The Best Can Openers to Make Your Life Easier

Opening canned food is a breeze with one of these top-notch can openers, including our favorites: the manual Zyliss Lock-N-Lift Can Opener and the electric Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener.

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best can openers
Photo: Amazon

Picture this: Things are heating up in the kitchen, and you're in the middle of chopping and sautéing only to be suddenly derailed because you can't open the can of food that's needed for the next step of your recipe. An ineffective can opener can be frustrating at best and dangerous at worst, while a high-quality can opener is one that easily, quickly, and safely handles the task at hand. And with so many staple ingredients like black beans and tuna coming in cans, having a reliable can opener readily available is going to prove useful.

We scoured the market to determine the best can openers available right now based on their style, ease of use, and price. Manual or electric is really a matter of personal preference, but we found a lot to love about the Zyliss Lock-N-Lift Can Opener for the former and the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener for the latter. Keep reading to see why those are our overall top picks as well as the other can openers we ranked as the best.

Our Favorites

Best Overall, Manual: Zyliss Lock-N-Lift Can Opener

best can openers
Amazon

Also available at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Wayfair.

Why It's Great

  • Ergonomic handle
  • Has locking mechanism
  • Handy, built-in magnet

Grain of Salt

  • Can take getting used to

At first glance, this can opener may look fairly standard, but look closely and you'll see the special features that make it stand out from other manual ones. First, there's the puncture and locking feature, so the can opener is held securely onto the can as you're opening it — no slipping and sliding. Another handy feature is how all the parts you grip on the opener are soft to the touch and won't tire your hand out as much as you're cranking, which is a big plus if you're going the manual route. Then, there's the strong magnet to lift up the cut lid, so you won't have to precariously fish it out from the food within the can with your bare hands. Instead, you can pull a little lever on the opener to release the lid right into the trash.

The only tricky thing with this one is that you may need to try a few times to get the right angle in the beginning and get used to the locking mechanism so it can attach and cut properly. But once you've figured it out, that locking feature will prove one of its highlights in terms of usability.

The Details: Manual; measures 7.09 x 3.15 x 2.24 inches; made from plastic and stainless steel

Best Overall, Electric: Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener

best can openers
Amazon

Also available at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, and Wayfair.

Why It's Great

  • Cuts along the side so no sharp edges
  • Easy-to-use lever design
  • Includes mini scissors

Grain of Salt

  • Bulkier size requires more counter space

Electric can openers are the way to go for anyone who wants to exert as little effort as possible getting into their canned goods, and this one from the trusted Hamilton Beach brand is our favorite in that category. One of its distinguishing features is how it actually cuts the can from the side, leaving a cut lid that's smooth. Not only does that mean you're less likely to get cut by a ragged edge, but it also minimizes the chance of the food spilling out and making a mess before you've even begun cooking. To use it, all you have to do is push down on the big top lever with one hand and the machine does all the work for you in no time.

Of course, one of the considerations of going with this can opener (and really most electric can openers) is that it's going to take up more space whether you leave it on the kitchen countertop or store it in your cabinet. But remember, what you trade in space, you'll get back in convenience. Speaking of which: How many other can openers out there include some small scissors in a back compartment so you have what you need to easily cut open bags along with your cans?

The Details: Electric, measures 10 x 5 x 4 inches; made from plastic and stainless steel

Best Budget: Ez-Duz-It Can Opener

best can openers
Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

Why It's Great

  • Affordable price
  • Durable
  • Rubber, easy-to-grip handles

Grain of Salt

  • Best to hand wash

This highly effective can opener comes at a low price, which feels like even more value for your money considering how it's made from carbon steel and built to last. You certainly won't have to worry about it getting damaged if you accidentally drop it on the floor like some plastic or electric options out there. No, it may not have some fancy design, but who needs aesthetic frills when you can count on this to do its job well, smoothly opening lids, year after year. One design addition it does have is that the handles are covered in rubber (and come in different colors), so you can hold the tool steadily as you're turning the crank.

As durable as this thing is, something you will want to take extra care with is washing it. It's best to hand wash the can opener with warm water and soap. Otherwise, if you continue to throw it in the dishwasher, it's possible that it could get rusty.

The Details: Manual; measures 7.25 x 2.13 x 1.88 inches; made from chrome and carbon steel

Related: The 9 Best Kitchen Shears for Food Prep, Finishing Touches, and More

Most Versatile: Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master Opener

best can openers
Amazon

Why It's Great

  • Has five opener functions
  • Convenient mini pincers
  • Compact

Grain of Salt

  • Should be hand washed

You might wonder, "How can a can opener be more versatile than just opening cans?" Well, look to the Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master Opener and you'll see. On one end of the Swiss-designed tool, you'll find a standard can opener plus a mini-plier to safely pull up the open lids without having to use your fingers. Look to the other end, and there's a bottle opener for crown caps, a bottle opener for screw tops, a little hook to handle pull tabs, and another hook for prying open vacuum-sealed jars. Tackling everything from canned tomatoes to sardine tins to pickle jars to coke cans, this tool may become one of the most used gadgets in your kitchen.

This versatile can opener is a nice space saver if you want to avoid having too many single-use kitchen tools cluttering your flatware drawers. It may be tempting to throw it in the dishwasher, but it's really best if you hand wash it. The good news, though, is that the can opener is designed to cut from the side and not to touch the food in the can, so it really shouldn't get that dirty.

