The Ultimate Guide to Dehydrating Food in an Air Fryer

The complete guide to dehydrating in an air fryer

Air fryers have gained immense popularity worldwide as a versatile kitchen appliance. Originally designed for oil-free frying, air fryers have evolved to offer a range of cooking methods, including food dehydration. This comprehensive guide explores the process of dehydrating in an air fryer, compares it to traditional methods, and provides tips for successful dehydration.

Can you dehydrate food in an air fryer?

Yes, it is possible to dehydrate food in an air fryer. To do this, set the fryer to its lowest temperature or use the dehydration setting if available. Place the food in a single layer and allow to dry for 2-4 hours, depending on the type of food being dehydrated.

Traditional food dehydration methods

Throughout history, several traditional methods have been used to dehydrate food. These methods include air drying, wind drying, sun drying, and smoking.

Air Drying

Air drying is a common method that uses ventilation to remove moisture from food. This process takes place indoors without exposure to sunlight or wind. Foods to be dried are placed in a well-ventilated room or enclosed area and left to dry for several days or even weeks. Air drying is especially good for drying herbs, mushrooms, and hot peppers.

Wind Drying

Similar to air drying, wind drying uses natural wind to dry food. Food is hung on hooks or strings in a shaded outdoor area and allowed to dry gradually over a period of days or weeks. While wind drying can expose food to various elements, practitioners of this method often employ strategies to protect ingredients from pests and adverse weather conditions.

Sun Drying

Sun drying is another traditional method in which food is placed in a secure outdoor area to dry. The food is exposed to sunlight for several days, with periodic turning to ensure even drying. Common ingredients suitable for sun drying include cocoa beans, coffee beans, herbs, fruits and vegetables.


Smoking is a process that combines dehydration with flavor enhancement. Primarily used for meats, smoking involves exposing the food to smoke while removing moisture. Unlike the other methods mentioned, smoking is not suitable for most fruits, vegetables and herbs, as these ingredients require different conditions for optimal dehydration.

New methods of food dehydration

In addition to traditional methods, modern techniques have been developed to improve food dehydration. These methods are designed with safety and convenience in mind, and address challenges such as contamination and longer drying times.

Microwave Drying

Microwaves can be used to effectively dehydrate herbs. While they generate intense heat that can result in overcooked rather than dried foods, herbs can be quickly dehydrated using this method. To dehydrate herbs in the microwave, place the sprigs between paper towels and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, checking for dryness when it cools.

Oven Drying

Oven drying is a popular household method that is accessible and versatile. Although it may take longer to dry than other methods, ovens can effectively dehydrate a wide range of foods. Set the oven to about 140°F, or the lowest temperature available, and make sure the door is slightly ajar to allow for air circulation. Place food in a single layer on a tray and use a fan to promote even drying.


Dehydrators are technologically advanced appliances specifically designed to dehydrate food. These appliances use electricity and a built-in fan to circulate air, allowing for faster and more efficient drying compared to other methods. Dehydrators have multiple levels of mesh screens, making it possible to dehydrate large quantities of food evenly.

Air fryers and how they work

Despite their name, air fryers are not deep fryers in the traditional sense. They are countertop convection ovens that mimic the effects of frying by circulating hot air at high speeds. This circulating hot air causes browning and crisping on the outer layer of food, making air fryers popular for achieving a deep-fried texture without excessive oil consumption.

How air fryers work

Air fryers rely primarily on a combination of a heating element and a fan. The heating element generates intense heat inside the fryer’s chamber, reaching temperatures of up to 482°F. The fan distributes the hot air evenly for even cooking and crisping.

Drying in an air fryer

Air fryers can be used effectively to dehydrate food, especially when compared to other methods such as microwave or oven drying. To dehydrate food in an air fryer, set the temperature to the lowest setting or use the special dehydration setting, if available. Place the food in a single layer on the tray or basket of the air fryer, allowing for proper airflow. Depending on the type of food being dehydrated, the drying time can range from 2-4 hours.

Benefits of air fryer dehydration

Dehydrating in an air fryer offers several advantages over traditional methods:

  1. Time efficiency: Air fryers typically have shorter drying times compared to other methods, allowing for faster food dehydration.
  2. Space Saving: Air fryers are compact and take up minimal counter space, making them a convenient option for those with limited kitchen space.
  3. Energy efficient: Air fryers use less energy than ovens or dehydrators, making them a greener choice.
  4. Versatility: Air fryers are multifunctional appliances that can not only dehydrate, but also cook a variety of other foods, adding versatility to the kitchen.

Tips for successful air fryer dehydration

For best results when dehydrating in an air fryer, follow these tips:

  1. Use the correct temperature: Set the air fryer to the lowest temperature or use the special dehydration setting, if available. This will help maintain the nutritional value of the food and prevent overcooking.
  2. Arrange food in a single layer: Properly space food on the fryer tray or basket to ensure adequate airflow and even drying.
  3. Check for dryness: Check the food periodically during the drying process to ensure that it has reached the desired level of dryness. The time required may vary depending on the type and thickness of the food.
  4. Rotate food: If necessary, rotate or flip food during the drying process to promote even drying.
  5. Store properly: Once food is dehydrated, allow it to cool completely before storing in airtight containers or resealable bags. Proper storage will help maintain the quality of the food and extend its shelf life.


Dehydrating food in an air fryer is a convenient and time-efficient method that produces excellent results. While traditional methods of food dehydration have their merits, air fryers offer a practical alternative with added benefits such as faster drying times, space-saving design, energy efficiency, and versatility. By following the proper techniques and tips outlined in this guide, you can successfully dehydrate a wide variety of foods in an air fryer, opening up new possibilities for preserving and enjoying your favorite ingredients.


Can any type of food be dehydrated in an air fryer?

Yes, you can dehydrate a wide variety of foods in an air fryer, including fruit, vegetables, herbs and even meats such as jerky. However, it’s important to consider the size and thickness of the food to ensure even drying.

What temperature should I set my air fryer to for drying?

Set your air fryer to its lowest temperature or use the dedicated drying setting if available. This is usually between 32°C and 49°C (90°F to 120°F). Low temperatures help preserve the nutritional value of food and prevent overcooking.

How long does it take to dehydrate food in an air fryer?

Drying time can vary depending on the type and thickness of the food. In general, it takes about 2-4 hours to dehydrate food in an air fryer. However, it’s important to check the food regularly for dryness and adjust the time accordingly.

Do I need to flip or rotate the food during the drying process?

It is recommended that you flip or rotate food during the dehydration process, especially if it is thicker or if you notice uneven drying. This ensures that all sides of the food are exposed to the circulating air, which promotes even drying.

How should I store dehydrated food after using the air fryer?

Once the food has been completely dehydrated and cooled, store it in airtight containers or resealable bags to maintain its quality and extend its shelf life. Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

Can I dehydrate more than one type of food at a time in an air fryer?

Yes, you can dehydrate several types of food at the same time in an air fryer, as long as they require similar drying times and temperatures. However, it’s important to ensure that there is enough space between the foods to allow for proper airflow and even drying.