Story by Anya Murphy

DIY Dehydrated Dinner in Your Air Fryer

The days of needing a fancy dehydrator are long gone, thanks to the air fryer.

Dehydrating food is an excellent solution that allows you to pack lightweight, nutrient-dense meals that can be rehydrated easily at your campsite. While we’ve featured some great premade dehydrated and freeze-dried meals in the past, we know they can get a bit pricey. We bet most of you have an air fryer sitting on the counter, but did you know it can replace a fancy expensive dehydrator? Sure, it makes just about the best reheated pizza ever, but we’ve also come to learn it’s a basic way to whip up our own DIY dehydrated dinner.

Air Fryer Dehydration

If you own an air fryer, you can use it to dehydrate food quickly and easily. Of course, each air fryer and recipe is different. It’ll probably take a try or two to get your technique down pat. Just like any dinner, the way you prepare and season your dehydrated option is entirely up to you. There’s really no hard and fast rules on how to do this stuff! That being said, here are some simple instructions to get you cooking (Ha, ha. Get it?):

  1. Choose the food you want to dehydrate, such as vegetables, fruits, starches, or even cooked meats (We don’t recommend this for your first try. Do more research first).
  2. Cut the food into thin, even slices. They should be no more than 1/4 of an inch thick.
  3. Prepare however you normally would, if it’s something you want to be cooked. Most sources recommend you cook fully before dehydrating.
  4. Arrange the food in a single layer in your air fryer basket, making sure that the pieces are not touching or overlapping.
  5. Set the air fryer to the dehydrate function and select the temperature and time based on the type of food you are dehydrating.
  6. Check on the food periodically and rotate the basket if necessary to ensure even drying.

Tips and Tricks

NOTE: If, like ours, your air fryer doesn’t have a dehydrate setting, you can still use it to make a great dehydrated dinner. It’s as simple as manually adjusting the temperature and cooking time. Generally, the ideal temperature for dehydrating food in an air fryer is between 120°F and 140°F (50°C and 60°C). At this temperature range, the food will dry out without overcooking or browning.

The exact time it takes to dehydrate food in an air fryer will depend on the type of food you’re drying, the thickness of the slices, and the humidity in your kitchen. As a general rule, it usually takes upwards of 3 to 4 hours to dehydrate most fruits and vegetables. Sometimes it takes even longer. Strawberries, for example, dehydrate in just about 2-3 hours. Cherries, for some reason, sometimes take overnight. Meats and fish are more complicated and tend to take longer than that, so all of the recipes we’ve gathered below are veggie-based to make it easy.

Remember to cool the dehydrated food before storing it in an airtight container or bag. Also, it’s a good idea to label the container with the contents and date so you can keep track of how long the food has been stored.

5 delicious DIY dehydrated dinner recipes:

  1. Spicy Lentil Chili: Cook together lentils, diced tomatoes, beans, and bell peppers with spices like chili powder and cumin. (Of course, it’s chili, Basically, put in whatever you’d like. Spread in a thin layer in your air fryer. Rehydrate in a pot with water or vegetable broth and canned tomatoes and heat until ready to eat.
  2. Thai Peanut Noodles: Cook shredded carrots, sliced bell peppers, and any other veggies you like in a sauce made from peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and red pepper flakes. Again, spread in a thin layer and dehydrate in your air fryer. Rehydrate along with dry rice noodles in a pot with hot water and stir in chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro. We also like to add bean sprouts for some fresh crunch.
  3. Moroccan Stew: Cook together chickpeas, diced sweet potato, diced onion, sliced carrots, and spices such as cumin, coriander, and cinnamon. Dehydrate in your air fryer, then rehydrate in a pot with water or vegetable broth and top with chopped dates and almonds.
  4. Vegetable Stir-Fry: Sauté then dehydrate sliced broccoli florets, chopped carrots, sliced onion, and a sauce made with soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Rehydrate in a pot with hot water and serve over rice.
  5. Mediterranean Couscous Salad: Dehydrate cooked couscous, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sliced red onion, and a dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs such as parsley and mint. Rehydrate in a pot with hot water and stir in crumbled feta cheese and olives.

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