A little citrus juice can transform an entire dish, adding a floral, sunshine-y brightness and acidity that helps all the other flavors pop. It’s like a cheerleader for your food. That’s why most cooks have at least a couple lemons or limes tucked away in the fridge at all times, and why we’re always looking for the most trouble-free way to juice them.
Sure, we could use an electric juicer to extract mass quantities to freeze, but most of the time home cooks are juicing on the fly, so we decided to gather all the hand-held juicers we could find and put them to the test.
We scrubbed the pulp from seven different juicers to find the best one.
But First, What Style of Citrus Juicer Is Best?
In order to compare apples to apples, we divided our contenders into two camps: reamers and presses. Both have their pros and cons. Reamers have fins that shred the fruit’s tissues so the juice can run free. They’re the way to go for maximum juice extraction. But reamers get your hands messy. Presses keep your hands clean but always leave a little juice behind. Also, they usually require a good deal of hand strength to use. Read here for our review of the best large-scale citrus juicers.
The Best Reamer
The Best Overall: OXO Wood Reamer
For six bucks you can have a super-efficient citrus reamer that will last a lifetime — maybe even two. There’s not a lot to say about this solid wood tool except that it just works, really well. Made of beachwood, its tip and ridges are surprisingly sharp and great at tearing into the fruit’s flesh. It decimated lemons and limes, leaving no juice behind. It works well for larger diameter fruits too, though you have to maneuver it within the fruit a bit more. At about 6 inches long with no built-in doo-dads, it’s easy to tuck into a drawer and pretty much indestructible.
What’s not to love, right? Well, a few things. You’re going to get your hands dirty with this one. Got a paper cut? Steel yourself because the pain train is coming. Also, there’s no way to block the seeds and pulp. You’ll have to use a separate strainer or use your fingers to strain as you pour the juice into your recipe. You also have to hand wash it, though honestly that’s a cinch since it’s just a solid piece of wood.
The Best Reamer with an Attached Cup: OXO Good Grips 2-in-1 Citrus Juicer with Built-In Measuring Cup and Strainer
OXO is really good at designing tools with ergonomics in mind. The line’s not called “Good Grips” for nothing. And ergonomics is what sets this reamer with an attached measuring cup apart from the rest.
Most reamers with an attached cup are meant to sit flat on a table while you press down, but they’re hard to hold onto and can slip around. This one has a narrow middle so it’s easy to get a grip on it. Just hold onto the cup, squish your fruit against the plastic reamer, and twist away. The plastic reamers were sharp enough to tear through the fruit and quickly extract all the juice.
This tool comes with two reamers, a smaller one for lemons and limes, and a larger one for large diameter fruits like oranges and grapefruits. They snap in securely and pop out for easy cleaning, and slits at the bottom do a great job at catching even small seeds. The plastic cup has a nice wide pour spout that’s drip-free, and it measures up to 1 1/2 cups of juice. It’s bulky though. If you are tight on space, consider the small version for lemons and limes that measures 1/3 cup of juice. And eventually age or a run-in with gravity might cause the plastic to break or crack. Still, this is a well-designed and versatile option that works great for both large and small fruit.
The Best Citrus Presses
When it came to presses, it was hard to choose a clear winner. Most of the presses I tested performed to the same ability, which is to say they squeezed out most of the juice from the citrus, but usually had some leftover, unlike a reamer. If you prefer a press-style juicer, any of the models we tested would work well for you. Each model had pros and cons, and the one you choose depends on your personal preferences in terms of specific design features.
The Best If You Are Concerned About Hand Strength: Joseph Joseph Helix Juicer
To operate the Joseph Joseph Helix Juicer, you twist the handles together instead of pressing them, which squishes the fruit with less effort. It’s ideal for people won’t don’t have a lot of hand strength, like older folks and kids. The slits in the bottom of the squeezer do a great job keeping seeds out. And it’s made of sturdy plastic and stainless steel, with no hinges or moving parts that could break. It also seemed to extract the most juice of any press-style juicer. But it does have one significant drawback: It’s big. It didn’t fit in our standard kitchen drawers. Also, it’s not designed to squeeze big diameter fruits, like large oranges.
The Best If You Want to Juice Oranges, Not Just Lemons: Chef'n Fresh Force
The Chef’n Fresh Force features a big, burley, geared hinge that looks impressive. The company says the mechanism allows the juicer to squeeze out 20 percent more juice than “conventional models,” but considering every piece of fruit has a different amount of juice, this claim is hard to substantiate.
Still, we tested it out on a variety of lemons, limes and oranges and found it did indeed do a great job. We found we didn’t need to exert quite as much pressure. Another great feature? The bowl has slits in the bottom instead of holes, which helped direct the juice into our measuring cup and kept even tiny seeds out. The only downside, again, is the size. That massive hinge takes up a lot of space. Still, the Fresh Force is sturdy, well-built, and requires a bit less force than standard squeezers.
Other Handheld Juicers I Tried
Our first impression of the Williams-Sonoma Citrus Reamer with Funnel was, “Why?” It’s a hard plastic reamer set inside a soft silicone funnel, with a long stainless steel tube coming out of the bottom—an usual design for sure. Why bother with such a platypus of a kitchen tool when it can’t be that different from a much smaller traditional reamer?
Turns out, this reamer is specifically designed for juicing over a tall drinking glass, and for that purpose, it’s actually pretty cool. That lengthy stainless steel tube goes inside the tall glass, and funnels citrus juice neatly into it from the reamer. The juice travels down the tube and, through a set of holes, enters into your glass while the seeds stay behind.
