Fruit leather, also known as fruit roll-ups or fruit strips, is a tasty and healthy snack that’s fun to make at home. Having the right dehydrator can make all the difference in getting the perfect fruit leather texture. In this article, we’ll cover the top 5 Best dehydrator for fruit leather based on extensive testing and reviews.
Fruit leather is made by pureeing fresh fruits into a smooth paste or liquid, and then dehydrating it until it forms a chewy, leathery texture. It’s naturally sweetened by the fruit sugars, contains no added preservatives, and is much healthier than store-bought fruit snacks. Plus, you can customize fruit leather with your mix of favorite fruits.
Using a dehydrator is the best method for making high-quality fruit leather at home. Dehydrators gently remove moisture from the fruit purees by circulating hot air around the trays at optimal temperatures between 130-140 degrees F. This allows the fruit to dry out slowly and evenly, preventing burning or hardening.
Dehydrators provide much better results than using your oven to make fruit leathers since they offer more precise temperature control, increased airflow, and multiple stackable trays. Ovens often dry out the edges too quickly before the centers are done.
When shopping for the best dehydrator for fruit leather, key factors to consider include the temperature range, number of trays, size of trays, and extra features like timers. We’ve compiled this list of the top 5 dehydrators that check off all the boxes for making perfect fruit leathers every time.
Best Dehydrator for Fruit Leather
- 5 BPA-free plastic trays (13 inches diameter) provide 700 square inches of drying space
- Adjustable thermostat from 95°F to 160°F for fine temperature control
- 600-watt top-mounted fan circulates air downward evenly
- Converge-flow drying system helps speed up drying time
- 48-hour timer with auto shut-off
- Opaque exterior blocks light and locks in heat
The Nesco Snackmaster Pro FD-75A is our top pick for the best dehydrator for fruit leather due to its unbeatable performance. This rugged American-made model features a patented Converga-Flow drying system that utilizes a top-mounted 760-watt fan and 600 watts of heating power. The pressurized airflow circulates heat evenly across all 5 BPA-free plastic trays, measuring 13.5 inches in diameter.
We found the adjustable thermostat from 95°F to 160°F ideal for dialing in the optimal 130-140°F temperature for fruit leathers. The opaque Vita-Save exterior also prevents light from degrading nutrients and colors. At $85-100 depending on accessories, this dehydrator can churn out piles of flawless fruit rolls thanks to vertical airflow and horizontal drying chambers.
- Temperature adjustable from 105-165 degrees F
- Includes 15 square feet of tray space on 9 BPA-free trays
- Back-mounted fan and heating element don’t drip on food
- Parallex horizontal airflow system for fast, even drying
- On/off switch and 26-hour timer
The expansive Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Dehydrator offers the largest capacity on our list, with a total of 15 square feet of tray space. Its 9 BPA-free trays measure 13 by 15 inches each and slide into four individual drying chambers heated by a rear-mounted 600-watt element.
Excalibur’s patented Para-Flex horizontal airflow design and 26-hour timer deliver fast, even drying across all trays. The adjustable thermostat ranges from 105°F to 165°F. Though a bit pricy, this commercial-quality pick can handle the highest fruit leather volumes. The fan does run noticeably louder than other models.
With nine big trays, you can make piles of fruit leather in one go. The Excalibur maintains steady, low heat ideal for fruit leathers thanks to its rear-mounted heating unit. We did find it louder and less user-friendly than the Nesco, but no other dehydrator matches its huge capacity.
- Adjustable thermostat set between 90-155 degrees F
- See-through lid to monitor drying
- 4 transparent, dishwasher-safe plastic trays
- Nesting design for compact storage
- Automatic shutoff and timer options
For a budget-friendly option under $60, the Presto Dehydro Dehydrator 06300 excels at smaller fruit leather batches. Also, Four transparent Nestabe trays measuring 12.5 by 15 inches slide into a vertical stack. The see-through cover and tray material let you monitor drying progress.
Another feature that might interest you about the dehydrator, is its adjustable thermostat ranges between 90-155°F, while the bottom-mounted fan and heating element provide steady air circulation. additionally, it features an automatic 4-hour timer that shuts off the unit for safety.
While only having 4 trays limits batch size, we were impressed with how evenly the Presto dried fruit leathers without sticking or burning. The nesting design saves cabinet space, and the transparent lid makes it easy to monitor progress. Just be prepared for longer drying times with its less powerful fan.
