How to Build an Electric Food Dehydrator

Updated February 21, 2017

Many people enjoy the taste of dried foods such as trail mixes and beef jerky. They can be store bought but they are never as fresh as homemade. Store-bought electric food dehydrators may be bought at a considerable price but usually under £65 for a fairly good one. Or an electric food dehydrator can be jerry-rigged using a few household supplies and/or a few new items for a fairly low cost. The little amount of money and preparation is well worth the wait for fresh- and delicious-tasting dehydrator food for a fraction of the cost of store-bought and processed foods. This guide shows how to create a simple electric food dehydrator.

Prepare the food ingredients. Marinate meat or vegetables or fruit (if desired). Remove the ingredients from the marinade brine and pat dry. Fruits and vegetables have more moisture content, so they need to be tried more thoroughly before placing them into the food dehydrator.

Prepare the hardware supplies. A box fan, two paper air conditioner filters, two metal cooling rack screens and two bungee cords are needed to create the electric food dehydrator. Get a large box, at least 2 foot square in size. Get two metal cooling rack screens, approximately 10 by 16 inches or larger. Buy two new and clean paper air conditioner filters; make sure that they are paper and close to the size of the metal cooling rack screens (it does not need to be an exact fit). Get two rubber bungee cords with metal or plastic hooks on the ends.

Create the filter set-up. Place the ingredients in one layer onto one of the cooling rack screens. Sandwich the ingredients with another cooling rack screen. Make sure that the two cooling rack screens are flat against each other with the ingredients in between. Place the cooling rack screen set-up onto one of the paper air conditioner filters. Place the other paper air-conditioner filter on top of the cooling rack screens.

Complete the food dehydrator. Lay the box fan flat on its side and place the filters set-up onto the top of the fan so that it is flat against the side of the fan. Strap the filter set-up onto the fan with two bungee cords.

Operate the food dehydrator. Stand the box fan and filter set-up into an upright position. Plug the electrical cord of the fan into to the electrical socket. Turn the fan on to a medium setting and allow the ingredients to dry for about 8 to 12 hours, depending on the moisture content of the ingredients. Meat takes longer than fruit or vegetables, so the meat will probably take about 12 hours and fruits and vegetables about 8 to 10 hours.


Dried food can be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for about three months.


Be sure that the meat is thoroughly dried to avoid bacteria.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 metal cooling rack screens
  • 2 paper air-conditioner filters
  • 1 box fan
  • 2 bungee cords
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

John Gugie has been a freelance writer for a decade. His work is diverse, from editorials and research papers to entertainment, humor and more. He holds a degree in finance from Moravian College of Pennsylvania. He writes for several sites including Associated Content, Helium and Examiner.