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February/March 2015

Electric Citrus Juicers

We tested seven inexpensive citrus juicers to see how they compare to our favorite (but much more expensive) electric citrus juicer.

How We Tested

One lemon for a vinaigrette is easy enough to juice by hand, but for larger extraction projects we use an electric citrus juicer. A good one should extract maximum juice with minimal effort and be easy to clean, tidy to store, and quiet enough to use early in the morning. Our favorite electric citrus juicer, the Breville Stainless Steel Juicer, is all those things, but at $200, it’s an investment. Could we find a good citrus juicer for less than $100?

We compared seven models priced from $20 to $82; all have a spinning reamer that you hand-push a halved citrus fruit into to force out the juice. We juiced 10 limes, 10 oranges, and 10 grapefruits with each and measured how much juice they pressed from the fruit, as well as how long it took. We also considered how challenging they were to use, clean, and store, and how quietly they operated.

Except for the motorized bases, all the juicer parts are top-rack dishwasher-safe. Only one was annoying to clean: It has six detachable parts, the most of any we tested, and some were hard to snap together. We docked points accordingly.

Next, we looked at where the juice goes once it’s extracted from the fruit. Two juicers have attached carafes; five dispense their juice from a spout, and the user finds and secures a catching vessel below. We preferred attached carafes because when you’re working with slippery fruit (often early in the morning), it’s easy to jostle the catching vessel and pour out the juice all over the counter. The two fixed carafes felt more secure; both detach with a twist and have tidy pouring spouts, so they can go directly on the table for serving.

Last but not least, we looked at how easily and thoroughly the juicers juiced. Testers found that a good juicer can extract 30 percent more juice than a bad one. The difference? Their reamers. The reamer is the plastic domed piece that bores into the fruit, pressing out the juice. All of them are crisscrossed with ridges. If the ridges were too sharp, they cut into fruit, sectioning it and spinning it around instead of pushing into the pulp; too dull and the fruit slipped off, or they couldn’t bore deep enough into pulp and left good juice behind. The best juicers came with two medium-ridged reamers, one for small fruit like limes and lemons and one for large fruit like oranges and grapefruit.

In the end we narrowed it down to two machines: Both were easy to clean with stable attached carafes and well-designed reamers. We put these two through a final gauntlet of 50 limes each—100 halves of fruit—one right after another, to compare how durable and easy they were to use. One model was the ultimate, inexpensive victor; it’s quieter and smoother, and it plowed through the fruit with ease. The runner-up model is our previous Best Buy; it was redesigned since we last tested. It worked well, but its motor is louder—not horribly so, but enough that you might not want to use it early in the morning. And while it never stopped working, testers did note a burning smell toward the end of our 50 limes.

So what do you sacrifice by choosing our favorite inexpensive model at $20 rather than the $200 Breville? The Breville is definitely higher quality, sturdier, and attractive in stainless steel. It uses a power-assisted lever instead of your hand to push the fruit against the reamer, which makes it slightly easier. But hand-pushing the fruit for our winning inexpensive model isn’t too taxing, and you get a tactile signal when it’s spent (you can feel the reamer ridges through the peel). For its efficient juicing, easy use, and smooth motor, our Best Buy is our top pick for an inexpensive citrus juicer.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.