After more than 38 hours of researching and testing, juicing more than 53 pounds of citrus, and conducting a four-person blind tasting, we think the Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer is the best machine for making the occasional batch of OJ at home. Compared with models 10 times the price, it produced as much juice (or more juice), and it has a higher-quality build than similar juicers. It also offers one of the best self-contained pitchers we’ve found, with a pulp-control design that actually works. From hulking grapefruit to diminutive limes, the Proctor Silex efficiently handles all types of citrus, and the resulting juice consistently comes out sweeter than juice from more powerful models that tend to over-ream and produce more bitter results. It may not look like much, but the Proctor Silex hits every mark that’s important for a juicer, and at only $16 it costs less than a hand press that will extract just a few tablespoons of liquid at a time.
This is the second full update to our original 2013 guide, and in three separate rounds of testing, the simpler models have won. The Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer was the runner-up in our original guide, and it looks and operates almost identically to our former top pick, the Black & Decker CJ625 (which we’ve moved to second place). These smaller, self-contained juicers aren’t appropriate for producing gallons at a time, but they are just right for squeezing a few cups of fresh, fragrant juice to enjoy at breakfast, to add to cocktails, or to use in cooking and baking. The Proctor Silex won us over this year with its slightly more consistent motor. And the fact that $1 of the proceeds from each unit goes to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer certainly doesn’t hurt.
If our main pick isn’t available, Black & Decker’s CJ625 ($15), formerly sold under the brand name Applica/Spectrum, makes for a good alternative. Its design is virtually identical to that of the Proctor Silex and is about as efficient, but in our tests the motor tended to stall unpredictably.
The Breville Citrus Press ($130) is a new, lower-priced version of our former luxury pick from the original guide, the Breville 800CPXL ($200), and we found that it worked just as well but weighed less (though it takes up just as much space). It still costs almost eight times more than our pick and runner-up, however, and it doesn’t offer pulp control or a pitcher for catching juice. It also has a tendency to over-ream fruit if you’re not careful, which can give the resulting juice a bitter aftertaste.
Winnie Yang has worked in the food industry—with stints in a restaurant kitchen, cookware retail, and chocolate making—since 2002. She’s the managing editor of the print quarterly The Art of Eating and has written for that magazine as well as for Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, Saveur, and Tasting Table, among other publications. Nick Guy is an accessories writer at the Wirecutter. In addition to tech reviews, he has covered barware for the Sweethome and previously covered cocktails and other beverages at Serious Eats.
For this guide, we interviewed Tim Cooper, bartender of Sweetwater Social in New York City; Nick Duble, bar director of pop-up bar/restaurant Mr. Nilsson; Joshua Goldman, co-owner of Soigné Group, with 12 venues and 20 years of industry experience; and Lisa McManus, senior editor of equipment testing at Cook’s Illustrated. Our tasting panel included Kat Odell, drinks editor at Eater, Nick Solares, senior editor at Eater NY, and Christine Cyr Clisset, kitchen editor for the Sweethome.
Consider the $3 price tag of a 59-ounce bottle of store-bought orange juice, versus the $14 we paid plus the time and effort it took to extract the juice. Then again, you can’t really get the superior flavor and texture of fresh-squeezed juice in a carton, jar, or can. Instead of gallons, you may more realistically want to make a few glasses of OJ or grapefruit juice at a time, or a few cups of lemon or lime juice for lemonade and limeade in the summer.
We looked for citrus juicers that were simple to operate, clean, and store, and available at a reasonable price (which in our case meant anywhere from $15 to $200). The best juicers are easy on your hands, wrists, and arms—very important after pressing a few dozen oranges—and designed to extract the maximum amount of juice without over-reaming into the pith.
Most electric citrus juicers work in essentially the same way. A vertical, ribbed reamer—usually plastic, but in the case of some premium options, metal—fits onto a shaft attached to the motor in the base. When you apply pressure by pushing the cut end of the citrus down, the motor kicks in, turning the reamer. Many models also have an auto-reverse function: If you release pressure and reapply it, the reamer should rotate in the opposite direction. Press the citrus half until no more juice comes out, throw that half away, and repeat.
