Best Dehydrator Recipes

If you’re lucky enough to have an overabundance of fruit, veggies, or meat, you also have a problem. How to preserve this bounty? Refrigeration may only keep the stuff fresh for a few days. Freezing? Maybe a few months—less if your power happens to go out. Dehydration is the best way to store food for the long-term. We scoured our favorite homesteading sites to find the best recipes for the foods you’re most likely to want to preserve.

What you dehydrate may depend on what you harvest. But, if you’re up for experimenting, we’ve got suggestions for the best foods to dehydrate. These foods are the ones that make it through the process looking and tasting the most delicious—and are way better than store-bought alternatives.

= Nifty Homestead picks for the best foods to dehydrate.
= Foods that you can dehydrate but they may not turn out great.

= Nifty Homestead picks for the best foods to dehydrate.
= Foods that you can dehydrate but they may not turn out great.

How To Dehydrate Food: The Basics

  • Always dehydrate food at the point when it would be most tasty to eat. If you wouldn’t eat a vegetable raw, or a fruit before it ripened, don’t dehydrate it that way. So (most) vegetables should be cooked before you dehydrate them. Fruits should be dehydrated at peak ripeness.
  • Dehydrating itself is easy. It’s the prep work that’s a bear—all that slicing and peeling and cooking. It takes lots of time, lots of space, and can be very messy. So before you prep, clear stuff out (especially anything that might stain), and draft a helper. Some parts of the process are so simple, even a toddler can help.
  • For basic dehydration, a $50 starter dehydrator like this will be effective. (If it’s hot enough where you live, your patio table will be effective.) But, if you really want to get serious, or are dehydrating massive batches, just about every homesteader recommends buying the Excalibur 9-Tray Deluxe Dehydrator. They say it regulates heat well, handles heavy batches, and lasts year after year.

Dehydrator Recipes For Fruit

Apricots

This short-season fruit dries into sweet, tasty chips. You will have a lot of work pitting and slicing the apricots before you can dehydrate them.dehydrator recipes: dehydrated apricots on a dehydrator tray
Dehydrating apricots recipe and photo via Putting Up With The Turnbulls.

Tips for Dehydrating Apricots

Apples

Dehydrating apples brings out their natural sweetness. Done right, they’ll have a nice texture that’s both crispy and chewy. dehydrating apples on a tray
Dehydrating apples recipe and photo via Self Reliant School.

Tips for Dehydrating Apples

Bananas

Bananas about to go brown? Dehydrate them and dump them in plastic bags for tasty snacks. Recipe via The Prairie Homestead.

Tips for Dehydrating Bananas

Blueberries

Overdid it at the U-Pick place? Don’t overload your freezer, dry blueberries out and enjoy them as little snacks from your pantry. dehydrator recipes: blueberries on dehydrator tray
Dehydrating blueberries recipe and photo via Whole-Fed Homestead.

Tips for Dehydrating Blueberries

Cantaloupe

People who don’t like cantaloupe because it’s messy to eat will love it dried. Cut in 1/2 inch or 1/4 inch slices, it dries down to a snackable chip.
dehydrator recipes: cantaloupe chips
Dehydrating cantaloupe recipe and photo via Brooklyn Farm Girl.

Tips for Dehydrating Cantaloupe

Cherries

Wash, pit, and dry. It’s that simple. Oh, wait, the pit part. Pitting lots of cherries takes forever and makes a big mess. This is a weekend project, for sure.

Dehydrating cherries recipe via Self-Reliant School, including awesome action shots of a six-in-one cherry pitter.

Tips for Dehydrating

Cranberries

When you dehydrate cranberries you have to cook them first (some of them burst when you do), you’ll probably want to sweeten them, and it’s very easy to accidentally over-dry them. Also, you aren’t likely to find them in batches large enough to dehydrate—unless you live in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, or Washington, the only five U.S. states where cranberries are commercially produced. But, if you do, here’s a Dehydrating cranberries recipe via Modern Survival Blog.

Tips for Dehydrating Cranberries

Figs

I’ve linked a recipe but this couldn’t be easier—you just cut the stems off, quarter or cut in half, and dehydrate.

Dehydrating figs recipe via A Modern Homestead.

Tips for Dehydrating

Grapes (Raisins!)

Another very simple dehydration job, just wash, maybe cut, then dry. Your final product will depend on how sweet your original grapes were.

Dehydrating grapes recipe via Simple Homestead Living.

Tips for Dehydrating Grapes

Mangoes

Here at Nifty Homestead HQ in Seattle, we can only dream of having a problem like too many fresh mangoes. But for you lucky folks in Hawai’i or Florida, your mango glut demands action. Dehydration to the rescue—and doing it with mango couldn’t be simpler, once you figure out how to cut around the dang pit.

