The Best Can Openers of 2020
The Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch stands out for how easy it is to attach any size of can to it. The guiding bar above the blade placed the can in the perfect spot every time. The oversized locking lever makes it easy for anyone to use. The smooth touch design breaks the seal of the can along the edge of the lid instead of breaking through it. The result is a lid and opened can with smooth edges, hence the name. An added bonus of this design is that very little of the contents of the can remains on the blades of the opener, creating minimal clean-up.
There are a few drawbacks to this model, however. The introduction of electrical elements and plastic levers draws into question its durability. All of the gears and the guiding bar for can attachment are made out of metal, but the lever that controls the locking mechanism is plastic. The countertop design also requires a lot more space than the handheld models and doesn't have any additional features like a bottle opener. This is something to consider if you do not have a lot of counter space or don't open too many cans. That being said, the chrome and black look of this opener is sleek and timeless, so it's not an eyesore on your counter. Overall, the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch is the best option if you open a lot of cans and desire the easiest solution available.
cannot be beat. This opener looks exactly like the one many of us grew up using, and probably the one my mother grew up with as well. The EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe sticks to a classic all-metal construction with rubber grips that slide over the handles. The metal construction earns the model top marks in durability. The metal handles are covered in comfortable, grippy rubber. The grips combined with the rigidity of the metal give a great mechanical advantage when attempting to puncture large cans. This opener performs equally on everything from small 6 oz cans of tomato paste to large 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes. In addition to being exceptionally durable, it is also just about as affordable as can openers can get, a combo we salute.
While the EZ-DUZ-IT is a great traditional option, there are a few areas it falls a little flat. The most notable is the tendency to disconnect from the rim of the can with too much downward pressure on the handles. Although initially frustrating, a little bit of practice mitigated this issue. Additionally, the no-fuss style of this opener does lend itself to creating sharp edges on the can's lid, as is common with this style of opener. The lid is still easy to remove with a bit of caution, but this might not be the best option if you have small children helping in the kitchen or impaired dexterity. If you are looking for a good old-fashioned can opener that has potential to outlast the competition, the EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe is the opener for you.
If you want to have the luxury of a countertop electric can opener, but only want to spend manual can opener price, the Cuisinart Deluxe Electric is a great option. For just a little more than most manual can openers, you can have this sleek, white countertop model. The large lever makes it easy to puncture the tops of all can sizes, and the magnet feature holds on to the cut lid for easy removal. The auto-stop feature stops the opening and holds the can as soon as the lid is completely removed, making for easy hands-off use. Additionally, the blade and magnet are easily removed for cleaning away from the electric parts.
Out of the five commonly available can sizes tested on each opener, two remained stuck in the clamp of the locking lever on the Cuisinart during testing. With a little additional pressure they were removed, but it was easy to spill the contents of the can while doing so. Another drawback of this style is that it creates a sharp and jagged lid. The magnet makes it easy to remove this lid, but if you have small children or would prefer a smooth edge, this isn't the best option. Additionally, the casing around the magnet, the locking lever, and the socket that attaches the blade/magnet assembly to the body are all made of plastic. These high-use parts might wear down over time or lose some of their sleek chrome appearance as the paint chips away. If you are looking to try an electric model, though, the Cuisinart works better than expected for its entry-level price.
It says "Yes You Can" right on the pink box, and, well, yes, it can. The Kitchen Mama Electric is a surprising standout. Out of the box, its fun pop offers something different to the otherwise modest-looking competition. After taking a few moments to determine how to place the compact electric opener on the can, attaching it to the can becomes effortless. The single button that operates the Kitchen Mama is easy to compress and securely locks to the edge of the lid for hands-free operation. Once the opener makes a complete rotation, pressing the button stops the opener and detaches it from the lid. The product is a smooth lid and can, with no food product left on the opener. Even the smallest cans did not cause any issues for the Kitchen Mama.
There are just a few downsides to this opener. It operates on four AA batteries, which leads to an additional cost of upkeep. Also, as a handheld electric model, it is likely to be knocked off of the countertop from time to time. When we tested this model for its drop-resistance, the battery casing popped off and the batteries scattered. The thin plastic shell appears susceptible to breaking with a few more drops. But even if you have to eventually replace it, we were very impressed by the Kitchen Mama. It takes very little effort to operate and produces a smooth lid and can. If you have difficulty operating a traditional opener and don't want to add an appliance to your countertop, give this excellent and hip solution a try.
The Joseph Joseph Can-Do Compact is at least a third of the size of any of the openers we tested, clearly earning its place in some kitchens. It is only 2" in diameter, and about the same in height. This is a good option if you have limited space or need a little can opener for camping trips. The Joseph Joseph attaches securely to the lid of the can and it takes moderate effort to turn the timer-like plastic dial. When through the lid, and after lifting it off using the locking feature, pressing the release button on the side of the opener takes firm pressure. Left-handed folks will appreciate that this model works ergonomically for either dominant hand.
