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Can Opener Reviews

By: Tara Tuckwiller on December 12, 2016

Editor's Note:
There aren't a lot of changes to our can openers report for this year -- not a surprise considering some of the best working and most popular can and jar openers have been around for years -- and in some cases decades, or longer. We did, however, find a few additional can openers for your consideration, including an under-cabinet electric model for kitchens where counter space is tight.

Oxo Good Grips Locking Can Opener
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Side cut or top cut – Top cut Manual or electric – Manual Dimensions – 4" x 1.75" x 7"

Best handheld manual can opener

In test after test, the Oxo Good Grips Locking Can Opener with Lid Catch simply outclasses the rest. This classic top-cut can opener has a built-in magnet to keep the lid from falling into your food, a quick release for the lid (so you don't have to touch sharp edges), a cushioned grip and silky-smooth performance. It opens cans of any size easily, for both right- and left-handed cooks.

Buy for $16.95
EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe Can Opener Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Side cut or top cut – Top cut Manual or electric – Manual Dimensions – 2.1" x 1.9" x 7.2"

Cheap can opener

The EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe Can Opener is identical to the classic Swing-A-Way manual can opener -- but the EZ-DUZ-IT is still made in America, and reviews say it's heavier and sturdier (more like the Swing-A-Way used to be, before it moved production to China). In fact, EZ-DUZ-IT's parent company used to manufacture components for the American Swing-A-Ways. This is a no-frills can opener, but owners say you can count on a comfortable grip, easy-turn handle and years of no-hassle can opening.

Buy for $4.29
Black & Decker Spacemaker Under-the-Cabinet Can Opener
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Side cut or top cut – Top cut Manual or electric – Electric Dimensions – 7.5" x 6.5" x 5"

Under-cabinet can opener

The Black & Decker Spacemaker Under-the-Cabinet Can Opener tucks snugly underneath a wall cabinet, off the counter and out of your way. This top-cut electric can opener holds the can by itself, and it automatically stops when the can is open. It includes an on-board bottle opener, knife sharpener and bag cutter, with a flip-down door that neatly hides it all.

Buy for $26.35
Swing-A-Way Comfort Grip Jar Opener
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Side cut or top cut – N/A Manual or electric – Manual Dimensions – 4" x 1" x 9"

Best jar opener

The handheld Swing-A-Way Comfort Grip Jar Opener doesn't take up much drawer space, and it doesn't require much grip strength either. Owners say it's perfect for people with arthritis. It adjusts to fit almost any metal or plastic jar lid -- from 0.5 inch to 4.5 inches in diameter -- and its all-metal construction makes the Swing-A-Way Comfort Grip a better bet than plastic jar openers.

Buy for $2.01
Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch 76606Z
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Side cut or top cut – Side cut Manual or electric – Electric Dimensions – 10.2" x 4.7" x 5"

Best electric can opener

Unlike most electric can openers, the Hamilton Beach SmoothTouch 76606ZA cuts around the side of the can -- leaving smooth edges on both can and lid, and never letting the blade (or the possibly germy lid) touch the food. That means no cleaning a gunky blade, and no cut fingers. The Hamilton Beach opens both large and small cans with ease. Its compact black-and-chrome body looks good, too, reviewers say.

Buy for $29.92

Manual or electric?

Can openers come in many styles, from the nearly effortless electric models to the tried-and-true hand-crank models that work just as well today as they did in decades past. The best can and jar openers can handle a wide variety of can or lid shapes and sizes without jamming, cutting your fingers or requiring a lot of hand strength.

Types of Can Openers

Manual Can Openers

From models that are little changed from the ones your grandparents used, to modern devices that offer improved safety and convenience, manual can openers remain the most popular choice. Most are easy to use and reliable, but some level of manual strength and dexterity are required.

Jar Openers

Jar openers are tools that either clamp or slide onto the jar lid, providing extra leverage to help you get the jar open. Most jar openers require some (minimal) hand and wrist strength, but owners find they're still a big help for those with arthritis or limited grip strength.

Under Cabinet Can Openers

Once exceedingly popular, under-cabinet can openers are not as common in kitchens now. However, they still remain a great choice if you don't want to lose any drawer or counter space to your can opener.

Electric Can Openers

Electric can openers reduce the process of opening a can to the flip of a lever or push of a button. Though they can take up a bit of counter space (space-saving under-cabinet models are also available), electric can openers are especially helpful if you have limited hand strength. Some will even stop automatically once they've completed the cut.

Top-cut vs. side-cut can openers

Can openers can be top cut or side cut, and each type has its pros and cons. Many of us have learned to accept the risk of sharp, jagged edges when opening metal cans with a top cut opener, but side-cut (also called smooth-edge) can openers change that by cutting along the side of the lid, splitting the seam where it joins the can and leaving smooth edges on both pieces.

Safer than traditional top-cutting models, smooth-edge can openers are popular with parents of small children. They're also a great choice if you're buying for an elderly member of the family or are just tired of fishing top-cut can lids out of your food (a side-cut lid will not fit into the body of the can). Plus, a side-cut can opener's cutting teeth never actually contact the food, so they're more sanitary, rarely need to be washed (according to users), and are thus much less likely to rust than their top-cut competitors.

But smooth-edge can openers still aren't perfect. Because they don't leave an obvious separation, it can be hard to tell when you've cut all the way around, and if you cut around more than once, you risk creating sharp metal slivers that can get into your food or cut your fingers.

Durability is a continuing issue with smooth-edge can openers as well, and getting the lid off is sometimes a challenge. Some side-cut openers come with tiny pliers to help you grasp the lid and pull it off. Owners occasionally complain about the cutting blade of their smooth-edge opener dulling over time, requiring them to circle the can more than once, which, as noted above, creates metal slivers.

Top-cut models seem to last longer and open cans more dependably than their side-cutting counterparts, perhaps due to more robust cutting blades. Top-cut models are often equipped with magnets to keep the cut lid from falling down into your food. Both of the highest-rated handheld can openers are top-cut models, although we did find one (more expensive) side-cut model that's worth considering. If you are considering an electric can opener, our top pick among those is a side-cut model.

Finding The Best Can Openers
Our Sources
"The Best Can Opener"
"Jar Openers"
"Can Openers"

It seems like everybody's frustrated with dud can openers, searching eagerly for one that will just work. We found plenty of expert tests, choosing only the most recent and scientific ones for this report. Cook's Illustrated magazine and ConsumerReports.org are trusted sources for kitchen gadget tests. TheSweethome.com and the bloggers at AnnaAndKristina.com conduct well-designed comparison tests, too. Fine Cooking magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune get in on the act, staging their own head-to-head can opener battles. Owner reviews at Amazon.com, Walmart.com and AceHardware.com reveal how can and jar openers work in real life, and some bestselling ones have amassed thousands of reviews.

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