The Best Juicer
After pushing almost 25 pounds of leafy, crunchy, pulpy produce through nine top machines, we think the Tribest Slowstar ($380) is the best and most versatile juicer for the home. Its single vertical auger turns at a slow 47 rpm, making it one of the slowest juicers available—key for getting maximum nutrients and enzymes from produce—and it still yielded more juice than nearly every other model we tested, meaning there’s less going to waste. It comes with a 10-year warranty on parts and the motor, so you can crank it up every day without worry about wear and tear.
Since we first published this guide, many new juicers have become available with improved technology for extracting maximum juice. For this update, we read through editorial for reviews of the new models and spoke to John Kolher of Discountjuicers.com and Matt Shook of Austin, Texas’s JuiceLand to find out what to call in for testing. To see if more expensive juicers were actually worth the money, we ran nine models in different price ranges (including our previous pick, the Omega 8004) through tests for yield, ease of use, heat transfer, and foam production.
Juicing is a costly habit no matter how you do it. We realize that almost $400 is a lot to spend on a small appliance, but we’ve found that it’s worth it to pay a bit more for your machine up front. While the initial investment on our pick is high, you won’t be throwing money out with partially-extracted, soggy pulp.
Table of Contents
Should I get a juicer?
Juicers are expensive machines that take up a lot of counter space; they’re not for dabblers. If you are already a juice enthusiast, you can offset the cost of boutique juice by making your own at home. A bottle of freshly-pressed juice can cost $9 in some areas. To make one quart of juice at home with kale, apple, carrot, cucumber, ginger, I spent less than half that. More efficient extractors give you more juice for your money. If you drink green juice five times a week, even factoring in a little extra for electricity, the savings can add up to hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.
While we’re not advocating that everyone stop eating solid food and go straight to a liquid diet, fresh green juice is an excellent way to get a boost of vitamins and nutrients. However, it’s important to know that juice isn’t a magical potion. As doctors at the Mayo Clinic point out:
“Juicing probably is not any healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables. Juicing extracts the juice from fresh fruits or vegetables…. However, whole fruits and vegetables also have healthy fiber, which is lost during most juicing.” They go on to say, “The resulting liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole fruit.”
As Sweethome founder Brian Lam wrote in his original juicer review, “…this is the unarguable truth about juicing: It makes getting the equivalent of vegetables as simple as downing a beer. It’s not as much fun, but it’s more fun than eating three giant salads every day.”
And we do mean green juice. A quart of freshly pressed fruit juice, while full of nutrients, is also full of sugar; without the fiber, those calories go straight into your bloodstream. (If a citrus juicer is what you want, we have a separate guide for that.)
Good vegetables are pricey in the quantities needed for juice, and you should make the most of what you get. If the yield on your current juicer isn’t very high, or you have a model geared more towards soft fruit rather than tough greens, we recommend upgrading.
And if you’re not sure if you want to commit to juicing regularly, check eBay and Craigslist for used juicers, especially Omegas and Huroms since they’ve been around a while. A lot of people sell their machines after realizing they’re not ready to give up the money, counter space, or time required to make juice regularly. You won’t be able to take advantage of the warranty, but you can get really good deals (and even resell yours if you get tired of it).
How we picked and tested
To pick from the many styles of juicers available, start by thinking about what kind of juice you want. Different machines don’t always handle soft fruits, hard roots, and leafy greens equally well. John Kohler of discountjuicers.com, a 25-year juicing enthusiast with extensive knowledge about juicers and hundreds of YouTube videos to prove it, stressed to us that to understand what to look for in a juicer, it’s important to factor in what kind of juice you want to drink.1
For this guide, we focused on green juice. As Brian Lam explained in his original juicer review, “Juicing is sort of like healthy fast food. (When I talk about juicing, I’m talking about the green stuff, mostly. Juicing with too much fruit misses the point. You want the nutrients found in leafy greens like kale, not copious amounts of sugar–which, without fiber holding it back, gets into your bloodstream a little too fast, according to nutritionist Darya Pino from Summer Tomato. I might toss an apple into my kale juice to make it taste a little sweeter, but that’s about it.) After that first glass, I became an addict.”
