The Tests

  • Move filled cup, pint, and quart canning jars into and out of a boiling water bath

  • Evaluate each lifter for grip security and comfort

  • Repeatedly open and close each lifter to simulate extended use

  • Wash each lifter 10 times and leave damp overnight to check for rusting

Canning jar lifters are essential for home canning—their curved grabbing arms are specifically designed to get a firm hold on a glass jar’s cylindrical shape. (Kitchen tongs don’t open wide enough or have the right contours to do the job.) To find the very best one—a lifter that was comfortable, secure, and strong—we tested four nationally available models, priced from about $6 to about $11, lifting filled cup, pint, and quart jars into and out of a boiling water bath. To simulate extended use, we repeatedly opened and closed each lifter and washed them 10 times.

Two of the lifters, from Fox Run and Norpro, shared the classic design: stiff, rounded bars for handles and curved, rubber-coated arms for grabbers. Both worked well with cup and pint jars, but with heavier quart jars, their handles dug into our hands, and their hold on the jar felt a bit insecure. A third lifter, from Weck, deviated from this design by having four tiny feet (two on each side) to hold the jar. This lifter grabbed with less security because the feet only touched the jars at four small points instead of curving around them for a full, strong grip. They were also harder to line up properly for a secure hold.

The Ball Secure-Grip Jar Lifter was the clear standout. Its broad, ergonomic handles felt comfortable even when lifting full quart jars, and its wide, molded jar grips provided extra surface contact for an exceptionally secure grasp. But our favorite feature was the spring-loaded hinge that popped the grabbers back open whenever the user released the handles. This turned a two-handed job into a one-handed one (no more prying the lifters back open to grab the next jar) and meant less time laboring over a pot of boiling water.

Winning Traits

  • Securely holds jars of all sizes

  • Comfortable grip

  • Durable and rust-free through multiple washings

  • Spring-loaded hinge that pops the grabbers open when the handles are released