid any chance of plastic contaminants.

The rear panel, containing the electrical components, can be separated from the cabinet so that the latter can be thoroughly cleaned without any chance of damage to the electrical or electronic circuits.

The whole unit is earthed with a 3-prong plug for electrical safety, in accordance with US electrical regulations.

Capacity

Features and controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

The product has a one year limited warranty against manufacturer’s defects in workmanship and material.

Summary


PROS

CONS

READ FULL REVIEW: TSM Products Stainless Steel 5 Trays Review

10. Raw Rutes – Square Rutes 5-Tray Stainless Steel Review

The Raw Rutes Square Rutes 5-tray stainless steel food dehydrator is another dehydrator that will be in demand with those who don’t like having plastic in their dehydrator. Both the body and the trays are made of food-grade stainless steel, and the modern styling will only enhance your kitchen.

History

Raw Rutes is an innovative young company that designs and manufactures its dehydrators in Buffalo, NY, using only high quality, food-safe materials.

The D-5 and D-10 range of Stainless Steel Food Dehydrators are made in the USA.

Safety

The case and trays are manufactured from 22ga304 food-grade stainless steel, while it has an FDA-compliant Food Grade Powder Coated Door and Control Panel, and halogen-free, vinyl-free, eco-friendly wiring.

Capacity

Features and controls

Power Rating

Temperature Range

Suitability for making jerky

Warranty

The Square Rutes Dehydrator has a three year limited warranty.

Summary

PROS

CONS

Best Food Dehydrator For Jerky Comparison Chart

RankModelEditor's RatingPriceTraysThermostatTempAirflowMaterialDimensionsWeightPowerWarranty
1.Hamilton Beach 32100A 5-Tray4.4/5$5Adjustable100-160 °FVerticalPlastic5.86x11.25x12.758 lbs500 watts5 years
2.Presto 06301 Dehydro 6-Tray4.4/5$$5 up to 12Adjustable90-165 °FVerticalPlastic15x14.5x7.258.5 lbs750 watts1 year
3.Ronco FD6000WHGEN3.5/5$5No133 °FVerticalPlastic13x11x135.3 lbs125 watts1 year
4.Nesco Gardenmaster FD-10404.4/5$$4 up to 20Digital Adjustable90-160 °FHorizontalPlastic15.5x15.5x9.58.95 lbs1000 watts1 year
5.Excalibur 3948CDB4.1/5$$$$9Adjustable95-165 °FHorizontalPolycarbonate21.6x19.2x16.325.5 lbs600 watts10 years
6.Waring Pro DHR304.2/5$5 up to 9Adjustable110-175 °FVerticalPlastic14.7x12.4x11.89.6 lbs620 watts5 years
7.Tribest Sedona Express4/5$$$$$11Digital Adjustable75-167 °FHorizontalBPA-Free Plastic12x17.5x1420.4 lbs450 watts10 years
8.STX Dehydra 1200W-XLS3.4/5$$$10Adjustable85-155 °FHorizontalStainless Steel12.5x19x13.7522.5 lbs600 watts3 years
9.TSM Products Dehydrator4/5$$$$$5Adjustable95-165 °FHorizontalStainless Steel18.8x16.5x931.4 lbs800 watts10 years
10.Raw Rutes 5-Tray4.7/5$$$$5Adjustable50-175 °FHorizontalStainless Steel20.8x10.5x2135 lbs800 watts3 years

Making Jerky FAQ

Is it safe to make beef jerky at home?

Jerky-making has been a popular traditional means of preserving meat for centuries, well before the time of commercial dehydrators, so yes, it is safe to make jerky at home.

You must simply follow the instructions in the dehydrator’s manual carefully.

All food preparation, however, requires hygienic practices, but this is especially true when it comes to handling meat and making home-made jerky. All utensils and appliances, as well as your hands, should be washed thoroughly before starting. Rinse the meat that you are going to be using and ensure all your work surfaces are clean and tidy.

Ensure that your hands and all the utensils, equipment and surfaces that will come into contact with the raw meat are thoroughly washed with soap and warm water before and after use.

Use only lean meat with minimal fat or marbling.

The US Department of Agriculture recommends that home-made jerky is either pre-heated to an internal temperature of 160°F (165°F for poultry) prior to dehydrating, or else placed in a 275°F pre-heated oven for at least 10 minutes after dehydrating. This will destroy the most common food-borne pathogens of Salmonella and E. coli. Otherwise you will need to either pre-cook the meat or heat it after dehydration.

