Air fryers vs dehydrators, which one is right for you? Here they are, compared in 7 different ways.

If you’re looking into buying a new appliance for your home, the possibilities are endless. You’d think that having a wide variety of options would be a good thing, but sometimes, it causes stress and uncertainty.

When looking into which appliance to buy, you should always consider your budget, preferences and eating habits, as these will be the most significant factors that drive your decision.

To explore all the options at your disposal, you need a list of the key elements to look out for, and how each appliance might outperform the other.

This requires diligent research, and it’s no simple task, but, luckily, that’s all been taken care of for you.  All you need to focus on now is analyzing them and making the choice that’s right for you.

Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

How Air Fryers Work

This appliance harnesses the power of hot air and uses it to provide you with the same results deep-frying would, but with a fraction of the oil.

Air fryers accomplish this with two main components, the heating element, and the fan. While the former creates heat, the latter redistributes it throughout the appliance’s chamber and breaks down your food’s proteins, sugars, and amino acids.

This creates a chemical process known as the maillard reaction, which is what gives deep-fried food and seared steaks that characteristic golden-brown color.

How Dehydrators Work

Just like air fryers, these appliances use hot air recirculation to dehydrate your food, but the key difference lies in the temperature. While the aforementioned keep it high enough to cook your food, dehydrators tend to stay at much cooler settings.

Remember, this appliance is not for cooking, but for removing moisture, and that is most effectively accomplished with lower temperatures for longer periods.

Food Dehydrator beeing used with fruits
Your dehydrator isn’t meant to cook, but rather to eliminate moisture from food so that it can be preserved.

What Will Be Compared?

#1 Price

You can get a good option without breaking the bank

This is usually the strongest factor to consider for most people.

Whenever you buy an appliance, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best value for your money.

As it happens with all other products, you can find both air fryers and dehydrators throughout all price ranges, and as you go up and start looking at the more expensive models, you’ll find additional options, larger capacities, and better materials.

That being said, if you’re looking for an appliance for personal use, you can find several models from reputable brands for under $150.

While these will be basic, and on the smaller side, any air fryer or dehydrator within that price range should do the job.

Again, it all comes down to your needs, and the amount of people you need to cook for regularly.

#2 Versatility

Consider how many possibilities each appliance opens up for you

In my humble opinion, this round goes to air fryers, let me tell you why.

While it’s true that both appliance’s work wonders and provide more than satisfying results, air fryers tend to be much more versatile.

With them, you can cook, fry, heat up, and even dehydrate your food. Although the latter will turn out much better in a dehydrator, you can get a good result.

The problem with dehydrators is that they’re extremely specialized appliances, you could even say they’re “niche” machines. They’re specifically engineered to do two things, remove moisture and preserve food.

In fact, the most common uses for these appliances are: dehydrating herbs, fruits, vegetables and meat. You can even make your own beef jerky! It’s not that dehydrators are not versatile, they’re just not as versatile as air fryers, and that’s fine too.

If you’re someone who doesn’t really feel the need to fry your food with less oil, or try out TikTok recipes, but love beef jerky and naturally-preserved foods, a dehydrator will be a godsend.

#3 Healthy Recipes

Both appliances are great for fitness lovers

Yet another similarity these appliances share are the possibilities they open up for fitness lovers out there. If you’re someone who enjoys exercising and clean eating, you will have a lot to love, regardless of which one you end up choosing.

Air fryers, on one hand, are great for substituting “unhealthy” meals and creating their cleaner alternatives while using a fraction of the oil, or sometimes, none at all.

These appliances can not only cook your food to perfection, but also emulate that beautiful golden-brown finish present in most deep-fried foods

Dehydrators, on the other hand, might not offer as many cooking possibilities as the former, but they shine in other areas. As you know, finding non-processed, all-natural foods is very hard these days, and even if you do find them, buying them will burn a whole through your wallet. 

That is, unless you own a dehydrator. This appliance allows you to preserve your food for much longer, without all the artificial additives used in commercial products, and for a fraction of the price of buying all-natural foods from your grocer.

In the end, it will all come down to what’s most important for you.

