Do you have a limited idea of what to prepare using a dehydrator? Want to expand your knowledge on dehydrated food ideas or dehydrator recipes?
Check out this compilation of the best things to dehydrate.
Dehydrating food goes a long way to preserving and prolonging its shelf life. After all, the process significantly pulls out the moisture content from food, allowing it to last longer. While the air fryer is certainly picking up popularity these days, they can only provide you with foods you must eat immediately.
However, prolonging the shelf life is not all dehydration will do.
It also retains the food’s delicious flavor and reduces its weight, letting you pack and store more. For example, you can dehydrate a variety of fruits and berries to add to your cereal or granola cups.
Alternatively, dried meat and vegetables pack a unique punch to soup, allowing you to enjoy flavorful food even when camping or backpacking. Unbeknownst to many people, you can dehydrate a whole plethora of different foods.
But, did you know that you can dry more than just fruits, vegetables, and beef? Check out this quirky guide to the 34 best things to dehydrate in your kitchen this year.
What To Do First With Your New Dehydrator?
Using a dehydrator is pretty simple. Most modern dehydrators feature an automated design.
So all you do is plug it into the power, dial in the drying settings, and let it do the magic. The more advanced designs even self-regulate when it comes to hot air circulation so you don’t have to shuffle around the trays.
The 50 Best Things to Dehydrate
Here are foods you won’t go wrong with dehydrating:
Fruits are undoubtedly some of the best foods to dehydrate. Thanks to their generally delicious flavor, you can eat dehydrated fruit as a healthy and flavored packed snack, use it to make candy or fruit leather, or mix it with favorite desserts like ice cream, cake, granola, or trail mixes.
The best thing about dehydrating bananas is the simple process, making it a great beginner food option. However, dehydrating bananas means that you will not enjoy the prized features that come with fresh bananas.
These include the smooth consistency it offers, perfect for preparing some of the best smoothies.
Dehydrating mangoes allow you to enjoy the tropical fruit at any time of the year. In fact, you can choose to dry different components of the fruits, whether the flesh or skin. Either way, you are guaranteed to enjoy a flavor-packed snack.
The downside to drying mango is its time-consuming process. Mango stands amongst foods that take the longest to dehydrate, typically around 7 to 15 hours, depending on the type of dehydrator used.
Apples are perhaps the most versatile fruits to dehydrate. You can use a wide variety of species like cinnamon when dehydrating food like apples to add a flavorful punch to them.
This, in turn, expands the possibilities of what you can use dried apples for. In addition to using them as snack chips, they produce the best recipes for baking or toppings on ice cream or trail mixes.
The use of dehydrated oranges goes beyond snacking. Like apples, dried oranges are pretty versatile.
However, they don’t necessarily need seasoning to produce a distinctive, flavorful taste, although some people sprinkle some spices on them. Due to their beautiful appearance and spicy citrus flavor profile, oranges make excellent decorations for cakes and other baked goods.
You can also use dried oranges for making flavorful orange tea. Furthermore, you can grind dehydrated oranges into a fine powder, turning it into a powerful flavoring to season soups and stews with.
Pro tip: If you make DIY soaps at home, you can curate the perfect ayurvedic orange soap using dried orange powder for excellent nourishing, exfoliating, and soothing properties.
Dried grapefruit packs a range of health benefits. It is a rich source of vitamin A which is vital for healthy eyesight and has multiple anti-aging properties.
However, what makes it a great dehydrating fruit option are its unusual uses. The fruit incorporates a tart, bitter, yet, assertive sweet flavor profile which works with various dish profiles.
You can oven roast it with poultry, like chicken for a juicier dish. You can also dip it in water or tea for a fresh citrus flavor or garnish it on a cocktail.
You can get a bit more creative, and dip it into chocolate fondue for a luxurious treat.
A more popular fruit, dried grapes or raisins, works great for many baked desserts, ice cream, and even savory dishes like pilaf rice. In fact, many cultures, including Greek, Indian, and Persian, integrate raisins into their culinary creations to truly make it a superstar dried fruit.
