Juicing has been around for millennia and has been popular in health food circles for as long as they have existed, but it only hit the mainstream in recent years. Juice bars pop up regularly in cities small and large, and they tend to lead to sticker shock for new consumers. It’s not unheard of to pay $10 to $15 (or even $20!) for a 16-ounce bottle of juice, and chances are that juice wasn’t even made today.
If you’ve been befuddled by the high cost of buying juice, you may have considered making your own. After all, it could take up to 100 pounds of produce purchased to equal the price of a dozen bottles of juice. Researching juicers can lead to a rabbit hole of health claims—some of which are true, and many of which are not—that quickly get far too granular for most people.
The two main types of juicers are centrifugal and masticating, and there are benefits, as well as downsides, to each. Juice presses are a third category of juicer, but they’re even more expensive, cumbersome, and challenging to work with, requiring you to use the machine to chop produce and then place it inside a sleeve or bag for the juicer to squeeze it flat as a second step, so we’re sticking to the two more accessible options. Here's the breakdown on each.
Feed large pieces of produce through a slot into the fast-spinning machine
Faster than masticating juicers
Produce spins against a metal blade and a sharp screen
Functions at 6,000 to 14,000 RPM
Cheaper than masticating juicers
Heat and oxygen may destroy nutrients
Feed small produce pieces through a slot into the slow-spinning machine
Slower than centrifugal juicers
Functions at 40 to 100 RPM
More vital nutrients are retained
Higher yield per pound than centrifugal
Less waste than centrifugal
So, which should you buy? To help you choose between the two, read on for an analysis on how they perform head-to-head on common kitchen tasks.
Breville BJE430SIL Juice Fountain Cold Centrifugal Juicer
What it’s best for: Hard vegetables and fruits, such as carrots, apples, and celery
Breville is a staple kitchen brand for appliances from toaster ovens to Nespresso machines, so it’s no surprise it does an excellent job of creating a quality juicer. The price point is moderate, the capacity is large, and the feed chute is big enough that you won’t need to spend tons of time chopping your fruits and vegetables into skinny pieces in order to fit. It’s high powered and will make fast work of most produce, though this type of juicer doesn’t do well with leafy greens. There’s a mesh filter that minimizes contact with heat, meaning that the main downside to a centrifugal juicer is minimized with this one. You can fit 70 ounces of juice in the container it comes with, and the pulp container can hold the amount of waste needed for that as you go.
Our small appliances expert tested the Breville Juice Fountain Cold Juicer at home and said it was easy to set up and operate and was powerful enough to not only juice citrus fruits, berries, apples, tomatoes, celery, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, spinach, and cauliflower florets, but also pineapple spears with the skin on. The micromesh filter did a stand-up job of separating juice from pulp, seeds, skin, and stems; the resulting pulp was still a little wet and mostly shredded, with the exception of a few larger pieces of apple skin, tomato skin, and partially intact spinach leaves (which she repurposed for soup and baked goods). At nearly $200, this is an investment piece, but if you drink juice every day and shell out $10 or so per bottle, you’ll break even in just a few weeks.
For a more budget-friendly option, we recommend the Magic Bullet Mini Juicer.
Hurom H-AA Slow Juicer
What it’s best for: Leafy greens, wheatgrass, and nut/seed butters
It’s more than double the price of the Breville, but the Hurom is a great masticating juicer for numerous reasons. First, this style of juicer can be vertical or horizontal, and the horizontal version takes up much more space. This vertical one is smaller in design. Next, it functions quietly, unlike a centrifugal juicer, so for those who don’t like loud appliances, it’s a better option. Additionally, you get to decide how much, if any, pulp you want to keep in your juice, which is something that not all masticating juicers feature. Lastly, it’s not just a juicer: You can use it to make nut milk, nut or seed butters, and even frozen fruit ice cream.
While our home tester found that the setup process could’ve been a little simpler, once everything was assembled, operation was easy. As far as performance goes, the machine was quiet while in operation and was fairly speedy at crunching vegetables and extracting juice from the pulp. The feed tube is rather small, so you’ll have to cut larger items into smaller pieces, and there are a substantial amount of parts you’ll have to clean after each use. If you’re up for the task, this model is a phenomenal option for serious juicers.
