What to Buy

8 Never-Fail Can Openers for Any Kind of Can

Nothing can stand in the way of our fave tomato paste.

March 18, 2022
Photo by Ty Mecham

I have covered the home and kitchen space for nearly four years and consider myself fairly well-versed on tools and gadgets. But there’s one thing I have to admit: I own a long string of rusting, creaky can openers that can barely get the job done, purchased hastily for a new apartment or left behind by a former roommate. I mean, it's a can opener—how good does it need to be? It has one job! Sadly, I regret that thinking every time I'm face to face with a can of San Marzano tomatoes with only a broken turn-crank opener and a prayer to reach them.

That’s why we asked a handful of experts for their favorite can openers for everything from tinned fish to beans to my personal favorite pantry staple, chiles in adobo.

Whether you’re looking for a safety opener when cooking with kids, a simple church key opener that requires a little elbow grease, or an electric option that’s nearly hands-free, you'll count yourself among the lucky few who have a can opener they actually love.

Photo by Amazon

1. Korin Japanese Can Opener, $10.40 $9.84

Professional baker Laurie Ellen Pellicano deems the Korin Japanese Can Opener her favorite for its ability to open any can no matter the shape. From oblong tinned fish cans to ones with dented rims, this manual opener may take a bit of elbow grease to use, but gets the job done every time. “It takes a little getting used to if you haven't used a hand opener before,” says Pellicano, “but if I, for some reason, was running out the door and told I could only take one can opener with me, this would be it!” To use, just press the sharp edge into the can and move it around the lid until it’s fully removed. Many happy reviewers suggest using a rocking motion, almost like a lever, for the most control. And definitely keep this one away from kids.

Photo by Amazon

2. OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled Can Opener, $16.95

Sometimes the best version of a traditional turn-crank can opener is all you need, and two of our experts highly recommend this soft-handled one by the ever dependable OXO. Food writer and author of The Flavor Equation Nik Sharma calls it a “solid, no-frills can opener,” and has had his for a couple of years, making sure to dry it well before putting it away to keep it in rust-free shape.

Chef and recipe developer Nini Nguyen, who went so far as to make it one of the items she brought to compete on Top Chef cites its reliability. “The OXO can opener is my favorite because it grips onto the can and is very easy to open."

Photo by Amazon

3. Hamilton Beach Automatic Can Opener, $22.99

If you prefer an electric can opener, recipe developer and creator of Midwest Foodie Kylie Rato recommends this tall stainless steel pick from Hamilton Beach. Once you lock the can in place, the opener holds and cuts the lid until its automatic shut-off feature senses the lid has been removed, making the experience nearly hands-free. It’s also equipped with a knife sharpener in the back, giving it multiple purposes in your kitchen. As for cleaning and storage, its cutting lever is removable to make washing it off less of an affair, and it has a small space at its base for storing the cord when not in use. “It does take up a bit of counter space, so I like to store it in the pantry along with all my canned goods,” suggests Rato. “When it's time to make white bean soup or creamy lentil stew, I just grab all my cans, my can opener, and get to work!”

Photo by Amazon

4. Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety LidLifter, $20.48

Avoiding a can lids’ sharp edges post-removal, not to mention disposing of them safely, are quite the annoyance. For opening cans without the threat of cuts, consider a safety opener from Kuhn Rikon as recommended by Pellicano. She says it works by, “crimp[ing] the edges down as you open so when the can is open, it doesn't have any sharp edges on the can or the lid.” It also saves you the trouble of fishing the detached lid out of the can because it’s equipped with a small pair of pincers that lift the detached lid at the touch of a button.

Photo by Amazon

5. Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master Opener, $24.65

Rohani Foulkes, owner of Folk in Detroit, was thrilled to recommend the Kuhn Rikon safety can opener she’s used for years. It has a multi-tool at the end of its handle that serves as a bottle, screw top, and pull tab opener, as well as a lidded jar release tab. “It's slightly bulky, but super lightweight and has never failed me!” she says. “It's easy to use, opens the can easily, and leaves a safe lip so you or your family/roomies won't cut themselves. It's my go-to opener and I'd recommend it every time.”

Photo by Walmart

6. HATISS Kitchen Manual Can Opener, $9

Chef and author of Ruffage and Grist Abra Berens values “practicality and beauty” in her kitchen tools, opting for simplistic gadgets that can perform multiple functions. “It's good looking, has no plastic, and opens a beer as easily as a tin of beans,” she says about this wood-handled manual opener. “It's as classic as the tried-and-true church key style, but doesn't create sharp claws when opening.” It may look intimidating to use, but all you need to do is puncture the can’s lid and make your way around its perimeter—just be sure you’re always cutting away from yourself.

Photo by Walmart

7. Mainstays Stainless Steel Magnetic Can Punch, $1.17

Ultra affordable and simple to use, having a church key steel can punch around in a drawer just in case is always a good bet. “It doesn't get more classic or more economical,” says Berens, who uses this to puncture all the way around a can to open it. I personally always have one of these around, opting to puncture cans of stock or broth instead of completely removing the lid. This opener is best for liquid ingredients, but if you’re up a creek without an opener and need to fully get into a can of beans or a tin of fish, this opener will slowly but surely get you there.

Photo by Amazon

8. Rösle Can Opener with Pliers Grip, $60 $46.70

The Rösle can opener strikes the perfect balance between more simplistic plastic-free openers and safety openers that leave no sharp edges, and can even lift the lid once it's cut. Berens gives a few compelling reasons to splurge on this opener, saying, “This one isn't budget by any stretch of the imagination, but it's beautiful in design, made entirely of metal, and cuts on the side of the can so the lid doesn't plunk into the ingredients.”

Do you have a fave can opener? Let us know below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

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Rachel Dunkel

Written by: Rachel Dunkel

Freelance writer in search of the best bread pudding.

1 Comment

jc March 21, 2022
The old swing-a-way handheld can openers were the best ever created. I have three I guard with my life. Although they’re not made anymore, you can run across them in thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales. Just remember to clean your can openers after using. They are probably the least cleaned and the most dirty, bacteria harboring items in your kitchen.