“Enzyme deactivation happens when temperatures exceed 118 degrees,” says John Kohler. In our tests, none of our picks raised heated the juice more than 12 degrees above the temperature of the raw produce. Even if you are juicing room temperature vegetables, your juice will be no warmer than 85°F, well under the temperature at which nutrient degradation begins.
Oxidation is a controversial topic. The prevailing theory among juicers is that the less oxygen is whipped into a juice, the more active the enzymes remain. The foam that accumulates on top of your juice is a good indicator of how much air has been whipped into your juice by the machine; more foam equals more oxidation. As Harold McGee says in On Food and Cooking, “Because juicing mixes together the contents of living cells, including active enzymes and various reactive and oxygen-sensitive substances, fresh juices are unstable and change rapidly.”
Certain nutrients are more vulnerable to oxidation than others. Still, most of the information you can find about nutrient retention and enzyme activation comes from the manufacturers as selling points. John Kohler mentioned this in one of our email exchanges: “There are few (if any) peer-reviewed research on this subject that I am aware. It’s all manufacturers data for the most part, which I take with a grain of salt.” The prevailing advice: no matter how much foam your juicer makes, drink your juice fast to minimize the chance of oxidation.
There are a few types of juicers:
Slow auger juicers - An auger is like a big, threaded screw that pulls the vegetable into the juicing chamber and presses the juice out. The auger can turn anywhere from 45 to 80 rpm, resulting in slowly produced, low-foam, low-temperature, high-volume, and nutrient-dense juice. They can be oriented vertically or horizontally. These are very versatile, good for greens and hard roots.
Centrifugal – This is by far the most popular style of home juicer on the market today. Vegetables are ground up by tiny teeth on a rapidly spinning basket, and the juice is forced through a fine mesh sieve. This method tends to produce a lot of foam. It’s best for carrots and other hard fruits and vegetables.
Masticating juicer – Unlike the auger which simply pulls vegetables in for crushing, this “chews” the vegetable using a cutter (it looks like an auger with sharp metal teeth). then presses the juice from the pulp. The 1960s-era Champion Juicer is a classic masticating juicer. It’s great for hard vegetables and fruits, but isn’t suited for today’s green juices, requiring a separate attachment for leafy greens and wheatgrass.
Twin auger juicers- For greens such as kale, spinach and wheatgrass, a twin gear juicer, such as the Green Star, extracts the most juice. They are also the most expensive, setting you back around $550. As the name suggests, two gears work together to crush the cell walls of the vegetable and extract the juice. That’s best for greens and not great for fruit.
In our previous guide, we relied on expert testimony to help narrow the field down to a single winner. This time, we decided to call in a number of models, many of which became available after we published our initial guide. John Kohler and Matt Shook both recommended that we include a few different vertical single-auger juicers to test against our previous pick, the Omega 8004. All of the single-auger models we brought in to test promised low rpm, minimal oxidation, and high juice yields. Along with the slow juicers, we brought in two centrifugal-style juicers to compare yield and quality.
Home juicers can run you anywhere from $100-$600, but generally, paying more increases juice yield and lowers pulp. Our top two models have newly designed augers with two cutting blades (older models had one) to make quicker work of pulling the vegetable into the juicing chamber. The augers juice vegetables and fruits slowly, crushing the cell walls with pressure, not speed, to minimize heat and oxidation.
Warranties can also add value to an expensive juicer. While there is generally little wear on parts with slow juicers, the juicing screen tends to be the part that breaks the most, according to John Kohler. A long warranty on the motor isn’t a bad thing, but juicer motors seem to be pretty sturdy and not as susceptible to breakage as individual parts.
