The 6 Best Can Openers, According to Our Tests

The Zyliss Lock N' Lift Can Opener wins top choice for a manual can opener

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Best Can openers

The Spruce Eats / Julie Laing

Tested & Approved

The Zyliss Lock N' Lift Can Opener is easy to use and has a comfortable grip handle, which prompted our testers to select it as the best overall manual can opener. If you prefer an electric one, check out the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener, which sports a large top lever that you simply push and watch it do the work for you.

There’s no doubt about it: Every home cook needs a can opener. Even if you primarily buy fresh meat and vegetables, there often comes a time when it's convenient to have canned foods on hand, whether it's tomatoes for classic spaghetti sauce, chickpeas for hummus, or tuna for making a melt in a pinch.

Manual can openers are the most popular option because they're easy to use and save space. That said, an electric opener may suit you best if you don't like the process of twisting. Ultimately, it's more a matter of personal preference than anything else. This kitchen tool may seem basic compared to other gadgets, but some have extra-useful features to help you open cans and dispose of lids seamlessly.

To help find the best can opener for your kitchen, we tested them out at home and evaluated each on design, performance, ease of use, cleaning, and overall value. Dozens of various-sized cans containing soup, tuna, and more were opened to make sure these options are undoubtedly the best, and if they featured a magnet for fetching lids, the effectiveness of that was tested, too.

Here's our list of the best can openers, according to our testing team.

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

4.8
ZYLISS Lock N' Lift Can Opener

Courtesy of Amazon 

What We Like
  • Wide comfortable handle

  • Locking handles reduces hand stress

  • Magnetic lid lifter for mess-free hands

What We Don't Like
  • Slight learning curve

  • Magnet doesn't always catch lid

This tool is easy to use with wide, comfortable grip handles that make it easy to squeeze the opener into place on the can lid. The opener locks into place, so you don’t have to keep squeezing as you open the can. The side handle is easy and comfortable to turn, and the cutting operation is smooth.

Our tester liked that this opener locks fully for storage, but is easy to open with a press of the red trigger. She also liked how it latches and locks onto the can with the turn of the knob, so there's no need to keep squeezing the handles. When the can is open, you simply release the lock to let go of the can. A magnet grabs and holds the can lid so you can lift it away from the can, then you can use the magnet release lever to drop the lid straight into the garbage, so you don’t have to touch it at all.

Even though this can opener is mostly plastic, our tester found that it felt very durable and couldn't imagine it breaking with normal kitchen use. As for cleaning, it is dishwasher safe, but it is just as efficient to wash by hand.

Zyliss Lock N' Lift Can Opener

 The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

Type: Manual | Dimensions: 3.15 x 2.24 x 7.08 inches | Weight: 0.4 pounds | Warranty: 5 years

What Our Testers Say

"This opener cuts the lid inside the rim, as opposed to others that un-crimp the outside joint between the lid and body." Donna Currie, Product Tester

Best Overall, Electric: Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener

4.6
hamilton beach can opener

Courtesy of Best Buy

What We Like
  • Smooth side-cutting opener

  • Blade doesn't come in contact with food

  • Easy press-lever top

What We Don't Like
  • Takes up more storage space

This electric can opener opens cans from the side of the lid rather than cutting from the top, so you can open regular cans as well as those that have pull-tab lids. It leaves a smooth edge, so you don’t have to worry about cutting yourself on the sharp edge.

Since the blade never makes contact with the food, it will stay cleaner. You also don’t risk cross-contaminating foods, because no one wants their evaporated milk to taste like baked beans. It’s not clunky, and the design is quite sleek, so you can store it on your countertop if you open a lot of cans. If you won’t be using it often, simply tuck it away in a cabinet.

This electric can opener has a large top lever that’s easy to press down, making it simple for just about anyone to operate. Just attach the can, press the lever, hold it down, and watch the can opener do all the work. Our tester liked that the can and lid were held securely in place until she fully unlocked the top lever, so she didn’t have to worry about the can self-releasing. The lever action also means this opener works equally well with your right or left hand.

Hamilton Beach Can opener

The Spruce Eats / Julie Laing

Type: Electric | Dimensions: 4.67 x 5.01 x 10.2 inches | Weight: 3.1 Pounds | Warranty: 1 year

Testing Takeaway

"A 15-ounce can opened in just 15 seconds, making it the fastest tool in the roundup to open a standard can. It cuts from the side of the lid, rather than the top, leaving the cut edge perfectly smooth."

Most Ergonomic: Oxo Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener

5
OXO Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener

Courtesy of Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Cleaning
    5/5
  • Overall Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Non-slip, comfortable grip

  • Smooth side-cutting opener

  • Oversized turning knob

What We Don't Like
  • Minor learning curve

While this can opener isn’t electric, its non-slip, comfortable grip and easy-turn, oversized knob make it super simple to operate. The stainless steel cutting wheel never touches your food, which makes it sanitary, and you can use the attached lid pliers to remove the top of the can.

What makes this can opener stand out is the fact that it cuts on the side of the can instead of the top, meaning you aren’t left with sharp edges on the can or lid. Our tester was glad she reviewed the simple instructional diagrams that come with the can opener before squeezing it onto a can for the first time. The opener’s side-cut style attaches to the can at a different angle than top-cut openers. Once our tester understood the placement, the opener’s cutting wheel locked easily onto the can and the knob turned quickly with minimal pressure.

Oxo Can Opener

The Spruce Eats / Julie Laing

Type: Manual | Dimensions: 2.25 x 4.5 x 7.5 inches | Weight: 0.65 pounds | Warranty: OXO satisfaction guarantee

Testing Takeaway

"It took just 21 seconds to open and lift away the lid of a small tuna can. It cut through so quickly and smoothly I wasn’t sure it had actually worked until I successfully lifted off the lid."

Best Multipurpose: Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master Can Opener

4.8
Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master Can Opener

Courtesy of Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Cleaning
    5/5
  • Overall Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • All-in-one can and bottle opener

  • Smooth and safe side-cutting opener

  • Lid-lifter jaws clamp onto can lids

What We Don't Like
  • Might take practice to master

  • Handle not as comfortable as other models

This manual side-cutting can opener automatically locks itself onto the can as you turn the handle, so it’s simple to get it going. Since it works from the side of the lid rather than the top, you get clean, smooth removal with no sharp edges to worry about when the lid is removed, and since the cutter never touches the food, there’s no chance of cross-contamination. Our tester recommends reading the instructions on the packaging if you’re new to using a safety can opener.

When the lid is free, a button clamps the lid-lifter jaws onto the lid to remove it, then you simply release the button to drop the lid into the trash. In testing, the lid-lifter tended to grab both the can and the lid, so be sure to keep one hand on the can to prevent spills. The lid can also be pressed back onto the can to keep the contents neat while you work on a recipe.

During testing, the can opener’s other modes easily popped open home-canned jars of pickles and glass beer bottles, and it quickly unscrewed plastic seltzer lids. There’s also a lever for pull-top cans.

KuhnRikon Can Opener

The Spruce Eats / Julie Laing

Type: Manual | Dimensions: 2.6 x 2.7 x 9.3 inches | Weight: 0.4 pounds | Warranty: 2 years

Testing Takeaway

"It’s a little longer than many manual can openers, but you may find room to store its all-in-one design by ditching several other opening tools."

Best Wall-Mounted: Swing-A-Way Japanese Can Opener (Ganji Kankiri)

4.6
Swing-A-Way Japanese Can Opener

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to access wall-mount design

  • Heavy duty construction

  • Crank handle makes opening large cans easier

What We Don't Like
  • Remember to support can from base

  • Slight learning curve

No need to find storage space in a drawer or cabinet for this can opener—it mounts to a wall where it will always be ready for use. The mounting bracket and screws are included with the opener, so you’ll have everything you need to install it. It even swings out of your way when not in use.

This is a heavy-duty can opener made by a company that’s been making can openers since 1938, so they know what they’re doing. It has a large crank handle that operates the cutter, giving extra leverage for easy operation. It smoothly and easily cuts the top of the can, then a magnet grabs the lid to keep it from falling in. Although many retailers mention an integrated bottle opener in their description, the wall-mounted model does not include one.

You can lock the opener into place once you swing it out from the wall, and it securely clamps onto cans. Still, it’s wise to keep a hand on the can to avoid spills. Our tester found it easiest to support small cans from the bottom and larger ones from the side, holding them with a loose grip so that they could spin.

Swing A Way Can Opener

The Spruce Eats / Julie Laing

Type: Manual | Dimensions: 6.89 x 2.95 x 2.76 inches | Weight: 1 pound | Warranty: N/A

Testing Takeaway

"The magnet was strong. It not only kept the lid from falling in, but pulled it seamlessly from the can. I didn’t lose any lids into their cans, although it’s possible to stop cranking too early and not completely cut off the lid, which prevents the magnet from doing its job."

Best Flip-Top: Brix J-Popper

4.4
Kole Kl J-Popper

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • No more struggling with tabs

  • Helps avoid cuts from pull-top lids

  • Dishwasher safe

What We Don't Like
  • Only for pull-top can lids

Flip-top cans sound like a great idea, but some are tough to open and can be difficult for some folks. This opener is made just for opening those flip-top cans (like tuna, soup, and even soda), providing needed leverage for smooth, easy opening. Just insert the end into the tab and pull to roll the lid back. Our tester tried it with several styles of cans and had no problem tucking the hook under the tab. The lids smoothly rolled back most of the way in testing. The opener lacks the leverage to completely remove the lid, so you have to finish pulling it free with your fingers.

This pop-top opener is lightweight and inexpensive, which makes it great for taking on a camping or boating trip. And while it doesn’t come into contact with food, it’s dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

Brix Can Opener

The Spruce Eats / Julie Laing

Type: Manual | Dimensions: 3.5 x 0.5 x 6 inches | Weight: 0.1 pounds | Warranty: Complete satisfaction guarantee

Testing Takeaway

"A can of coconut milk was open in four seconds—at least, that’s when the opener reached the end of its leverage point. It took another six seconds to completely pull away the lid with my fingers."

Final Verdict

The Zyliss Lock N' Lift Can Opener is our top pick for good reason—it's an outstanding example of a top-cutting opener, boasting a convenient locking feature and a comfortable handle. If you prefer a side-cutting model, we like the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener for its ease of use and how it leaves a smooth edge.

Other Options We Tested

  • Korin Japanese Can Opener: This compact can opener is great for saving space but has a few drawbacks that keep us from including it on our list. Namely, it's more difficult to use than many alternatives out there. It takes a little more elbow grease and may require a slight learning curve because there's no dial to turn. The item doesn't come with a blade cover either, so it isn't portable despite its small design.

How We Tested

We sent seven can openers to our experienced home chefs and product testers, who tried each out with different-sized cans containing dolmas, coconut milk, tuna, soda, and more, to determine which can openers are the very best. Each can opener was rated on design, performance, ease of use, cleaning, and overall value. Our testers then offered additional insights on each can opener's strengths and weaknesses.

What to Look for When Buying a Can Opener

By Sara Tane

Size

Most manual can openers are small enough to fit in a basic utensil drawer, making it a seamless addition to any home kitchen. Electric can openers are much larger—about the size of a box grater—so make sure you have enough cabinet or counter space to hold the device. What’s great about both manual and electric models is that regardless of the size of the device, it is still quite easy to open a can of any size.

If you want a small, compact device that you can use for camping or fishing, you can always look into a small cutter. While these can openers do not have the twisting feature that manual can openers have, they have a sharp edge that can easily pierce a can, and they use a gentle rocking motion that will cut through the rest of the lid. If you are opening a large can, it will take longer with a compact can opener. It’s not ideal for a home kitchen, but it's a great small item for situations where you’re extremely tight on space.

Best Can Openers Review

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Ease of Use

The ease of use of a can opener mostly boils down to whether it’s manual or electric. If it’s manual, you will need to twist around the circumference of the can in order to release the lid. If it’s electric, you can simply place your can near the blade and watch the magic happen. One thing to note before purchasing a can opener is that most manual openers are designed for right-handed people. If you are left-handed, consider purchasing a model that’s designed for a lefty.

Price

A new can opener can run anywhere from $10 to $40, so understanding what you want out of this tool is important before buying one. For starters, manual can openers are typically much cheaper than electric. At an approachable $10, a basic manual can opener can last decades. However, if you want an electric model that takes the hassle out of twisting and potentially subjecting yourself to sharp tin blades, then paying a little bit more for these added features might be worth it. Because this kitchen gadget is such an affordable item, most models do not come with a warranty; however, you really shouldn’t need one.

Types of Can Openers

Manual

The most common type of a can opener is the classic manual version. With these models, the opener clasps onto the outside of a tin can, and by twisting a knob, you are able to slice through the circumference of the lid. Some models have metal handles and others have plastic, which is a little less durable. For added convenience, a lot of models are also equipped with a bottle opener. 

Zyliss Lock N' Lift Can Opener

 The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

If you have sensitive wrists, this twisting action can be slightly difficult, even if the blade is super sharp and can easily slice through the lid without applying a ton of pressure. Two common complaints with manual openers are that sometimes the lid can fall into the can after it is cut off and that the edges of the lid can be sharp. To avoid slicing your hand on the rough, sharp edge of the lid, practice caution and use a butter knife to pop a lid off. You can also leave a small part of the lid attached to the can to act as a hinge.

