Even mid-priced juicers can cost hundreds of dollars, so the skeptics among us didn’t have terribly high hopes when we set about testing machines in the budget category. But we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor, the least expensive of all the cheaper-priced picks we tested, was our favorite.
First, a bit of general juicer info. When it comes to juicers, there are two major categories: single-auger and centrifugal. Centrifugal juicers use a fast-spinning blade and centrifugal force (science!) to separate the liquids contained in fruits and veggies from their solid parts. Single-auger juicers (aka cold-press juicers, masticating juicers, or “slow juicers”) have many names, but only one gear. They are — you guessed it — slower than their centrifugal counterparts. Single-auger juicers generate less heat throughout the juicing process, making them purportedly better at preserving valuable nutritional enzymes that centrifugal juicers’ heat can break down (although the evidence to support this isn’t universally agreed upon). Single-auger juicers are also generally pricier, so all the budget machines we tested were centrifugal. This centrifugal model gets the job done like a pro.
The chute on this juicer — that’s where you insert whatever you want to juice — is 3 inches wide, or enough to fit half a medium-sized beet or a small apple. This cuts down on prep time, making this machine a good pick for anyone who wants a glass of juice within five minutes. Some reviews of this machine noted that it was slower than machines with more power (like the ones we tested in the $$ and $$$ brackets), which stands to reason, but it still makes a damn fine glass of juice in under two minutes, putting it neck-and-neck with its higher-priced competitors in this category.
We tested apples, beets, kale, celery, and carrots, and this machine’s 800 watts were more than sufficient to create perfectly smooth juices in every combination. Some of the juicers we tried tended to be more efficient at extracting juice from one type of fruit or vegetable than another — which resulted in, for example, kale stealing all the thunder in our kale-apple-celery juice (such a diva). The Hamilton Beach had no such problem — the fruit and vegetable flavors were well-balanced in every juice we made.
This model is easy to set up (not a given when it comes to juicers) and to use, with just a simple on/off switch. Every juicer we tested was somewhat annoying to clean, but this one was less annoying than most — its plastic parts are all dishwasher-safe, and if you want to cut down on cleaning time, you can line the machine’s pulp bin with a plastic bag.
All the juicers we tested in this price category produced a significant amount of foam. You can always cut down on foam by using a fine mesh strainer, but we didn’t find it hugely off-putting, particularly if we drink our vitamin-brews right away. In short, if you want to drink green but not spend a whole lot of it, the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor is your best bet.