The Details: Manual; measures 9 x 2.75 x 2.75 inches; made from plastic and stainless steel

Best Design: Kitchen Mama Electric Can Opener

best can openers
Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

Why It's Great

  • Compact design
  • Opens with a push of a button
  • Suitable for weak hands

Grain of Salt

  • Requires batteries

There are many reasons to love this little gadget: It's electric but doesn't take up a lot of storage space, is easy for left- and right-handed people to use as well as those with limited hand mobility, and cuts smooth edges. This small can opener fits in the palm of your hand but still can be used for cans of all sizes. To use it, place the blade and gear between the opposite side of the edge and press the power button. You don't even have to keep your hand on it while it works around the can, allowing you to continue prepping your meal. Once you've opened the can, simply lift the lid off, and you're good to go.

All in all, this electric handheld can opener is the best of both worlds, as it fits easily into drawers but requires zero effort. It's important to note that you'll need to purchase four AA batteries in order to use it.

The Details: Electric; measures 7.09 x 2.76 x 2.17 inches; made from plastic and stainless steel

Best Smooth Edge: OXO Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener

best can openers
Amazon

Also available at Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Why It's Great

  • Side cut means no sharp edges
  • Has built-in pliers for lid removal
  • Comfortable, non-slip grip

Grain of Salt

  • Need to get used to placement angle

One of the worst things that can happen when you're opening canned food is accidentally slicing your hand on any sharp edges left by the opener. This can opener prevents that from happening by cutting into the side of the can rather than from the top, leaving a smooth edge just as its name promises. Because it's cutting from the side, you may find that you have to hold the can opener at a slightly different angle than your run-of-the-mill top-cut opener, but once you've figured it out, it's quick and easy work turning the big knob on the side to open the can.

Another nice feature of this tool that keeps your contact with the can to a minimum is the built-in lid pliers, which you can use to pick up the cut lid. Squeeze the nonslip grip handles together to pinch the mini pliers, and then you can lift and toss the lid without touching it with your bare hands.

The Details: Manual; measures 6.5 x 10.75 x 11 inches; made from plastic and stainless steel

Related: The 9 Best Food Processors, Tested by Allrecipes

Our Takeaway

For those who prefer manual can openers, Zyliss Lock-N-Lift Can Opener is our favorite choice due to its convenient, user-friendly features. For those who'd rather opt for electric, the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener is the way to go because of its sleek, easy-to-use design and side-cutting capability.

How to Pick the Right Can Opener

Style

These days, it's just as easy to find a high-quality manual can opener as an electric one, but the two vary greatly in terms of appearance and size. Many manual can openers are more functional than attractive, but they can easily fit into the drawer. Meanwhile, electric can openers require some free countertop or cabinet space to use and often come in different colors and sleek designs, so you can match the rest of your kitchen equipment. Another style choice to make is whether you want a top-cutting can opener, which is more common but cuts right into the lid, leaving a more jagged edge, or a side-cutting can opener, which leaves a smooth-cut edge just below the lid's rim so the whole top comes off. We prefer side cutters since they make the cans safer to handle.

Ease of Use

There's no real debate — electric can openers are easier to use, as they just require the simple touch of a button or lever to get the machine working. Meanwhile, manual can openers necessitate actively turning some type of crank or handle around the top of a can. For some, this type of hand movement is not feasible or practical. An extra note: If you've decided on a manual can opener and you're left-handed, you might want to look for one that's specifically made for lefties (as in they have the crank on the left side or a different ambidextrous design) so it's less awkward for you to use.

Price

You can find a decent can opener for as low as $4 and as high as $40. For the most part, electric can openers will be more on the expensive end than their manual alternatives, but it is possible to find both manual and electric options in the middle of that price range. In general, can openers are one of the more affordable pieces of equipment when it comes to stocking your kitchen, and you shouldn't have to splurge to find one that suits your cooking needs.

Common Questions

Are electric can openers worth it?

There's no denying that electric can openers require less labor and time to use than manual alternatives. The flip side is that they will most likely cost more. Whether or not an electric can opener is worth that extra price depends on how often you use canned ingredients while cooking and how easy (or not) you find it to use a manual can opener. Those who have limited mobility or pain in their hands may find the convenience and usability of electric can openers particularly worthwhile.

How do you clean a can opener?

Since can openers can be manual or electric, and come in a variety of materials, it's really best to check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions for the specific product you're using. Many can openers shouldn't be placed in the dishwasher, so you might have to hand wash yours with warm water and dish soap using a sponge, cleaning brush, or dishcloth.

Why do can openers stop working?

If your manual can opener has stopped working, it's possible that the blade has become dull or bent out of shape. Maybe it wasn't properly aligned with the can while using, there's rust, it was constructed using cheap parts, or it's simply reached the end of its lifespan. For electric can openers, they may stop working if the blade is dull, the motor is faulty, or there's something else wrong with its inner mechanics.

Why Take Our Word for It?

This piece was written by Cindy Brzostowski, a freelance writer and avid home cook who has previous experience in cookbook publishing. Her work has been published in Blue Apron, The Kitchn, and EatingWell among others, and she used her background in food to guide her research through numerous can openers available at various retailers.

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