Food dehydrator for beef jerky

Best Food Dehydrator for Beef Jerky

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best beef jerky for runners is, then we recommend the NESCO FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator.

Beef jerky is the ideal protein source for anyone with a busy, active lifestyle. It’s delicious, exceptionally portable, and requires no refrigeration, so it can be taken with you anywhere you go. While there are plenty of tempting commercial options available, why not consider making your own?

In this article, we’re going to review the following food dehydrator products that are great for beef jerky:

Benefits of Owning a Food Dehydrator

There are plenty of reasons why it’s a good idea to keep a stash of beef jerky on hand at all times. Beef jerky is a complete protein, meaning it contains the nine essential amino acids that your body requires, but is unable to produce on its own. Snacks that are high in protein will keep you feeling full faster than carb- or sugar-laden alternatives, and they provide more nutritional value to boot.

If your busy lifestyle has you constantly on the go, beef jerky is a great choice. Not only does it weigh almost nothing when it’s made properly, but it takes up very little space in a knapsack, purse, or lunch container. You’d be hard-pressed to find another snack that offers so many benefits in such a small package. This is why many experts recommend beef jerky as the perfect snack for athletes in need of a quick boost during their daily workouts.

Owning a jerky dehydrator allows complete control over your finished product. You’ll be able to decide what seasonings to use, experimenting with different flavor combinations to find out what tastes best to you. When it comes to making your own beef jerky, the sky is the limit.

In fact, there’s no need to limit yourself to beef. Turkey and pork jerky are just as easy to make and allow you to sample an even broader palette of flavors. The models listed below will perform best with premium cuts of beef such as eye of the round, but feel free to experiment with other meats as you like.

Food Dehydrator for Beef Jerky Reviews

Now that you’ve gained an appreciation of the benefits you’ll enjoy as the owner of a food dehydrator for jerky, here’s the rundown on six of the top models on the current market. For your convenience, we’ve included a list of pros and cons for each unit, to help you choose the machine that will best suit your needs.

Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehyrator Dehydrator, 13.8 x 22.1...
11,834 Reviews
Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehyrator Dehydrator, 13.8 x 22.1...
  • EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION: 600 watts of drying...
  • EXPANDABLE TO 12 TRAYS: Comes with five (13...
  • VITASAVE EXTERIOR: The opaque exterior blocks...
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: (2) Fruit Roll Sheets,...

The Snackmaster Pro features a patented drying system that forces hot air down through an external pressurized chamber, rather than through the individual trays. This allows for relatively fast and even drying that will lead to consistent textures in your finished product. Unlike with some lower-end models, there’s no need to rotate the trays during the dehydrating process—the system will take care of that step for you.

This unit also features an adjustable thermostat, so you’ll be able to select the proper temperature based on the type of jerky that you’re making. It comes equipped with five trays, but there’s room for 12 in all if you prefer to make larger batches. The exterior is completely opaque, which will keep outside light from harming the nutritional quality of the jerky.

Bear in mind that there’s no timer included with this model, so you’ll have to keep track of drying times yourself. The fan is on the quiet side, which can be considered a plus, but it may also cause you to forget that the unit is on—it’s best to set a separate timer, so you won’t end up with an overly tough and dry product.


  • Opaque exterior
  • Patented drying system
  • Generous capacity
  • Reasonable price point


  • No timer included
  • Some blending of flavors may occur if you dehydrate two batches at a time
Excalibur Food Dehydrator 9-Tray Electric with 26-hour...
2,759 Reviews
Excalibur Food Dehydrator 9-Tray Electric with 26-hour...
  • CAPACITY - The 9-Tray electric food...
  • TIME AND TEMPERATURE - Features a 26-hour...
  • PATENTED - Parallex Horizontal Airflow is...
  • EASY TO USE - Great for large families,...

This unit features 9 shelves for a total of 15 square feet of drying space—quite large by dehydrator standards. There’s a built-in on/off switch, as well as adjustable temperature control, and a 26-hour timer to make the process more carefree.

The temperature range for the Excalibur is 105 to 165 degrees, ensuring that it meets the industry standard for safely dehydrated meat products. A flexible poly-screen tray helps prevent foods from sticking during the dehydrating process. There’s also no need to rotate trays—the 7-inch fan allows for superb airflow, ensuring that every piece of food receives the same treatment.

For true jerky enthusiasts, this machine is worth looking into. The only downsides are the price tag, which is considerable; and the huge size, which may be too bulky for the average kitchen.


  • Generous size
  • Adjustable temperature control
  • Built-in timer
  • Included poly-screen tray to minimize sticking


  • High price point
  • Takes up a lot of kitchen space
Food Dehydrator Machine for Jerky/Meat/Fruits with Timer,...
196 Reviews
Food Dehydrator Machine for Jerky/Meat/Fruits with Timer,...
  • ✓Digital Timer -72 hours timing for precise...
  • ✓Temperature Control: Easy to watch, the...
  • ✓No rotation needed: The bottom-mounted fan...
  • ✓Compact size: Fashion square appearance;...
  • ✓Strong guarantee:BPA free, Safe...

Hopekings‘ entry into the dehydrator race is an impressive model, featuring an LCD display screen for the built-in timer readout. The temperature is adjustable with a range is 95 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can rest assured that your jerky will meet the required health standards. The timer can be set for up to 72 hours, but the system is so efficient, you’re unlikely to need that much time to achieve the desired results.