Now, with the impressive flavors of commercially available raisins pack, imagine just how much more delicious home-dried organic grapes would taste. As an added perk, you needn’t worry about added industrial sugar, making home-dried grapes ultra-healthy and nutritious.
While you can enjoy them all year long, figs are a particularly festive fruit. So, dehydrating them lets you enjoy them with your favorite festive recipes.
Serve them as part of your cheese platter when you host friends over, take them with you during your annual family camping trip, or add them to your Christmas cakes, bread, or pudding!
Adding dried berries such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries to smoothies, ice cream, or cereal adds that extra fresh and fruity punch. Plus, on occasions when you can access fresh berries, whether off-season or on a backpacking trip, dehydrated strawberries come in really handy.
As they retain optimal nutrients during the drying process, they remain a great source of antioxidants, fibers, and vitamins. In fact, according to research, fruits and berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries pack up to 3.5 times the nutrients of fresh fruit.
Various vegetables, including mushrooms, make the best foods to dehydrate. They come with a range of uses, including adding them to soups and stews.
Moreover, depending on their flavor profile and chemical structure, some dried vegetables offer excellent ingredients for preparing healthy camping and backpacking meals. Mushrooms pack proteins, fibers, and antioxidants.
You can use dried mushrooms for a variety of food options. You can create a hearty pasta and risotto dish, or mushroom omelet, and even grind it to use it as a seasoning.
Beans are perhaps the most readily available dehydrated foods on the market. In fact, most cultures worldwide practice natural bean dehydration.
You can find them in different types, including soy, red, cannellini, fava, and black beans. Dehydrated beans offer a selection of uses.
You can make stews, soups, salads, burrito bowls, hummus, and even tofu, to mention a few. The dry and light profile of beans also makes them excellent backpacking and camping food.
Pro tip: You can also dehydrate canned beans and enjoy a better flavor from the juices it is soaked in.
Potatoes are a pretty unique food option to dehydrate. Yet, they work pretty well and come in handy for various recipes.
Dried potatoes should definitely be on the list of meals to carry with you during isolated travel, like backpacking due to the versatility it offers. You can use dehydrated potatoes to make a quick casserole, hash browns, or fresh potato salads, or add them into a stew or soup.
Zucchini is a popular food to dehydrate, especially amongst people who pursue healthier eating. While the vegetable may appear basic for beginners, there are plenty of ways to make it more “interesting” when it comes to dehydrating.
You can use it to add body to your casseroles, stews, or soups, or add zucchini shreds to muffins or bread. You can also season zucchini with a blend of spices before rehydrating to make the most delicious, healthy chips.
Pro tip: For a better flavor and texture on your chips, combine dehydrated zucchini chips with seasoned dehydrated eggplant and sweet potato chips.
13. Sweet Peppers
Available in different growth stages, sweet peppers offer a variety of bitter and earthy to tangy sweet profiles.
Green peppers tend to be somewhat bitter and grassy while yellow ones tend to be sweeter. Red sweet peppers have a more subtle, earthy taste with a faint sweetness.
With these varying taste profiles, when dehydrated, sweet peppers add body to various meals. Plus, they are ultra rich in antioxidants and vitamins. You can add them to stews, toss them with rice dishes or rehydrate them and add them to salads or tacos.
You can also ground them, turning them into seasoning or dry rub powders.
Freshly dehydrated tomatoes can very easily replace store-bought sun-dried tomatoes if you want to enjoy a better flavor with zero additives or preservatives.
They offer a range of uses. You can soak them in olive oil to create a side dish, make homemade pesto, use them as a pizza topping, or toss them with salads.
You can also build dehydrated tomatoes, soaked in olive oil as part of a cheese platter. That’s just a small list of what you can do with dried tomatoes!
Fresh onions alone, no matter the type, offer a potent and bold flavor to boost your dish. Now imagine how the flavor improves as the dehydration process intensifies it by draining the moisture content.
You can use dehydrated onion flakes or powder as a seasoning for soups, stews, and rice dishes. Dried onion powder also makes an excellent ingredient for meat dry rub or marinade.