Dehydrating mangoes recipe by Self-Reliant School.

Tips for Dehydrating Mangoes

Oranges

Dehydrated oranges look gorgeous once dehydrated, and you can use them a few ways—as a way to punch up tea, as a snack, even as decoration. Also, kids will eat ’em like popcorn—crisp and bright orange, they look like candy.
dehydrator recipes: dehydrated orange slices, powder, and a bowl of oranges
Dehydrating oranges recipe and photo by Grace Garden and Homestead.

Tips for Dehydrating Oranges

Papaya

Dried papaya makes a sweet treat—if you ever get your hands on enough ripe papaya that you’d want to dry it.

Dehydrating papaya recipe via NouveauRaw.

Tips for Dehydrating Papaya

Peaches

Dehydrating peaches takes a little extra work—you have to blanche the peaches and remove the skin before slicing. Using freestone peaches will make things go a little faster, since you won’t have to cut around the pit like you will with clingstone varieties. dehydrator recipes: peaches
Dehydrating peaches recipe and photo via Joybilee Farm.

Tips for Dehydrating Peaches

Pears

Like apples, they are simple to dry. Homesteader after homesteader reports that dried pears disappear quick, since they taste so good. The only trick is that you must dehydrate them at the peak of ripeness, which for pears is usually only about 18 hours long. Pears must be cored and then sliced—the thickness depends on preference, so if you’re a first-timer try a few different thicknesses.
dehydrator recipes: dehydrated pears
Dehydrating pears recipe and photo via Joybilee Farm.

Tips for Dehydrating Pears

Plums (Prunes!)

Dehydrated plums get a special name—prunes! Plums are an ideal candidate for dehydration as a fruit that ripens only briefly, and seemingly all at once.

Dehydrating plums recipe via An Oregon Cottage.

Tips for Dehydrating

Pineapple

If you’ve bought more pineapple than you needed, dehydrating the leftovers gives you eco-friendly points and a sweet snack.
dehydrator recipes: pineapple on dehydrator tray
Dehydrating pineapple recipe and photo via Pantry Paratus.

Tips for Dehydrating Pineapple

Raspberries

Most places, raspberry season is maddeningly short. Dehydrating them is one way (along with freezing and turning into jam) to make the season last. Problem is, only very perfectly ripe raspberries dehydrate well. If you do find yourself with a glut, dehydrated raspberries are easy, tasty snacks, or can be reconstituted for making baked goods.

Dehydrating raspberries recipe via Mom With A Prep.

Tips for Dehydrating Raspberries

Strawberries

The flavor of fresh, hand-picked strawberries lasts what—a day or two? Out of 365? Doesn’t seem fair. Spend one of those days dehydrating a big batch and you can make the season last.
dehydrator recipes: strawberries on dehydrator tray
Dehydrating strawberries recipe and photo via Grace Garden and Homestead.

Tips for Dehydrating Strawberries

Watermelon

Really? Yep…dehydration turns watermelon slices into a sweet candy, almost like taffy.
dehydrator recipes: watermelon
Dehydrating watermelon recipe and photo by LearnToPreserve.

Tips for Dehydrating Watermelon

Dehydrator Recipes for Vegetables

Asparagus

You’ll be using less of the asparagus if you dry it—only the tips dehydrate very well.

Dehydrating asparagus recipe via Preparedness Mama.

Tips for Dehydrating

Carrots

You’ll need to blanch carrots before dehydrating them. Once dried, you won’t ever want to just toss them into salad, they need to be reconstituted first by soaking in boiling water.

Dehydrating carrots recipe via Taylor-Made Ranch.

Tips for Dehydrating Carrots

Cauliflower

If you like cauliflower riced as a healthier substitute for mashed potatoes, think about making a big batch and drying it. You can add to soups or casseroles after reconstituting.

Dehydrating cauliflower recipe via Cradle Rocking Mama.

Tips for Dehydrating Cauliflower

  • Blanch the cauliflower first if you want it to stay white.

Celery

Soup-makers, sit up. Dehydrating celery is your ticket to more kitchen space, and faster, tastier, less-expensive soup. If you can find a good deal on celery, buy lots and dry it out. Whenever you need to make soup, you can use the dehydrated slices rather than buying more stalks (most of which you probably won’t use anyway). dehydrator recipes: celery
Dehydrating celery recipe and photo via Simply Healthy Home.

Tips for Dehydrating Celery

Eggplant

Moussaka, eggplant parmigiana, and other eggplant casseroles can be made just as easily—and much faster—with dehydrated eggplant. If you love eggplant this is worth doing. Dehydrating them is similar to dehydrating apples, you may want to spritz them with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Dehydrating eggplant recipe via Enjoy Your Garden Bounty Year Round.