Manual presses work in much the same way but leave out the reaming step. The press forces the fruit against a perforated cone, breaking up the pulp to release the juice. Some experts, including Joshua Goldman of Soigné Group, say that manual presses are less likely to eat into citrus pith, thus less likely to produce bitter-tasting juice. In testing, we did find that the resulting juice lacked bitterness. However, because coarse chunks of fruit end up in the juice, producing an unpleasant consistency, you need to take the additional step of straining the juice. Such presses also produce less juice since their components process the pulp less than a reamer does.
Electric models usually come with multiple sizes of juicing cones. This is an important feature, because the cones allow for optimal juicing of citrus fruits of different sizes. If a juicer has multiple cones, they’ll almost always stack on top of one another, with the small ones fitting into the large ones.
Because we didn’t have many comparative reviews (aside from that of Cook’s Illustrated) to work from, we leaned heavily on advice from our experts and looked closely at user reviews on Amazon and other retail outlets to choose models for testing. For our original 2013 guide and our 2014 update, we tested 10 electric juicers. For this update we tested 13, including our prior winner, runner-up, and upgrade picks, the Black & Decker CJ625 Citrus Juicer, the Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer, and the Breville 800CPXL, respectively. Other models we brought in for this round included the Breville Citrus Press (a lower-priced version of the 800CPXL); Dash’s Go Dual Citrus Juicer and Stainless Steel Citrus Juicer; Juiceman’s JCJ150S and JCJ4000S; the KitchenAid Citrus Juicer Attachment, for those with a KitchenAid stand mixer; and two manual presses, the Ra Chand J500 and the OrangeX Jupiter.
We subjected each juicer to the same battery of tests as we have in the past: After buying up a suspicious amount of citrus at the local grocery store, we weighed five navel oranges for each juicer; the average was 208.28 grams, with a high of 248 and a low of 182. Next, we juiced them, and weighed the resulting juice.
Averaging these figures together, we came up with a mean juicing efficiency as a percentage. We repeated the process with three lemons, three limes, and a single grapefruit. We conducted these later tests mainly to see how well the individual juicers handled different sizes of citrus. Between each fruit test, we split the units apart for cleaning. This process gave us a good sense of how each model performs in average, real-life use. As a final test, we juiced oranges in the four top-performing juicers and conducted a blind taste test with a four-person panel, noting the flavor (including any bitterness) and the mouthfeel of the juice.
The Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer produced as much juice as models more than 10 times the price. In testing, we found it to be built better than the closest competing model, and it has extra features—including pulp control and a pitcher—that set it apart from most of the competition. It’s also easy and comfortable to use, and it produced juice that was sweeter than that from more powerful models.
For only $16, the Proctor Silex produces a surprising amount of juice. When it came to our orange testing, most of the machines were in the same ballpark, ranging from about 35 percent to 45 percent juice extraction, with a couple of low outliers. Our pick came in at 39.9 percent, a few points behind the best-performing model, the Black & Decker. The $200 Breville 800CPXL, the most expensive model we tried, extracted 37.8 percent, while the Breville Citrus Press extracted 36.6 percent.
The Proctor Silex was one of three models we tried with pulp control and a pitcher to catch the juice, and it outperformed the other two (the Black & Decker and Dash Go Dual). At its narrowest straining setting, the Proctor Silex produced juice with a small amount of pulp, while at the widest setting the juice had a thicker mouthfeel with nice chunks. The Black & Decker’s strainer removed more pulp because its catcher fit together more snugly, but in general the Proctor Silex performed better overall. The Dash Go Dual hardly strained the juice, as its pulp catcher discs fit together so loosely that most of the pulp slipped through even at the lowest setting. All of the other models we looked at lacked pulp control, a pitcher for catching juice, or a lid for keeping out dust—and they cost anywhere from $10 to $185 more.
While both Breville models’ lever mechanisms make them easier and more comfortable to use, the Proctor Silex doesn’t require an unreasonable amount of force. Using one or two hands, it’s easy enough to press down. A man and a woman of different arm strengths and hand sizes tested it, and both found it to be acceptable. That’s not to say fatigue won’t set in if you’re working on bags of oranges at a time, but for making a few glasses you shouldn’t have any issue. And the Proctor Silex required significantly less effort to use than some of the other juicers we tried, especially the manual presses and the KitchenAid attachment.
