Welcome back to another Air Fryer Bro article. Today, I am answering yet another (yeah; I know there’s a lot of these!!) question I have heard people asking about air fryers. This is whether an air fryer can take the place of a food dehydrator. I hope that, after reading this article, you will have a better idea about the answer to this important question. Can you make those yummy dehydrated snacks in your air fryer? Let’s find out!
In short, yes, you can use an air fryer as a food dehydrator. Both of these kitchen appliances share key similarities that make this possible. However, in order to get a result as close to a dedicated food dehydrator in an air fryer, you will have to take into consideration some important factors that are needed for good food dehydrating.
For example, the air fryer needs a low heat setting and a good air venting system. If your model of air fryer doesn’t say it can be used for dehydrating in the manual, you should contact the air fryer manufacturer and check before trying it out. Finally, if you are dehydrating to preserve the enzymes in your food, you will need to find a model that goes as low as 112 degrees Fahrenheit.
Food dehydrating is a popular method of preserving food. It is especially popular in America, because of such food as beef jerky and the rise of raw food diets. This is why the question of dehydrating in an air fryer comes up so much!
My personal favorites when it comes to dehydrating are kale chips, banana chips, and finally dried strawberries! These were things I would have to buy previously, but can now make in my air fryer instead. I’m not a big beef jerky guy, but maybe I just haven’t found the right recipe (or the right flank steak!!) 🙂
Before we go into detail about this subject, I would like to say that if there are any food dehydrating experts out there, we would love to hear from you in the comments section below. Have you ever tried to dehydrate food in an air fryer? What was your particular result and experience like? Do you have any of your own tips?
I always love hearing from any experts in any field that I write about. I am not an expert myself, just a guy that has used an air fryer pretty much daily for multiple years!! Maybe one day I can call myself an expert!! (not likely, ha ha !!)
What is a food dehydrator?
When you dehydrate foods, you are in fact keeping them raw (because you don’t usually heat the food beyond 112 degrees Fahrenheit) but taking out the water content. When you dehydrate, you use a flow of warm air to dry out the moisture in the food. Usually, a lot of food has at least over 50 percent water content. The dehydration process gets rid of this to make a totally different type of dried food.This is the purest form of food dehydrating.
To dehydrate food, you usually prep the food by cutting it into thin slices, and use a dehydrator setting to expose this thinly sliced food to a lower temperature to dry it out over a couple of hours.
Why dehydrate food?
Most people like using a dehydrator to preserve food. By taking the water content out of the food, you are preventing the growth of bacteria and thus increasing that foods shelf life. In fact, it is usually the moisture in food that can harbor the harmful bacteria. Dehydrating food is a very popular choice for people on raw food diets. As they are still eating raw food, but they can store this food for much longer after dehydrating it.
A lot of people want to keep the enzymes in their dehydrated food, as they believe that these enzymes will be good for their health and digestive system. If you care about this, I would do further research on the topic. Generally speaking, by keeping your dehydrating temperature under the 112 degrees Fahrenheit mark, you should make sure the enzymes remain intact. They are more prone to damage when they are in a wet state, so be very careful at the beginning of your dehydrating process to not go over this temperature. When the food is in a dryer state, enzymes have been known to survive temperatures as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The other factor that comes into play when dehydrating food is weight. By taking the water out of food you are also reducing it’s weight. This can be a real plus when preserving and storing food.
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that cooks food using hot air. This hot air comes from a heating element inside the air fryer, which will then have an accompanying fan to blow this hot air around the air fryers cooking compartment. As the hot air is circulating around the food, it is cooking the food.
There are two main styles of air fryers, the traditional bucket style of air fryer that looks more like the shape of a deep fat fryer. More recently, we have seen the advent of oven style air fryers.
If you want to read more on what an air fryer is, I have another more detailed article here on Air Fryer Bro.
Is an air fryer the same as a dehydrator? What do they have in common?
The common theme between both is the fact that they both use hot or heated air, it is just that the temperature of the air is different. An air fryer will often use incredibly hot air to “fry” food, whereas a dehydrator will use warm air not often above 112 degrees Fahrenheit to slowly dry out the food.
This common theme of using hot or warm heated air is what leads many people to believe that an air fryer can be used as a food dehydrator too.
The question is, can an air fryer dehydrate food as well as a dedicated food dehydrator? Or can it at least get somewhere close to this?
Can you dehydrate food (such as fruit, meat and vegetables) in an air fryer?
So this is the moment of truth, can you actually dehydrate in an air fryer? There are several factors that you need to consider, to decide if your particular air fryer is good for dehydrating food too. We will go over these main factors now!
1. Can it go low enough (under 200 degrees F)?
Well, as long as your air fryer has an option to set a temperature of under 200 degrees Fahrenheit, then yes, you can. It might still be possible with slightly higher temperatures, but you are at risk of burning the dehydrating food if you forget about it. As stated above, most preserving dehydrating methods rarely go over 112 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of preserving is often used for such things as drying out herbs and fruit. Also, if you are a dehydrating purest who wants to keep the enzymes in your food, you will need an option for a lower temperature setting such as this.
Other drying recipes (such as beef jerky) will often use a temperature of around 150-200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why it is vital to have the setting for a temperature under 200 degrees on any air fryer you want to use for dehydrating food.
