The Best Citrus Juicer
If you’re lucky enough to have an orange tree in your backyard, or just have an affinity for fresh-squeezed OJ, the smartest choice when it comes to electric citrus juicers is Black & Decker's CJ625, formerly sold under the brand name Applica/Spectrum.
In the seven months since we made our initial pick, a surprising number of new electric citrus juicers have made it to market. We took a look at 13 new juicers that had high ratings on Amazon, dismissing most for lack of pulp control, and tested two new models against the CJ625. Black & Decker’s juicer is still our top pick.
It hits almost every mark that’s important for citrus juicers: It’s easy and comfortable to use, offers pulp control, has a self-contained pitcher for catching the juice, offers dual cones for oranges/grapefruits and lemons/limes, splits apart into multiple pieces for easy cleaning, is dishwasher safe, and offers efficient juicing. Plus, it’s only $18, which is actually less than our top pick for manual citrus presses for making cocktails.
If our main pick isn’t available for some reason, Proctor Silex’s Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer makes a good alternative. Its design is actually quite similar to that of CJ625 and it’s about as efficient as Black & Decker’s, but we found it to be the tiniest bit louder. $1 of the proceeds from each unit goes to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, which helps make up for the shortcomings
Most electric citrus juicers work the same way, but of the eight we tested, none offered every single feature we considered to be important. The CJ625 comes the closest. After 18 hours of research and testing and speaking to Lisa McManus, senior editor of equipment testing at Cook’s Illustrated, we can say our pick is deserving on its own merits and will make a good addition to most kitchens.
How we picked and tested
The idea of making orange or other citrus juice at home may be appealing and romantic, but when it comes down to it, there are some limitations. Chief among them is efficiency: In our testing, it took more than 16 pounds of navel oranges—more than 40 oranges—to make just about a gallon of OJ. Consider the $3.29 price tag of a 59-ounce bottle of Simply Orange Orange Juice, versus the $14 we paid plus the time and effort it took to actually extract the juice. That’s not to say the final product isn’t worth it, but an electric citrus juicer may be more appealing to those who have quick, cheap access to fresh oranges. Luckily, the CJ625 is inexpensive enough that it’s easy to pick one up even if you’re not juicing that often.
All of the electric citrus juicers we tested work in essentially the same way. A ribbed reamer—usually plastic, but in the case of the premium option listed below, metal—points straight up and is attached to a motor. When you apply pressure by pushing the cut end of the citrus down, the motor will kick in, turning the reamer. Press down until no more juice is coming out, throw that half away, and repeat. Depending on which model you’re using and how much juice you’re making, you may have to stop to clean out the pulp that builds up in the strainer through which the juice is filtered.
Despite the seemingly simple nature of the devices, there are quite a few qualities we compared between them to come up with our top pick. Of course price and aesthetics are a concern, but there’s also comfort, pulp selection, how the juice is caught, the number and sizes of juicing cones included, how easy cleaning is, and how much juice the thing actually extracts. We also considered features like noise level and the inclusion of a lever, but didn’t weigh those factors as heavily.
When we say comfort, we’re referring to how it feels on your hands, wrists, and arms when you’re standing over the juicer pressing down a few oranges—or a few dozen. Pulp selection is all about giving you control over how much of the orange guts makes it into your glass alongside the juice. While not an absolute dealbreaker, having something that collects your juice is an advantage when it comes to citrus juicers. Some empty right into built-in pitchers, while other have spouts that require you to provide your own container. The latter isn’t terrible, but it’s always nice not to have to provide an extra piece. Multiple cones are important because they allow for optimal juicing of citruses of different sizes. If a juicer has more than one, the cones will almost stack on top of each other, with the smaller fitting into the larger.
There’s not a lot of strong, independent research out there when it comes to electric citrus juicers. Because most restaurants and bars have to produce juice in such high quantities, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense for them to use something like this. Many employ an industrial machine that removes a lot of the effort. However, our friends at Cook’s Illustrated have tested the category (subscription required), and like us, found the CJ625 to be a top pick.
