Cuts without sharp edges
Ergonomic design fits nicely in your hand
Compact enough to store in a drawer
Easy to operate
Jams on dented cans
Occasionally stops mid-cut
Handy Can Opener
We purchased the Handy Can Opener so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
So, you're all ready to dive into your tin-packaged Dan Dan noodles or other canned food (if you're holding a container of Spam right now, it'll be really hard keeping this a judgment-free zone.) You slide open your kitchen drawer only to find that your can opener has somehow broken. Great.
A really great can opener is something you don’t realize you need until the one you have starts malfunctioning, leaving you trying to pry your can open with a knife (I don’t recommend this), or giving up on the process altogether. But the problem is: It’s not as easy to find a really good can opener as one might hope. While it seems like a pretty basic kitchen appliance, many can openers struggle to do their one job. To help out on your quest to find a high-performing can opener, I tested the Handy Can Opener—a hands-free automatic can opener that promises an open can, with no sharp edges, in seconds. Does it do everything it promises? Read on to find out.
Setup: Batteries not included
The Handy Can Opener is pretty much ready to go right out of the package. You will need two AA batteries though, which are not included, so make sure you have those, well, handy before you try to open any cans.
Design: Ergonomic and straightforward
The Handy Can Opener gets high marks for design. It has a squared-off cylindrical shape that fit nicely in my hand and made it easy to hold while I was opening cans. The blade is hidden under a plastic lip that wraps snugly around the edge of the can, ensuring that the can opener doesn’t slip or slide when it’s in motion.
The can opener is controlled by a single button that’s conveniently placed in the top center. It made it easy to push on the button with my index finger while I was operating the can opener. There’s also a manual release button on the side that’s positioned right where your thumb naturally falls when holding the can opener, so if anything goes wrong, you can access it quickly.
And at 7.76 x 5.39 x 2.8 inches, it’s not much bigger than the can itself, so you can store it away in a drawer when you're not using it.
When it was working properly, it definitely outperformed most of the manual can openers I’ve used...when it would work properly.
Features: Just the basics
The Handy Can Opener has one job—opening the usual chili cans, soups, and such—so it doesn’t have any features beyond that, which was perfectly fine with me. In my experience, the more features an appliance has, the more things that can go wrong (and the more effort it takes to learn how to use it).
This can opener has one speed that’s controlled by a single button, so even without reading the instructions, you’ll likely be able to figure out how to use it right out of the box. A few standouts though: There’s a magnetic grip in the center that helps keep it in place while it “walks” around the can, and a manual release button that allows you to remove the can opener from the can if it jams or the batteries happen to die mid-cut.
The can opener also operates on an automatic timer. When you want to open a can, you place it on top and hold the start button down for a couple of seconds and the can opener will turn on and then automatically shut off once the can is open. There’s also a built-in safety feature. If the magnetic piece on the can opener loses contact with the can, the motor and the blade will stop. This prevents it from turning on accidentally when you’re holding it or when it’s stored away in a drawer.
Performance: Works well on perfect cans
Ultimately, no matter how great the design, it all comes down to how well a can opener opens a can. The best word I can think of in terms of performance is “decent.” When it was working properly, it definitely outperformed most of the manual can openers I’ve used...when it would work properly.
While the Handy Can Opener stayed nicely in place as it moved along the can, it struggled with even slight indentations in the rim of the can. So, those canned tomatoes or canned crab you dropped on the way in the door with your haul of grocery bags for tonight's dinner? Yeah, might be a bit of a struggle. And if it stops working mid-cut for any reason, it’s difficult to remove from the can, even with the manual release. But when it does work, it leaves a beautiful, clean cut without any sharp edges. Rather than cutting into the top of the can, it removes the lid from the rimmed edge.
Once removed, the lid also stays attached to the magnet on the can opener, so you can easily remove and discard it. You don’t have to dig into the can like with manual can openers.
The Handy Can Opener gets high marks for design.
Cleaning: Not much to clean
As for cleaning, there’s not much to it. Because the can opener cuts from the side rather than the top, it never really makes contact with the food or liquid inside. If it does, a quick wipe down with a damp paper towel and it will be good as new again. Because the can opener is mechanical, it should never be submerged in or exposed to too much water.
Price: In line with other can openers
Retailing for around $16, the price of the Handy Can Opener is right in line with high-end manual can openers, like the one from KitchenAid. Of course, you’ll also have to factor in the price of batteries, but those costs should be negligible since the can opener isn’t sucking up a ton of power with each use.
While the Handy Can Opener stayed nicely in place as it moved along the can, it struggled with even slight indentations in the rim of the can.
Competition: Other options can work
Kitchen Mama Electric Can Opener: If you’re looking for a similar, but a little more reliable can opener, this one from Kitchen Mama is likely a better choice. It has a cylindrical body shape, similar to the Handy, but it’s smoother and more rounded. And while it will cost you almost double, it’s much more efficient and can tackle all can-opening jobs, even when the can is slightly warped. It also runs on two AA batteries.
Cuisinart Deluxe Can Opener: For around the same price as the Kitchen Mama, you can be the proud new owner of this fully electric can opener from Cuisinart. It takes up more space than the other two, but it’s lightweight and fully automatic. It has a magnet that holds onto your can as its opening, so you can let it do its thing while you do something else. Plus, it runs off electricity, so you won't have to unexpectedly go searching for batteries.
You may want to keep looking.
The Handy Can Opener is a good concept, but the execution falls short. Unless your can is in perfect shape with no dents, you’ll probably have more trouble than you’d like getting it open.
- Product Name Hands-Free Automatic Can Opener
- Product Brand Handy
- Price $15.99
- Weight 8.4 oz.
- Product Dimensions 7.76 x 5.39 x 2.8 in.
- Color Red
- Batteries Two AA (Not included)