We tested seven jar openers and tested them on jars of all shapes, sizes, and materials to find the best all around pick.
Published July 1, 2015. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 16: Pork Kebabs and Steaks Hit the Grill
A well-designed jar opener can eliminate the pain and frustration of trying to pry open stubborn lids. We rounded up seven models priced from about $6 to just under $20 and tested them on jars of all shapes, sizes, and materials—from 2-ounce vanilla bottles with tiny plastic lids to 26-ounce jars of tomato sauce with large metal lids.
Basic versions resemble silicone potholders—small pieces of textured plastic that you wrap around the lid for a slip-free grip. Unfortunately, these weren’t much better at opening jars than our bare hands. More complex openers have metal teeth or plates that latch on to the jar and a handle to provide leverage, but these designs also had problems. One model with smooth plates had trouble gripping the lids tightly, while openers with jagged metal teeth tore into the lids (and, in one case, a tester’s hand).
It was clear that traction alone wasn’t enough—the most effective openers also break the jar’s vacuum. One model works like a bottle opener, lifting the lip of the lid slightly to break the jar’s seal with a pop. Once the seal was broken, the lids unscrewed effortlessly by hand. Testers loved its easy-to-use, simple design, but it only works on metal lids less than 1/2 inch tall. (While most metal lids we tried could be opened with the Original JarKey, the company also makes a model that works on larger metal lids that are ½ inch to ¾ inch tall.)
Our old favorite is still our top pick. It sports a handle attached to a perforated bar that slides to grip any size jar, and its two metal prongs can release the vacuum on metal lids or loosen tight plastic lids. Though it takes a few tries to get the hang of it, our winner is a versatile and reliable tool.
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.