Tips for Dehydrating Eggplant

Garlic

If you cook, and if you’re able to get garlic farm-fresh, garlic could easily make the top of your personal dehydrating to-do list. You have to peel them first, so it’s tricky and a little messy, but if you cook with garlic it’s like you’re doing the work all at once rather than every time you cook.

Dehydrating garlic recipe via Mother Earth News.

Tips for Dehydrating Garlic

Ginger

If you use ginger at home, you know how much is wasted when you prep it—the peels, the odd hunks that are too hard to peel, the pieces you forget about at the back of the crisper…dehydration eliminates that. Peels can be dried and ground into powder. Nice pieces that are about to go bad, you can dry and rehydrate later to cook.
dehydrated-ginger

Dehydrating ginger recipe and photo via Hello Creative Family.

Tips for Dehydrating Ginger

Green Beans

Green beans must be cooked before dehydration, otherwise you’ll be preserving the flavor of raw beans—who wants that? Green beans are difficult to get to the right level of crispness, and they aren’t that great reconstituted. Still, if you have a ton it’s better than feeding them to the chickens.dehydrator recipes: dehydrated green beans in a jar
Dehydrating green beans recipe and photo via The Blog of Trail Cooking.

Tips for Dehydrating Green Beans

Kale

Kale is a good starter dehydration project—the leaves won’t stick together and it’s easy to tell when they’re done. And, you can use them as a snack, and addition to soup, or even grind them into sprinkles. You’ll need to tear the leaves from the stalks first. dehydrator recipes: kale dehydrating in dehydrator trays
Dehydrating kale recipe and photo by Old Fashioned Families.

Tips for Dehydrating Kale

Mushrooms (Morels, Chanterelle)

Mushrooms are a popular dehydration target because dehydration improves their flavor. Chefs use dehydrated mushrooms to add intense mushroom flavor to soups and stews—fresh mushrooms might add flavor, but would also release lots of water, thinning everything out. Mushrooms are also relatively easy to dehydrate. Dehydrating mushrooms recipe and photo via Mom with a Prep.

Tips for Dehydrating Mushrooms

Okra

It’s a very good candidate for dehydrating if you grow it, since it grows so fast—as a greenhorn from my home state found out in this funny story from the blogger Bacon and Eggs. He, and others, recommend seasoning the okra before dehydration.

Dehydrating okra recipe via Countrified Hicks.

Tips for Dehydrating Okra

Onions

The joy of dehydrated onions is a little different from our other top foods. It’s less about making a tasty snack and more about saving time (and tears) in the kitchen. With a big batch of dried onions to add to soups or stews, you can get onion flavor without time-consuming, eye-irritating chopping.
dehydrator recipes: dehydrated onions
Dehydrating onions recipe and photo via Ohh Shop.

Tips for Dehydrating

Peppers

The process for drying peppers is the same whether they’re mild bell peppers or insane ghost peppers. Either way you end up with dry skins you can reconstitute quickly and add to any food that needs a little extra flavor.

dehydrated habanero peppers

Photo by Chris Baird via Flickr/Creative Commons

Dehydrating peppers recipe via Grow Forage Cook Ferment.

Tips for Dehydrating Peppers

Potatoes (Brown/Gold)

Dehydrating potatoes is a slightly different process—you cook them first, then cut into small pieces and dehydrate. Once dry you can drop them into soups or stews, they reconstitute beautifully.
dehydrator recipes: potato flakes in jar

Dehydrating potatoes recipe and photo via Ohh Shop.

Tips for Dehydrating Potatoes

Tomatoes

The tomato crop can come at you fast. With your dehydrator you can make your own sun-dried tomatoes to enjoy on pasta and in salads all-year.
dehydrator recipes: seasoned tomatoes on dehydrator tray
Dehydrating tomatoes recipe and photo via The Prairie Homestead.

Tips for Dehydrating Tomatoes

Zucchini

You can save a lot of your giant zucchini crop by dehydrating it. Zucchini takes well to different seasonings, you can turn them into candy, or season them with Italian flavors to toss in soups and sauces all year.
dehydrator recipes: dehydrated zucchini
Dehydrating zucchini recipe and photo via Whole-Fed Homestead.

Tips for Dehydrating Zucchini

Here’s a unique idea for candied dehydrated zucchini (using Kool-Aid!)

Corn

Corn can be dried two different ways. Left on the cob to dry out—that can be used for popcorn or ground into corn meal. Or, cook the corn, remove the kernels, and dry those to rehydrate later in soups. Dehydrating corn recipe and some terrific tips via Self Reliant School.

Pumpkin Seeds

If you love roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack, you could dehydrate them too—they’ll last longer. Consider this if you’re doing a massive pumpkin carving party. Dehydrating pumpkin seeds recipe via Lil Raisin Acres.