While the Joseph Joseph is interesting in its innovative design and colorful style, it leaves room for improvement in its performance. Its design removes the entire top of the can, cutting just below where the lid is sealed. This created problems in the smoothness of operation for us, as the labels on the cans almost always became caught in the gears. Also related to this design is that it left an open can with a sharp edge that lacks stability resulting from the removal of the thicker metal on the rim. Additionally, this opener became stuck on some of the larger cans tested. After testing all ten cans, the button release function was already showing signs of wear, becoming completely stuck on the lid of the can. It's unclear how long the Joseph Joseph will perform, but if your main priority is saving kitchen space, then this no other option satisfies this need better.
As the name suggests, the OXO Good Grips has the nicest grips of the manual can openers we tested. The grips are textured, soft, and maintain their functionality even when wet. They have a nice oversized round knob, making turning the opener relatively easy. After a few tries to figure out the best angle to hold the opener to the can, the blade slices smoothly and evenly. This is also the most compact of the classic can opener styles we tested and performed well on the smallest cans. It also includes the additional feature of a bottle opener.
While the grips are nice, this model proved more difficult than others to puncture the cans with. The plastic structure of the handles leads to a lot of flex, which reduces your mechanical advantage, and increases the force you must use. If you do not want to or are unable to use a lot of force this is not the best fit for you. The plastic in the handles and the plastic spacer in the gears lead our team to question this product's longevity. The OXO Good Grips model isn't a poor option, but we do think there are some better options available, though none with as nice of handles.
The Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master shares some features with classic models of can openers like the addition of a bottle opener and a large knob to turn the gears. The way it connects to the can, however, is unique. It is easy to get the opener to latch onto the top of the can and break the seal along the edge. This opener also includes the additional features of a pull-tab opener, pincers for lid removal, and an opener for twist-off bottle caps.
This opener can do many things, but there are a few areas in which it falls short in our eyes. The Kuhn Rikon has difficulty when opening the large diameter cans (28 oz and up), digging into their side and creating a dent where the lid could not be removed. The release function (turning the knob counterclockwise) was inconsistent in performance for us and the switch for the lid removing pincers required a lot of pressure. Lastly, most of the opener outside of the blade and gears is made out of plastic, it seems likely that the high use parts like the pincer switch will wear out with extended use. The Kuhn Rikon provides decent can opening function with four bonus functions.
The Kitchenaid Classic Multifunction is a traditional manual can opener design, but it comes in several different bright and stylish colors. The large, oversized knob is easy to turn. The long handles help lend mechanical advantage when puncturing the can, making it a little easier than some compact models. Additionally, Kitchenaid Classic Multifunction boasts a high-carbon stainless steel blade and a lifetime-warranty.
While the brightly colored plastic and oversized handles and knobs are aesthetically pleasing, they also created a few functionality issues during our tests. The large size of the opener is good for most cans, but the smallest cans made it feel a little awkward. It also takes up a lot of space in a kitchen drawer. The plastic on the grips is light and slippery, which can make this opener difficult to use. This was the most colorful of the openers we tested and would be a great addition to a kitchen prioritizing looks.
At first glance, the Zyliss Lock N' Lift is a great option that assists with the sometimes tenuous task of removing the cut lid from the can. It locks securely to the top of the lid as the name suggests, and has a magnet feature to help remove the lid from the can. The rubber grips on the plastic handles are soft and tacky.
The performance of the Zyliss Lock n' Lift was disappointing to our testers, who had high hopes for the model. The handles had a great deal of flex in their plastic and the blade was not sharp, leading to poor puncture ability. The lock button is also plastic, difficult to use, and feels as though it is about break. Unfortunately, the magnet does not attach securely to the lid, and often comes detached before the lid is removed from the can, leaving the user with a sharp lid to remove from the can. Overall, the Zyliss Lock n' Lift was promising, but the features that made it unique did not perform well for us.
Why You Should Trust Us
Jackie Kearney, our lead tester, has spent nearly a decade working in the restaurant industry, performing every job from washing dishes to cooking to serving. She's also an adventurous home cook. In the winter she works long days ski patrolling and in the summer she works long days on a vegetable farm. This experience and lifestyle mean she is passionate about finding the most efficient and effective tools for the kitchen. After spending years running around restaurants and running around during the day, she knows there is nothing better than the perfect tool for the job. As far as cans are concerned, she's not only an expert in opening them but also in consuming their contents.
To find the best can opener models across different styles, our editorial team and lead tester spent hours researching the best can openers available. We selected a wide range of models to test, from traditional manual ones to innovative openers to countertop models and more, putting them all head to head in comparative analysis. In the process, we opened 100 cans of all sizes, from tiny 2.25 oz cans of olives to 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, and many in between. We assessed how much effort, pressure, and precision each tool demanded from us, noting the easier ones from the finicky ones. We also examined how they open cans, and if they left behind sharp edges or none. Our leader tester intentionally dropped each model from counter-height onto the kitchen floor to ensure they can handle real-life accidents, too. After living in our kitchen drawers for weeks and getting daily use, we feel confident in our assessments and experience with each model we tested.
Analysis and Test Results
A can opener is an essential tool for any home cook, and having the right one can save you a lot of time, effort, and frustration. The openers were scored on their sharpness and smoothness, ease of use, versatility, durability, and style and footprint.