For our testing, we called in eight top contenders, choosing juicers that had earned top ratings from Cook’s Illustrated as well as Amazon and other retailers with customer scores. In addition to the the CJ625, we tested Breville’s 800CPXL Die-Cast Stainless-Steel Motorized Citrus Press ($200), Cuisinart’s CCJ-500 Pulp Control Citrus Juicer ($24), Oster’s 3186 Juice-n-Serve 27-Ounce Automatic Citrus Juicer ($20), Tribest’s CS-1000 Citristar Citrus Juicer ($50), Chef’s Star’s Stainless Steel Electric Juicer with Citrus Press ($40), the Toastmaster 1109 mentioned above ($17), and another Black & Decker model, the CJ630 ($27). During our testing process, the Chef’s Star model popped out of availability on Amazon, and Black & Decker confirmed with us in a phone call that the Toastmaster and CJ630 have been discontinued. You may still be able to find them available for purchase, but there’s no guarantee for how long.
For this year’s update, we searched for new contenders and found a total of 13 new juicers that piqued our interest, most of which had 4 stars or higher on Amazon. We were able to quickly rule out most of them based on their lack of pulp control. We did make one exception to that rule, calling in the EuroPrep PowerSqueeze Motorized Citrus Press. It looks like a clone of Breville 800CPXL, but its $50 price tag is a fourth of what Breville charges.
That left two juicers for us to consider, both under the Proctor Silex brand. According to Mary Beth Brault, Group Manager, Corporate & Consumer Communications at parent company Hamilton Beach, the white Juicit 34 Oz. Citrus Juicer ($16) and the yellow Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer ($17) are the same. Purchase of the latter sends $1 to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. Because of the charity aspect, small price differential on Amazon, and higher reviews, we chose to test the ALS model.
Each of the ten citrus juicers was subjected to the same battery of tests. After buying up a suspicious amount of citrus at the local grocery store, we measured the mass of 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 then measured the mass of the juice produced.
Averaging these figures together, we came up with a mean juicing efficiency as a percentage. We repeated the process with three lemons and with a single grapefruit. These later tests were 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 gave us a good sense of how each performs in average, real-life use. The juices went on to better lives, namely in cocktails and mimosas.
Despite not extracting the absolute most juice of all the units we tested, the CJ625 performed quite well. It produced roughly 3% less juice than the strongest contender in the lineup, which had other weaknesses that ultimately ruled it out.
It also performed well with lemons and grapefruits, although we used smaller sample sizes. With all eight machines and all three types of citrus, we pressed until juice was no longer coming out. None of the reamers dug deep enough to extract the white pith though; in a taste test, we didn’t get any of the bitter taste.
CJ625’s clear, 32-ounce pitcher fits onto a white plastic base around a post attached to the 30-watt motor, twisting into place. The next piece is actually two components fitted together. That’s the pulp catcher, a donut-shaped piece of plastic with a second piece snapped onto its underside. It has 54 oval holes, arranged in columns of three. A slider moves the lower piece back and forth, opening and closing the holes. At the smallest setting, there’s just a sliver of space for juice, and only juice, to make it through. The largest lets chunks through, for those who like pulp. There are no fixed gradients in between, but you can slide to your desired level of pulpiness.
In the middle of that ring, on top of the post, fit the juicing heads. The smaller of the two is about two inches across, and the larger, 2.75 inches. They fit together like nesting dolls, the larger snapping onto the smaller and both fitting onto the motor arm. A clear plastic lid is also included to keep dust out when the juicer’s not in use. Everything but the motorized base—which probably won’t get too dirty anyway—is dishwasher safe but can also be easily rinsed and wiped down. When it comes to citrus, it’s important to clean somewhat quickly, as it can be hard to remove dried-on remnants.
