Best Cheap Juicers
- Published on
- By Stephanie Anderson Witmer
The first step toward finding the best cheap juicer for your needs is to think about what kind of juice you want to make and how much effort you want to expend. Fruits, vegetables, and greens have vastly different properties that require distinct juicing methods and, in many cases, different equipment.
Cheap Juicers Buying Guide
Citrus juicerspecializes in lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit, and there's certainly no shortage of reasonably priced models. If you prepare only a small amount of juice every once in a while, a manual citrus press or reamer may be all you need -- assuming you don't mind using a little elbow grease. Squeezing a pitcher of OJ for the family every morning this way isn't feasible, however. For that you'll need an electric juicer. Based on our research, your best bet for a cheap electric citrus juicer is the Black & Decker CJ630-2 (starting at $16.50). The manual Metrokane Rabbit Citrus Juicer (starting at $40) turns out to be more style than substance.
Masticating juicer works best on wheatgrass and other fibrous vegetables (such as spinach and lettuce) and roots (like beets and carrots). These low-speed juicers push produce through a barrel or chute, where a rotating, screw-like auger slowly kneads and "chews" the greens to extract the juice, sieving the liquid and leaving the pulp. Most electric masticating juicers are priced way beyond the Cheapism range. The top-selling (and best-reviewed) brands, which include Breville, Omega, and Champion, typically start at $200. One frugal solution is to opt for a manual wheatgrass juicer, such as the Lexen Healthy Juicer GP27 (starting at $50), which is recommended specifically for juicing greens.
For any other vegetable or fruit combination, a centrifugal juicer or juice extractor does the trick. This type of machine uses spinning blades to shred the produce and centrifugal force to push the juice out from the center of rotation and separate it from the pulp. The juice drains into a small pitcher or a drinking glass, and the pulp collects in a separate receptacle. These juicers are fast and easy to use, particularly for beginners. They tend to be less expensive than masticating juicers but are not as effective at extracting juice from leafy greens. While many centrifugal juicers start at the $100 mark, good options under $50 do exist. The best cheap one we found is the Hamilton Beach 67601 Big Mouth Juice Extractor (starting at $50). The Black & Decker JE2200B Juice Extractor (starting at $30) also makes our list of top picks, while another Hamilton Beach model, the HealthSmart Juice Extractor 67800 (starting at $35), doesn't demonstrate the efficiency or durability reviewers expect.
What We Looked for in the Specs
Large Reamer or Chute.Squeezing small limes and lemons with a cheap citrus juicer is not the same as squeezing large oranges and grapefruit. Some models, including the Black & Decker CJ630-2, come with two different size cones to fit the reamer. In reviews on multiple sites, users admire the design of the Metrokane Rabbit Citrus Juicer from an aesthetic standpoint but warn that the reamer is large enough to accommodate only lemons, limes, and the smallest of oranges, making it ineffective for orange juicing -- not worth it for the price and effort. As for juice extractors, feed-chute sizes vary, so figure on doing some slicing and dicing beforehand to ensure fruits and vegetables will fit. The Hamilton Beach 67601 Big Mouth Juice Extractor boasts an extra-wide 3-inch feed chute, but most cheap juicers have smaller chutes that require smaller pieces and more pre-juicing prep time. Many users mention this in reviews of the Black & Decker JE2200B Juice Extractor, for example, although it doesn't deter most of them from giving the juicer a positive rating overall.
Convenient Container Design.Some juicers are sold without a juice container; a glass or bowl is meant to fit under the spout to collect the juice. Others save you from having to make a separate glass of juice for each person by offering relatively large pitchers. The Black & Decker CJ630-2 features a 32-ounce pitcher that holds enough for the entire family. A clear container with measurements on the side lets you see how much juice you've squeezed, which is especially useful if you need it for a recipe.Centrifugal juicers often come with two separate containers -- one for the juice and one for the pulp. These either fit right into the juicer or sit underneath the ejection points. The Black & Decker JE2200B Fruit and Vegetable Juice Extractor includes a 10-ounce juice pitcher and a 28-ounce pulp bin. A too-small pulp container adds time to the juicing process, as users must pause to dump the pulp and start again. Dishwasher-Safe Parts. All the electric juicers recommended here have parts that are dishwasher-safe after disassembly, making cleaning and de-gunking a snap. The two manual juicers, the Lexen Healthy Juicer and Metrokane Rabbit Citrus Juicer, are hand-wash only. This doesn't detract from most users' high opinion of the Healthy Juicer, however, as its simple design and minimal parts make hand-washing easy. As for the Metrokane Rabbit, the required washing technique may be the least of its drawbacks.