- Adjustable temperature from 95-158 degrees F
- 5 transparent trays with mesh screens
- Rotating tray system for even drying
- Overheating protection shutoff
- 30-hour timer and adjustable fan
This is a great starter model for fruit leather novices or beginners looking to get into making homemade dried fruit.
The NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine is an excellent option for DIY enthusiasts who want to get into making their own healthy dried snacks at home. With 5 stackable trays and an adjustable temperature range of 95°F to 158°F, it can tackle everything from fruit leathers to beef jerky with ease.
I really like the 360° rotational drying technology which prevents uneven drying by rotating the trays during operation. The see-through trays make it easy to monitor progress without having to open it up. Speaking of opening, the trays and lid are super simple to wipe clean after use.
The adjustable thermostat gives you precise control over the drying process. For fruit leathers, I find 135°F works perfectly to dry the purees without cooking them. The 30-hour timer is also handy for setting it and forgetting it. Once done, the trays are neatly stacked for compact storage.
For under $60, the NutriChef dehydrator delivers excellent performance for the price. The multiple trays let you make decent-sized batches. Just be prepared for a little noise from the fan.
- Fixed temperature of 130 degrees F
- 5 stackable trays provide a spacious drying area
- BPA-free plastic for tray construction
- Rear-mounted fan for consistent air circulation
- Opaco lid blocks light
Hamilton Beach’s 32100A digital food dehydrator provides a user-friendly option for anyone seeking an affordable machine If you only make small fruit leather batches occasionally at home. With 5 BPA-free plastic stackable trays each measuring 13 x 12.5 inches, it offers ample drying space in a compact footprint.
This dehydrator’s key feature is the adjustable thermostat with a wide range of 95°F to 155°F, making it versatile for drying all types of foods. However, for fruit leathers, 135°F yields the perfect chewy texture in my experience. The 48-hour timer with auto shutoff provides peace of mind during longer drying times.
The top-mounted fan isn’t the most powerful at only 500 watts, but I found it maintains enough steady airflow for even drying as long as you don’t overload trays. One downside is the noise which can get loud when the fan is on high speed.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Dehydrator for Fruit Leather
When selecting a dehydrator for making fruit leather, there are a few key factors to keep in mind:
Temperature Range and Controls: You want a dehydrator that allows setting the temperature precisely between 130-140 degrees F, which is ideal for fruit leather. Models with adjustable thermostats give you better control.
Number of Trays: More stackable trays allow you to make larger fruit leather batches at once. Look for models with 5-10 trays. Just keep in mind that the more trays, the longer the drying time.
Tray Material: Most dehydrator trays are made of plastic or stainless steel. Both allow you to line them with fruit leather sheets or parchment paper. Stainless steel is more durable.
Size of Trays: Standard trays are around 13×11 inches. Bigger trays mean you can make larger fruit leather sheets. But smaller trays are more flexible.
Added Features: Timers, different fan speeds, and transparent doors can be useful additions for fruit leather making. But they aren’t necessities.
Price: Dehydrator prices range from $40-$200+ depending on size, features, and durability. Set your budget, but don’t sacrifice quality.
Brand: Stick with well-known brands like Excalibur, Nesco, Presto, Hamilton Beach, Nutrichef, etc. for the best performance.
Warranty: A 1-5 year warranty on parts indicates a quality product built to last.
By keeping these factors and features in mind as you shop, you’ll be sure to select the right dehydrator that meets your needs and budget for fruit leather making.
How Does a Dehydrator Work for Fruit Leather?
Dehydrators are small electric appliances designed to remove moisture from foods to preserve them and create dried snacks. They work by using a heating element and fan to produce a continuous flow of warm air that circulates the trays loaded with food.
For making fruit leathers, dehydrators are typically set between 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the fruit puree to dry out slowly without cooking it. The constant air flow ensures even drying so no spots end up under-dried or burned.
The warm, dry air emitted from the dehydrator causes the water molecules in the fruit to evaporate over several hours. As the moisture leaves the puree, it thickens up and takes on a sticky, leathery texture when ready.
Most dehydrators have stackable trays made of plastic or stainless steel. This allows you to make multiple fruit leather sheets at once for greater efficiency. The fruit puree is spread thinly onto each tray before going into the dehydrator.