CJ625 doesn’t require an unreasonable amount of force. Using one or two hands, it’s easy enough to press down. A man and woman of different arm strengths and hand sizes tested, 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, there shouldn’t be any issue. When you lift up and then press back down, the cone automatically reverses direction, ensuring any remaining juice sacs get burst. We found it worked properly almost every time, although it would occasionally go the same direction twice before switching.
Who else likes it?
Over at Cook’s Illustrated, our pick earned the “highly recommended” status and the designation of “best buy.” The testers noted, “With no effort, lemons were completely squeezed of all their juice,” and awarded high marks for ease of use, design/construction, and juicing effectiveness. When we spoke to Lisa McManus, she described the CJ625 as the kind of tool that gets the job done and is easy to clean. While the plastic body isn’t as exciting as the steel sculpture that is the Breville juicer, she said it’s the way to go for most people.
Additionally, close to half of the ratings on Amazon are five stars. “This machine cleans easily, works well, keeps the seeds out of the juice, and can be adjusted for a little or a lot of pulp in the juice,” said a customer from Phoenix, AZ. “This CJ625 is worth what it costs.” William T. Armstrong wrote that he makes “a smoothie every morning. I use this juicer to juice oranges primarily. It works better than any I’ve ever had. It is very strong.”
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Like anything else, the CJ625 isn’t perfect. Its flaws are forgivable given the low price and solid performance, but they do deserve a mention. First, there’s the noise level. As we mentioned above, the 95-decibel output is about average for the models we tested; it’s not crazy, but it does sound like an appliance.
To measure the sound output of each juicer, we used a free iPhone app, which was recalibrated to the level of the room prior to each test. We then noted the maximum noise level recorded. Of the bunch, only the Breville was noticeably different to our ears.
Some of the one-star reviews on Amazon referred to the motor burning out over time. This issue did not come up in our testing, and we have no reason to believe there are build issues that would lead to such an event.
Other reviews say the juicer is slow or feels cheap. Both qualities are relative. In terms of speed, we found the CJ625 to be in line with the others. And compared to the rest of the juicers—Breville’s unit is the exception again, along with Cuisinart’s—the material quality is about the same, too. Yes, it’s plastic, but it isn’t particularly thin or weak plastic. When all other factors are taken into consideration, it’s still the best model, especially at such a low cost.
Long-term test notes
In the six months since this guide was published, we’ve continued to test the CJ625 and it’s performed very well each time.
The runner up
The Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer comes with two reamers, one for oranges and one for lemons. As we mentioned earlier, it’s the exact same model as Proctor Silex’s white Juicit 34 Oz. Citrus Juicer ($16). This juicer produced 46.28 percent of the orange mass in juice, slightly higher than Black & Decker’s 45.84 percent in the second round of testing. While the Proctor Silex juicer looks and performs a lot like Black & Decker’s, puts out an equal 95 dB of sound, but with more unpleasant mechanical grinding noises. We also found it more difficult to snap the pitcher into place on the base. The whole thing would sometimes move around on the table as the juicer automatically reversed its direction. Although we love that it supports a charity, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer isn’t better than our pick. It is a great alternative if our pick is sold out, though.
The step up
Despite its high price, the Breville is missing a key feature—the pulp control—and also doesn’t come with anything for catching the juice. But Breville’s juicer requires the least pressure of the bunch, thanks to the awesome power of our favorite simple machine, the lever, which makes juicing any citrus an absolute breeze. For this reason, the Breville might be a better fit for people with disabilities or those who could use some help in the arm-strength department.
From lemons to grapefruits, our testing showed that the Breville took almost no effort to get good extraction. The metal cone was the only one that got all the juice out of a grapefruit without having to wiggle it around, thanks to its 3.5-inch radius, and didn’t seem to interact with the citrus in any strange way. Simply pull down the dual-point articulating lever using its rubber-coated handle and the juice will start pouring out. The spout snaps up to hold back the flow when you’re done so that juice doesn’t drip onto your table or countertop. It’s also dishwasher safe and the only one of the bunch with a dedicated on/off switch.
