Odds are you'll find a can opener in any given household. It’s one of those kitchen gadgets that’s often overlooked because the time commitment is relatively small—in a few seconds, that can of vegetables, beans, or tuna is opened. But not just any can opener will do the trick.
“A [kitchen] can be a dangerous place, especially when everyone is moving at breakneck speed,” says Paolo Neville, executive chef at 95a Bistro & Co. in Lafayette, Colorado. “Having a can opener that is sturdy, easy to use, and cuts the can nice and clean without leaving any jagged edges is key.”
There are other considerations as well. For instance, manual can openers are more common and are stored more easily, but an electric or battery-operated version requires less effort. Some openers leave sharp edges as they cut along the top, while others cut along the sides.
To see if our top picks are up to snuff, Rebecca Treon, our product tester, tested these six can openers in her own kitchen. She also looked into the answers to frequently asked questions, like how often a can opener should be cleaned and how to increase a can opener’s longevity.
Here are some of the best can openers on the market, complete with our own findings, to help you find just the right one to simplify your can-opening prowess.
Best Overall, Manual
Zyliss Lock N’ Lift Can Opener
What We Love: Magnet locks onto can, very easy and comfortable to use, doesn't leave a sharp edge
What We Don't Love: Takes a second to remember to latch and unlatch the opener
The Zyliss Lock N’ Lift Can Opener is overall the best of the can openers that we tested for a couple of reasons. First, when the magnet attaches to the top of the can and you squeeze down, a mechanism clicks into place, locking and holding the lid tightly and making the effort of opening the can much easier. Second, with the Zyliss model, several cans can be opened in one go without the hand getting tired: It has a smooth-touch handle that’s comfortable to hold, and very little effort is required when you use the easy-twist knob.
When the can is totally open, you don’t have to worry about fishing the lid out of the can (risking it getting into your food). The magnet—which, in Rebecca's opinion, is one of this can opener's best features—is attached to the lid, and you simply lift the opener and release the latch mechanism, causing the cutaway lid to detach hands-free. This can opener doesn't leave any sharp edges, and in her testing, Rebecca didn't even have to stick a knife in to pry the lid up. It also clicks into a locked position for easy storage (so the two handles stay together), which for some reason is a bigger issue in general than you would ever expect it to be.
If you’re looking to upgrade your clunky manual can opener, this one has a modern design, well-thought-out features, and high-quality construction, especially for the price.
"It took me a few seconds to figure out how to use the lock button and magnet, but after I did, it was very easy to use because the lid didn't wiggle around and was held in place by the magnet. I love that it is hands-free with no sharp edges—so easy to use." — Rebecca Treon, Product Tester
Price at time of publish: $20
Material: Silicone, stainless steel | Dimensions: 7.1 x 3.2 x 2.2 inches | Weight: 0.4 pounds | Dishwasher-Safe? No
Best Overall, Electric
Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener
What We Love: Easy to use one-handed, sleek and modern design, no sharp lid edges, opens cans in under 10 seconds
What We Don't Love: Bulky to store
Though electric can openers require more cabinet or countertop space, it is worth it for those who seek the ultimate smooth can-opening experience. An electric can opener eliminates the need to manually twist open canned goods. With its easy-touch lever, the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Electric Can Opener is the model to go for if you’re looking for a way to open cans with just one hand. Our tester found it very easy to use: Its strong magnet grips cans firmly, and all Rebecca had to do was press the handle down, causing the can to rotate and the opener to open the edge around the can in about 5 seconds.
This model also looks nice on countertops with its chrome and black design. It has an extra-tall design for a variety of can sizes, including standard-sized cans and pop-top cans. Reviewers seem to enjoy the "smooth touch" feature of this can opener, which eliminates sharp lid edges; the opener cuts along the sides of the can instead of the top. Those who want or need an electric opener will love this option, which does the job in under 10 seconds.
"I feel like this is great for people who have limited ability to use manual can openers. I still like manual ones better (just personal preference), but this opener is very easy to use. Also, it's bulky and takes up a lot more space—I have a very small kitchen." — Rebecca Treon, Product Tester
Price at time of publish: $40
Material: Plastic, stainless steel | Dimensions: 4.7 x 5 x 10.2 inches | Weight: 3 pounds | Dishwasher-Safe? No
Oxo Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener
What We Love: Easy to use, comfortable grip, leaves a smooth edge, makes no contact with food inside can
What We Don't Love: It's slightly bulkier than other manual openers
The OXO Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener became one of Rebecca's favorites after testing. It has a basic but effective design, and that is its strength. It has a soft-grip knob and nonslip handles, as well as a patented side-wind mechanism that cuts easily and smoothly. It latches onto the top of the can and twists the lid off, with the knob on the top, too, leaving no sharp edges. Small pliers on the side attach to the lid and remove it without touching the lid. The cutting wheel ensures the opener doesn’t touch the contents of the can, keeping the can opener clean and the food sanitary.