The silicone funnel is soft and rests against the lip of the glass to the reamer keep it steady. The reamer itself is ridged plastic and very efficient at tearing through the fruit to unleash all the juices. It’s also sized for a wide range of citrus, from small limes to large oranges or grapefruit.
However, it definitely has its drawbacks. Using this over a short glass or measuring cup isn’t ideal, as the long tube will just get in the way.
Also, the reamer can slide out for washing, but the tube doesn’t detach from the funnel, making storage and cleaning problematic. You'll need a bottle brush to clean that metal tube. Unless you’re planning to always juice your citrus over a tall glass, keep looking.
The Trudeau Citrus Juicer seemed like a cute and ingenious combined juicer and storage container. A plastic reamer sits atop a little plastic measuring cup. There’s a pour spout and a lid that goes over the reamer that’s designed to work as a handle that you can use instead of your hands to twist the citrus against the reamer.
But despite its many seemingly ingenious features, this tool was our biggest disappointment. Because the lid is rigid, it can’t squeeze the fruit against the reamer effectively—you only get juice from the very center of the fruit. Even if you ditch the lid and use your hands, the plastic collar on the reamer is too tall, making it difficult to grip the fruit around the sides and often leading to finger scrapes. It’s also nearly impossible to use with large diameter fruits like oranges.
The Williams-Sonoma Citrus Press is the Chef'n Fresh Force, but with the store-exclusive feature of an attached measuring cup. The cup snaps on flush to catch every drop, and the bottom is angled so you can rest it on the counter at a comfortable position while you press. Being able to rest it on the counter allowed the leverage to apply pressure a lot more easily. And the cup kept the spray of juice well contained.
However, the cup is small—its graduated measures only go up to 2.5 ounces. More importantly, the measurements are not that accurate (probably because of the angled bottom). I cross-tested the volume with a measuring cylinder and it was short by about 1/4 ounce. This version is also far heavier (about 1/4 pound) than the original Chef’N and the bowl is bit wider. It’s definitely a deluxe model, but it comes with a price tag to match ($40 at the time of writing).
OXO’s aluminum citrus press looks like most others but offers a few extras. The “soft touch” handles have a rubberized area to make it a little less slippery when squeezing, and the center of the bowl is raised up in the middle. The company says this is to mimic a traditional reamer, allowing for more juice extraction. However, this model didn’t do better than any of the other squeezers we tried—there was always some juice left behind. And the way the top and bottom fit together with the center bump made it more awkward to squeeze the fruit. The pin in the hinge is noticeably thinner than the pins in the other squeezers we tried, so longevity may be an issue. And the tool is several ounces lighter, which is a good thing for those who have trouble holding heavy things, but it also makes the squeezer feel less sturdy. The squeezer works as well as any other, but it costs a few dollars more for features that ultimately don’t matter.
Both the Zulay Metal Lemon-Lime Squeezer and the brand's "heavy duty" stainless-steel version, worked well. They were as efficient as the Chef’n, but took just a tad more effort to squeeze. The lemon-lime version includes a green insert for limes. However, this feature isn't really necessary—it didn’t extract more juice or make juicing any easier. Though both models are made for lemons and limes (the heavy-duty version doesn't have a lime insert), the bowls are big enough to juice an orange 3 inches in diameter. The holes at the bottom of both models did a good job straining out big seeds, and the pins in the hinges (the part that tends to break first) is a sturdy 1/2 centimeter thick.
Since the heavy-duty version doesn’t have the lime insert or a special hinge, it fits well in a drawer. This is a great choice for a basic squeezer with a slim profile. It works as well as any other, offers fairly robust construction, fits in a drawer, and there’s no paint to chip. The only real downside is at $28 it’s quite pricey for a basic squeezer.
How I Tested
I juiced lemons, limes, and—when possible—oranges in each of the juicers. I measured the amount of juice I could extract from them, however I took this relatively lightly as the amount of juice is so dependent on the individual fruit. In the case of press style juicers, which could never extract all of the juices, I used a reamer to extract the remaining juice. I measured the amount of juice left behind, a metric I took more seriously.
Factors I Evaluated
Is the juicer easy to operate?
Does it require a lot of hand strength? Is the design easy to use? For the most part, the juicers I tested were simple, but some included attachments or features, like measuring cups—I wanted to know if the attachments were worth the extra effort and space, or if they were mere gimmicks.
How big is it?
I wanted a citrus juicer that would take up as little space as possible, while still operating effectively.
Is it durable?
While I didn't keep these juicers around long enough to test their long-term durability, I paid close attention to the quality of the materials and the way they operated, evaluating whether or not they were built to last.
Does it extract juice effectively?
In general, reamers extracted juice more effectively. But, I wanted to look for the best possible press as well, since the reamer can be annoying to use and doesn't keep your hands from getting covered in citrus juice.
Is it inexpensive and easy to clean?
Unlike electric juicers, small handheld juicers should be inexpensive and shouldn't require complex disassembly for cleaning.
If you want the efficiency of a reamer and the convenience of a built-in measuring up (and have plenty of drawer space) our vote goes to the OXO Good Grips 2-in-1 Citrus Juicer with Built-In Measuring Cup. If you want a handheld juicer that extracts every drop, takes up very little space, is cheap, easy to clean, and won’t break, you can’t go wrong with the OXO wooden reamer—but note that using it is a messy proposition. For an option that keeps your hands from getting sticky, choose an easy-to-use press that doesn't require massive amounts of hand strength: the Joseph Joseph Helix Juicer. And for a press-juicer option that's also able to juice oranges, choose the Chef’n Fresh Force.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious