Why buy a can opener?
Can openers are the safest, most effective, and overall best way to open cans of food. Some foods, like tuna and soup, are primarily sold in cans. Plenty of different beans, fruits, and vegetables are also available in cans, which allows them to last a lot longer than fresh produce. If you buy and eat any of these foods, even only on occasion, you’ll want to have a can opener on hand to quickly and safely open up your canned foods without the risk of cutting yourself on the can’s sharp or jagged edges, especially since cans with peel-off lids are still fairly uncommon. And if you have a dog, cat, or other pet that eats wet food, you may also need a can opener for their food.
What should you look for in a can opener?
- Functionality: Does the can opener work properly? Can it open the can quickly and efficiently? Does it leave it with smooth edges that you won’t get cut on? Is it capable of opening cans of all sizes? Ideally, you’ll also want to get a can opener that doesn’t leave the lid touching the food inside. Some can openers are also capable of opening jars or bottles, not just cans, which makes them an extra-useful tool to have in your kitchen.
- Easy Operation: No one wants to struggle opening a can. Whether you go with an electric or manual option, it should be easy and quick, not a long and difficult task. Make sure the blades of the can opener easily line up with the can’s edges. If the can opener is manual, you’ll want a dial that twists and turns as smoothly as possible and handle(s) that are ergonomic and comfortable to grip; anti-slip silicone grips at the ends are a good bet. If the can opener is electric, check and see if it’s as simple as lining up the can properly and then pressing a button or if it’s a more in-depth process.
- Durability: Even though they’re not a particularly expensive purchase, there’s no need to be continuously replacing your can opener. They should be durable, sharp, and resistant to rust so that they last you a long time, so be sure to keep an eye on the materials they’re made from. Stainless steel is always a good option since it’s a strong, durable material that’s naturally rustproof. Plastic models won’t be as durable, but they’re more lightweight, waterproof, and rust-resistant. (Anti-rust properties are an especially important feature if you’re opening up lots of cans with liquid, like coconut milk or soup.)
Should you buy a manual or electric can opener?
Both types of can openers are very effective at their designed task, so it mostly comes down to your personal preference and needs. Electric can openers will usually work a bit quicker than manual ones, though it’s worth keeping in mind that manual can openers are generally less expensive and often more compact. Electric models are useful for people with arthritis or other hand/wrist/arm strength and mobility issues, as they will turn, cut, and often hold the can for the user. In most cases, you won’t have to do more than line up the can and cutter and tap down or press a button. So if you have any of those issues, an electric can opener will likely be the better option. Otherwise, consider whether the can opener’s price tag vs. convenience is more important to you.
Kitchen Mama Electric Can Opener
This easy-to-use electric can opener will be nice and gentle on your hands.
Pros: This can opener was designed specifically for those who have arthritic hands or other mobility issues. It’s extremely easy to use—place it on the can’s lid, push the button on top, and watch the blade cut along the side of the lid without touching the food. It won’t leave sharp edges behind, and it only takes four AA batteries (not included) to power. You can take it to work, camping, or otherwise on the go as needed. Once opened, push the button again to turn off the can opener and store it conveniently in a drawer.
Cons: Electric can openers are pricier than traditional manual ones, and this hands-friendly model is no exception. It’s also on slightly the slow side for an electric can opener. The magnet that attaches it to cans also isn’t the strongest, so you may need to use a fork or knife to pry off the lid at times.
Bottom Line: Want a can opener that does all the work for you? This one is perfect for those who have difficulty opening cans on their own, like those with arthritis or young kids who don’t have the best motor control. Plus, it’s fun to watch this little guy go to work.
KitchenAid Classic Multifunction Can Opener
This manual can opener is a classic, reliable model that also doubles as a bottle opener.
Pros: If you prefer a traditional manual can opener, consider this model. It has an easy-to-turn knob and comes with a bottle opener attached to the end, so it serves a dual purpose. The stainless steel blade cuts cans with ease, and the stainless steel body ensures that this device is strong and durable. Wash it with warm water and soap when you’re done opening cans, and store it in a drawer. The handles are available in 14 different colors if the sleek chrome and black color isn’t your preference. You can also buy this can opener alongside several different matching kitchen accessories if you need a new set of measuring cups, measuring spoons, or kitchen shears.
Cons: This can opener shouldn’t be washed in the dishwasher, as there are a few bits in the head that aren’t stainless steel and may rust if machine washed. The handles may also be a bit too thick for small hands.
Bottom Line: Manual can openers are reliable and affordable, and this is one of the best options on the market. It’s from a reliable brand and made out of tough, long-lasting materials, so you’ll more than get your money’s worth.
PAKITNER Safe Cut Can Opener
With this traditional manual can opener, you won't have to worry about rough or jagged can edges.
Pros: This is a traditional handheld and manual can opener with a slightly different twist. It has one handle and attaches to and opens the can at the sides rather than the top like most. This helps to ensure a smooth cut with no jagged edges. It also makes it easier to lift the lid directly off the can. This also means the lid will fit back on top of the can without falling into it, so you could potentially reseal it with a rubber band if you don’t end up using all the contents in one go. The ergonomically-shaped knob is easier to grip and turn than most as well. The entire opener is made entirely of stainless steel for a strong, naturally rustproof construction that’s dishwasher safe. It also has a low price tag.
Cons: Since this is a bit different from the classic manual can openers, there’ll likely be a bit of a learning curve until you get the hang of it. Until you get used to it, there is a risk of producing metal shavings at the edges, though they shouldn’t fall in the can.
Bottom Line: This product is a slightly different take on a classic manual can opener, one that opens cans from the side rather than the top to make the can resealable and easier to lift. It may take some trial and error, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.
Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Electric Automatic Can Opener
This sleek, deluxe, electric countertop can opener will make your life much easier.
Pros: With single-touch operation, this electric can opener handles any standard-sized can with its activation lever. Just attach the can’s edges, then gently press down with one hand, and the can opener will do the rest of the work. It’s also suitable for pop-top lids, not just regularly sealed ones. With its sideways-cutting stainless steel blade, there will be no more jagged edges once the can has been opened. The sleek chrome and black look will look great in just about any kitchen.
Cons: Electric can openers tend to be more expensive, and this model is no exception. Yet, unlike a lot of electrically powered can openers, it’s not automatic; you have to hold the lever down until the can is open. And it doesn’t have a magnet to hold and lift the lid once the cans are opened. Plus, it will take up more room in your kitchen.
Bottom Line: Want to add a sleek appliance to your kitchen? This electric can opener sits pretty on your countertop next to your toaster and coffee maker, and it’s every bit as effective as it is aesthetically pleasing. It’ll open your cans in mere seconds and last for years.
Can openers are considered a staple kitchen tool for a reason. Though they only have one relatively small job (in most cases), it’s an important job! And they perform it well. There’s no better tool or device for opening a can of food quickly, safely, and efficiently.