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Can openers are a kitchen essential, and choosing the right one makes cooking with canned tomatoes, beans, tuna, soup (and anything and everything else) effortless. There’s little as frustrating as fighting with a can and a can opener that won't get the job done. Selecting a reliable and smoothly functioning one makes kitchen life substantially easier.
Patented in 1931, the first electric opener was described as a “power-operated cutting device specially adapted to be hand-held.” Still, it took the gadgets another few decades to find commercial success. Well-made modern electric can openers are first easy to use. In most cases, a magnet holds the can in place while it spins through a sharp blade, removing the top of a can at the push of a button or pull of a lever.
As opposed to a manual can opener, an electric model takes care of holding the can, turning it, and cutting the top off for you. If you have mobility or strength issues, want the safest possible option, or just open a whole lot of cans, an electric can opener is a great investment.
To help you make your decision, we decided to test our top picks. They're each being tested with cans of various sizes to see not only how cleanly they cut, but also how long it takes and whether the lid falls into the can (because nobody likes it when a dirty lid falls into their soup). With all this in mind, Hamilton Beach's Smooth Touch Can Opener is our top pick.
Here’s everything you need to know about choosing the very best electric can opener.
Best Overall: Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener
What We Love: Works on all can sizes and holds the lid in place, no sharp lid edges, easy-touch opening lever
What We Don't Love: Bulky, may lose performance quality over time
With its sleek design and excellent can-opening skills—cans were left smooth enough to graze with a thumb in every test—this electric can opener from Hamilton Beach wins points for the best in show. Yes, at 10 inches high and 5 inches wide, it takes up more space than some other compact models, but that’s a small price to pay.
A single lever, which can be operated with one hand, allows you to open cans both large and small. Whether it was a small can of tuna or a can of soup, this model opened cans in less than 4 seconds in all our tests. A strong magnet held the lid in place while you release the can, so there’s no need to go digging in your beans for the metal lid left behind.
Hamilton Beach’s tall design means that you can open many different sizes of cans, and the machine is even built to open pop-tops. The sidecut (as opposed to top) means fewer ragged edges, a real bonus here. Keep in mind that the size does make this a bit too large for some small kitchens.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5 x 4.7 x 10.5 inches | Weight: 3 pounds | Cut: Side
Best Budget: Black+Decker EC500W Easy Cut Can Opener
What We Love: Smooth lids, can be used with most can sizes
What We Don't Love: Difficult to clean
You can use this budget-friendly countertop can opener on cans up to 32 ounces in weight. This is a magnet-operated, one-touch machine that operates quickly and leaves behind smooth lids. With a wide base that’s specifically tailored to allow for larger can widths, this machine is a great value for the price.
Using the Black+Decker can be a little less streamlined than some of the other openers on the market. During our tests, if the magnet and can lid weren't properly aligned, the blade did not cut the top. But, when lined up correctly, the top-cutting machine yielded a smooth lid, and the magnet held the sliced lid from falling into the can. The machine even comes with a few added bonuses, like a bottle-opening tool and a built-in knife sharpener.
The blade of the machine can be removed and washed, though it’s a bit of a challenge to do so. One more added bonus: it comes in multiple finishes, so it can be coordinated with your kitchen.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5.6 x 4.9 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | Cut: Top
Best Handheld: Kitchen Mama Electric Handheld Can Opener
What We Love: Excellent design, small, great for compact kitchens
What We Don't Love: Batteries required, can leave rough edges
Small kitchen dwellers, unite. The Kitchen Mama Electric Can Opener, available in four colors (white, sky blue, red, and teal green) is similar in size to a manual opener, with all the benefits of an electric opener. Battery-operated, this machine is really easy to use, with a two-tap system that slices the lid until you press it to stop.
It performed decently during our test, with the can sticking on one side when opening a can of tuna, and once the lid fell in. But it did only take a few seconds for it to open any can we tried. "It's maybe not as high functioning as some of the other countertop models, but it's a good machine for small kitchens," says our tester.
The AA batteries required for this small machine are not included, and using the machine can be a little on the noisy side. But when you’re done, this can opener—unlike the countertop models—can be stored in your kitchen drawer until the next time you need it.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 7 x 2.8 x 2.2 inches | Weight: 8.5 ounces | Cut: Side
Related: The Best Can Openers
Best Battery-Operated: Bangrui Professional Electric Can Opener
What We Love: Small, easy to use
What We Don't Love: Unreliable, batteries not included
This handheld model is a good pick for those interested in an electric can opener that doesn’t take up too much space. The device truly does offer some of the smoothest edges around since the can is released by pressure from the inside, as opposed to a physical slice. It’s also easy to use.
