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Kitchen appliances seem to gain more and more functionality each year, and with that, the lines can blur. Two appliances that might seem similar and equally capable (some look nearly identical) are the juicer and blender, but they’re actually quite different. Before you start shopping, consider the differences between these machines. It’s pretty likely that one will serve you better than the other.

How does a juicer work?

An electric juicer surrounded by fruits

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A juicer, as its name implies, is specifically and exclusively for producing juice from whatever you cram inside. Typically, that means fruits and vegetables. Some juicers are simple handheld machines without the need of a motor, but I’m referring to the electric variety. 

Most models have a similar setup: a tank on top where you load the food, a base that is equally as large as (if not larger than) the top where the controls and engine are located, a spout for the juice to come out, and a container or spout where the fruit and vegetable fiber collects.  

Beyond that, there are two types of juicer you should know about: the masticating juicer and the centrifugal juicer. 

Masticating juicers

“Masticate” is a posh way to say “chew.” (It makes me think of Michael Caine analyzing Sandra Bullock eating a steak in Miss Congeniality.) Chewing is exactly what a masticating juicer does. Produce is loaded into the tank, and a mechanism, usually an auger (a spiral ramp for smashing) slowly grinds the plants into a fibrous pulp against a sieve. The juice and some small bits of fiber are pressed through the screen, and the rest of the plant gets left behind. 

Masticating juicers can also be called “slow juicers” or “cold press juicers” because they take longer to do their work than the centrifugal juicers do. The slow speed ensures your juice never heats up against the mechanism. The high-powered pressing produces a juice with some fibrous bits in it and is more likely to result in a thicker, foamier drink that doesn’t separate. For these reason, cold juicing is often preferable and touted for holding onto more nutrients. 

Additionally, masticating juicers are quiet due to their slow and steady mechanism. Before you head off to the store or click “check out,” note that masticating juicers carry a heavy price tag. I’ve never seen one retailing for under $100, and more often they’re several hundred bucks.

If you’re about that masticated juice life, here’s a highly rated one:

Centrifugal juicers

A centrifugal juicer produces juice by slicing at high speeds. Instead of grinding and pressing, the produce is chopped into tiny bits against a spinning dial. The circular motion shoots the particles and juice against a conical-shaped screen. The free-flying juice goes out the spout and the fiber is retained in a separate container. 

The high speed cutting of this type of juicer produces heat, and for juice fanatics this can be a bummer. Active enzymes in fresh juice can begin to break down when heated. However, enzymes don’t begin to break down under 104°F, and considering how fast the vegetables pass through the machine, I would be surprised if the juice heated up to that temperature. If you’re worried about it, maybe use fridge-cold produce to keep the temperature down. 

Centrifugal juicers are louder than masticating juicers, and the type of juice is prone to separation overnight, but their affordable price range might be worth it. (Also, shaking separated juice to redistribute the solids isn’t hard to do.) You can find centrifugal juicers ranging from $49 and up.

A highly-rated centrifugal juicer:

How does a blender differ from a juicer?

A blender with a green smoothie inside.

Credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Blenders might look similar to juicers—a loading tank on top and a large base with buttons—but they’re not the same. While juicers juice, you guessed it, blenders blend. The purpose of a blender is to combine all of the ingredients that go in to create a homogenous consistency. That might be creating a thick paste like peanut butter, emulsifying mayonnaise, blending a chunky pico de gallo, meal prepping baby food for the week, or whipping up a fruit smoothie.

Not only do blenders chop up produce, but they’ll work with almost anything as long as the blades can catch it. Simply load the food into the container, and press the button for your desired blending speed. There is a small, central, rotating blade at the bottom of the tall container that will finely chop the food items you tossed inside. The powerful motor allows for a range of blade speeds, usually from low to high. Depending on how powerful the motor is, you can put whole fruits in some blenders and it’ll take them down to smooth liquids. 

However, that’s where it ends. There is no screen to separate the juice from the fiber. Everything that goes into the tank comes out as one homogenous consistency. Blenders come in a great range of prices and that usually reflects the motor power. If you’re blending soft foods, you can buy a less powerful, cheaper machine. If you’re frequently taking fibrous things down to a smooth paste or liquid then you’ll need more power, and that comes with a higher price tag.

Highly rated blenders:

Which one is best for you?

Now that we’ve pulled back the curtain on how juicers and blenders serve different purposes, choosing the right machine should be easy. 

Juicers are specialists and they’re good at their job. If you’re in need of juices on a regular basis, then you need a juicer. Whether it’s a masticating or centrifugal juicer, it’s up to your preference and how much you’re willing to spend. Consider the noise of the machine, your budget, and if you like a thin or slightly thicker juice consistency.

I consider blenders to be more of a kitchen tool than specialty equipment. If you enjoy fruit smoothies, blended soups, or you make blender-crêpes every Saturday, then you’ll need a blender. They’re extremely handy and versatile, so I would suggest one even if you decide to get a juicer, too.

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