The humble can opener is a kitchen tool we tend to take for granted—you might not think about it much while it’s sitting in a drawer, but you’ll miss it desperately when it’s gone. Take that from someone who was dumb enough to hack at their black bean can with a paring knife in a moment of mid-move desperation not so long ago.
Manual can openers are increasingly flimsy, made with plastic elements. Or, they can be loaded with gimmicky bonus features. Unless you’re using the same all-metal rotary opener that’s been in the family for years, there’s a good chance you’ve run through multiple devices that just keep breaking. To save you the money and frustration of another bad purchase, we chose 10 highly-rated manual can openers and put them to the test opening every size can under the sun, evaluating for speed, comfort, durability, and safety, among other factors.
We found that the classic EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe Can Opener is our favorite and will be best for most people. It can outlive the competition without sacrificing speed or comfort. However, the OXO Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener out-performed all our can openers and is our favorite safety model, cutting through the side of cans to produce a smooth edge.
Lefties will find joy in the Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Lid Lifter, another safety model with an ambidextrous knob. While electric openers are the right choice for those who use a lot of canned foods or have trouble using their hands, they can take up valuable counter space—making a good manual opener essential.
Which Can Opener Do I Need: Traditional or Safety?
Traditional can openers—the ones you’re probably best acquainted with—attach to a can’s rim and pierce the lid from the top, resulting in a sharp, potentially jagged lid that must be fished out of the can or pried off from one side, if you stop short of one full rotation. On the other hand, safety openers allow the blade to cut through the side of a can near the top, resulting in the smooth separation of the can into two pieces with flat, even edges. Because cans have thinner lids than sides, traditional openers have to do less work than their safety counterparts and are generally more efficient and durable.
While we recommend traditional openers for most people, safety openers are a great option if you’re seriously worried about sharp edges. Maybe your pet tries to get into your trash and lick cans clean, your child often helps you make dinner, or you just have health concerns about any potential nicks. We tested a variety of both traditional and safety can openers for this article so you can make the choice that’s right for you and your family.