We Tried 5 Tools for Juicing Lemons — And the Winner Was Exceptional

updated Apr 21, 2023
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labeled photo of five different tools used for juicing lemons including a handheld juicer, a reamer, an electric juicer, a stand mixer, and microwave
Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

I have infamously weak hands. That makes me the worst person to call when it’s time to squeeze a bunch of lemons for a batch of homemade lemonade, but also the best person to call when it’s time to test tools that will juice lemons.

For a task that’s so straightforward (squeeze lemons, get lemon juice), there are a ton of tools designed to help with the job, and even a few hacks, too. Feeling curious, I decided to test some of the best tools and methods out there to figure out the best way to juice lemons.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell; Design: The Kitchn

How I Tested Tools for Juicing Lemons

I realize that comparing ways to juice lemons is almost like comparing apples and oranges. It’s not like every lemon at the grocery store is going to give you the same amount of juice. That said, I did my best to pick ones that were all around the same size (medium large-ish ones) and I used two lemons for each method so that I had enough juice to easily measure. I also did a control where I squeezed lemons with my bare hands (I got a little less than a 1/3 cup). And when I was done with all the tests, I made a big pitcher of lemonade.

It’s important to note that, I could have easily tested five (or 50) different reamers. Or handheld juicers. Or electric juicers. Because there are just so many out there! But I wanted to compare the various types of methods. So I pitted a reamer against a handheld juicer against an electric version … you get the point.

The ratings: Each method received a rating, with 1 being the least effective method and 5 being the most effective. Like the rest of our showdowns, this one considers results (how much juice I got) and ease (was it messy? Did it require a lot of time? Was it annoying?). Keep reading — along with the rating, you’ll find more detailed notes from my testing.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Method: An Electric Juicer

  • Total time: Less than 1 minute
  • Total juice: 1/3 cup
  • Rating: 1/5

About the method: I tried an inexpensive electric juicer that’s meant just for citrus. With these types of appliances, you cut the fruit in half and push it against a motorized reamer that spins and does the hard work for you. There are plenty of high-end juicers on the market that can also do whole apples and larger fruit, but I was keeping things simple here.

Results: This was the method I had the highest hopes for, but then ended up the most disappointed by. It yielded nearly the same results as my by-hand method, and also required a whole unboxing and setup process that was more hassle than it was worth. It also meant a bunch of pieces that need to be cleaned. Save the cabinet space and your efforts, or if you really want an electric juicer, get one that can also do other fruits.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Method: A Simple Reamer

  • Total time: Around 1 minute
  • Total juice: 1/3 cup
  • Rating: 2/5

About the method: There’s something so retro about using a simple plastic reamer. The idea is so analog! Cut a lemon in half and hold one piece in one hand and push the reamer into the flesh with the other. You can also use the tool for tiny limes and giant oranges and grapefruits.

Results: While I appreciate the simplicity of a reamer, it wasn’t much more effective than when I just used my hands. A copious amount of seeds ended up in my measuring cup, despite the fact that I’d plucked some out before I got started. And once the lemon half started getting slippery, it was hard to hold onto. (Obviously a countertop reamer — like this popular OXO option — would help with that last part.) Still, I was underwhelmed. It was nice to just rinse out the reamer or toss it in the dishwasher when I was done, though.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Method: Microwave, Then Squeeze by Hand

  • Total time: Less than a minute
  • Total juice: 1/2 cup
  • Rating: 3/5

About the method: The theory goes like this: If you store lemons in the fridge, the juice-holding membranes in the lemons firm up, limiting their juice-producing potential. So by zapping them for 15 or 20 seconds on high before juicing, you’ll warm things up and supposedly to get more juice. (Note: All the lemons in this test were room-temperature.)

Results: Kitchn editors have tested this method before and it does work! My little hands have never felt stronger! While impressive, this method wasn’t my winner because the other two were just a tad bit better. But! If you have lemons in the fridge, I suggest microwaving them for 20 seconds before finishing up with one of these methods below. And when you’re done juicing the lemons, you can then use them to clean the microwave.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Method: In a Stand Mixer

  • Total time: More than 2 minutes
  • Total juice: 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon
  • Rating: 4/5

About the method: A fellow editor originally saw this method in A Couple Cooks‘ Instagram Stories and she’s since fallen hard for it. You quarter the lemons and toss them into the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix the lemons for about two minutes and strain the juice. Not only do you get the juice, but you also get the natural oils from the skin, so the liquid is extra punchy.

Results: This legit works! It’s a bit involved if you just need the juice of a single lemon, but if you need the juice of at least a few lemons, it’s worth it. And it’s definitely worth it if you’re making lemonade!

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Method: A Handheld Juice Squeezer

  • Total time: Less than 1 minute
  • Total juice: 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon
  • Rating: 5/5

About the method: I used the Chef’n Citrus Juicer, which got a shoutout in our list of Kitchn Essentials. You cut a lemon in half, put a piece in the juicer, and squeeze it right over a bowl, pan, or measuring cup.

Results: I didn’t get drastically different amounts of juice from each method, and any differences I got could’ve been due to the lemons themselves. However, at the end of the day (err, test), this method was the easiest and the most effective. I loved that I could squeeze the juice right into my pan, and that I didn’t have to fish out the seeds at all (the tool contained them all). And when I took the peel out of the juicer, it was spent and almost totally inverted, making me feel satisfied that I got every last drop. When I was finished juicing, I just tossed the tool in the dishwasher — which my weak hands greatly appreciated.

Do you have any other tricks for favorite tools for getting the most juice out of your lemons? Tell us in the comments below.