Juicers can also be pretty in-your-face appliances, depending on size and noise level. The small footprint of vertical juicers is ideal for smaller kitchens with limited counter space. The oval bases hover around 7 to 8 inches in diameter. A vertical juicer can be tucked into a corner quite easily, though they are generally taller (about 16-18”) and require cabinet clearance. The horizontal juicers can hog a lot of space, with the footprint of one model, the Breville Juice Fountain Plus, measuring 17” x 9”.
Juicers are notoriously difficult to clean because the components should be washed by hand. The vertical juicers come with specialized brushes to make cleaning easier, and the Omega horizontal models are a little simpler to clean since the juicing screens aren’t as big. None were particularly easy to clean, though. I can only recommend that you juice very often; all of that practice will make you a speedy cleaner.
There are four main juicer companies that are at the forefront of juicing technology. All are Korean: Tribest, Kuvings, Omega, and Hurom. John Kohler says that these companies innovate and improve upon their technology, and the cheaper versions are often Chinese knockoffs. Australian company Breville has a slow juicer in their line, also made in Korea.
We put 10 juicers through two tests. We noted ease of use, yield, foam production, flavor, ease of cleaning, and amount of prep required. First, we tested their ability with greens and soft fruit by making a kale-grape juice with 8 ounces each of curly kale and Thompson green grapes. We then tested each juicer for their ability to juice hard fruits and vegetables, using 8 ounces each carrots and apples, 4 ounces celery, and 1 ounce of ginger. All yields were measured by weight.
We tasted all juices for freshness and pulp. Two juicers in particular, the Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer and the Omega VRT 400, gave us unpleasant levels of fiber. On top of all that pulp, the Kuvings was also one of the lowest-yield performers of the line up.
After we narrowed our finalists down to our 4 top favorites, we then ran 1 pound of kale through each finalist to test for temperature increases while juicing pure leafy greens. The results from this test were similar across the board. We saw a slight increase in temperature, from vegetable to finished juice, of no more than 15 degrees.
An efficient design allows the Slowstar to crank out a high volume of juice within a small footprint of 6½ by 8 inches. The feed tube opening is a relatively wide 2½ x 1½ inches. I know that doesn’t seem very big, but it’s 67% wider than the Omega 8004’s, which measures only 1½ inches in diameter. A wide feeder allows more leeway with pre-juice vegetable prep. The solid waste collects cleanly in a waste container that’s included. The Slowstar has a reverse button in the back in case you need to dislodge stuck vegetable matter, but I never needed to use it.
The Tribest handled a constant stream of kale with super soft grapes without gumming up or stalling out, unlike some of the other juicers. The yield from 1 pound of greens and grapes was 11.1 ounces by weight, the second-highest yield of all the juicers.
The Tribest also handled 21 ounces of hard and fibrous vegetables and fruits like a champ. The carrot-apple-celery-ginger juice yield was exactly 16 ounces, the third-best result of all the models tested. Again, this was a well-balanced juice with great, even flavor and very little foam.
Juicing enthusiasts say low and slow extraction makes for the most nutritious juice, and the Tribest delivers without overheating the final product. I ran a pound of cut curly kale ran through the Tribest in about 10 minutes with a starting temperature of 72°F. Even with the machine constantly running for that amount of time, the final product measured 85°. There was a small, but pleasant, amount of pulp in the juice. If you don’t like pulp, Tribest includes a stainless steel hand strainer to catch all of those solid bits. The Tribest was also fairly easy to clean with practice—there are 5 parts to rinse, with no sponge-shredding teeth anywhere. The parts aren’t dishwasher-safe.
Speaking of butter, the Tribest Slowstar doesn’t just juice. It also comes with a “homogenizing” mincer attachment that grinds without extracting liquid—useful for making sorbets, nut butters, and more. You can see it in action in this Discount Juicers video. The separate bowl attachment fits onto the base, using the auger to pulverize the food and push it through a large chute without a screen.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Even though we love this machine, nothing is perfect. I had a bit of trouble navigating the tall feed tube underneath my low-hanging cabinets. It’s not a big deal, and I have a small apartment, so I understand that this is not a problem for all. It’s also slow, but that’s the point, right? Slower juicing retains nutrients.
