Healthy Cooking

How To Dehydrate Food at Home—And 8 Easy Recipes for Healthy Snacks

Tehrene Firman

Photo: Getty Images/Mint Images

Llearning how to dehydrate food at home is actually really easy, and there’s so much more you can make aside from dehydrated banana chips and apple slices. While you can dehydrate pretty much any fruit and veggie you want, you can also get creative with your dehydrator. You can make cookies, veggie chips—really, whatever you want in your snack cupboard. And if you don’t have a dehydrator, that’s not a problem either. You can either use your oven or a machine meant specifically for the purpose of dehydration.

How to dehydrate food in your oven

If you don’t want to buy a dehydrator yet, you can dehydrate food right in your oven. It’s really easy to do, too. Preheat your oven between 170°F and 200°F. Then place whatever you want to dehydrate on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t pile anything up; give each item a little space to allow proper airflow. Now the waiting game begins. It can take hours for food to get that perfectly chewy texture—especially if it contains a lot of moisture. Check at around the 3-hour mark, flip, and continue to dehydrate your food for a couple more hours until it’s at your desired consistency.

The best dehydrators to buy

If you’d rather invest in an actual dehydrator, there are multiple options on the market that make the process effortless. Here are three of the most highly-rated options to start with.

1. Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator, $40

This dehydrator doesn’t have the bells and whistles of pricier machines, but it gets the job done. There’s no timer or temperature control—you simply plug it in, and it starts running. Then you unplug it when you’re done. It uses drying fans to dehydrate fruit and veggies and operates at around 165°F. The average drying time varies, but it may take as little as 3 hours for apples and as long as 20 hours for grapes, depending on how thinly you slice them.

Shop now: Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator, $40

2. Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine, $180

This dehydrator machine has 10 stainless steel trays, air flow circulation technology that dries your food evenly, and an adjustable thermostat and timer that makes dehydrating effortless. It also has an automatic shut-off when the timer is done. According to the user manual, most fruits and veggies take a minimum of between 4 to 8 hours—and up to 38, depending on how chewy you want them.

Shop now: Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine, $180

3. Tribest Sedona Express Digital Food Dehydrator, $468

This 11-tray dehydrator is pricy, but it comes with some helpful features that allow you to get the best possible results, like a two-stage sequential temperature timer that starts the dehydration process at a higher temperature then automatically lowers it to finish things off. That helps speed up the dehydration time without losing any of the nutrients in your food. Reviewers say the time is cut down in half in some cases, like only taking a few hours to make jerky compared to 6+ with different options.

Shop now: Tribest Sedona Express Digital Food Dehydrator, $468

The best snacks to make in your dehydrator

1. Raw chocolate kale chips

how to dehydrate food
Photo: Sweet Potato Soul

Kale chips are basically meant for the dehydrator. According to vegan chef Jenné Claiborne, author of Sweet Potato Soul, all you need to do is massage the kale with a delicious cacao seed purée, then pop it in the dehydrator. After around six hours, you’ll have a healthy snack you can munch on all day long.

Get the recipe: Raw chocolate kale chips

Here’s another kale recipe you can try:

2. Sriracha chickpeas

how to dehydrate food
Photo: Olives for Dinner

You’ve probably tried baked chickpeas, but how about the dehydrated version? This crispy treat can be prepped in record time. Then after putting your chickpeas in a dehydrator, they’ll be ready to snack on in 10 to 12 hours.

Get the recipe: Sriracha chickpeas

3. Fruit leathers

Photo: Fresh Off The Grid

Fruit leathers are 100 percent the grown-up equivalent of Fruit Roll-Ups. After blending up the fruit until it’s smooth, you spread the purée onto parchment paper and dehydrate it for 6 to 8 hours.

Get the recipe: Fruit leathers

4. Orange slices

Photo: Barri-Jayne Makes

Dehydrated orange slices aren’t just great for a sweet snack. You can also put them in your tea or even use them as decor. This method uses the oven: After slicing them, you place them on a wire rack and dehydrate them for 2 to 3 hours.

Get the recipe: Orange slices

5. Dehydrated cookies

how to dehydrate food
Photo: Simple Vegan Blog

Yep, you can even make dehydrated cookies. This recipe is loaded with apples, flaxseeds, almonds, dates, and other healthy ingredients. After forming the cookies, you place them onto the dehydrator trays and let them work their magic for around six hours.

Get the recipe: Dehydrated cookies

6. Sweet potato chips

Photo: Eating Bird Food

You’ll never want store-bought chips again after tasting this dehydrated sweet potato version. After thinly slicing your sweet potatoes, dehydrate them for 12 to 20 hours until they’re nice and crispy.

Get the recipe: Sweet potato chips

Next up, try this sweet potato gnocchi:

7. Spicy buffalo cauliflower popcorn

how to dehydrate food
Photo: Raw Manda

Add some spice to your life with this dehydrated buffalo cauliflower popcorn recipe. After coating your cauliflower florets, pop them into the dehydrator for 12 to 24 hours. They’ll come out crunchy and delicious.

Get the recipe: Spicy buffalo cauliflower popcorn

8. Paleo “Skittles”

how to dehydrate food
Photo: Joyful Abode

Umm, how good do these healthy Skittles look? Being that there are multiple colors, this will take you some time to prepare. But once the little Skittles are loaded up in the dehydrator, they’ll come out four hours later ready to enjoy—just in time for your movie night.

Get the recipe: Paleo “Skittles”

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