With much more plastic on its body than Breville’s juicer, EuroPrep’s ($50) weighs 40 percent less. Much like the Breville, this beautifully-designed juicer uses a lever to apply pressure to the citrus on top of the cone, and requires you to provide your own vessel for catching the juice. We found the experience between the two to be very similar. With almost no pressure on the fruit, juice would start gushing out of the spout, and the juicer would get down to the white pith without scraping it out. Although it seemed to be more efficient, our tests showed that it didn’t perform quite as well as either of the other two models, producing 39.11 percent juice with the oranges, and struggling with small lemons. It did get the most juice out of the grapefruit, though. The EuroPrep was also the quietest of the bunch. For those that appreciate the good looks and easy juicing of Breville’s juicer, but are on a tighter budget, this one is a good alternative.
We thought we’d like the Chef’s Star juicer more than we did, as it’s the only other one we tested with a handle. It was one of the best performers when it came to oranges, extracting 45.34% of the mass in juice. But the size and shape of the cup attached the handle make it somewhat difficult to use; you must first position the orange, press down a little bit to get it going, and then use the lever, which does at least require less hand pressure. Unlike Breville’s, the cup is not removable for cleaning.
There’s the Cuisinart, which came in far below the other units in juicing efficiency and doesn’t have a pitcher or multiple cones. We couldn’t find any obvious design flaw that lead to the lower productivity, but our numbers indicated it just didn’t perform as well. It is handsome though, thanks to its brushed metal housing.
Oster’s machine doesn’t have any pulp control mechanism or multiple cones and isn’t dishwasher safe. It was one of the quietest of the bunch, though.
Tribest’s Citristar must also be washed by hand, doesn’t have any way to control how much pulp gets into the juice or to catch the juice, and wasn’t any more efficient than the CJ625 despite a $30 higher price tag, even though it requires a little less pressure than the rest.
Aroma’s ACJ-181 1-Liter Citrus Juicer ($20), Big Boss’ 8962 Electric Citrus Juicer ($22), Brentwood’s Citrus Squeezer/Juicer ($16), Epica’s Stainless Steel Citrus Juicer ($37), Hamilton Beach’s 66333 Fresh Mix 2-Cup Citrus Juicer ($29), Juiceman’s JCJ4000S Citrus Juicer ($23), MaxiMatic’s ETS-401 Elite Cuisine 20-Ounce Citrus Juicer ($18), Storebound’s Dash Citrus Juicer ($27), and Toastess’ TCJ-346 Silhouette Stainless-Steel Citrus Juicer ($33), were all dismissed before testing because they don’t offer any control over the amount of solids in your juice.
Black & Decker followed up their discontinued CJ630 with the CJ630-2. It sells on Amazon for $26, and has an MSRP of $30. We asked Black & Decker what makes this one different from CJ625, and found that while the housing is slightly different, they have near-identical builds with the exception of capacity; the less expensive CJ625 actually holds two ounces more liquid. The reason for the price discrepancy? While CJ630-2 retails at Target, CJ625 is available at Wal-Mart. We passed on testing CJ630-2.
Finally, the Toastmaster is a non-starter, as there’s no telling how much longer the discontinued model will be in stock and on sale.
Wrapping it up
For most people juicing citrus at home, the Black & Decker CJ625 is certainly the best option, and, at less than $20, is a smart buy for almost any kitchen. It has the key features we consider important, is easy to use, and is easy to clean. Although it takes some effort to produce it, you’ll be happy with the quality of the OJ this one puts out.
Electric Citrus Juicers, Cook's Illustrated (Subscription Required), July 1, 2008
User Review, Amazon, June 2, 2009,“This machine cleans easily, works well, keeps the seeds out of the juice, and can be adjusted for a little or a lot of pulp in the juice."
User Review, Amazon, December 4, 2012,"I use this juicer to juice oranges primarily. It works better than any I've ever had. It is very strong.”
Originally published: January 22, 2014