Last Updated Jan 2020 – Excalibur food dehydrators have long enjoyed a glowing reputation in the world of food dehydration. With tons of reports online of people using their Excaliburs for decades without problems, it seems as though the reputation is well deserved. This review will help you find the perfect model to fit your needs.
Early in my culinary career, I was eager to create. Like so many young chefs, I went home and turned the kitchen in my tiny apartment into a laboratory. Playing with spices and ingredients that I had never heard of, I forced inedible disasters on my unsuspecting friends hoping they would say something like “It just needs a little less salt.”
The worst of my mad scientist experiments was when I decided to build my own food dehydrator. My research was limited because it was the early days of the internet, but I took a trip to the hardware store to create my dehydrating Frankenstein.
1 box fan, 3 HVAC filters, a roll of screen, and some bungee cords later, I was back in my kitchen. Cutting squares from the screen and placing them on top of the filters, I built 3 “food trays”. I placed the fan, facing up, on top of 4 unopened cans of beans on my counter. Next, I stacked my homemade trays (with sliced fruit on each one) on top of each other and secured them with bungee cords.
After a few hours with the fan running, I could smell hints of apple and banana. I was anxious to see my fruit, but I didn’t want to disturb the contraption. After 8 hours, I checked the fruit. Despite the pleasant aroma that had now taken over my apartment, the fruit was brown, chewy, and moist.
It was a disaster!
But every experiment is a success as long as you learn from your mistakes. The lesson this time? You have to have the right tool for the job. I’m not saying you have to run out and buy only the finest knives or the latest technology, but you have to understand that you get what you pay for. I think that’s an important aspect of the Excalibur food dryers.
Excalibur food dehydrators have many “high-end” features, but it is important to realize that these features are also high-quality. Zone drying and memory settings are just a couple of examples of well thought out functions unique to the Excalibur brand.
Excalibur Dehydrator Comparison
The Excalibur RES10 pulls out all the stops. The reverse LCD display is backlit for a crystal clear readout. The thermostat has a wide range that spans 85 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit while the timer can be set up to 99 hours and 59 minutes. The display also has a set of 30 programmable recipes which are combinations of temperatures and times.
Think of it as a favorites tag for your recipe index.
The design is deliberate and time-tested as Excalibur has been building food dehydrators for decades.
Features : 600W back-mounted fan, 10 dishwasher-safe trays, 9.3 sq ft of drying space, 10-year limited warranty, clear double opening doors, digital display with adjustable thermostat range 85-165 F and timer up to 99 hours 59 min, dual zone drying, programmable display saves up to 30 recipes settings.
Reviews: 4.5 of 5
Pros: The design of this dehydrator model has a number of benefits. The back-mounted fan prolongs life because the drippings from the ingredients don’t spill on to the heating element like bottom-mounted fans. The square shape and design of the trays maximize the drying space and help keep air flowing.
The RES10 also received a lot of praise for its durability with reports of some lasting 35 years.
Most impressively, the digital display and computer make this machine highly versatile. The dual zone drying feature allows you to cook two different recipes within the same cycle. This feature is rare air in the world of food dehydrators.
Cons: a handful of reports about the fan burning out in the first year seemed more like the exception to the rule than the norm. Most complaints about this machine pertained to the double opening doors. They are in fact plastic, not glass, which is a little disappointing when you consider the high level of craftsmanship on the rest of the machine..
For the serious dehydrators out there, this model is worth your consideration.
If you are an adventurous cook that wants a dehydrator they can grow with, this model is definitely a good choice. Finally, if you are planning on putting some serious mileage on your new dehydrator, this model may be the one for you.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the RES10, the Excalibur 3526TB is a very basic model. But don’t let the subtle appearance fool you, it delivers on performance.
Looking more like an old portable turntable than a food dehydrator, this flat black box is a great option for young professionals and small families, alike. A 440 Watt fan is by no means a powerful unit but, considering the smaller drying area, it is more than up to the task.
Make no mistake, 8 square feet of drying space can produce a lot of food in one cycle, but compared to other models of Excalibur it is on the smaller side.
Features: 440W, 5-inch fan, 5 tray system, Temperature and timer settings with a thermostat range of 105-165 degrees Fahrenheit and 26-hour timer, 8 sq feet of drying space,
Reviews: 4.2 out of 5 stars
Pros: The simple design makes this model very easy to use. Simply turn the thermostat to the desired temperature and then set the timer. Reviewers also commented on how easy the machine is to clean. Removable trays and a wide front opening make it accessible for a solid scrubbing.
There was also a lot of positive feedback on the overall performance of this machine.
Cons: A few users complained that there was not enough space between shelves. One user said he only used 2 or 3 of the trays per cycle to compensate for the tight space.
There were also complaints that the plastic trays were flimsy. I think the big takeaways on this flat, low-profile food dehydrator is its simplicity and compact design. This machine seems tailored for the occasional user who doesn’t need to produce a ton of product.
