How to dehydrate in an oven

In this post we’ll show you how to dehydrate in your oven. Dehydrating opens up a whole lot of exciting new raw food recipes, but you may not want to buy a dehydrator straight away. That’s why we wanted to show you how to dip your toe and use your oven as a dehydrator.

One of the most common questions I get asked in classes and online is, “can I dehydrate in an oven?”

The short answer is, “yes, but how you do that depends on your oven”.

How a dehydrator works. . .

A dehydrator dries food with airflow. There is a heater element behind the fan, but it’s not even close to the output of an oven.

When using an oven instead of a dehydrator, you’ll get best results with a fan assisted oven.

Aside: you can actually get ovens with a dehydrator function now. Miele do one, but to see what’s available in your country, do a search for ‘oven with dehydrator function‘.

For raw food, we don’t want to go above 116F (47C) as that’s where the most fragile of the nutrients are reported to get affected.

There are some dehydrators that are specifically for raw food, but most dehydrators are designed with other foods in mind too, so will go up to 155F+. You’ll need to watch your settings.

This translates if you want to dehydrate in an oven. If your oven goes down to 116F and it has really good airflow, you’re all good.

To the extent that your oven deviates from that will determine adjustments you make in time.

Excalibur 10 tray dehydrator on a white background

How to use your oven to dehydrate

If you’re just getting started with raw food and want to try some dehydrated foods before investing in a dehydrator, by using your oven, read on.

Here’s a few possible scenarios. . .

  • You have a fan assisted oven, but it only goes down to 170F / 80C.

    In this case, you might want to consider leaving the door slightly open to get a cooler temperature. Your total dehydration time is going to be a lot shorter than the recipes states for a dehydrator, so you’ll need to keep an eye on it.

  • You have a fan assisted oven that goes down to 116F / 47C.

    You should potentially be able to dehydrate very similar to a dehydrator. Different ovens have varying degrees of efficiency though, so you’ll still need to keep an eye on it.

  • You have a fan assisted oven somewhere in the middle of the two examples above.

    This really comes down to trial and error. Start with leaving the door slightly ajar and check on it regularly.

As you can see, with all of these options, keeping an eye on it is key.

A dehydrator uses very little power, so you can leave it on for 12 hours and walk away, leave the house, do whatever. You really do’t need to worry.

If you want to see all of my current kit recommendations, including dehydrators, click here.

How to dehydrate in an oven FAQs

Can I use an oven as a dehydrator?

Yes! That what this whole article is about 🙂 The main takeaway is that you need some kind of fan assisted oven. The efficiency of the fan and how low the temperature of the oven goes will determine how you need to adjust the timing in the recipe Vs using a dehydrator.

What’s the difference between a dehydrator and an oven?

A dehydrator is typically much smaller than an oven and a lot less powerful, since it works at much lower temperatures. Dehydrators are very simple units with a fairly low power heater element and a fan. We use them in raw food to apply some heat (under the raw temperature of 116F / 47C which enables us to make things like raw breads, crackers and wraps.

What is the best food dehydrator?

I really like Excalibur Dehydrators. You can check out my full raw food kit recommendations here.

Are dehydrators expensive to run?

No. Clearly energy costs vary a lot around the world, but a rough guide would be to say that it costs £1 / $1 to run one for 12 hours.

What’s the best temperature to dehydrate foods?

For raw food 116F / 47C is the maximum temperature suggested. We tend not to dehydrate under that temperature either, so it’s really simple, just keep it at 116F and adjust the time as needed. You can’t burn food at this temperature. The worst that could happen is that you end up with something too dry.

Russell James

Post by Russell James

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December 18th, 2019

27 thoughts on “How to dehydrate in an oven”

  1. Just seen that the brand Caple have a dehydrator setting.

    NEFF say you need an oven with their CircoTherm fans…

    You need an oven with such a fan and a 40° setting…

  2. I am getting ready to purchase a new oven in the U.S.A.
    Do you know of an oven that is the equivalent of a dehydrator?

    • There are some brands now that do have a dehydrator setting, but I’m not sure of exactly which ones. If you ask at your local supplier or Google, you’ll most likely find a few options.

  3. We use an old Wedgewood with a busted regulator. I don’t know the temperature the pilot light leaves the oven but it feels about 120 degrees. We have dehydrated salmon skin for dog treats, made fresh fruit leather, raised bread dough in minutes, and more. There’s no fan. Just vent holes for the gas burner.

  4. My oven goes as low as 50C, so I made my kale chips at this temperature with fan and I’d say it took about 8 hours to dehydrate a whole bunch of kale. They turned out super delicious, thanks for the recipe! My only dissatisfaction would be the “cooked effect” you get with a conventional oven where the colour of the chips is slightly stained with a very light yellowish tinge, as opposed to the dark almost original leafy green colour that you get with a dehydrator. I am so inclined to get an Excalibur but space is indeed my biggest challenge!

    • I’m glad it worked out! Sounds like you’re ready for a dehydrator 🙂 Some people have them in rooms other than the kitchen if the space is an issue in there.

  5. it’s the plastic in dehydrators that freaks me out…..and stainless dehydrators are pretty pricey!!

    • Agreed! Looking into dehydrators and trying to figure out my oven options. I have not used silicone mats for the same reason. Says to line the pan – but with what? I am not sure that using a mat is any safer. What do you use?

  6. Hi my oven goes as low as 30 degrees. What kind of temperature should it be set at to dehydrate almonds? And roughly how long for? Thanks

    • If you were using a dehydrator it would be 115f, so that’s 46c. How long really depends on how good your oven’s fan is. I would check after a third of the time it takes in a dehydrator, and then do regular checks, so you get a feel for how much quicker it is than a dehydrator.

  7. Temperature is also extremely important. If you cannot set a specific temperature all is wasted.. Nowadays you can buy a really cheap dehydrator, it is a much better option.

    • Thanks, Joseph. I hear what you’re saying, but some people just aren’t ready to buy a dehydrator, not matter how cheap. Space is also an issue for a lot of folks.

  8. I have an oven with a dehydrator setting. It’s great in my small kitchen. So far I’ve made Kale chips and oatmeal cookies.

  9. I tried to do kale chips in my oven…cheap oven…they turned out ok, but some were still moist and caused moisture build up. Any advice to fix this. I even spread them out really well…i just didnt want to burn the ones that were done. Thank you!

    • Hey Tania,

      Yeah, that’s really to do with even air flow. You could try them on a lower temp if available, and for a longer time. Otherwise it comes down to getting an oven with better air flow.

  10. I had an Excalibur back in Canada but now I live in Spain I am wondering what to do. My kitchen is tiny and I am thinking about getting an oven with dehydrator setting and I saw you can get a dehydrator kit for some of these new ovens. Do you know any more about this, Russell? Love your videos and recipes by the way 🙂

    • Really? That surprises me, I’ve never had a loud one before. The Sedona has a night time function which is quieter, but if you found the Excalibur crazy loud I don’t think it would be much better for you.


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