An experimental study on heat transfer characteristics of shelf heat exchangers, which are used in small-scale freeze dryers, is presented in this paper. The proposed heat exchanger consists of the multiport minichannel flow paths, and a comparison with a conventional serpentine is carried out based on uniformity of the product temperature achieved. The experimental results indicate that the mini-channel shelf has better temperature uniformity than the latter. Skimmed milk is used as the test fluid. In the freezing and drying process, the product temperature variation is minimal in the mini-channel heat exchanger, with a variation of 12.5 % and 25%, respectively, and the heat transfer coefficient is found to be from 140 to 267 Wm-2 K-1. The moisture content in the product reduces to 50 % in 2 hours, and the drying rate is higher at 0.032 kg hr-1 after 1 hour of the drying process. The redesign of the heat exchanger will be an essential tool to improve the performance with uniform temperature distribution on the product and to improve the product quality.