If you love healthier alternatives to greasy foods, an air fryer will make your dreams come true, whereas if you get nightmares just thinking of all the additives in your food, a dehydrator will be your savior and get you a good night’s sleep.

#4 Reliability

When it comes to reliability, it would be a lie to say that either appliance outperforms the other. It all comes down to the manufacturer and the materials used in their construction.

Technology and quality control have come so far, that even the cheaper models will do their job perfectly, and without giving you too much trouble. Essentially, paying a higher price will not make your appliance more or less likely to function properly. You’re just paying for extra bells and whistles that you might not need.

That being said, remember, buy cheap, buy twice. If you’re going to go for the basic model of either appliance, it’s important that you choose a reputable vendor.

I’m sure you can find all sorts of cheap knockoffs online for half the price of a known brand’s product, and although they might promise to do the same, they will most certainly give you trouble and fail sooner, rather than later.

You should also talk to your friends and family who own either of these appliances and ask them about their experience.

There’s nothing better than word of mouth!

#5 Ease of Use

Read your user manual when in doubt

One of the most important factors that should be taken into consideration prior to buying an appliance is how user-friendly it is.

Being able to easily understand how to operate your dehydrator or air fryer will not only extend their lifespan significantly, but also allow you to take advantage of all the possibilities they have to offer.

No appliance you ever buy will come without a learning curve. This is perfectly normal. Both air fryers and dehydrators will require you to read the user manual, and even go through certain processes of trial and error before you get the hang of them.

That being said, in most cases, air fryers will most likely be the simpler appliance to operate, as getting the recipes right won’t require as much from you as dehydrators.

Why? Moisture.

The former are designed to cook, fry, and heat up your food, whereas the latter have been engineered to eliminate all traces of water from it.

Depending on where you live, both the environment, and the products you purchase might contain higher or lower levels of moisture.

This can affect the recommended dehydration times for every ingredient, and make the process of getting things right, a bit challenging. 

Air fryers are not as moisture dependent, and you’re much more likely to get the results you’re looking for without too much tweaking.

#6 Ease of Cleaning

Maintaining your appliances is essential

Another very popular concern amongst people who are looking into buying either an air fryer or a dehydrator is the cleaning and maintaining complexity.

Cleaning Air Fryer Basket
Since the air fryer is filled with raw food, the components that come in direct contact with the food should be cleaned after every use.

Ideally, you’ll want to clean the basket or tray in either of them every day. This will not only make for perfectly hygienic operating conditions, but also keep away unwanted smells and tastes.

When talking about basic maintenance, both appliances should not give you too much trouble, as removing the components where you cook your food is fairly simple.

That being said, from time to time you’ll likely find bits and pieces stuck to the tray or basket, which you’ll have to carefully remove.

Both appliances are prone to getting regularly dirty from crumbs, dripping sauce or fruit juice, so neither will let you off the hook when it comes to keeping them squeaky clean.

If you want to learn more about the more complex, internal cleaning processes that both an air fryer, and a dehydrator require, you can find tons of online resources about them.

#7 Durability

Last, but definitely not least, is the concept of durability.

Even if you’re buying the most basic models, you’re still spending your hard-earned money, so you want your appliance to last as long as possible in optimal condition, right?

As I said before, as long as you buy your appliance from a reputable seller and brand, it should work perfectly under normal operating conditions for the years to come. That being said, it’s always a good idea to look into the warranty options you can get.

Both air fryers and dehydrators will usually come with a 1-year warrant for the parts inside them, and they will offer expansion options for up to 10 years, depending on the model you purchase; however, these can be voided quite easily if not operated under your manufacturer’s instructions.

Given you buy from a reputable seller, all appliances are built to last. How long they function will depend much more on the use you give them, than on the model you buy.


Choosing between two very similar appliances can be challenging. Especially when you’re on a budget.

When trying to decide between air fryers, and dehydrators, nothing will matter more than your personal preferences, eating habits, and household settings.

If you’re someone who loves healthier alternatives to greasy snacks, an air fryer will be a godsend, whereas if you want to avoid artificial additives, love making your own preserves, and eating beef jerky, a dehydrator will be the best investment you’ve ever made.

Thank you for reading, if you found this article useful, why not check out our other great pieces below?

Happy shopping!