Some reviewers note this model is slightly bulkier than other manual options. Because of this, it may be challenging to store in smaller or more stocked kitchens. Rebecca also found that it was a little bit more awkward to open smaller cans (like a tuna can) because of its size. However, the OXO's simplicity, comfortable design, and safety features make it the right choice for many households.
"The OXO Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener attaches to the can quickly without any fumbling around, it requires little effort and is one of the safest options on the market." — Paolo Neville, Executive Chef, 95a Bistro & Co.
Price at time of publish: $26
Material: Stainless steel, nylon | Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.5 x 2.25 inches | Weight: 0.7 pounds | Dishwasher-Safe? No
Related: The Best Electric Can Openers
Best for Lefties
Bartelli Soft Edge 3-in-1 Ambidextrous Safety Can Opener
What We Love: Compact, easy for left-handed people, versatile, no sharp parts
What We Don't Love: Awkward to figure out how to use it at first
If you’re left-handed, you already know that many kitchen appliances are designed for those who are right-handed. Lefties will rejoice with this ambidextrous can opener that anyone can use, regardless of your dominant hand. The single-handled design of the Bartelli can opener gives lefties a comfortable grip.
Admittedly, trying to figure out where to place the opener is a little awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it, cans open easily. For those who love multifunctional kitchen tools, the Bartelli can also be used as a bottle opener and a jar opener. Because of the way that the can opener sits on top of the can and is held with the opposing hand to give it pressure, no strenuous gripping or twisting is required to open cans, jars, and bottles. This opener is also good for people with hand mobility issues or hand pain.
As an added bonus, the design on the Bartelli is a super-safe option–the cutting mechanisms are all tucked inside. When opening cans, the can is cut around the side, leaving no sharp edges or lids. This would be a great option for camping, tailgating, or other road-tripping, thanks to its compact size and multifunctional abilities.
"It took me a few seconds to figure out how to place the can opener correctly. But one thing I do love about it is that it is easy to use once it's on there, and I can see where it would be helpful for someone left-handed. it also has zero sharp parts whatsoever. I think once you get used to where to put it on the can, it is great." — Rebecca Treon, Product Tester
Price at time of publish: $15
Material: Alloy steel, stainless steel | Dimensions: 4.5 x 3 x 1.5 inches | Weight: 0.3 pounds | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Best for Safety
Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master Can Opener
What We Love: Multi-functional, easy to use, leaves a smooth edge on the side, includes helpful features in addition to can-opening
What We Don't Love: Could be awkward to store, pricey
Though we call this can opener the best for safety, it could also easily fit under a category like “Best Multipurpose,” as it not only securely opens cans, but also opens jars, bottles, plastic bottle caps, and soda cans. The can opener feature has an auto-locking technology that grips the lid firmly, plus tiny pliers on one side to remove the lid, so it’s not only safer but also more sanitary than many other can openers since this gadget and your hands never touch the food.
The Kuhn Rikon attaches to the top and cuts the outside edge of the can, leaving a smooth edge around the rim as it removes the top. As it leaves no sharp edge, it’s safer than your typical hand-held can opener. It’s also slim and fairly compact. The Kuhn Rikon is a kitchen tool that is rated as one of the leading safe kitchen gadgets, an important factor particularly if you have curious kids around the kitchen. It’s also another good option for a multi-use tool great for camping and road trips.
"I love this one because it leaves a smooth edge on the side, not a sharp edge in the can that you'll have to fish out. I also love that it is smooth and easy to use, and that it has the bottle opener, plastic cap opener, and little pliers on the side." — Rebecca Treon, Product Tester
Price at time of publish: $25
Material: Plastic, stainless steel | Dimensions: 9 x 2.75 x 2.75 inches | Weight: 0.4 pounds | Dishwasher-Safe? No
Related: The Best Cooking Utensils
Kitchen Mama Electric Handheld Can Opener
What We Love: Opens cans easily with one hand, push of a button, no need to plug in, leaves smooth edges
What We Don't Love: 4 AA batteries required
If you’ve ever wanted to open a stubborn can with the push of a button, this opener may be the one for you. A battery-operated model by Kitchen Mama makes opening cans virtually effort-free–it only requires pressing and holding a button. This is a great option if you can’t use a typical handheld opener or if you want an electric option that is compact and fits in a drawer.
The ergonomic design makes it easy to hold, and the opener literally does all the work—including rotating the can as it smoothly cuts its edge on the outside rim—once it’s latched into place on the top of the can. You press a button on the top to get it to start and press it again to stop. The only downside to this opener is that it needs four AA batteries to get going (not provided), which can be an inconvenience for some people.