Pressing the fruit down by hand, rather than with a lever, has an upside: You’re less likely to over-ream the fruit. This was a problem with both Breville juicers, as their easy-to-use levers also made it easier to push too hard on the citrus halves, so the reamers dug slightly into the pith. In our tasting, we found that the juice produced with the Proctor Silex was sweeter, with no bitter notes. Juice from the Breville Citrus Press had a slight bitter aftertaste. Juice from the OrangeX, on the other hand, wasn’t bitter but had huge chunks of fruit that made it unpleasantly coarse in texture.
The Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer was our runner-up pick last year. Amazon users also like it, with 78 reviewers giving it an average of 4.1 out of five stars.
Like anything else, the Proctor Silex isn’t perfect. It’s a bit louder than some of the other models; here’s hoping it won’t spoil any surprise breakfasts in bed. Using the Decibel 10th iPhone app at a distance of about 6 inches, we measured it at about 95 decibels, which is similar to an average food blender. This result is at the high end among the units we tested, but with the exception of our Breville choice, all of the decibel levels were clustered in a small range.
The Proctor Silex was less comfortable and required more effort to use than the Breville models. It may not be the best choice if you juice citrus frequently and in quantity—you’ll want our Breville choice for that— but it would be reasonable to use regularly for a few glasses of juice or the occasional large batch.
While the Black & Decker has a two-year limited warranty, the Proctor Silex offers only a one-year warranty. Yet based on their performance during our last round of tests, you’d be more likely to need coverage for the Black & Decker than for the Proctor Silex.
The main complaint among Amazon reviewers is that the Proctor Silex juicer feels cheap and flimsy. But compared with all of the other electric juicers, except the Breville models, the material quality is about the same. Yes, it’s plastic, but not particularly thin or weak plastic. When we take all other factors into consideration, it’s still the best model, especially at such a low cost.
We think the Proctor Silex is a better overall machine because its motor performed more reliably in our tests, but the similarly priced Black & Decker CJ625 Citrus Juicer is a good option if our pick sells out. In fact, it was our former top pick, but we demoted it because in this testing round its motor tended to stutter and stall occasionally.
This juicer looks almost identical to the Proctor Silex, with a pitcher, a pulp-control feature, and a lid. It produced 44.5 percent of the orange weight in juice, the most of any of the juicers. It also did a better job than the Proctor Silex at straining pulp out of the juice, as its pulp-control baskets fit much more snugly. However, the Black & Decker motor’s tendency to strain and stall made us worry it wouldn’t stand up to years of use.
At a distance of about 6 inches, it puts out 95 dB of sound, equal to the Proctor Silex, but with more unpleasant mechanical grinding noises, which is something a number of Amazon reviewers note. Many more users complain that at some point the juicer just stops working. (We haven’t experienced this problem, though, in more than two years of use.) Since 68 percent of the 1,136 Amazon reviews the Black & Decker currently has are four stars and up (and since the price is so low), we decided to move this juicer to second place.
Although the Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer will make most people happy, if you juice a few times a week, consider investing in the Breville Citrus Press ($130). It requires considerably less elbow grease, thanks to its efficient lever. For this reason, the Breville also might be a better fit for people with disabilities or anyone who could use some help in the arm-strength department. It also makes juicing large quantities a much less exhausting and onerous task.
The main drawback of this juicer is that the lever also makes it easy to over-ream the fruit, taking off a significant amount of undesirable pith. In our blind tasting, all four tasters detected a bitter note in the juice from the Breville, which we attributed to over-reaming. The bitterness was subtle, so it likely would be unnoticeable to most people—especially if you’re not sipping the juice side by side with others. In contrast, however, we detected absolutely no bitterness in juice from the Proctor Silex.
Despite its high price relative to the other electric juicers we tested, the Breville is missing a few key features. For starters, this model doesn’t have pulp control; although we found the resulting juice to be smooth, it was also fairly thick with pulp. The Breville lacks something for catching the juice, as well.
