The Best Manual Can Openers

When a can opener is good, you don’t think about it too much. It sits in your drawer until you need it, then you whip it out and it just works. But when a can opener is bad, it’s a nuisance every time you have to open a can — and with a bad can opener, you realize just how often that is. And if you don’t have a can opener at all? Well, let’s just say you trying to open a can with a kitchen knife isn’t good for the can, the knife, or your safety. That’s why a good can opener is a staple for every kitchen, whether you’re a home chef or more of canned soup kind of cook.

We reviewed dozens of manual can openers to identify the best of the best. We looked at features like construction quality and materials, ease of use and maintenance, and extra functions and features to find the top manual can openers on the market.

Top Pick
Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener
The Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener is the best manual can opener that you can get.

Our top pick and the clear winner is the Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener. This durable, well-constructed can opener is easy and comfortable to use. It also has a magnetic lid lifter to keep the lid out of your food, and doesn’t leave a sharp, unsafe edge.

The 5 Top-Rated Manual Can Openers

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Top PickStarfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener 4.7
Runner UpOXO Good Grips Soft Handled Can Opener
4.6
Best for BudgetUS Shelby Co. P-38 & P-51 Can Openers4.6
Best Side Cut Manual Can OpenerKuhn Rikon Smooth Touch Can Opener4.5
Best Ergonomic Manual Can OpenerOXO Steel Can Opener 4.6

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener

The Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener may look unassuming, but it is, in fact, something of a can opening powerhouse. It has a strong stainless steel blade that will puncture just about any can lid and leaves a clean cut without sharp edges. In fact, that cut is so clean that you can place the removed lid back on the can for storing leftovers in the fridge, though you of course still need to be careful not to knock it over. It also has a Swiss patented mechanism that uses a magnet to prevent the lid from falling into food and stop you from having to touch lids. Just use the control on the right-side handle to drop the lid into your trash can. It’s both hygienic and convenient!

And those advantages are available for just about anyone: this can opener is ambidextrous and has glowing reviews from both lefties and people with joint problems. The handles are comfortably shaped and the knob is soft and oversized to make it comfortable and easy to turn. The body of the can opener is made from durable, lightweight plastic, making it good for weak hands or just when you have lots of cans to open.

Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener Key Features:

  • Three-year warranty
  • Sturdy construction that should last you for years to come
  • Black matches virtually all kitchen tools
  • Hand wash

Our Runner Up Pick: OXO Good Grips Soft Handled Can Opener

Runner Up
OXO Good Grips Soft Handled Can Opener
The OXO Good Grips Soft Handled Can Opener is a comfortable can opener from one of the biggest brands in kitchen gear.

OXO is a huge name in kitchen and home products, and the OXO Good Grips Soft Handled Can Opener demonstrates just how much OXO deserves that reputation. It has a sharp stainless steel cutting wheel that will give you a smooth cut every time. In addition, this can opener has an oversized and easy-to-turn knob, as well as large, cushioned handles that make opening cans easier and more comfortable. The knob and handles are also non-slip, even when wet, to help you keep a strong, secure grip without too much exertion.

The whole can opener is sturdy and well-constructed but is also very easy to use and care for. Ultimately, it’s a dependable manual can opener that will last you for years to come. And it even has a built-in bottle opener! In addition, OXO offers a satisfaction guarantee for the OXO Good Grips Soft Handled Can Opener, but it has glowing reviews, even from people who suffer from joint pain, so we doubt you’ll need to worry about that at all.

OXO Good Grips Soft Handled Can Opener Key Features:

  • Highly durable and dependable
  • Built-in bottle opener
  • Easy to use
  • Oversized knob
  • Cushioned grips
  • Hand wash

Best Budget Pick: US Shelby Co. P-38 & P-51 Can Openers

Best for Budget
US Shelby Co. P-38 & P-51 Can Openers
The military-designed US Shelby Co. P-38 & P-51 Can Openers balances affordability and utility.

Originally designed and issued by the United States Armed Forces, this US Shelby Co. P-38 & P-51 Can Openers set manages to be both highly affordable and highly practical. The P-38 was originally issued in World War II to go with canned food rations, but were phased out in the 1980s with the introduction of bagged rations. The larger P-51 is still issued today with bulk rations. Both are also commonly issued in emergency and aid kits, both by the US military and humanitarian organizations.

Similarly, these can openers make an excellent addition to your personal or family emergency and survival kits. The P-38 is only 38mm long (about 1.5″) and the P-51 is just 51mm long (about 2″), so they take up very little space. But while the can openers themselves may be small, the list of uses is very long. The Pentagon lists 39 different uses for these can openers, including but not limited to driving screws, scraping windows, stripping wire, prying, using as a striking flint, chiseling, removing bee stingers, opening bottles, and, of course, opening cans.

The small size of these can openers also makes them great for kitchens where saving room is a necessity, like on boats or RVs. In addition, there’s a hole punched into the stainless steel of each can opener, making it easy to attach them to your key chain so you can take advantage of the utility of this little tool wherever you go without having to worry about the rules and laws against blades that affect many multi-tools. On the other hand, if you just want to open cans in a normally sized kitchen, some of the other can openers on this list may be faster and easier to use.