Dehydrator Recipes For Meat

Beef

Dehydrated beef = beef jerky! You can make beef jerky one of two ways:

  • Slice pieces of beef, season, and dry it.
  • Season ground beef, then shoot it through a jerky gun, which presses it into flat strips to go in the dehydrator.

It’s a matter of personal preference. If you like tougher jerky, you’ll like the beef strip variety. If budget is your main concern, using ground beef will be less expensive. If you harvest your own beef, it may depend on what cuts you have. Either way, once you start making beef jerky, you can find yourself down a rabbit hole experimenting will all of the possible flavors and styles.

dehydrator recipes: beef jerky from strips of beef
Recipe for dehydrating beef strips and photo via Mama’s Homestead.

dehydrator recipes: dehydrated ground beef
Recipe for dehydrating ground beef and photo via Common Sense Homesteading.

Tips for Dehydrating Beef

  • That marinade you love on steak will be even more intense if you make it with jerky.
  • Bend jerky to see if it’s done. If it bends and starts to tear slightly, it’s done.
  • When making jerky with beef strips, slice against the grain for more tender jerky.
  • The University of Wisconsin recommends that once you have finished drying the jerky, you heat it in cookie sheets in a 275 F oven for 10 minutes. Their study found that this final step was the most effective in destroying dangerous bacteria.

Chicken

Chicken jerky is less popular than beef jerky for the same reason than most people will choose a rib-eye over chicken breast—on its own, chicken doesn’t have that much flavor. That doesn’t mean you can’t add your own! Probably a good idea to marinate or season chicken before dehydrating, with whatever flavors you enjoy on chicken already.

The second issue with dehydrating chicken is food safety. The FDA recommends heating chicken to 165 F before drying it—essentially, cooking it first. That’s going to be some very dry jerky. I recommend reading this post by Modern Survival Blog, which presents a balanced view and some solid instructions. For people with food safety concerns or weak immune systems, dehydrating chicken probably isn’t a good idea. For the rest of you, read on!dehydrator recipes: dehydrated chicken strips on a dehydrator tray
Dehydrating chicken recipe and photo via Modern Survival Blog.

Tips for Dehydrating Chicken

Salmon

Salmon dried through exposure to smoke—smoked salmon—is just one dehydration technique for this vitamin-packed fish. If you use your dehydrator you won’t be able to replicate the smoke flavor, but, on the other hand, with a marinade you can introduce whatever flavors you like.
dehydrator recipes: salmon jerky
Dehydrating salmon recipe and photo via Gutsy.

Tips for Dehydrating Salmon

Deer/Venison

As with beef, venison jerky can be made from strips of the meat, or ground and reformed. As it’s leaner than beef, it’s also tougher—so those who really like a jerky they can gnaw on will prefer venison.

Dehydrating venison recipe via North West Edible Life.

Tips for Dehydrating Venison

Dehydrator Recipes For Herbs

Basil

You don’t need a dehydrator to dry herbs like basil—you can do it outside (the best option if you have large bunches of basil), or in the oven, or even just on your kitchen counter. The reason to do it in a food dehydrator is that you’ll have much more control over the temperature and better consistency than you will with any of those other methods. dehydrator recipes: dried basil in jars
Dehydrating basil recipe and photo via Home in the Finger Lakes.

Tips for Dehydrating Basil

Parsley

Herbs dry down to nearly nothing, but if you have a bumper crop drying them will save you money. The blogger A Matter of Preparedness estimated her savings from drying parsley at 87% over store-bought.

Dehydrating parsley recipe via A Matter of Preparedness.

Tips for Dehydrating Parsley

  • You don’t need to worry about overlapping the herbs like you do with thicker vegetables and fruits. They will dry just fine, even if they are in a couple of layers.
  • Other herbs to dry: Cilantro, Chives.

Other Foods You Can Dehydrate

Some other foods that don’t really fit into the “harvest” category can also be dehydrated.

Cheese

Cheese behaves just like veggies and fruit when dehydrated, it gets crunchy and the flavor’s slightly more intense. If that sounds good to you, give it a whirl. Dehydrating cheese recipe via Joybilee Farm.

Chili

Backpackers and backcountry people dry their own chili. It’s cheaper than buying commercially-made dried foods, and tastes better too. For the rest of us, freezing extra batches of chili is a better idea. Dehydrating chili recipe and tips via Either Brave Or Stupid.

Marshmallows

Leftover marshmallows get stale and gross. Dehydrate them and they become crunchy little snacks. Dehydrating marshmallows recipe via Mom with a Prep.

Eggs

Dehyrdating eggs is popular mostly among preppers and hard-core locavores. Dehydrating eggs recipe via Backcountry Paleo.

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