Dehydrator Vs Microwave – What’s the Difference Between them?

People who are new to dehydrating often get confused whether to buy a dehydrator or a microwave. This confusion arises as both devices offer somewhat similar functions of high heat for a chosen period of time. Also, because certain foods such as chips can be made in both the devices with varying degrees of success.

While a microwave can often be used for drying out things, it is not a device that is designed for dehydrating foods. A dehydrator, on the other hand, is specially designed to provide an environment for drying foods of all kinds.

Let’s have an in-depth look at the differences between a dehydrator and a microwave machine and how these can be best used for their specific purpose.

Purpose of Dehydrator and Microwave

A dehydrator and a microwave, both are designed for their specific purpose. Many families have either one or both of these devices that are used in their kitchens. Let’s have a look at the specific functions of both these devices.

An Example of a Typical Food Dehydrator


A dehydrator is used for drying out all kinds of foods such as meat, vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, and more. Food dried in the dehydrator can be used as a snack and it can be stored for a long period as well. The advantages of drying food in the dehydrator are that you can make healthy, hygienic, and delicious snacks in the comfort of your own house.

Also, it is much more economical to dry snacks in your kitchen instead of buying them from the market. Dehydrators often come with features such as thermostat and timers to ensure every kind of food can be dried at selected temperatures and for certain time. Most of all, dehydrators with timers don’t need constant monitoring.


A Panasonic Microwave

A microwave oven is primarily used for heating food or baking food items. It uses electromagnetic waves to heat food molecules at high temperatures so that the food get cooked. A microwave basically heats up the water molecules inside the food so that even if the food is warm from outside, it’s extremely hot inside. With a timer and temperature control, the microwave shuts down on its own once the cooking is done.

Primary Differences Between a Dehydrator and a Microwave – How They Work

dehydrator vs microwave

There are several differences between a microwave and dehydrator. Mostly in how these two kitchen appliances work. Let’s have a look at some features of these kitchen appliances where they vary from each other.

1) Cooking Capacity

A microwave has a limited cooking capacity. If you try to cook a big piece of food in a microwave, you might not get optimum results as the microwaves can’t penetrate deep into a piece of food.

A dehydrator, on the other hand, has an extensive cooking capacity as many dehydrator models come with expandable trays that can be added on top of the trays that dehydrator comes with. What’s more, many dehydrator models allow you to remove the trays and dry large pieces of food or cook dishes that are in large containers.

2) Cooking method

A dehydrator uses a heating element that circulates hot air in the dehydrator trays and a fan that blows hot air all through the trays. Dehydrator models also contain vents that allow for removal of moisture from the food so that the food can dry quickly.

Advanced dehydrator models have variable temperature so that food can be dried quickly and efficiently. Most drying cycles run from a few to several hours depending on the kind of food that is being cooked and the moisture level in the food.

Microwaves use electromagnetic waves to heat the food molecules that further heat up the surrounding food by convection. The food in the microwaves gets cooked quickly as the electromagnetic waves operate at high temperatures.

An Open Microwave

3) Appliance Controls

A dehydrator has simple controls. Even the most advanced models will have controls for a thermostat and a timer. But a microwave, on the other hand, has a plethora of control options that include everything from heating food to grilling, boiling liquids, microwaving, baking, and much more.

It can often be confusing to operate a microwave, but using a dehydrator is often as simple as putting in the food and switching it on. You can also buy dehydrators that have a fixed temperature setting and you just need to plug them in and they start heating up and drying food. A microwave often needs to be pre-heated to start baking.

Food Dehydrator Appliance Control

4) A Fan

Dehydrators work by removing moisture from the food and then venting the moisture filled air through the vents in the dehydrator. Advanced dehydrators also vary the temperature from high to low to bring out the inner moisture in the food to its surface. A powerful fan is crucial in circulating hot air through the trays of the foods and also in removing the moisture from the foods.

A microwave can’t offer such a powerful combination of features as it only uses electromagnetic waves for heating up the food from the inside. It might remove the moisture from the surface of the food, but removing it from inside is something that only a dehydrator can do.

Dishes You Can Make in Both the Devices

A dehydrator and a microwave are essentially different devices, but people looking for each might not be clear on the dishes they can make in each. So here’s a list of the kind of dishes that can be cooked in either of the devices.

Dishes You Can Make in Both the Devices


As a dehydrator is used mainly for drying foods, it can be used for making dishes that are ideal for long term storage or as snacks. Some of the popular uses of a dehydrator are:

1) Jerky

Jerky enthusiasts swear by the drying abilities of dehydrators. Bigger dehydrators can be used for making large batches of jerky that is perfect for long term storage. There are accessories like jerky guns available for making the perfect jerky in a dehydrator.

2) Fruit Rollups

Fruit rollups are a favorite snack with children and adults alike. Making fruit rollups in a dehydrator is as easy as pouring the fruit concentrate and then drying it till it’s a leathery consistency. These rollups can be rolled up or cut into pieces for consumption.

3) Dehydrated Fruits

Dehydrated fruits make a great snack. Whether it apple slices, banana slices or oranges slices, they can all be dried very nicely in the dehydrator. Just cut them up in equal sized slices, add them to the dehydrator trays and wait till they’re dehydrated properly.

A Microwaved Dish


Microwave ovens can be found in almost every home that is serious about baking or cooking things quickly. Here are some of the popular uses of microwave ovens in homes:

1) Baking Cakes

Cake lovers simply can’t do without their microwave ovens. The recipes of cakes are endless and every kind of cake can be easily baked in a microwave oven.

2) Baking Bread

There is nothing like homemade bread that can add to a healthy lifestyle. Also, when added with fruits and flavors, bread turns out to be even more delicious.

3) Heating Up Food

Microwave ovens are just not for baking bread and cakes, these are perfect when you want to heat up a meal quickly. When you’re in a rush, a microwave oven can surely help you enjoy a warm meal.

A Dehydrator or a Microwave — Which Device to Choose?

Choosing a device from both of these completely depends on what you’re going to use it for. If you’re thinking of dehydrating large batches of foods for later storage, then it would be best to choose a dehydrator that has good capacity. But if you’re into baking bread and making cakes, then going with a microwave would be a better choice.

There might be some overlap in the kind of dishes these devices can make, but it is best to use a device that is made for a specific purpose. If you try dehydrating food in a microwave, you will never get results that are as good as when you dehydrate food in a dehydrator.

Also, running a microwave for lengthy periods will also affect the life of the device, but a dehydrator is designed to work for long periods of time so that it can dehydrate a food item properly. You can also buy a range of accessories such jerky guns, fruit rollup sheets, and additional trays for dehydrators to make dehydrating a fun and easy experience.


This article discusses the major points that anyone might think about when thinking about buying a dehydrator vs a microwave oven. These are different devices with different uses and using one to do the job of the other will never lead to the best results possible.

If you’re serious about dehydrating foods and if you want to dehydrate large quantities of foods for later use, then a dehydrator is your best choice. With a simple machine like a dehydrator, you can dry a wide range of foods and enjoy homemade snacks.


Hi there, I’m Linda, chief editor at Dehydrator Blog. We believe in Health is wealth. After struggling to buy healthy organic food for my family, I decided that’s not the right way to do. Still today many of them not aware of food dehydrators and uses of dehydrated food. That’s why my team and I want to solve this problem. That’s how Dehydrator Blog was born.. Our mission is simple. Trying to spread awareness of dehydrator to all. Join our hands if you believe in our mission.

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