The HH Elite comes equipped with a dual-edge auger, like Tribest’s, that efficiently crunches and squeezes vegetables and fruit. It has a very slow 43 rpm and a quiet motor. I could still listen to talk radio while the machine was running, which wasn’t possible with some of the other juicers (especially the centrifugal models).
The HH Elite produced some of the highest juice yields in each category. It gave us 11.9 ounces of kale-grape juice, 16.2 ounces of carrot apple juice, and 11.4 ounces of straight kale juice; the solid waste matter was even more sawdust-like than the Tribest Slowstar’s. The resulting juice was a bit pulpier than the Tribest’s, but it was nothing that the included fine-mesh strainer can’t fix.
While it beat the Tribest on yields, minor annoyances made it fall to second place. One small hiccup with the Hurom HH Elite is that the motor froze up on me a few times. It wasn’t a big deal; with the push of a button, you can put the machine is reverse to dislodge the obstruction. Also, with a slightly smaller feed tube, you have to spend more time cutting down your vegetables, which slows the process down a bit.
As Brian said in our previous version of the guide, “It’s more efficient at squeezing nutrients and liquid from leafy greens than the more popular (and admittedly great) Breville juicers. Compared to the Brevilles, some juice experts say you’ll get nearly double the juice from the Omega. And why would you go to the trouble of spending money on fresh produce only to leave half of it behind? At $260, the Omega costs slightly more than low-end juicers, but it offers better quality and taste, it’s easy to clean and it’s built to last a decade.”
In our tests, the 8004 extracted a fair amount of green juice (9.7 ounces of kale-grape juice, 9.1 ounces of straight kale juice), falling in the middle of the pack, but excelled with hard vegetable juice (17.3 ounces of carrot-apple, the highest of all the juicers).
The Omega 8004 was the easiest and fastest to clean of all nine models tested, too, because the juicing screen is smaller, so there are fewer tiny holes to scrub.
Though it’s not the cheapest of the juicers we tested, the Omega 8004 represents the best value, especially considering the excellent 15-year warranty on the motor and parts.
Though its price is much more palatable than the Tribest’s, there are some tradeoffs. First, it’s quite big, requiring a 16” x 7” space on the counter. It also isn’t great with softer, juicy fruits. And, as we mentioned earlier, its feed tube is an inch narrower than the Tribest’s, which makes a difference in how much prep work you need to do with vegetables. Though you’ll save $150 up front, you may lose some of those savings in juice left behind in the pulp you toss every time you use the machine.
What to look forward to
Omega has a new model that we’ll be testing soon, the NC900HDC. It’s slightly cheaper than the Tribest Slowstar at $340, but isn’t nearly as slow, cranking at 80 RPM versus the Tribest’s 47 RPM. However, it does have the same long 15-year warranty as its Omega siblings, a large chute, and comes with a variety of attachments. Consumer Reports placed the NC900 in the middle of the pack of juicers it tested.
Whereas the Omega 8004 is a commercial quality machine, the Omega NC800 ($284) is designed for household use. When it came to green juice, the output was almost identical. The carrot juice was a different story, though. The NC800 only yielded 12.3 ounces. John at discountjuicers.com said that this machine put out 15% more juice than its predecessor, but we found that it actually put out 25% less carrot juice than the 8004.
- Kale-grape: 9.8 ounces
- Carrot-apple: 12.3 ounces
Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer ($430): I wasn’t very impressed with this expensive juicer. It boasts a 3-inch feed tube that, in theory, can accept whole fruit. The thing is, most apples in the store are much bigger than three inches in diameter, so that’s a wash. Also, the feed tube has a plastic blade in it that you have to push your produce forcefully through. The resulting juice was unpleasantly pulpy.
