Dehydrator VS Air Fryer according to 8 differences

Let me tell you something — investing in a brand-new kitchen appliance is a very tricky business. And it gets even more difficult when you’re trying to cook healthier. There is a wide array of modern-day appliances, which can simplify your cooking process and allow you to enjoy a delicious, quick, and low-calorie meal. The two primary options are an air fryer and a food dehydrator.

To me, both of them are wonderful and versatile kitchen tools. However, I will help you decide which one to choose that fits perfectly with your budget, space, and cooking preferences. So, let’s get started!

What is a Dehydrator and How Does it Work

The name is fairly self-explanatory — a food dehydrator is a kitchen appliance that extracts moisture content from your food so that it can be preserved for a longer period of time. It works by circulating dry air at a very low temperature, just like a traditional oven.

Dehydrating not only enhances the flavors of your food items, but it also retains most of the nutrient content and makes them healthier than their store-bought counterparts. So, what’s not to like? Crisp up your favorite fruits, vegetables and herbs and make them more shelf-stable.

Pros and Cons of the Food Dehydrator

If you are a mindful or picky eater like me, then a dehydrator can be your best friend in the kitchen. Instead of wolfing down the same old broccoli and celery, you can prepare healthy and tempting snacks in no time. Here are a few reasons why a food dehydrator is a convenient kitchen appliance:

  • It is extremely cost-effective. As inflation is currently at its peak, a food dehydrator allows you to buy seasonal produce in bulk and store it to use later. And I am not going to lie to you, this practice always saves me a few extra bucks!
  • A dehydrator intensifies the sweetness of fruits and increases the aroma of certain herbs and spices. 
  • It helps you DIY your snacks and sides by using your favorite toppings, seasonings and flavors and eliminates additives, preservatives or calorie-dense ingredients. 

Besides these notable advantages, a dehydrator has some downsides that you should be aware of before investing in one:

  • The first and most obvious limitation of a food dehydrator is that it’s a single-purpose appliance. So, you need to be very specific before buying one as you can only use it for dehydrating food.
  • It takes a lot of time to dehydrate food with this appliance. For instance, if you are a fan of dehydrated apple slices or peaches, the drying time will range anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. 
  •  A dehydrator may not work well with high-fat foods like avocado and beef jerky.
dehydrator vs air fryer

What is an Air Fryer and How Does it Work?

An air fryer is a revolutionary kitchen appliance for all the healthy eaters out there. It works by circulating hot air all around the cavity which results in crispy, golden-brown, and delicious food. This countertop appliance can limit your consumption of oil without compromising on taste and texture. With its powerful heating element, an air fryer allows you to bake, roast, fry, and even grill your favorite veggies and meat in no time. Thus nowadays, this appliance has become a staple in every home kitchen due to its convenience and versatility. 

Pros and Cons of the Air Fryer

Air fryers are currently trending in the culinary world, and here are a few reasons why:

  • First things first, just look at the size of this appliance! Air fryers do not take up any unnecessary space in your kitchen.
  • Cooking in an air fryer can reduce your consumption of fats by 70%. Just spray some olive oil and enjoy a decent batch of French fries without feeling guilty. 
  • Air fryers save you a lot of time in the kitchen. Your food gets cooked or reheated quickly without any mess.
  • They are super versatile! You can use this appliance to cook anything, from fish and shrimp dishes to roasted and stir-fried veggies, and sausages. 

But hold your horses! Before you make up your mind, here are a few limitations of this kitchen tool that you may need to consider:

  • Air fryers are compact in size and they have a small cooking capacity. So, if you are feeding a crowd, you may need to cook in batches. 
  • It’s difficult to clean as the food residue and burnt bits are often left behind. 
  • Although air-fried goods are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside 95% percent of the time, there are certain food and vegetables that don’t taste just as good when cooked in an air fryer. 

Air Fryer vs Dehydrator — The 8 Key Differences 

Now, let me take you back to the battle of these two appliances. As I mentioned earlier, both the air fryer and the dehydrator are amazing kitchen tools. But this leads you to a dilemma – which one should you choose for your space? No worries, I’ll break it down for you. Later in this article, I’d also suggest a commendable air fryer-dehydrator combo to meet all your cooking needs. But first, here is a detailed comparison of the main features and performance of each of these individual appliances:

1: Food Appearance, Taste, and Texture 

Both air fryers and dehydrators offer oil-free, healthy, and delicious food. However, there is a significant difference in their taste, texture, and appearance. The veggies and meat that come out of an air fryer have a crispy or crunchy exterior and juicy interior, with lower calories. On the other hand, dehydration removes 90% of the moisture content, resulting in light-weight, dry, crispy, or chewy snackable. You’d also notice that the fruits and vegetables also lose their bright colors once dehydrated. 