Safety Features.Juice extractors, because of their speed, sharp blades, and metal baskets, should have one indispensable safety feature: a locking mechanism (as you would find on a food processor) that prevents activation unless properly assembled and securely closed. If you come across a juicer that does not come with this feature, you might want to consider another model. Even with a heavier and stronger machine, make sure the unit is equipped with a no-slip grip to keep it from dancing and spinning while you juice; alternatively, you can place a cupboard liner under the juicer. This is especially useful with tall and narrow models, such as the Cuisinart CCJ-500 Pulp Control Citrus Juicer (starting at $30), which have a tendency to tip over. The manual Lexen Healthy Juicer GP27 has a suction base and a metal clamp that can be used together or separately to attach to most any surface. The electric citrus juicers mentioned here have pressure-activated reamers, which allow the machine to activate only when the fruit is pressed firmly down onto the reamer.
To make our picks, we scoured user reviews of juicers on the manufacturers' own websites and on retail websites including Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and Chefs Catalog, as well as expert advice from outlets such as Good Housekeeping. Juicer reviews focus mainly on the following criteria: how well and how quickly a juicer extracts juice; how durable the juicer is; and how easy the machine is to use and clean.
Effectiveness and Efficiency.The better a juicer is at extracting the goods, the more juice you get -- and the fewer fruits and vegetables you have to buy. Generally speaking, the drier the residual pulp, the higher the quantity of juice extracted. Users don't like seeing pulp that is too damp with juice afterward. Reviewers chastise the Hamilton Beach 67800 HealthSmart Juice Extractor (starting at $35), for example, saying it yields only small quantities of juice and the mesh basket gums up with pulp very quickly. On Amazon and Drugstore.com, they call the machine wasteful, as it produces tons of pulp and very little juice. Reviewers call special attention to the "final spin" feature on the Cuisinart CCJ-500 Pulp Control Citrus Juicer (starting at $30), which is designed to squeeze every last bit of juice from the fruit.Consumers also want juicers that can do the job quickly, without requiring the user to stop and scoop out accumulated pulp too often. The Hamilton Beach 67601 Big Mouth Juice Extractor (starting at $50) boasts a big pulp bin, and users describe the machine as powerful and fast. They repeatedly mention how dry the pulp is -- an indication of a highly efficient juicer.
The Metrokane Rabbit Citrus Juicer (starting at $40) receives the poorest marks in this area. In reviews on the Bed Bath & Beyond website, many users say they found the handle awkward to turn and note that very little juice is squeezed from each fruit. One review mentions that the gearing on the arm catches and another grumbles that it takes a lot of force to squeeze out any juice at all.
Durability.A juicer should feel substantial and be able to withstand the rigors of juicing, regardless of its price tag. Most budget juicers are made from plastic and have a few metal parts. The shells on some lower-cost models, including the Cuisinart CCJ-500, are a combination of plastic and stainless steel, and the motor is comparatively strong. Others, however, are relatively flimsy and may break on first use or after a small fall. Reviewers cite the Metrokane Rabbit Citrus Juicer as one such model.Juicer reviews tell a tale of two different Hamilton Beach juice extractors: A couple of users report that the highly touted 350-watt motor on the Hamilton Beach 67800 HealthSmart died after just a few months of use. On the flip side, users praise the Hamilton Beach 67601 Big Mouth, with one user writing that the juicer was still going strong after nearly four years. All the juicers in this buying guide come with limited parts warranties of at least one year.
Ease of Use and Cleaning.Many juicers require assembly and disassembly of multiple interlocking parts between uses. These parts should fit together tightly, without any gaps or wobbly bits, and be durable enough to withstand the repeated process of taking the juicer apart, washing the pieces, and putting them back together again.
Users and experts warn against electric juicers that vibrate so much that they "walk" across countertops while in use, which makes juicing difficult and much messier -- not to mention potentially hazardous. User reviewers on a couple of retail sites lament that the Cuisinart CCJ-500 "dances" too much on the counter. (Despite this, reviewers praise the Cuisinart's ability to extract juice, and more than 500 have contributed to an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.) The Metrokane Rabbit Citrus Juicer has received negative reviews on multiple sites for being difficult to use. One reviewer writes on Chefs Catalog that juice from large oranges overflowed all over the counter and each orange had to be repositioned several times in order to extract all the juice. That same user complained of hand pain after filling just two small cups of juice with this manual machine.
Keeping a juicer clean is an important maintenance step and makes an impression on users, who appreciate parts that are easy to wash and especially those that are dishwasher-safe. Even if you choose a model with dishwasher-safe parts, an entire electric juicer will not be able to go in the dishwasher, so look for products with minimal gaps and hard-to-reach crevices, where juice can trickle and collect. The Hamilton Beach 67601 Big Mouth Juice Extractor comes with a brush for cleaning any tough spots. The Black & Decker CJ630-2 Citrus Juicer (starting at $16.50) and JE2200B Fruit and Vegetable Juice Extractor (starting at $30) and the Lexen Healthy Juicer (starting at $50) also earn top marks for designs that prevent spillage on and around the unit when juicing.
When users do come across a machine that's difficult to clean, its online product ratings suffer. Most Amazon user reviews of the Hamilton Beach 67800 mention how difficult it is to clean, and the juicer receives many 1-star ratings. Bottom line: If a juicer isn't easy to use and easy to clean, it won't be used at all -- a waste of money at any price.