All five trays are made of BPA-free plastic, so you can rest assured that your jerky isn’t being infected with unwanted chemicals during the dehydrating process. The fan and heating element are bottom-mounted to allow for fast and efficient drying. There’s no need to rotate the trays, but the unit is configured so that you can choose between two different positions before beginning.

The Hopekings model isn’t small, but the style is compact enough to fit easily under kitchen cabinets. The price is also reasonable enough for this capacity, and Hopekings offers a two-year warranty with every purchase. The main complaint that users have is with the fan, which is relatively noisy for this type of unit.


  • Attractive design
  • LCD display with built-in 72-hour timer
  • Reasonable price point
  • Two-year warranty


  • Loud fan
  • Dehydrating process takes slightly longer than some comparable models
Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator, Standard
9,518 Reviews
Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator, Standard
  • NOTE :Item does not have an on off switch....
  • Four-tray system for dehydrating foods at a...
  • See-through cover to monitor drying progress...
  • Drying trays and cover are fully immiscible...
  • Easy to store; Drying trays nest for compact...

This compact four-tray model features a bottom-mounted fan and heating element for even drying. The lid is transparent, which allows you to keep visual tabs on the process, but which may also lead to less-than-optimal results on the top layer. A jerky gun (for jerky made with ground meats) and spice kit are also included.

While the unit includes four trays, the capacity can be expanded to accommodate eight trays if necessary. Both the drying trays and top lid are dishwasher-safe, and there are nonstick screens included to help with the cleanup. The Dehydro also features a set temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit—there’s no way to set it at a lower temperature, so if you plan to use the machine to dehydrate fruits and vegetables as well, this may not be the best model for you.

This is one of the lowest-priced units on our list, and as such, it comes with very few bells and whistles. Still, if you’re looking for a basic dehydrator that still manages to meet all the safety standards, the Dehydro will get the job done.


  • Very inexpensive
  • Jerky gun and spice kit included
  • Dishwasher-safe components


  • Set temperature can’t be adjusted
  • Limited capacity
  • Transparent lid may cause light damage to the top layer of food
Chefman Food Dehydrator Machine, Touch Screen Electric...
1,212 Reviews
Chefman Food Dehydrator Machine, Touch Screen Electric...
  • DIGITAL TOUCH SETTINGS: Digital temperatures...
  • CONSISTENT RESULTS: The Chefman 480W Food...
  • EASY TO MONITOR: The process of drying can be...
  • RESOURCES: cETL approved with advanced safety...

This is a very professional-looking, eye-catching model, with its transparent door and digital touch screen display. Since this is a side-loading dehydrator (as opposed to a round top-loading model), the see-through factor isn’t likely to cause any damage to the food inside. With a total of six trays, the unit also has an impressive capacity, and there’s enough space to allow for preparation of several flavors at once without any cross-contamination.

The temperature range of the Chefman dehydrator is 95 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, making it suitable for many uses besides the production of jerky. Airflow and temperature control are both impressive, and you can turn out a batch of jerky in as little as four hours. The company offers a one-year warranty on every purchase, in addition to a moderate price tag.

Be aware that the trays may require some light treatment—such as a douse of cooking spray—before beginning, as they’re prone to sticking. The door, too, will sometimes catch on the edge or fail to close all the way, so make certain it’s secure before turning the unit on. On the plus side, the included drip tray makes cleanup that much easier, and the fan is quiet enough to qualify as mere background noise.


  • Appealing design
  • Adjustable temperature
  • Quiet fan
  • Drip tray included
  • One-year warranty


  • Trays are prone to sticking
  • Door sometimes fails to close all the way

The Aicook is a five-tray unit, constructed of BPA-free plastic for the health-conscious jerky aficionado. With a temperature range of 104 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, you won’t need to worry about an undercooked product, either, allowing you to focus on the flavor rather than the safety of your jerky. The opaque exterior of this model also means that the light won’t be able to leach any essential vitamins and minerals from the food inside.

While the fan is powerful enough to ensure even drying, it’s also relatively quiet—you could easily leave it on overnight without disturbing anybody. You can choose from two different placement methods for the trays, depending on the size of the product you’re dehydrating. This unit is compact and easy to store, making it a good fit even for smaller kitchens.

Aicook offers consumers a two-year hassle-free warranty, which is a particularly solid benefit considering the reasonable price point for this model. While it lacks the snappy eye appeal of some of the higher-priced units on our list, it will get the job done in a safe, efficient, and wholly delicious manner.


  • Adjustable temperature
  • Opaque exterior for optimal nutritional value
  • Convenient size
  • Easy to store
  • Reasonable price point
  • Two-year warranty


  • Five-tray capacity may be too limiting for those who prefer to make huge batches at once
  • Simple design


With any luck, one or more of the food dehydrators listed above will meet your criteria and your budget, so you can begin making tasty and nutritious beef jerky that will be the envy of everyone in your inner circle. We recommend the NESCO FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator but there are several other options available if you’re looking for something more specific.

Once you see how simple it is to turn out a batch of homemade jerky, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to take the plunge. This is one investment that is sure to pay for itself many times over. Bon appetit!

Last update on 2021-09-08

"You might be a redneck if you think that beef jerky and moon pies are two of the major food groups."
-- Jeff Foxworthy

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