Home cooks have strong opinions about this simple, essential tool. What’s the best option for you?
Published Feb. 8, 2023. Appears in Cook's Country TV Season 13: Regional Seafood Specialties
Our favorite traditional can opener is the OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled Can Opener. It opens cans quickly, requires relatively little effort, and is comfortable to handle. We also like the EZ-DUZ-IT Can Opener, which is just as good at opening cans but a touch less comfortable to grip and use. Our favorite safety can opener is the Fissler Magic Can Opener. It does a great job of opening cans without leaving any sharp edges and is sleek and easy to store as well.
Curious about electric can openers? You can read our full review here.
What You Need to Know
The perfect can opener doesn’t exist. We’ve been reviewing can openers for decades, and every time we pick a winner, we get complaints about it from our readers and from the test cooks who use it at work.
Part of this has to do with the tools themselves. Most just aren’t made to last forever. Metal parts rust, cutting blades dull, handle grips loosen or fall off, and the tension and alignment of arms or gears can shift over time. These are just some of the many issues we’ve seen over the years—even in models we otherwise like.
Personal preference also plays a role. There are several types of can openers, and the kind you like really depends on your priorities.
Traditional Can Openers and Safety Can Openers
For this review, we focused on the two most common options—traditional and safety can openers. Both rely on a driving handle that users turn to propel a small, circular blade around the lid of a can. The difference lies in where that blade cuts. Traditional can openers puncture the top of the can, cutting downward around the lid inside the can’s rim. Safety can openers cut horizontally into the side of the can, usually on the top rim itself. This creates a smoother, and therefore safer, edge.
In our review a decade ago, we chose a safety can opener as our winner; in our review a few years ago, we selected a traditional model. The truth is, there is not just one right answer: All the models will open cans, and each type has pros and cons.
How Traditional Can Openers Work
Most people are already familiar with traditional can openers, so this style can seem more intuitive to use. They also open cans a bit more quickly than safety openers. They have larger cutting wheels that cover more ground in a single rotation of the driving handle. They also feature longer driving handles that give you more leverage, allowing you to complete each rotation more easily. They give you more sensory feedback while you’re opening the can too: Air enters the can with a little hiss when you puncture it with the blade, and you can see your progress as the wheel mo...
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.
Miye is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She covers booze, blades, and gadgets of questionable value.