A step up from the Excalibur 3526TB, the 3900B offers a bigger fan (600 Watt) for a larger dehydrator. This 9 tray excalibur dehydrator provides 15 square feet of drying space. The 3900B has another added advantage of the previous model, too.
The patented Hyperwave Technology and Horizontal Parallex Airflow create an even distribution of circulation that regulates temperatures and prevents mold and spoilage.
Features: 600W 7-inch fan back mounted with Hyperwave Technology and Horizontal Parallex Airflow, a 9-tray system with 15 sq ft of drying space, temperature settings dial with a range of 105-165 degrees Fahrenheit, 10-year warranty.
Reviews: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Pros: The back-mounted fan prolongs the life of this dehydrator because the drippings from ingredients fall onto a drip tray, not the element. The poly-screen trays are easy to clean and durable making clean-up and storage a breeze. Over the span of multiple sites, there are wide reports of impressive performance and consistency in operation.
Cons: One man’s treasure is another man’s trash, I suppose. There were quite a few complaints that this dehydrator was too large. The simple solution to that problem, of course, is to buy the 3526TB.
However, the biggest problem is the lack of a timer on this machine. Although it is easy to buy a plug-in timer (like the ones you use for Christmas lights), it seems like such an easy thing to add when you look at the control panel.
Other than that, there were a handful of reports that the fan broke after the first use, but there were not enough reports to warrant any real concern.
The basic design and large drying space are great for someone who makes large batches of fairly simple recipes. Good for camping trips, outdoor group activities, teachers, and even large families, this machine will crank out evenly dehydrated food in mass quantities with each cycle.
I could see avid gardeners, hunters, and foragers loving this model to preserve the fruits of their labor for months on end.
This Excalibur 3926TB is in the same vein as the 3900B and 3526TB with its flat profile and minimalist look. The burnt orange coloring of the control panel lends to the retro aesthetic of the machine as a whole.
While the 3926TB looks like the previous two models on the list, it combines the best features of both making it the best investment for someone looking for something larger than a personal food dehydrator.
The 600 Watt fan provides plenty of power to properly circulate air around the 15 square feet of drying space. The same Hyperwave Technology and Horizontal Parralex Airflow on the 3900B is used on this machine for even dehydration, while the 26-hour timer dial from the 3526TB lets you “set it and forget it” as they said in the old infomercials.
The real difference between this model and the 3900B is simply the timer feature. Otherwise, this machine has the same high standard of performance as the others.
Features: 600W 7-inch fan rear-mounted with Hyperwave Technology and Horizontal Parralex Airflow, a 9-tray system with 15 sq ft of drying space, temperature settings dial (105-165), 26-hour timer dial, 10- year warranty
Reviews: 4.5 of 5
Pros: Capable of drying large amounts of food in one shot, this machine is easy to use and clean. Removable trays and spacious interior make all surfaces accessible for scrubbing.
There were multiple glowing reviews about this machine’s durability and ability to run for hours and hours on end.
Cons: The nature of the turning thermostat dial leads to inexact temperatures.
There were also a few reports of it being loud while operating. Most poor reviews were in reference to the bulky nature of this dehydrator, although it is unavoidable in a dehydrator capable of pumping out so much food.
The Parallex Horizontal Airflow draws in cool air, heats it, and distributes it evenly over the trays. Meanwhile, the Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology keeps food temperatures low to evenly dry food and prevent mold, yeast, and spoilage.
Great for hunters, gardeners, bakers, and large families, this machine is highly versatile and able to handle almost any dehydration recipe.
While an Excalibur food dehydrator may put a larger dent in your wallet than other brands, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck. The RES10 is a dehydrator in its own category with the smart technology LCD display panel and dual-zone drying. There is ample room to hang jerky, layoutfruit roll-up sheets, or take advantage of the dual-zone by mixing and matching.
Meanwhile, the classic look of the other models keeps things simple without sacrificing quality. Although you don’t get the extra features of the RES10, these machines provide sophisticated drying technology to ensure safely dehydrated ingredients.
Benefits of Using Food Dehydrators
The health benefits of dehydrating your own food don’t just come from the ingredients you put into the machine, but also from the ingredients you leave out. Drying your food instead of buying it means you’re cutting out unhealthy additives like food colorings, artificial flavors, and preservatives.
The benefits extend to the environment, as well.
For every batch of trail mix you dry, there’s one less cardboard box and ten fewer wrappers in the trash can. But, quite possibly the best benefit of all is the money you save from dehydrating food.
Just walk into a grocery store and compare the price of dried apricots to the price of a regular apricot, the difference is staggering. The savings from the Excalibur jerky dehydrator alone essentially pays for the machine.
We hope this Excalibur food dehydrator review was helpful in your decision-making process. If you are considering a dehydrator for occasional use, or if you are having trouble committing to a healthier way of eating, you may want to look at a lower echelon of machines.
However, if the idea of opening new culinary avenues excites you, these models would make a great addition to your kitchen.