Smoothness and Sharpness
When scoring this metric, we considered the cutting performance of each opener. It's frustrating when a can opener that pops off of the can while in use, or becomes stuck halfway around the can, leaving you with a can that is neither open nor closed.
The Hamilton Beach and the Cuisinart models scored the highest by far in this category. They have the advantage of electricity, as does the Kitchen Mama Electric, and continued through testing to cut open cans evenly and consistently. On the manual front, the EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe edged out the manual competition with slightly stronger cutting performance than the OXO Good Grips, Kuhn Rikon and KitchenAid. The design of the Joseph Joseph removing the entire lid created more resistance, while the Zyliss Lock n' Lift appeared to simply have a duller blade than its competitors.
Ease of Use
Ease of use describes the function of the opener outside of the blade performance and the quality of the opened can it produced. We counted how many turns exactly each manual can opener required to open five standard cans of beans (15-16 oz), evaluated the pressure required to open the can, considered the quality of the lid after it was removed and how easy it was to remove it, took into account the sound produced by the electric openers, considered ergonomics, and considered how easy they would be to use for someone with impaired hand strength. This all boils down to how convenient the product is in daily life.
Again this metric favored the electric models, as it was hard to ignore that the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch, Kitchen Mama and Cuisinart Deluxe Electric require very little effort to operate, and produce open cans that are either smooth, or sharp but easy to manage. Each of these models involves simply attaching the can, pressing a button, and stepping away and they open up cans with no additional effort necessary. The Hamilton Beach and Kitchen Mama resulted in the smoothest can and lids after opening up garbanzo beans or cans of tuna, leaving behind no sharp edges for kid- and adult-friendly finger preservation. We're all clumsy to an extent, and removing sharp edges from the equation is pretty sweet.
On the other hand, the EZ-DUZ-IT edges out the competition on the manual can openers. With its heavy-duty and no-nonsense construction, it is still comfortable and provides a good grip. Some of the openers such as Joseph Joseph, Kuhn Rikon, and Zyliss Lock n' Lift lost points where their additional lid removing functions caused more trouble than they helped. The KitchenAid proved to be just a little too bulky to be comfortable to use, even with the oversized grips.
You probably will only have one can opener in your kitchen, so it had better perform well on anything you throw at it. To evaluate versatility we assessed how the openers performed across all the can sizes we could find at the supermarket: 5 "average bean cans", 1 small tomato paste, 1 large crushed tomatoes, 1 short wide can of chicken, 1 short tuna can, and 1 small tomato sauce can. We also considered additional features of the openers.
Almost all of the cans performed evenly across can sizes. The exceptions were the Joseph Joseph and Kuhn Rikon, which struggled on larger diameter cans, and the Kitchenaid, which struggled on short cans due to its oversized nature. The Joseph Joseph, Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart, Kitchen Mama, and Zyliss Lock N' Lift do not serve any multifunction capacity. The Kitchen Aid, EZ-DUZ-IT, and OXO Good Grips all have a bottle opener function, and the Kuhn Rikon has five extra features in addition to its can opening ability.
We have all used can openers that can barely stay attached to the lid of the can anymore, and there are few things more frustrating when you are trying to prepare a quick canned meal than struggling to use your beat-up can opener. To evaluate durability we examined the materials of the high use parts and performed a drop test from a 40" countertop for the handheld models.
The EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe crushed the competition in this category with its tried and true all-metal construction. In general, the more plastic that is introduced into a model, the less durable it seemed. Notably, the OXO Good Grips has a plastic spacer in its gears that doesn't inspire long-term, frequent use, and the Zyliss Lock n' Lift is made almost entirely of plastic. Its handle popped off in the drop test, although it still worked thereafter. Similarly, the Kitchen Mama fell apart during the drop test. For the countertop models, we tested the Cuisinart had significantly more plastic integrated into its can-opening mechanism than the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch, making it seem less durable.
Style and Footprint
Style can be a personal choice, but some models really stood out for their innovative designs, colors, and their efficient use of space in the kitchen. We evaluated the aesthetic design and measured the footprint of each can opener.
The Kitchen Mama and Joseph Joseph are the clear leaders in this category for both their compact footprints and innovative designs. The Joseph Joseph is clearly the best option if you value saving space over all else, while the Kitchen Mama manages convenient performance and space combined the best. The KitchenAid Classic also scores points for fun color choices in a market where bland looks are par for the course. The Hamilton Beach has a classic design that could match most kitchens but has a relatively large footprint compared to the rest of the board. The Cuisinart countertop model is very similar in size.
Through thorough research and hands-on, independent testing, we are able to assess a wide range of can opener models to find you just the right style for your needs. Combining personal and professional experience, we developed an extensive and structured test that focused on key performance factors, which highlighted the best and worst contenders in each metric. While we may never want to eat a can of chili or bean salad again, the gobs of cans opened and gulped down in the rigorous testing process lead us to really get to know each product's advantages and pitfalls so you can make an informed decision quickly to get the can opener that fits you and your kitchen.
— Jackie Kearney