- Kale-grape: 10.1 ounces
- Carrot-apple : 11.3 ounces
Omega VRT 400 ($400): This vertical masticating machine was a bit of a disappointment. The first trial of the green juice was a failure; the auger couldn’t pull anything through. I disassembled it, cleaned it, and put it back together and finally got it to work. Its yields were disappointing and it felt really flimsy, almost buckling as I pushed leaves of kale and apple wedges through the feed tube. It produced the most foam of all the juicers in the testing group, even more than the centrifugal juicers. It does come with a 15-year warranty.
- Kale-grape: 9.3 ounces
- Carrot-apple: 13.3 ounces
Breville Juice Fountain Crush ($261) is the company’s slow juicer offering. This Korean-made juicer gave us good-quality, high yield juices. The motor stalled out a few times, and it didn’t have a rubber stopper on the juice spout. (Not that big of a deal, but it did splatter a bit.) While testing proved to be generally favorable for this machine, there isn’t much online about the longevity of this juicer. Breville doesn’t seem to promote this one as heavily as their centrifugal juicers. With a short two-year warranty on parts and 10 years on the motor, it doesn’t have the guarantee of our budget pick.
- Kale-grape: 10.9 ounces
- Carrot-apple: 15.8 ounces
L’Equip Pulp Ejection Mini Juicer ($101): This compact juicer is a little beast. The motor is so strong that when you turn it on, the whole unit hops up off the counter. Spinning at up to 10,000 rpm and standing one foot tall, this compact juicer made quick work of leafy greens and hard vegetables. While the kale-green juice yield was almost 2 ounces more than the Breville Juice Fountain Plus, it tasted mostly of grapes. The kale in the waste receptacle was really wet and full of juice. Surprisingly, the L’Equip gave us less yield with the carrot-apple juice than the Breville Juice Fountain Plus.
- Kale-grape: 9.6 ounces
- Carrot-apple: 12.9
Breville Juice Fountain Plus ($150): Yes, it’s fast and popular. Yes, it’s featured in a movie about juicing for weight loss, but it paled in comparison with the slow juicers. The yields were low and it was the least effective at juicing greens.
- Kale-grape: 7.4 ounces (mostly grape)
- Carrot-apple: 13.8 ounces
In our previous guide, Brian Lam called the Norwalk Juicer “the ultimate machine” which “uses a two-step process to break down and then hydraulically press out juice.” However, at $2,000, it’s meant for pros.
A twin gear juicer such as the Green Star can extract the most from greens like kale, spinach and wheat grass. They are also quite expensive, setting you back $550. These are specialty machines usually used in professional juice bars. They are also specifically for vegetables, as they aren’t as good at juicing fruit. To justify the cost of something like this for the home, you should be a dedicated green juice consumer. We did not test any twin gear juicers for this review.
Omega VSJ843RS ($460): At the time this review was researched and written, this model was unavailable for testing. It boasts an auger that turns at 43 rpm, the same as the Hurom, but with a 15-year warranty.
Consumer Reports likes the auger-style Fagor Platino 967010008 ($160) despite its small feed tube because of its low price and because they found “its juice output was among the best of all tested models.” But user reviews note that the Fagor is really only good for apples and carrots, and that it jams with anything fibrous (like kale), making it a poor choice for whipping up green juice.
Care and maintenance
All juicers need to be washed by hand as soon as you are finished juicing for the easiest cleanup. Most juicers come with special brushes to clean the nooks and crannies that normal sponges cannot reach. John Kohler says that while you can sterilize your juicer parts in boiling water, he doesn’t recommend it because it can cause those parts to break down faster.
Be patient with your juicer. Try not to shove a bunch of stuff into the feed tube all at once, even though you might be rushing to get out the door in the morning. Slow juicers are just that—slow. If you let your juicer do its thing, you’ll have fewer backups, stall-outs, and instances of wear on parts.
Wrapping it up
The more juice you drink, the more sense it makes to juice at home. Over the long run, you’ll save money while also mainlining your nutrients that much faster. We think the Tribest Slowstar is a great choice if you want to become less dependent on your local juice bar or want to experiment with juices yourself.
Originally published: October 6, 2014