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 34oz Citrus Juicer.
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.
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 BLACK+DECKER comes the closest, along with Toastmaster’s 1109 Citrus Juicer. Unfortunately, a call to Spectrum Brands confirmed that the latter model, along with another Black & Decker unit we tested, has been discontinued. After 14 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 what makes a juicer great)
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 BLACK+DECKER 34oz Citrus Juicer 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. It’s also the best seller on Amazon.com, with a 3.7 star rating based on 438 reviews.
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 Spectrum Brands 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.
How we tested
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.
- 30-watt electric citrus juicer with 32-oz. capacity
- Auto-reversing juicing cones provide maximum juice extraction
- Adjustable Pulp Control with Pulp Basket - Pulp collects in the...
- Easy-to-Read Measurement - Markings on the clear juice container makes...
- Drip-Free Pour Spout - The container doubles as a pitcher, complete...
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. That said, we will update this piece if we find out more, and the warranty should come into play for any motor issues that pop up during the first year. We’ll keep testing this unit over the long term and report back on how it fares after months of use. At this point, we’re not worried.
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.
The step up
- Powerful citrus press housed in professional-grade brushed stainless...
- Industrial strength, whisper-quiet motor; revolutionary active-arm...
- 1-size-fits-all juicing cone provides maximum juice extraction;...
- 1 coarse stainless steel filter; cord storage; dishwasher-safe parts
- Measures 11" x 9" x 18"; 1-year warranty
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.
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 actually the best performer 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.
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.
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.
Finally, the CJ630 and Toastmaster units are really non-starters, as there’s no telling how much longer the discontinued models will be in stock and on sale.
Wrapping it up
For most people juicing citrus at home, Applica/Spectrum Brands’ 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. you to get comfortable.