Both centrifugal and masticating juicers have you insert pieces of fruits or vegetables and spin out juice and pulp in return. The main way they differ is in the speed at which they do that and the inner workings of the machines that create those varying speeds. Centrifugal juicers yield more waste and introduce heat and oxygen to produce, while masticating juicers take more time and produce more juice. A centrifugal juicer cleans up much faster than a masticating one, which has more parts to clean and may prove challenging to put back together perfectly every time.
Masticating juicers are quieter, and because no heat or oxygen is introduced to the food, more nutrients may be retained. Some studies suggest masticating juicers retain more nutrients as of when the juice is made; all juices will lose nutrients over time stored in the refrigerator. Lastly, centrifugal juicers are best for firmer produce, where masticating juicers can handle leafy greens and perform functions beyond juicing, such as making nut butters.
Green juice is generally centered around leafy greens. It typically has a base of celery, cucumber, and/or apples, which centrifugal juicers can handle, but features leafy greens like kale, dandelion, spinach, and other leafy guys that a centrifugal will spin out as nearly entirely waste. Fresh herbs such as parsley and cilantro are also often added, neither of which will make much headway in a centrifugal juicer. For green juice like you get at a juice bar, you’ll need a masticating juicer.
Apples are a firm vegetable, but they break down easily, making them a top choice for a centrifugal juicer. You may notice less waste when making apple juice in a centrifugal juicer than when you use it for higher-density items like carrots and beets. While a masticating juicer will retain more of the nutrients in the apples, most people drinking fruit juice are doing it for the best taste rather than the health benefits. And, of course, it will still be much healthier than a shelf-stable bottled juice, because it’s freshly made.
This isn’t a fair competition, because a centrifugal juicer simply doesn’t have the capability to make nut butters. The process to make a nut or seed butter in a masticating juicer is the same as it is to make juice: You add the nuts or seeds through the feeder after setting it to the “homogenize” setting, and nut butter will emerge. Seal it in a tight container, and you’ve got a fresher alternative to store-bought butters. You can also mix and match nuts and seeds in ways that are tough to find in grocery stores, and you can add salt or sweetener to taste, which is helpful if you prefer more or less seasoning than average.
Wheatgrass juice is so costly–and so strong in flavor–that it’s sold as a 1- to 2-ounce shot at juice bars. You can buy an entire tray of wheatgrass, which you can then juice on the daily yourself by cutting some of it off, for less money than you’d spend on a few shots. You could also grow your own wheatgrass, for even less money, from seed. But once you’re ready for juicing, you can only juice wheatgrass in a masticating juicer. Centrifugal juicers, even smaller ones, can’t break down leafy greens well, let alone greens as tiny as individual wheatgrass pieces, which are about the same size as the blades of grass from your lawn.
So, Which Should You Buy?
Centrifugal juicers cost less than masticating, but they don’t come cheap. They produce more waste and have a lower yield, so to an extent, you’ll end up paying more for produce than you would with a masticating juicer. Masticating juicers not only retain more nutrients and yield higher quantities, they function more quietly and have multiple uses. They’re the better choice because if you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars, you might as well spend an additional $100 to $200 for the better functionality. The only exception is if you hate to clean, as masticating juicers take far longer to take apart, clean, and put back together than centrifugal ones do. If you find yourself spending a fortune at the juice bar and have time to spare, a juicer is a worthwhile investment—so you might as well get the most out of it and opt for a masticating model.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Ariane Resnick is a special diet private chef, bestselling author of five books, and certified nutritionist. She has owned multiple juicers over the years and appreciates their strong resale value after every burst of juicing motivation ends.
Kim M-J, Jun J-G, Park S-Y, et al. Antioxidant activities of fresh grape juices prepared using various household processing methods. Food Sci Biotechnol. 2017;26(4):861-869.
National Library of Medicine. Effect of cold-pressed and normal centrifugal juicing on quality attributes of fresh juices: do cold-pressed juices harbor a superior nutritional quality and antioxidant capacity?