Breville introduced the Citrus Press to the market only this past spring, as a lower-priced version of our former luxury pick, the Breville 800CPXL ($200). It’s constructed mostly of plastic, as opposed to the 800CPXL’s mostly steel body, but that made this model a little easier to clean as well as 3 pounds lighter. In terms of performance, though, we found them equal, so we went with the less expensive version. Currently the Breville Citrus Press is sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. Not a lot of user reviews are available for it yet, but we’ll continue long-term testing to see how it performs.
All three of our picks have removable parts that are top-rack dishwasher safe. Your best bet is to rinse off or soak those parts immediately after you use them, to prevent pulp from drying on them. The bases house the motors and should never go into the sink or dishwasher; instead, you can wipe them down with a damp cloth or paper towel.
The Breville 800CPXL ($200) was our original luxury pick, and for good reason: Tim Cooper of Sweetwater Social in NYC has used it to make “gallons of juice” and recommends it for home use because “it’s really easy to clean, everything’s metal, everything comes off really easily, it lasts a very long time.” Lisa McManus of Cook’s Illustrated describes it as having an “oooh” factor, and she’s absolutely right: This 10-pound steel machine is a beautiful beast. It also costs 12 times what the Proctor Silex does and performs the same as Breville’s new lower-priced Citrus Press. And in our tests, pulp tended to stick to the rubberized handle, so this model was harder to clean.
The Cuisinart CCJ-500 Pulp Control Citrus Juicer ($30) came in far below the other units when we measured juicing efficiency, and it doesn’t have a pitcher or multiple cones. We couldn’t find any obvious design flaw that led to the lower productivity, but our numbers indicated that it simply didn’t perform as well. It is handsome, though, thanks to its brushed-metal housing.
The Dash Go Dual Citrus Juicer ($25) has the same design as both the Proctor Silex and the Black & Decker, and in our tests it was just slightly less efficient than the top pick at 38.9 percent. Unfortunately, the pulp catcher’s two pieces don’t fit snugly together, which leaves a gap substantial enough to let a lot of pulp through even at the lowest setting for pulp control. The Dash Go Dual also costs more than the top pick and the runner-up.
Dash’s Stainless Steel Juicer ($30) was one of the lever-free models that required the least amount of effort to use, but it also had one of the lowest juicing efficiencies in our latest round of testing (34.7 percent). It lacks a pitcher and pulp control on top of that. The spout flips up to prevent drips, which we found to be a useful feature.
The Juiceman JCJ150S ($100) requires a great deal of effort to use, and in tests it performed about on a par with our pick, but it omits pulp control and a pitcher, and it costs about six times more than the Proctor Silex.
Juiceman’s JCJ4000S ($25) has the same design as Dash’s Stainless Steel Juicer and Juiceman’s JCJ150S—no pulp control, no pitcher—but the spout sits lower, which limits the kind of container you can use with it, and the spout doesn’t flip up to stop drips.
Oster’s 3186 Juice-n-Serve 27-Ounce Automatic Citrus Juicer ($20) doesn’t have a pulp-control mechanism or multiple cones, and it isn’t dishwasher safe. It was one of the quietest of the bunch, however.
Tribest’s CitriStar ($50) requires washing by hand and offers no way to catch the juice or to control how much pulp gets into the juice. It also wasn’t any more efficient than the Proctor Silex despite a price set $30 higher, even though it required a little less pressure than the rest of the models we tried.
KitchenAid’s Stand Mixer Juicer Attachment ($25) isn’t worth buying. The juicer mounts onto the front of the mixer, so you have to hold the fruit sideways to juice, which is much more taxing than holding it face down with gravity on your side. To press the fruit down with more force, we found that we had to place one hand on the other end of the stand mixer for stability and leverage; this arrangement required a lot of effort, and much of it seemed wasted. Juicing sideways is also messy. The pulp strainer, which is far too small for the task, required emptying every two oranges (while most other tested juicers could handle five), and it didn’t fit well in the attachment—it slots in as a kind of shelf—so it had a tendency to just fall out, sometimes dumping its contents into the juice.
The OrangeX Jupiter ($125) was one of two manual juice presses we tested for this latest update. It requires Herculean effort to use (and might work better if you’re tall and pretty strong) and squirts juice everywhere. The suction cups on the base work well—and are necessary—to hold the unit in place while you’re juicing, but in our tests they left oily black streaks on the countertop. Although the press leaves the pith of the fruit intact, it tends to break the pulp into large, uneven chunks, which is not that pleasant to drink, so using this juicer would require an additional step of passing the fruit through a fine-mesh strainer.
The other manual press we tested, the Ra Chand J500 ($160), was even more exhausting to use than the OrangeX, and the effort left us sweaty and worn out after just five oranges. The cone fits into the press by sliding into a slot, and you rotate it slightly to lock it—but then, when you’re juicing, the cone tends to get twisted. As a result, the fruit sticks to it and lifts it out of the slot, and you have to reposition it repeatedly, which is enormously time consuming. Like the OrangeX, the Ra Chand produces juice with large chunks of pulp that need to be strained. It’s also enormous.
We eliminated a number of other models before testing, either because of the price, a lack of features, or negative reviews.
The Alessi Electric Citrus Juicer ($200) lacks a lever to make juicing easier, in contrast to the Breville models, and it doesn’t offer pulp control or a pitcher to catch the juice, so we thought this pricy model wasn’t worth the investment.
We dismissed Aroma’s ACJ-181 ($20), a 1-liter citrus juicer, from the previous update because it lacks pulp control.
We also eliminated the Big Boss 8962 Electric Citrus Juicer ($25) for lack of pulp control.
Black & Decker followed up its discontinued CJ630 with the CJ630-2, which sells on Amazon for about $25 and has an MSRP of $30. We asked Black & Decker what makes this model different from the CJ625, and learned that while the housing is slightly different, the two juicers have near-identical builds with the exception of capacity; the less expensive CJ625 actually holds 2 ounces more liquid. The reason for the price discrepancy? While the CJ630-2 retails at Target, the CJ625 is available at Walmart. We passed on testing the CJ630-2.
The Bodum Bistro Electric Juicer ($50) has good, if few, Amazon reviews (across 11 reviewers it has an average of four out of five stars), but it doesn’t come with a pitcher or pulp control.
The Brentwood Citrus Squeezer/Juicer ($16) does not offer any control over the amount of solids in your juice, so we eliminated it.
Dash’s Citrus Bar ($40) is interesting for its unique design, but Cook’s Illustrated found that it can’t handle a wide variety of citrus and does not recommend it.
Epica’s Stainless Steel Citrus Juicer ($40) holds an average of 4.6 stars (out of five) across 1,466 Amazon reviewers, but it was not available when we contacted the manufacturer. We’ll consider testing it for a future update.
The Hamilton Beach 932 Commercial Citrus Juicer ($230) is a manual press like the OrangeX and Ra Chand—and it costs more than both of them.
Hamilton Beach’s 66333 Fresh Mix 2-Cup Citrus Juicer ($30) failed to receive better user reviews than the models we did test, and we didn’t like its lack of pulp control.
The Krups ZX800 ($100) is very similar to our top pick and runner-up but costs six times as much.
The Krups ZX7201 ($50) is similar in design to the Dash Stainless Steel Juicer and the Juiceman JCJ150S and JCJ4000S, but we were concerned that it would be short-lived due to the substantial amount of acrylic in its construction, and several Amazon reviewers complain that its parts do crack over time. It also has no pitcher.
The MaxiMatic ETS-401 Elite Cuisine 20-Ounce Citrus Juicer ($18) resembles the Proctor Silex and carries a similar price tag, but it lacks pulp control, so we opted not to test it.
The Oster Citrus Juicer ($20) has the same design and features as the Proctor Silex, Black & Decker, and Dash Go Dual, but the pitcher holds only 24 ounces, not 34 ounces, and it costs a few dollars more than our picks do.
We dismissed Toastess’s TCJ-346 Silhouette Stainless-Steel Citrus Juicer ($35) before testing in the previous update because it didn’t offer any control over pulp and received low ratings from Amazon reviewers.
The Toastmaster 1109 Citrus Juicer was a nonstarter during our selection process, as there’s no telling how much longer this discontinued model will be in stock and on sale.
Finally, America’s Test Kitchen says the Waring Pro Professional Citrus Juicer PCJ218 ($100) is “not recommended” because “it made an awful high-pitched whine, rendering it unbearable to use.”
Originally published: June 30, 2015