2: Cooking Temperatures

The dehydration process requires a low temperature over a long time. Most dehydration recipes call for a temperature between 90°F – 150°F. In contrast, the air fryers typically have a high-temperature range of 325°F – 450°F to quickly achieve that golden-brown and crispy goodness we all die for.

Make cucumber and potato mixture spread evenly

3: What Can Be Cooked

There are so many unique ways you can optimize these appliances in the kitchen.

When it comes to a food dehydrator, you can prepare anything from kale chips and beef jerky to crackers and granola bars. Some people also like to use a dehydrator to make homemade pet treats for their furry friends. Fresh herbs, like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and mint can also be dehydrated, crushed, and sprinkled on top of your favorite meals.

On the other hand, you can cook steak, baked goods, bacon, fish and chips — in short, a whole goddam meal in an air fryer, and the desserts too! Vegetables like zucchini, squash, mushrooms, cauliflower, and asparagus also come out of an air fryer looking extra crunchy and delicious and can be served on the side. 

4: Functionality

Next, comes the functionality. Both air fryers and dehydrators use hot or heated air to create an airflow running around the food, it’s just that the temperature of the air is different. The heating element in both appliances is paired up with a fan, which ensures even cooking, reheating, or dehydrating. 

5: Capacity/Shelving

There is a wide array of food dehydrators in the market. But all of them come with racks, trays, or shelving of some sort to provide enough room around each piece of food so it dries out evenly and uniformly. Typically, the dehydrators come with 4 to 12 trays, offering enough space for your needs! It also allows you to dry out multiple types of food at once.

This is where an air fryer goes in a totally different direction. The air fryers mostly come with a small basket which shouldn’t be overcrowded. If you squish food closer together, the results will be disappointing. Its compact size and limited capacity make it more convenient for small spaces like studio apartments and kitchenettes.

Start baking at 250°F for 30 minutes

6: Cooking Speed

When it comes to speed, the air fryer has the upper hand! This is probably the reason why I love it so much. It saves me a ton of time and energy. An air fryer tends to cook faster at relatively high temperatures. You can enjoy piping-hot chicken wings, tofu, shrimp, fries, or even a mini pizza in less than 20 minutes!

On the contrary, a food dehydrator works at a fairly low temperature, taking hours to remove moisture content from food, without cooking it. Water-dense ingredients, like apples, nectarines, or tomatoes can take up to 12 hours to dry out completely. The other methods (sun-drying, oven drying, etc.) of dehydrating food, however, take way longer.

7: Electricity/Power Consumption

Now, let’s see which one is more energy-efficient. Sure, you need a few hours and some extra patience to let the magic happen in the case of a food dehydrator, but that’s all worth it. Since dehydrators use lower temperatures, they are more energy efficient than using an oven for the same purpose.

An air fryer also works along the same lines. But it takes way lesser time to cook, which makes it probably the most energy-efficient appliance out there.

An average air fryer uses around 1500 watts of power, while food dehydrators use anywhere from 250 to 1500 watts, depending on their internal space or capacity.

Cucumber Chips Air Fryer-2

8: Price

Finally, let’s talk money.

The good news is that a food dehydrator is one of the best purchases you can make considering how affordable and easy to use they are. A small, countertop and stackable food dehydrators typically cost $50 to $100. The larger, cabinet-style dehydrators cost a bit more than $100.

The air fryers, on the contrary, are a bit on the expensive side due to their efficiency and versatility. A decent air fryer will cost you around $100 to $150. The high-end versions include features like grilling or pressure cooking, potentially doing the job of other kitchen appliances.

So, what if I tell you that you can get both an air fryer and a food dehydrator for just under $150? Yes, you heard it right!

Air Fryer Dehydrator Combo

CHEFMAN Multifunctional Digital Air Fryer+Dehydrator Combo

Here’s the deal: CHEFMAN Multifunctional Digital Air Fryer+Dehydrator Combo is a one-stop solution for your cooking and food-preserving needs.

