Juicers are becoming an indispensable kitchen appliance
No matter how often you may need a juicer, it's indisputably one of the best tools you can have around the house to improve your overall diet and nutrition. A juicer's primary purpose is to separate the juice in fruits and vegetables from the peel and pulp. The best extract the maximum amount of juice, then make it easy to discard the pulp, leaving only the pure, healthy juice.
In spite of its increasingly mainstream presence, there is some controversy as to whether or not juicing is necessary or even healthy. There's no doubt that drinking your vegetables and fruits should not replace eating them. You need the fiber from produce as well, and you're straining that out when you juice. In addition, drinking too much fruit juice is just as bad as eating too much sugar, experts note, so most juice drinks should focus on the juice from vegetables.
However, many nutritionists point out that juicing can be an efficient way to increase your nutrient intake since you can get the benefits of, say, an entire bunch of kale without having to eat that much of it. You can even add some of the pulp back in to the juice for added fiber, or use it for cooking. Also, if you hate veggies and absolutely won't eat them, drinking the juice is definitely a great alternative.
It's important to note that these machines are not smoothie makers and aren't suitable for super soft fruits like bananas. If you have a yen for a smoothie, see our separate report on blenders . For a versatile appliance that can chop, dice, mix, blend and shred, see our report on food processors .
Juicers can be broken up into three broad categories:
Manual juicers are as basic as they come. This is the go-to tool for those who may just need an occasional few tablespoons of lemon, lime or orange juice, but don't want to keep the bottled stuff around. Some are handheld and you place the fruit into the mechanism and squeeze it. Others sit on a counter and juice into a small, included bowl; you just have to press down. Some presses can be pricey, but they get great reviews for efficiency and durability. Those are particularly popular with folks who may have an at-home bar set-up, because they are ideal for creating individual drink mixers.
Electric citrus juicers are a step up, and are best for medium-sized jobs. This type of juicer has a small electric motor and does a good job of scouring the juice out of any type of citrus fruit. The best can handle multiple batches without burning up, and even the less-expensive models can easily keep a family in fresh orange juice or lemonade. They're not appropriate for heavy use and they won't juice vegetables or non-citrus fruits. Citrus juicers are sometimes incorrectly referred to as citrus reamers. A citrus reamer is actually a simple, one-piece tool. It juices a single orange, lemon or lime, but does not strain the juice, that needs to be done as a separate step. Electric citrus juicers have a built-in strainer.
Centrifugal juicers are by far the most popular type of juicer. They can handle a variety of fruits and vegetables quickly and efficiently. The best are easy to use and clean, and extract the maximum amount of juice from your produce, leaving little waste. They can be noisy, however, so look for one that gets good reviews for its quiet performance. Although this type of juicer can be expensive, with some models costing more than $500, there are plenty of great choices in the $100 to $200 range.
Masticating juicers are best for tough greens. Masticating juicers are highly versatile appliances that grind the juice out of even the toughest vegetables. They also can act almost as a food processor, making nut butters, grinding spices, making baby food and even extruding pasta. The big selling point of the masticating juicer is its slow crushing process that wrings every bit of juice from the produce without heating it up. Some nutritionist believe this helps to maintain the enzymes and nutrients in the greens, so you get a bigger nutritional bang for your buck. The jury is still out -- there are plenty of dissenters who say there's no proof of that -- but these juicers are growing in popularity as vegetable juice and juice cleanses become a part of the mainstream American way of eating.
ConsumerSearch editors evaluated expert roundups, professional tests and hundreds of owner reviews to find the best juicers in four categories: manual, centrifugal, electric and masticating. We looked at the results of test performed by ConsumerReports.org, Cook's Illustrated, Good Housekeeping and Fine Cooking, and took into account the months of research performed by the folks at SweetHome.com. Consumer review sites such as Amazon.com and Walmart.com spoke to long term durability and reliability. In addition to performance, the most important factor, we looked at ease of assembly, use and cleaning because if it's a hassle, your juicer will probably just sit in a cupboard somewhere. Noise was factored in because a noisy appliance can be annoying. The products we chose rose to the top in every category and the range of sizes and prices means we found a top juicer that will fit into most people's lifestyle, budget and kitchen.
Breville makes a series of practically perfect juicers
Centrifugal juicers uses blades that spin at a high rate of speed to pulverize fruits and hard vegetables like apples and pears, squeezing out the juice and discarding the pulp, rind or peel. This is the most popular type of juicer, but serious juicers often prefer a masticating juicer, because its slower, auger-style operation may preserve more nutrients.
While we normally like to avoid single-product love fests, this is one of the few times that simply isn't possible because the Breville Juice Fountain juicers hit all the high notes: Easy to assemble, use, disassemble and clean; with great performance that is quiet, versatile and durable.
Although we could have picked almost any model in the series, the Breville Juice Fountain Plus JE98XL (*Est. $150) is our Best Reviewed juicer because of its highly reasonable price along with its generous, 1.1-quart-cup juice capacity. Some in the series are larger, some smaller, but reviewers say the JE98XL is a great appliance for the casual to serious juicer, as well as for any size family. It's clearly a better value than the Breville Juice Fountain Elite 800JEXL (Est. $300), which has nearly identical features at twice the price.
Users and professional testers say the JE98XL handles fruits and vegetables with equal ease. Its two speeds means it can wrangle tough items like leafy greens, or smooth softer fruits without turning them in a mushy mess. Reviewers love the wide, 3-inch food chute that cuts down on food prep. Its smooth, crevice-free surfaces make it easy to clean, and, as a bonus, most parts are dishwasher safe on the top rack. It gets the highest marks of any juicer we've seen for durability and owners say it's stable and sturdy even at top speed.
The other standout choice in the Juice Fountain Plus series is the Breville Juice Fountain Compact BJE200XL (Est. $100). It's a powerful performer in a smaller package than the JE98XL. It has only one speed and a slightly smaller juice-cup capacity (25 ounces), but it performs just as well as its bigger brothers and costs less than some smaller, citrus-only juicers. It's an excellent choice for a small kitchen or for servicing just one or two people.
If, for whatever reason, you don't want a Breville, the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Pro 67650 (Est. $60) and the Krups Juice Extractor ZY501D50 (Est. $130) both get some love from professional and user reviewers The Hamilton Beach model is one of the highest-rated juicers in a test from a well-respected professional testing organization, who give it a top pick for performance and ease of use. Performance includes juice generated from a given starting weight using carrots, apples, oranges and tomatoes. Users also like the results they get from the Hamilton Beach 67650, saying it's a great value for the price, easily powering through most fruits and vegetables. Most agree that it's not the best for leafy or tough vegetables, and that it produces a lot of foam over time, possibly due to dulling of the blades. However, for the price, and if you're not going to use it for challenging items, The 67650 is a great buy.
The Krups Juice Extractor also might not be the best for leafy vegetables, but reviewers love the modern design and the wide feed tube. It gets most of its complaints for its large footprint and a noisy, sometimes rattly operation. More than one owner said it tried to "walk" across the counter while in use. Reviews on ease of cleaning are mixed -- some say it takes much too long, while others say it's no more difficult than any juicer.
If you want to try juicing both fruits and vegetables and don't want to commit too much price-wise, the Hamilton Beach 67650 won't break the bank and you won't feel too bad if you change your mind or decide juicing isn't really your cup of tea. If you're already committed to juicing, we highly recommend that you go with a Breville Juice Fountain for the ultimate in short- and long-term performance and durability.