2. Can it vent?
The other important factor for dehydrating food is that you need to be able to let the moist air escape and be replaced by dry and warm air. When you try to dehydrate in a regular oven, you would typically leave the oven door slightly open. With most air fryers, this should be simple, as they usually have an air vent that would usually be used to vent any smoke out of an air fryer. Take a look at your air fryer model, it should have a built in vent already. This would work out well for dehydrating food in it.
3. Does it have the drying space?
Finally, you need to think about the physical logistics of drying out food in an air fryer. If you used the typical air fryer basket for this (around 3-5 quart in size), you would probably find the amount you could dehydrate at any one time wouldn’t be enough for most people. And batch dehydrating would be a chore!
Therefore, I would recommend investing in a couple of wire racks that will fit into your air fryer. Anything that will give you at least two levels to dry on, with a decent amount of space in between would be fine. In our recommended products, we have an air fryer accessory set that includes all of this essential stuff!
I have seen other people getting around the restrictions of the standard air fryer basket by positioning wooden skewers across the top of the air fryer’s basket. This will enable you to dangle more food on these skewers and increase the amount of food you can dehydrate at any one time in an air fryer.
Just be sure not to block any of the air fryers’ air flow. You need to make sure that the air can circulate around all sides of the food still. Air flow is king when using an air fryer and when thinking about dehydrating!
If your air fryer is too small to allow for decent drying space inside, it probably wouldn’t be worth it to use for dehydrating. The electricity cost would be the main factor here.
If you intend to do a lot of dehydrating in your air fryer, I would recommend going for an oven style air fryer. As the name suggests, these air fryers take the form of more traditional ovens. This would make them pretty much perfect for dehydrating (as long as they meet the other factors mentioned above). The baking racks in an air fryer oven would be as close to a regular dehydrator tray as you can get with this type of appliance.
4. Double check with the manufacturer.
The problem with using an air fryer as a dehydrator, is that it will put some stress on the air fryer’s heating element. So, even if your air fryer meets all the factors above, it may still damage your air fryer’s heating element if it is not up to the job.
It is always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure that if dehydrating is not mentioned on the box or in the literature of your air fryer, that you check directly with the manufacturer. If your air fryer has a recipe book with dehydrating recipes, this could hint at a dehydrator function.
If your air fryer has a dehydrator function, you still need to be careful if you want to preserve enzymes in your dehydrated food. This dehydrator function may still not go as low as 112 Fahrenheit.
You don’t want to risk burning out the heating element! And these days, it’s a pretty straightforward process to contact manufacturers. Most of them will have some type of social media presence on Facebook or Twitter (to name just two examples). Usually, if you message on these platforms and ask, you will get a reply much faster than traditional email.
5. Check the Timer
If you have ever tried out dehydrating, you will know that it sometimes requires a timer that can work for hours rather than just minutes, however you would be surprised to know that many air fryers out there that claim to dehydrate still have a timer that only goes up to one hour maximum. This is nowhere near enough time for most dehydrating projects, and it is annoying having to keep coming back to reset the timer. So make sure any air fryer you buy for dehydrating purposes has a long and flexible timer 🙂
If you are interested in both air frying and food dehydrating, this is great news that you can use an air fryer for both. It will definitely save a lot of space on your kitchen worktop if you can combine both of these cooking styles into one kitchen appliance. If you plan on doing a lot of dehydrating an air fryer oven would be best, as it would give you more space.
Just make sure to choose your air fryer wisely, based on the criteria mentioned within this article. And make sure you have confirmed with the manufacturer of the air fryer that the heating element can withstand the abuse it may get from the long drying or “cooking” times associated with dehydrating.
My personal opinion is that if you are a hardcore dehydrating fanatic who wants the perfect dehydrating experience, maybe buy a dedicated dehydrating appliance. For example, if you are on a raw food diet and want to keep the enzymes in your food, you might find it hard to find an air fryer that goes to the 112F temperature you need.
An air fryer can get close to what a dedicated dehydrator can offer, but I don’t think it will satisfy the most demanding of dehydrator experts. If you, on the other hand, just want to have the option to do the occasional dehydrating, a capable air fryer might just do the job.
I would love to hear from those dehydrating experts, to hear what they think!!
Frequently Asked Questions?
Which air fryer would the Air Fryer Bro recommend for dehydrating?
A lot of people ask me which air fryer I think is the best air fryer when it comes to dehydrating? I would say it is important to do your own research, as everyone’s needs are different. An oven dehydrator would suit someone who dehydrates a lot. Whereas, an air fryer that can go as low as 112 Fahrenheit is essential for someone who wants to preserve their dehydrated foods enzymes.
For the Air Fryer Bro, I would choose the following:
Traditional Bucket Style Air Fryer:
The Ninja Air Fryer is the best choice for me. It is a pure air fryer, with excellent customer reviews, and an ability to go as low as 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This Ninja air fryer has a specific dehydrate function too. Click the image below to go view this air fryer on Amazon:
Oven Style Air Fryer:
If you do decide to go for an oven style air fryer, I would choose the new Cosori Air Fryer Oven. Cosori has really been hitting it out of the park in the air fryer world of late. Their new air fryer oven (in competition with the popular but not very good Power Air Fryer range) is excellent. It has racks to help you dehydrate more, as well as having the ability to go as low as 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Click the image to go view this air fryer oven on Amazon:
If you want a longer list of air fryers that are good for dehydrating, you can also read my full list here.
After all is said and done…..happy dehydrating!! ….Air Fryer Bro crunches on a dehydrated strawberry 🙂