Best Can Openers Review

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Electric

If you want to avoid any twisting action, then an electric model is your best bet. Though an electric can opener is a bit larger than a manual one (it won’t fit in a utensil drawer, so plan to keep it in a cabinet or on your counter), it is definitely a huge perk to not have to fuss around with the latter. It electric opener will cost more than a manual one, but not so much that it would be an irresponsible purchase. Just like a manual opener, it can open cans of all sizes. Additionally, most electric models are built with a safety feature that uses pressure to remove the lid, which ensures the edges of the lid are sharp. It’s also worth noting that it will require an outlet and is a little bit more involved to clean because you need to be cautious of the plug and motor.

Best Can Openers

The Spruce Eats / Julie Laing

Wall-Mounted

If you’re especially tight on space, you can always save room inside your utensil drawer or cabinets by opting for a wall-mounted opener. Most wall-mounted models include all of the tools necessary to easily install the opener into your kitchen wall. A large crank operates the cutter, ensuring you have enough leverage to open cans of all sizes. It is not the most stylish kitchen accessory but is certainly a useful one, so if the overall aesthetic and look of your kitchen isn’t super important to you, this is a great, practical option.

Safety Can Opener

This category includes both electric or manual models. What makes an opener a “safety” can opener is if it offers features that ensure smooth edges on the lid (to avoid accidental cuts), and if it uses pressure to safely pop the lid off. Instead of cutting directly into the lid, the opener's metal wheel goes under the lid's outer edge, so that the entire top of the can safely lifts up and off.

Maintenance

The best way to maintain a can opener is to clean it after each use to prevent any risk of cross-contamination. Most manual can openers are not dishwasher safe, so rinse yours by hand with hot, soapy water and a sponge. Clean it dry with a kitchen towel. If you need to clean an electric model, ensure it is unplugged before cleaning, and use a warm, damp cloth, getting in the nooks and crannies to make sure nothing is left behind. Never submerge it in water. Should your can opener develop any rust, simply soak the gears in white vinegar overnight and use a small brush to scrub the rust away. Rinse it with hot water and dry thoroughly.

FAQs

Where should you store your can opener?

The style of can opener determines where you store it. A freestanding electric can opener needs counter space or perhaps cupboard room if you use it infrequently. Manual can openers often fit in a utensils drawer, but some may find a home in a countertop utensils holder or, if it has a stainless steel body, on a magnetic knife strip. To keep a can opener clean and sharp, store it away from food and moisture in a place that protects the cutting blade.

Best Can Openers Review

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How do you sharpen a can opener?

Before you attempt to sharpen your can opener, check the manufacturer’s instructions. Some companies advise against sharpening openers yourself, some styles have replaceable cutting blades, and some don’t even need oiling. Before sharpening, clean the opener by soaking the gears in vinegar and scrubbing away any rust, then wipe it with a little mineral oil. That may be enough to get the can opener working smoothly.

If it’s still dull, it may be possible to sharpen the cutting blade with a diamond file, bit of sandpaper, or even long strip of aluminum foil. Fold the sandpaper or foil several times until it is about as thick as a can lid, then run it through the gears for several full rotations. Test the can opener on a can, and repeat the process as needed until it penetrates a can lid easily.

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Are can openers designed for right- and left-handed use?

Most manual can openers are designed for right-handed use. If some of your family members are left-handed, an electric opener or a one-handed manual opener that can be used with either hand may be the most versatile. Some openers are designed just for left-handed users, but they can be harder to find and more expensive than right-handed or ambidextrous models.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Julie Laing has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years and published her first cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Pickling," in 2020. She reaches for a favorite opener every time she needs to pop open a jar of home-canned pickles, a bottle of home-pressed cider, or a can of store-bought black beans to mix with homemade salsa. Julie opened stacks of tin cans to personally test six of the can openers for this roundup.

Originally written by
Donna Currie
Donna Currie
Donna Currie is a food writer and blogger specializing in recipes and kitchen gadgets. She covers kitchen tools and gadgets for The Spruce Eats and is the author of Make Ahead Bread.
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
Additional reporting by
Sara Tane
Sara Tane
Sara Tane is a food writer and private chef. She has a degree in culinary arts from Institute of Culinary Education and covers food for The Spruce Eats.
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
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