Pro tip: Onions will take substantially long to dehydrate (about 4 to 12 hours). To speed up the process, chop or slice them into tinier pieces to increase their surface area and speed of drying.
Fresh ginger keeps very well. However, dehydrated ginger stays even longer and packs easily during travel.
Dried ginger works primarily well when you want to enjoy instant spicy tea. You can also grind dried ginger and use it to season various savory dishes and sweet desserts.
Arugula doesn’t come to mind for most people regarding the best things to dehydrate. Nonetheless, this dried cruciferous vegetable packs a peppery, spicy fresh green flavor profile that enhances its versatility.
You can use it to instantly add flavor to your dressing or vinaigrette, make a herbed cream cheese dip, or add it to a herbed omelet. You can also use dried arugula flakes as a marinade for meat.
Pro tip: to spice up the flavors, combine arugula or replace it with dehydrated kale flakes.
Fresh spices and herbs are also popular foods to dehydrate. In fact, dehydrated herbs and spices offer a selection of uses.
You can use them to make teas, in baking, and as a seasoning in cooking. You can also DIY various cosmetics and self-care products using herbs.
You can use rosemary to make tea, infused cooking or salad oils, season your steak or potatoes, and make shortbread or cakes. Its skin cleansing and antibacterial properties also make it great for DIYing facial soaps and body oils.
The best part of using dehydrated herbs is their medicinal properties.
Basil is just one of these many medicinal herbs, offering respiratory health properties. You can use the herb to make tea, herb blend, or use it on its own as a seasoning herb.
Pro tip: You can blend freshly dehydrated basil with a range of other dehydrated herbs to make your own herb blends to use. For example, to make mixed herbs, simply mix dried basil with marjoram, oregano, and thyme.
To make sure you enjoy a fresh punch with every meal, pack them whole in a black pepper crushing jar so you can freshly crush them every time you need to use the herbs.
Yes! You can also dehydrate edible flowers, like dandelions. The best part of dehydrating flowers like dandelions is their low moisture content makes the process pretty quick.
You can use the dry flowers to make tea or infuse them with oils, vinegar, or honey. You can also use dandelions for baking or making frosting.
Additionally, dried dandelions add a floral essence to DIY products like hand soaps or luxurious candles. You can also mix a blend of flowers, like dandelions, and herbs to create a natural air freshener in your kitchen.
21. Ground Meat
Meat is a popular food to dehydrate and comes in handy for a variety of dishes, including stews and soups. You can also dehydrate ground meat, whether beef, chicken, or turkey.
When dried, the ground meat forms hamburger rocks that improve cooking convenience. Typically, these hamburger rocks do well in making stews, soups, casseroles, and sauces since the coking process rehydrates them, activating the flavors.
You can use beef in the dehydration process to produce various food items, depending on the technique and spices used. You can slice it for deli-style or cured dried beef to use in sandwiches, wraps, charcuterie boards, or add to your eggs.
Alternatively, you can spice it up to create beef jerky for a delicious meaty snack.
Fresh chicken is another excellent dehydration food option to use when you hit the road. It goes pretty well with various foods including rice, vegetables, stews, and soups. You can choose to season the chicken before dehydration or pair it with rice for a completely dried meal.
Pro tip: If you want to dehydrate chicken and rice for a complete meal, soak rice in a chicken broth (with zero fat) before drying it for explosive flavor.
Dehydrated fish is popular across many cultures on all inhabited continents. The only difference is each culture uses its process and recipe.
A dehydrator offers a simple way to easily dry fish and even experiment with different seasonings. You can add fish to stews, fish, or pasta, to mention a few.
You can also pound the fish to make flakes you can use as seasonings. For an even better seasoning flavor, mix the fish with favorite spices and herbs before seasoning.
Pro tip: Use a dehydrator to sample fish drying recipes from different cultures. You can start with Chinese-style salted fish or Scandinavian lutefisk.
When it comes to unusual food to dehydrate, pasta does stand out. You can dehydrate fresh homemade pasta to prolong its shelf life just like store-bought packaged pasta.