This multi-purpose kitchen appliance allows you to air fry, dehydrate, roast, bake and reheat your favorite food items with just one touch!

What’s’ more? It comes with a smart touch screen, preset menus, 3 removable air flow racks, a drip tray, and other accessories to help you out in the kitchen. 

With a larger capacity than a traditional air fryer, you can crisp up anything without worrying about calories. Whether you are making chicken nuggets for your kids or feeding a large crowd, Chefman will always come in handy. Its dehydration function will allow you to make your own banana chips, beef jerky, and other healthy munchies to be carried along on your next family picnic. 

It’s a steal for anyone who wants to eat healthily without compromising on taste. If I was you, I’d definitely get my hands on this super affordable and efficient magic appliance. 

You can also check the full list of the best air fryer dehydrator combo here.

Can You Dehydrate in an Air Fryer?

The simple answer is, yes, and no. Let me clarify. 

You can dehydrate in the air fryers if they have built-in dehydration settings which allow you to preserve your favorite seasonal produce all year round. However, if you are using a regular air fryer for this purpose, the results might not be the same. It’s important to keep the temperature between 120°F – 160°F to successfully dehydrate food in an air fryer without actually cooking it. The high-temperature range of an air fryer would not dehydrate food any faster, because it’s a slow process overall. 

The “Dehydrate” Button on the Air Fryer and How it Works

This button will make you an air fryer pro. Most of the air fryer models feature a “dehydrate” button along with several others. This preset feature enables the air fryer to circulate warm air around the food at a fairly lower temperature and gradually remove the moisture. For air fryer dehydration, the ideal temperature is lower than 123°F to be precise.

How Long Does It Take to Dehydrate Fruits in an Air Fryer

Fruits have a high water content. Therefore, they take around 6 to 8 hours on average to dry out in an air fryer. 

For instance, spring is just around the corner which is a season of fresh strawberries. If you want to preserve them for later to sprinkle on top of your breakfast cereal, slice them thinly, place them in a single layer inside the air fryer basket, and pop them in for about 4 to 5 hours at 130°F. Make sure to turn the dehydrator mode on. 

air fryers or dehydrators for beef jerky

If you are making some delicious beef jerky in an air fryer, place your marinated steak strips inside the air fryer basket in a single layer. Ensure the strips do not touch each other and there is enough space for the airflow. Switch the air fryer to dehydrator mode. Run at 180°F for 2-3 hours. Check the jerky periodically for the desired doneness. The air fryer dehydrated beef jerky is often chewy and tender. 

In the case of a dehydrator, it takes around 6-8 hours. But making beef jerky in the dehydrator is worth the wait and yields the best results possible! Simply place your marinated steak strips on a dehydrator tray and run it on medium heat until the strips look dry, dark and slightly pliable. You can refrigerate this batch for up to 1 month!

apple chips air fryer vs dehydrator

This thing is one of my personal favorites! Apples are sometimes boring to eat on their own. But you can spice things up with some lemon juice and cinnamon sugar. After soaking and coating the thin apple slices, just arrange them on the dehydrator tray and set the temperature at 135°F for 6 to 8 hours. Check periodically. You’ll know the chips are done when they are not soft. Sprinkle some cinnamon or pumpkin pie seasoning and enjoy this crispy sweet snack on the go.

In the case of an air fryer, the apple chips will take no more than 20-30 minutes in total. They might be a bit less chewy with a nice crisp to them. Spread the apple slices evenly in the air fryer basket. Then air fry for about 15-20 minutes at 300°F Toss and flip them in between. Remove once they look done. 

Final Words

To sum it up, having a dehydrator and air fryer is pretty rewarding if you are on a weight-loss journey, or trying to eat healthy in general. The key is optimizing these appliances fully, understanding their purpose of use, and using the right temperatures. It also comes down to your personal preferences and cooking style. 

  • Use a dehydrator if you are into storing and preserving food, or want to replace store-bought snacks with healthier options. 
  • Use an air fryer if you want to limit your oil consumption, and enjoy flavourful, crispy and delicious meals in less time.  

Whatever you choose, all I hope is you get the best of both worlds, i.e. satisfy your taste buds while achieving good health. 

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