Note that the US FDA recommends that fixed temperature food dehydrators should not be used for making jerky, so only adjustable temperature models with a maximum temperature of 160°F or more will be considered.

What kinds of meat can I use to make jerky?

Jerky can be made from most meats, including beef, pork, venison (game meat), chicken, turkey and even fish.

When using venison, choose clean, non‐damaged meat and freeze it for 60 days at 0°F before drying, as a precaution against any diseases that the animal might have been carrying.

When making jerky from pork, chicken or turkey, it is best to use pre-cooked or processed meat.

Should I pre-cook the meat or heat it after dehydrating?

Meat that is pre-cooked before dehydration will have a shorter drying time, but the resulting jerky will have a dry, crumbly texture, which is not popular in areas where chewy, flexible jerky is the norm

Is it necessary for the meat to still be heated if the dehydrator goes up to 160°F?

Although the interior of the dehydrator may reach a temperature of 160°F, the interior of the meat, where pathogens can occur, may not reach that temperature.

In order to be certain that all pathogens are destroyed, it is recommended that the jerky is heated at 275°F for at least 10 minutes in a preheated oven after drying.

Is there an alternative to heating the meat to destroy pathogens when making jerky?

Yes, if you want to avoid heating the meat then you can use the vinegar soak method to kill pathogens that may be present in the meat. This method, along with pre-heating and post-heating of beef jerky, has been identified by scientists at the Universities of Georgia and Wisconsin and Colorado State University, as a safe method to prepare jerky at home. The vinegar soak method should not, however, be used on game meat, as its effectiveness in destroying Trichinella, a pathogen identified in some wild meats, has not been studied.

How does the vinegar soak method work?

Pour vinegar into a glass, stainless steel or food-grade plastic container (do not use aluminum) and soak the meat strips for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and ensuring that the vinegar covers all the strips completely.

Drain the vinegar from the meat strips and marinate them in the refrigerator before placing them in the dehydrator.

The acidity of the vinegar (which is ascetic acid), combined with the heat of the dehydrator, will destroy the pathogens.

How thin must I slice the meat to make good beef jerky?

It recommended that meat is sliced no thicker than ¼” to ⅜” to ensure thorough drying and an easy to eat snack. Cut strips to a length that fits easily onto the dehydrator trays.

Partially freezing the meat before preparing it will make it easier to cut it into thin slices.

Should I slice the meat with the grain or across/against the grain?

Slicing meat with the grain will produce chewy jerky, popular especially in the Southwest.

Slicing the meat across the grain will produce a jerky that is more tender, and easier to break apart and chew.

Can I marinate the meat before dehydrating it?

Yes, marinating whole muscle meat is a popular way of improving the flavor of jerky. Marinate the meat in a refrigerator and not at room temperature, and do not re-use the marinade. Thaw venison in the refrigerator before marinating it.

Should I marinate ground meat?

Ground meat should rather be flavored by mixing it with jerky cure and dry spices before forming it into strips, for example with a jerky gun.

According to researchers, cure and spices aid the destruction of pathogens, even when mixed into marinades.

When is the beef jerky ready?

Jerky is considered ready if it cracks when it is bent, but does not break.

Conclusion

There is a wide range of dehydrators capable of drying meat to produce beef jerky, but, depending on the amount of jerky you want to make, your available space and your budget, you will want to choose the one that best suits you.

When making jerky, as with other meat products, hygiene and health are of primary concern. For this reason, although manufacturers may claim that their dehydrators are safe for making jerky, it is best to follow the recommendations of the USDA regarding pre- or post-treatment of the meat.

Vinegar soaking is an alternative method that doesn’t involve heating the jerky beyond the dehydrator temperature, and is popular in some regions.

Whatever method is used, and whichever dehydrator is chosen, the production of home-made jerky is a rewarding past-time for a number of reasons, including the fresh taste, savings, and satisfaction of knowing that the jerky doesn’t contain any ‘unknowns’.

Dehydrate, and enjoy!

Eric Mitchell

Eric is the owner, author, content director and founder of dehydratorlab.com. He is the lead architect and the main man in matters concerning dehydrators, their accessories, guides, reviews and all the accompaniments.Whenever he is not figuring out simple solutions (hacks) involving cookery and their eventual storage, you will find him testing out the different types of dehydrators, to bring us the juicy details regarding these devices.He is a foodie enthusiast, pasionate about making jerky has a knack for healthy and tasty food and won't hesitate to share out any ideas that might be of value around this subject.