The best part of making and dehydrating your own pasta is you can make it however you want. You can also dehydrate complete one-pot meals you can easily rehydrate and heat up in minutes.
You can mix fresh pasta, meat, and vegetables. For a complete meal, add powdered sauces after dehydration before you store the meal away.
While it may seem dry on its own, bread is still short-lived. Therefore, dehydrating it extends its lifespan.
You can use dried bread for a variety of dishes. You can add seasonings and even sprinkle olive oil before dehydrating to make fun croutons to toss with your salads.
You can also use the bread as filler for meatballs or stuffing or as breading for chicken and fish dishes.
Joining a list of unusual foods to dehydrate is yogurt. Dehydrating it is pretty simple, like making ice cream on a flat pan.
Simply pour it in thin layers on a sheet pan before dehydrating. You can eat dried yogurt as a snack or use its flakes as a protein powder in smoothies or baking.
Dehydrating fresh milk turns it into powdered milk, giving it a longer shelf life.
Like fresh milk, you can use powdered milk in various dishes. You can add it to tea, cereal, baking pastries, puddings, custards, and even mashed potatoes.
After all, it maintains the same nutrients and flavor as fresh milk. Plus, you can easily pack it in a container and Ziploc bag for easy travel.
Pro tip: Rehydrate the milk by stirring in a tablespoon of milk with a cup of water to enjoy a glass of full cream milk.
29. French Toast
You read this right! You can dehydrate French toast. Start by preparing it the way you would and refrigerate each piece.
Once done, brush it with syrup, like simple, maple, or honey. Next, cut the toasts into small bite-size pieces and dehydrate them.
You can eat dehydrated French toast as a snack or cereal. Alternatively, you can add it as a topping to your ice cream.
As unusual as it may sound, you can dehydrate fresh eggs. In fact, you can use dehydrated eggs the same way you use fresh eggs, like making an omelet, cakes, bread, or casseroles.
Moreover, dehydrated eggs offer all the nutrients that come with fresh eggs like protein, antibacterial, and immune-boosting properties. All you do is rehydrate them with water when ready for use.
So, the next time you go for a week-long backpacking trip, you no longer have to worry about not enjoying your breakfast eggs like you would at home.
Dehydrating honey eliminates the risks of discoloration or crystallizing, allowing you to enjoy it for long. The process also prevents bacterial activity, helping retain the intoxicatingly sweet honey taste.
Dried honey has many applications. You can use it as a sweetener, sprinkle it on ice cream or frozen yogurt, dust it on with fruits to dehydrate or replace brown sugar in baking.
While wine has a long shelf life, you can still dehydrate it to make your favorite snack recipes. The process removes the alcohol content but retains the wine’s flavor and notes.
Dehydrated wine goes particularly well with fruits like strawberries and apples which you can mix with sugar to make delicious booze-infused wine fruit leather.
33. Organ Meats
You can also use your dehydrator to make fun snacks for your pet dog. Liver and heart don’t have the most pleasant aroma when fresh.
However, they make the best doggy treats. Season liver and hearts with a spice or herb blend before dehydrating them for scrumptious dog treats.
34. Fire Starters
You can also use your dehydrator to prepare tools to help you cook. Want to achieve a unique, Michelin star worth smoky flavor on your food?
You can do so with orange-scented fire starters. Simply peel out the orange skin and toss it into the dehydrator.
Once dried, it produces a pleasant citrusy aroma. The dried orange peel becomes flammable as the dehydrating process concentrates the oil on the skin.
Add it with wood into a fire pit before you smoke your briskets for the perfect smoky BBQ aroma!
The possibilities of the best things to dehydrate in your home are endless. When you dehydrate food, you are choosing a cost-effective way to prolong the shelf life of your favorite ingredients.
Moreover, the reduction of moisture and waste allows you to carry dehydrated food for backpacking, hiking, and camping trips.
However, the fun part is you can really get creative and have fun with the food you dry, whether dehydrating spicy fish for seasoning or an herb blend for homemade infused oils.