While Rebecca didn't love this can opener after testing it—mainly because of the four batteries required and her preference for using a manual one—she says she can see this being good for those who can't use a manual can opener.
"It took me less than a minute to open a regular-sized can, but it took me a minute to figure out how to attach it to the can and to hold it down. If you're used to twisting the knob on a can opener and having it rotate manually, this is just a different feeling." — Rebecca Treon, Product Testing
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: Metal, stainless steel | Dimensions: 7.1 x 2.8 x 2.2 inches | Weight: 0.5 pounds | Dishwasher-Safe? No (wipe with damp towel only)
Related: The Best Hand Mixers
The Zyliss Lock N’ Lift Manual Can Opener is the best handheld choice, closely tied with the OXO Good Grips Smooth Can Opener after home testing. Both allow for hands-free disposal of the can lid and leave a smooth edge that you don’t have to fetch from the can. If you prefer an electric option, the model by Kitchen Mama eliminates sharp edges when opening standard-sized and pop-top cans.
How We Tested
Our writer and product tester, Rebecca Treon, combed through dozens of top-rated and bestselling can openers, and looked through dozens of consumer reviews and available manufacturer information to choose her top picks. We then purchased these can openers and delivered them to Rebecca so she could put them to the test in her own kitchen. We had her use each product to open a standard-sized (15-ounce) can of soup or beans and a small can of tuna, and then she recorded how long each took to open and how smooth the resulting cut edges were. She also noted the strength of the magnet and whether, after cutting, the can's lid had to be fished out from inside the can.
After testing, Rebecca submitted feedback about what she liked and didn’t like about each can opener and rated each one on the following characteristics: Design, Performance, Ease of Use, Cleaning, and Overall Value. Learn more about how we test products.
What to Look for When Buying a Can Opener
Manual vs. Electric
Do you want or need the ease of an electric can opener? If you have mobility limitations or just simply want the almost-zero effort an electric can opener offers, that may be the option for you. If you don’t have the space to store a bulky electric opener, don’t want to replace batteries, or a few twists of the hand aren’t a big deal to you, opt for the manual opener. Every kitchen needs a can opener, but whether you choose one that does the work for you or one you operate by hand yourself is a matter of preference.
Price and Size
There are a number of things to consider when choosing the right can opener for you. Most can openers fall in the range of $15 and $35, so they aren’t a major investment, but ideally, they will last for at least a few years. Most manual can openers are handheld and fit in a kitchen drawer. In general, they’re roughly the same size, but some are a bit bulkier than others. It will depend on the amount of space you have in your kitchen.
Ease of Use
Ease of use, or how comfortable a can opener is to hold and how easy it is to twist to open a can is probably one of the most important considerations. Fiddling with the can opener because you can’t figure out how to affix it to the can is annoying. Having to crank the can opener because it sticks makes opening a can unnecessarily difficult. Having a can opener that is padded and comfortable to hold is a win, as is turning something easily without a huge amount of effort. Having to fish the lid out of the can or dealing with sharp edges is undesirable, so the can openers that leave no edge and lift off the open can are advantageous. Another consideration is whether the can opener has any added features, such as doubling as a bottle opener, which is nice when it comes to versatility.
Why do can openers stop working so quickly?
Most can openers should last at least a year, though many people have can openers that last for decades. In the interest of longevity, your best bet is to avoid buying the cheapest version you can and instead invest in something whose reviews indicate that it is durable. The most typical reason for can openers to stop working or malfunction is that the gadget itself is made from flimsy materials that bend or get misshapen. Other times, the rollers get gunk on them or acquire rust. Sometimes rollers become misaligned or dull and can’t cut through the can.
Are electric can openers worth it?
Whether you want an electric can opener or a manual one is a personal choice, depending on your dexterity–if you have mobility or strength issues, want the safest choice, or open large quantities of cans, it may be your best option. The only disadvantage is that you need to have ample storage space.
How often should I clean a can opener?
Experts say that you should clean your can opener after every use, believe it or not. Though smooth-edge openers accumulate fewer germs and bacteria, washing your opener with soapy water is still a good idea. If you notice the cogs and wheels getting grimy, you can clamp them onto a paper towel to get small bits out. After washing with hot water and dish soap, dry thoroughly to avoid rust.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Rebecca Treon is a food writer and avid home cook who loves her collection of kitchen gadgets, many of which she’s amassed while testing them for Simply Recipes. While teaching her kids to cook, she’s also excited to learn all about what works best in the kitchen and why, and to share her knowledge with readers.
Lacey Muinos is a freelance writer specializing in food and drink, health, and wellness. As you can imagine a food writer would, she has an impressive array of kitchen gadgets, including her trusty can opener.
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