In testing, this can opener did jam once, making it take twice as long as it should have. When it doesn't jam, it’s still a slower model than the more expensive openers and even the Kitchen Mama, a competitive brand that’s also handheld. Also, the AA batteries it needs are not included, meaning you may have to wait to use it if you aren’t prepared.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 7 x 2.7 x 2.5 inches | Weight: 8 ounces | Cut: Side
Best for Large Cans: Cuisinart CCO-50 Deluxe Electric Can Opener
What We Love: Can be disassembled to clean, slim and streamlined, efficient
What We Don't Love: It’s a little shaky when operating
In the category of countertop can openers, the Cuisinart CCO-50 is a slim and streamlined option. Unlike some of the bulkier openers, this model can easily be turned sideways and tucked away. It can accommodate all kinds of round cans, including large cans of tomatoes. During tests, the smaller can took 2.5 seconds to open, while the larger one took 4 seconds.
A hands-free operation, this opener stops operating when the can is open, and a strong magnet holds the lid for you while you work. The removable cutting mechanism can be cleaned very easily, and the limited 3-year warranty means you don’t have to worry about a replacement if it breaks. Since it’s on the slim side, it can move a little when operating, but that’s a small price to pay for a quality can opener that fits in medium-sized kitchens.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4.5 x 4.6 x 9.4 inches | Weight: 3.5 pounds | Cut: Side
Best Splurge: Oster Electric Can Opener
What We Love: Tidy retractable cord, built-in sharpener, detachable blade
What We Don't Love: Large, expensive
This can opener comes with lots of extras, like a retractable cord, built-in knife-sharpener, bottle-opener, and removable blade. Cans open efficiently and quickly—3 seconds and 4 seconds in tests—and the design is pleasing enough to leave it out on the counter permanently.
Although this model is expensive, you’re paying for a multitasker that can sharpen your knives, pop your bottles, and open your cans. The mechanism stops automatically when you’re done using it, and, best of all, you can remove the blade to clean it when you’re done. It’s a pricey option, but with all the extras, it’s an excellent pick.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.5 x 4 x 9 inches | Cut: Side
With its easy-touch lever and ability to handle cans of all sizes, the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener (view at Amazon) should have a place on your kitchen counter. If you're looking for a lightweight opener that can be easily stashed away, turn to the Kitchen Mama Electric Can Opener (view at Amazon).
What We Made
We sent these products to be tested in the home kitchens of our expert food writers. They spent weeks using the electric can openers to see how they stood up to everyday tasks. They were also able to offer additional insights including shipment issues, how easy they were to set up and store, and more. After testing, our writers submitted feedback about what they liked, didn’t like, and rated each one on the following features: Performance, Ease of Use, Cleaning, and Design. Learn more about how we test products.
What to Look for in an Electric Can Opener
Top Cut or Side Cut
Traditional or top-cut can openers slice the lid just inside the rim, leaving a thin circle of metal. If you typically use the can's lid to drain liquid, this is handy. Since top cut can openers come into contact with food, they need to be cleaned and dried well to prevent the growth of bacteria and rust on the blade.
Side-cut openers make a clean slice along the side of the can’s top, leaving a smooth, safe, and seamless edge.
Upright or Handheld
Traditional electric can openers are almost always upright, which means they take up significant counter space. Battery-operated handheld electric openers are relatively new to the market and can be stashed in a kitchen drawer. To use a handheld battery-operated can opener, place it on top of the can, push a button and wait for the lid to be removed. Bonus: no sharp edges left behind.
How do you use an electric can opener?
Lift or press the lever that releases the can opener’s blade and clamp, then position the can. Align the lip of the can with the wheel and blade, against the back of the can opener. It should be easy to clamp the can in place. Then press the button to begin opening the can, keeping a light hold on the can to make sure nothing spills.
To use a handheld electric can opener, make sure you have a flat surface. Line up the two discs of the can opener with the outer edge of the can. Use one hand to hold the can in place, and the other to press down on the can opener, starting its rotation. Voila!
How do you clean an electric can opener?
Some electric openers have removable blades that can go right in the dishwasher, while others require handwashing. Prevent gunk from accumulating in the first place by regularly wiping your can opener clean with a wet paper towel or sponge.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Hannah Selinger has written about food and drinks for local and national publications since 2015. A former sommelier, Hannah has worked for some of New York’s top restaurant groups, including Laurent Tourondel’s BLT group and David Chang’s Momofuku group. Her work has appeared in Eater, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, and more.
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