Food Dehydrator vs. Oven: Which is Better?

food dehydrator with cherries and raspberries
Food dehydrators are easier to use, easier to clean, and more energy efficient than ovens. However, ovens take less time to dry food, keep countertops free, and most people already own one, eliminating the need to buy a new appliance. While both dehydrators and ovens can dry food, a food dehydrator allows for more consistent results.

Food Dehydrators

Food dehydrators are machines designed specifically for drying food. They work by utilizing air circulation at low temperatures to draw water content from produce, causing the dehydration process. Food dehydrators are a great investment for people who dry foods regularly.

It is important to consider the benefits and shortcomings of food dehydrators when comparing them to ovens to determine which is better.


  • Easier temperature control with specialized temperature settings
  • Easy to clean
  • Leaves oven free for cooking and baking
  • Less chance of burning your produce
  • More energy efficient than a conventional oven


  • Can be expensive
  • Takes a long time to dry food
  • Uses counter space

Oven Drying

Convection ovens use a similar system to food dehydrators – they use a fan and exhaust system to circulate air (warmed by a heat source) around the internal cavity. Standard or conventional ovens have a heating element at the top or bottom and do not circulate the air.

Ovens can reach higher temperatures than food dehydrators, so if you’re using them to dehydrate fruits, veggies, or other food, it’s a good idea to prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon to allow heat and moisture to escape.

While ovens can be used to dehydrate foods, it may be more difficult to achieve consistent results. Here are the pros and cons of using an oven to dehydrate food:


  • Common kitchen appliance most people already own
  • High temperatures mean less time spent drying


  • Easy to accidentally cook food rather than drying it
  • Less specific thermostat makes an oven harder to use
  • More expensive to operate than food dehydrators
  • Oven thermometers work better at higher temperatures

Is a Food Dehydrator Worth the Money?

Food dehydrators have a wide price range. Inexpensive dehydrators can be purchased for less than $40, while top of the line dehydrators can cost as much as $400. Whether or not a food dehydrator is worth the money depends on how often you plan to dry food.

If you consume a lot of dried produce, such as dried fruit or beef jerky, you’ll know that store bought options can be expensive! Making your own DIY dried food will save you a lot of money over the years, and having a food dehydrator will make that easier.

If you enjoy prepping a lot of different types of food with long shelf lives in case of emergency, it’s much easier to dry large amounts of raw food with a food dehydrator.

In either of these scenarios, purchasing a food dehydrator is a sensible option and worth the investment.

What is the Best Type of Food Dehydrator?

There are two main types of food dehydrators available: vertical flow and horizontal flow. Horizontal flow dehydrators are considered the best type of food dehydrator.

Vertical flow dehydrators have a heat source located at the bottom of the unit, and the air is pushed upwards through the dehydrator trays. These tend to be less expensive than horizontal flow dehydrators that have a heating element at the back, much like a convection oven.

Horizontal flow dehydrators are more efficient and promote more air circulation and even drying. For this reason, horizontal flow dehydrators are considered to be better than vertical flow dehydrators, though both types of food dehydrators will work to dehydrate food.

Here are a few of the top-rated horizontal flow food dehydrators currently available:

A view inside a horizontal flow food dehydrator showing the fan system at the back of the unit.
Inside a horizontal flow food dehydrator

What Type of Oven is Best for Dehydrating Food?

Convection ovens are the best type of oven for dehydrating food. They promote better airflow due to the fan and heating element at the back of the oven, often have a low temperature setting, and are more energy-efficient than standard ovens.

Is it Better to Make Jerky in an Oven or a Dehydrator?

It is better to make beef jerky and other types of jerky in a food dehydrator. A consistent temperature must be maintained throughout the dehydrating process for meat, as lower temperatures can allow bacteria to grow. Food dehydrators maintain a steady temperature while conventional ovens cycle intermittently, causing temperature disruptions.

Which is More Effective, a Dehydrator or a Hot Air Oven?

Food dehydrators work better than hot air ovens at dehydrating food because they maintain a constant temperature and allow moisture to escape.

Jack Fairey

Jack is a writer and keen foodie based in London, England. When he's not writing, he can be found in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes for him and his partner to enjoy!

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