Nutrition Facts for Homemade Fruit Leather
One of the biggest benefits of homemade fruit leather is that you control the ingredients and nutrition. Here are the nutrition facts per1-ounce serving:
- Calories: 60-80
- Carbohydrates: 15-20g
- Sugars: 10-15g
- Fiber: 1-2g
- Protein: 1g
- Vitamin C: 10-60% DV
- Potassium: 5-10% DV
The exact nutrition profile will vary based on the types and ratios of fruits used. But fruit leathers provide a hefty dose of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants without unhealthy additives. Much healthier than store-bought versions!
Some Advantages of Using a Dehydrator Over the Oven
- More precise temperature control between 130-140 degrees F. Ovens often overshoot and scorch fruit leathers.
- Increased airflow with fans continually circulating air. This prevents soggy spots.
- Stackable trays to maximize batches. Ovens only fit 1-2 trays.
- Lower risk of burning since the temperature is distributed evenly.
For these reasons, investing in a countertop dehydrator specifically for fruit leathers can save lots of hassle and deliver perfect results every time.
Making Fruit Leather Using a Dehydrator
Once you have a quality dehydrator for fruit leather, it’s time to put it to use. Here are some tips and a step-by-step process for making perfect fruit leather:
Preparing the Fruit Puree
- Wash and remove any stems, peels, or pits from your fruit. Soft fruits like berries, mangos, bananas, and stone fruits work best.
- Puree the fruit in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Add just enough liquid like water, juice, or honey to allow blending.
- Strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove any remaining fibers or chunks.
- Spread a thin layer onto dehydrator trays lined with parchment paper or fruit leather sheets. Around 1/4 inch thick is ideal
Dehydrating the Fruit Puree
- Set the dehydrator to 130-140 degrees F. This low temperature prevents cooking the fruit.
- Stack trays in the dehydrator, leaving space between them for airflow. Stagger trays for optimal circulation.
- Dehydrate for 6-12 hours. Thinner purees will dry faster. Check periodically until leathery and not sticky.
- Remove trays and let fruit leathers cool for 10 minutes before peeling from liners.
Storing the Fruit Leather
- Wrap each fruit leather sheet in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Try to eliminate as much air exposure as possible.
- Fruit leathers can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. For longer shelf life, refrigerate or freeze leathers.
With the right ratios of fruit to liquid and optimal dehydrating temperatures, you’ll achieve the perfect balance of soft chewiness in your homemade fruit leathers. Get creative mixing fruit combinations to make new flavors!
FAQ About Making Fruit Leather
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about making fruit leather:
Q. What fruits work best for fruit leather?
A. The best fruits are those that puree smoothly like berries, stone fruits, mangos, bananas, apples, melons, etc. Avoid chunky fruits like oranges.
Q. Can you make fruit leather with vegetables?
A. Yes, you can make veggie fruit leather with tomatoes, peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, etc. Just avoid watery vegetables.
Q. How long does fruit leather last?
A. Properly stored fruit leather will last 1-2 weeks at room temp, or up to 6 months frozen. Refrigeration extends the shelf life up to 3-4 months.
Q. Can you substitute an oven for a dehydrator?
A. While possible, using the oven is much more difficult to control the temperature and airflow. Dehydrators are designed specifically for fruit leathers.
Q. What liquids can you use in fruit purees?
A. Fruit juices, honey, maple syrup, coconut water, milk, yogurt, and nut milk work well. Avoid straight water which dilutes flavor.
Q. Do you need to use a liner on dehydrator trays?
A. No, but liners like parchment paper or fruit leather sheets make removal easier. Lightly oil unlined trays first.
Q. How do you get fruit leather out of the dehydrator?
A. Let cool for 10 minutes before peeling off. Warm fruit leather is very sticky. Refrigerate trays for 30 minutes first if needed.
Q. Can you rehydrate dried-out fruit leather?
A. Unfortunately, dried-out leather can’t be recovered. The texture will never return after hardening. Best to catch it while still chewy.
Making delicious fruit leather at home has never been easier thanks to the Best Dehydrator for Fruit Leather which provides the perfect low temperature and airflow. With our guide, you now know what to look for when choosing a dehydrator specifically for fruit leathers and the steps to follow for fruit preparation, dehydration, and storage.
The Nesco Snackmaster Pro rose to the top as the best dehydrator for fruit rolls with its adjustable thermostat, powerful fan, and 5 spacious BPA-free trays. Just remember – keep puree layers thin, maintain 130-140F heat, and dry until the leather is chewy but not sticky. Become the fruit leather-making master!