food dehydrator and air fryer

Air Fryer vs Dehydrator: What is the Difference?

food dehydrator and air fryer

What is the difference between an air fryer and a food dehydrator? Do you need both? This post will explain the difference between these two kitchen appliances and why you might want to purchase them.

Air Fryers

An air fryer is a cooking appliance containing a heating element and a powerful fan introduced in 2010. Air fryers have become wildly popular because food can be cooked quickly with fewer calories and fat than a deep fryer. These appliances come in two main configurations. Those with cooking baskets and those resembling convection ovens. Multi-functional models allow baking, toasting, dehydrating, and more. Air fryers cook food around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, producing a browned, crispy crust and a juicy center.

Is Cooking in an Air-Fryer Healthy

Many people believe foods cooked in an air-fryer are automatically healthier. This is not necessarily true. It all depends on what type of food you start with. If you cook processed frozen foods such as french fries or fried mozzarella sticks in your air-fryer, you will still end up with processed food. There have also been concerns over air fryers increasing the risk of burned foods. Charring is thought to increase cancer risk. A study done in 2015 found that air-frying potatoes and other starchy foods can decrease the production of acrylamide by 90% when compared to deep-fat frying.1

Acrylamide is thought to cause pancreatic cancer in humans. It has also been linked to other types of cancers in animals.

Another study published in 2017 found that cooking sardines in an air fryer can produce cholesterol-oxidizing products or COPs. These substances have been linked to chronic heart disease and cancer. This study also showed adding fresh aromatic herbs to the sardines decreased the production of COPs.2

This is another reason to use fresh herbs while cooking.

The advantages of Air fryers

  • Food can be cooked more quickly.
  • Less fat and calories than deep frying.
  • Most appliances are easy to clean.
  • Very easy to use.

The Best Air Fryers

I have done a lot of research on air fryers and currently own two. I have one in my main house and another in my beach apartment. Air fryers produce delicious food. This cooking method is ideal for chicken, pork chops, and homemade french fries. I have listed my favorite air fryers below. When purchasing one of these appliances, consider the following:

Amount of counter space available.

  • Size of the family to feed.
  • Other settings (toaster, convection oven, rotisserie, bake, etc.
  • Ease of cleaning.
  • Energy consumption.
  • Budget.

This is the main air fryer I use. With this appliance, you can air fry, bake, dehydrate, toast, keep warm, and more. The Ninja Foodi also stands up when not in use, saving counter space. If you have the budget, this is the product I would suggest purchasing. We have had this model for a couple of years and use it many times per week. It does a great job.

If you are looking for a high-end appliance that looks great and is an outstanding performer, the Breville Smart Air Fryer Pro is for you! This model is more expensive than the Ninja Foodi but has many of the same functions. It also has a dehydrator setting and is the best option for kitchens with high-end appliances.

For those who are looking for a small, budget-friendly air fryer, the Cosori Air Fryer Pro LE is a great choice. This air fryer is dishwasher-safe and very quiet.

dehydrated food on tray

Food Dehydrators

A food dehydrator is an appliance that takes water out of foods. They work by circulating air at low temperatures for a prolonged period of time. This appliance contains a heating element that creates hot air. A built-in fan circulates the heated air around the food, which sits on trays inside the unit. The process of drying food slowly at low temperatures preserves the taste and nutritional content of the food. The low moisture content of the food produced by the dehydration process keeps molds, yeasts, and bacteria from spoiling the food leading to a much longer shelf-life. Dehydrated snacks in grocery stores are expensive and often contain sulfur dioxide as a preservative. Eating whole foods is always a good idea. 

The advantages of owning a food dehydrator include:

  • Dehydrated food lasts longer than hydrated food.
  • Snacks made in a dehydrator are generally healthier than those purchased in the store.
  • Only one ingredient is needed.
  • Dehydrated snacks are more flavorful and lighter.
  • Fresh herbs can be dried, producing more flavorful food and cost savings.
  • A food dehydrator can be used to make potpourri.
  • Beef Jerky, dehydrated fruit, and dried homemade pasta encourage eating whole foods, which decreases the consumption of harmful food additives and chemicals.
  • Money can be saved by dehydrating food before it spoils.

A conventional oven is not a good choice when dehydrating food because the temperature is too high to dry the food correctly. Low heat is required to produce delicious dried foods. Food dehydrators also use less energy than a traditional oven. 

Types of food dehydrators

Food dehydrators come in two different configurations. Those with pull-out shelves and those with shelves that stack. It is just a matter of preference, as both functions fine. As mentioned above, you can also purchase an air fryer that functions as a food dehydrator as well. If you have the budget, this is my recommendation. The Ninja Foodi and the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro are great options for both functions. See our other recommendations for food dehydrators below. 

This beautiful, high-end appliance can dry thin slices of fruits and vegetables. You can also use it to make beef jerky, dried herbs, and more. This unit has 11 Trays with plenty of Drying Space.

The Elite Gourmet is for you if you are looking for a budget-friendly food dehydrator. The Elite Gourmet has a compact size and a temperature range from 95ºF to 158ºF. It works very well and is available at a low price.

There is a big difference between an air fryer and a food dehydrator. Air fryers use high heat for cooking foods quickly, while food dehydrators remove water from foods with low heat over a long period of time. As mentioned in this post, some air fryers have a dehydrator function available. I have listed my favorite appliances for air frying, dehydrating foods, and a combination of the two. I use my air fryers weekly and find a significant difference in the taste of the food. My favorite thing to cook is chicken breast. I use the chicken to make wraps, salads, and chicken burritos throughout the week. In 20 minutes, I can have perfectly cooked chicken breast. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me using the link below.


Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.