US Shelby Co. P-38 & P-51 Can Openers Key Features:

  • Made in the US
  • Stamped from cold-rolled steel
  • Dozens of uses
  • Highly compact
  • Can last for decades

Best Side Cut Manual Can Opener: Kuhn Rikon Smooth Touch Can Opener

Best Side Cut Manual Can Opener
Kuhn Rikon Smooth Touch Can Opener
There are a lot of benefits of the side cut can opener design, but the Kuhn Rikon Smooth Touch Can Opener stands above the rest.

Side cut can openers, like the Kuhn Rikon Smooth Touch Can Opener are great because they leave a smooth, clean edge that you won’t accidentally cut yourself on, which makes them great for homes with children or people with disabilities that might make them more likely to accidentally cut themselves. In addition, that smooth edge generally allows you to replace the lid for storing leftovers in the fridge, just like our top pick manual can opener. And with side cute can openers, there’s no risk of the blade of the can opener touching the contents of the can, avoiding the risk of cross-contamination and keeping your food hygienic.

But this can opener also has some additional features that help it stand above other side cut manual can openers. For example, it has Swiss lock-on technology that allows the can opener to automatically latch on to cans. In addition to the blade never touching your food, this can opener also has a lid lifter so you don’t have to touch the lid of the can either. The cutting mechanism is stainless steel and the handle is lightweight and comfortable to hold, while the knob is ergonomically shaped and easy to turn.

Kuhn Rikon Smooth Touch Can Opener Key Features:

  • Leaves a smooth edge
  • Automatically locks on to can
  • Comfortable and easy to use
  • Stainless steel blade
  • Integrated lid lifter pliers
  • Available in black, red, and white

Best Ergonomic Manual Can Opener: OXO Steel Can Opener

Best Ergonomic Manual Can Opener
OXO Steel Can Opener
The OXO Steel Can Opener is basic, comfortable, and easy to use.

We’ve already stated that OXO is an excellent brand for kitchen and home goods, so it comes as no surprise that two different OXO manual can openers made it into our top five list. Rounding out the list is the OXO Steel Can Opener.

It’s a basic manual can opener with a simple design and no unnecessary extra bells and whistles, but it’s extremely comfortable and easy to use. It has large handles with soft cushioning that conforms to the shape of your hand, absorbing pressure and securing your grip while you use the can opener. It also has an oversized knob to make turning it easier. The handles and knob are also non-slip, even when wet. The mechanical components move smoothly and the stainless steel cutting wheel is sharp and doesn’t skip. All of these features combine to allow for smooth, easy operation.

The OXO Steel Can Opener is an excellent manual can opener for people with mild to moderate joint problems. It’s a simple little can opener that’s well constructed, durable, and should last you for several years to come.

OXO Steel Can Opener Key Features:

  • Built-in bottle opener
  • Non-slip grips
  • Cushioned handles and oversized knob
  • Stainless steel blade
  • Smooth operation and easy to use

Who Should Buy a Manual Can Opener

A can opener is an essential tool for every household, but why choose a manual can opener over an electrical one? While electric can openers may seem like they’re more convenient and easier to use, and therefore better, manual can openers actually have a lot of advantages for the average consumer.

For one, electric can openers aren’t actually always easier to use. They frequently require cans to be placed just so to start working, which can be tricky and annoying, but there are tons of very easy to use manual can openers. They also depend on power to use, so they can’t function in a power outage and have limited portability. In addition, manual can openers are generally made of higher quality materials and don’t have to support the weight of the can, so they typically last longer than electric can openers, especially if you tend to open heavier cans. Mechanical parts in electric can openers also tend to break easily and electrical parts can be damaged by power surges. Electrical parts also prevent you from throwing your electric can opener in a sink full of water or the dishwasher, making them more difficult to clean. Finally, manual can openers tend to be much cheaper than electric can openers, making them an overall better deal.

A good electric can opener can certainly be nice to have, but manual can openers are all in all more reliable. If you do opt to get an electric can opener, we recommend still getting a manual one to use as a backup in the event of a power outage or other problem that prevents your electric can opener from functioning.

Top Pick
Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener
The Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener is the best manual can opener that you can get.

Important Features to Consider

A manual can opener should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a manual can opener for your home:

  • Easy to use. More than anything, your can opener needs to be able to actually open a can without it turning into a wrestling match. It should function smoothly and with little effort on your part. It should also have comfortable handles.
  • Stainless steel blade. A stainless steel blade is durable, holds an edge, and is rust-resistant. This will keep your manual can opener working for years to come.
  • Sturdy construction. The rest of the can opener should be well made, too. All moving parts should move properly, but they should also fit together securely. It definitely shouldn’t feel like your can opener is going to fall apart in your hand.
  • Easy to clean and maintain. You need a can opener that’s rust and corrosion resistant and won’t need frequent oiling. Ideally, your manual can opener will also be dishwasher safe, but dishwasher safe can openers are pretty uncommon. Still, one that you can easily wash with soap and water, then thoroughly dry will also be easy to care for.
  • Additional functions and features. Many manual can openers also have features that allow them to do other things, like open bottles, remove jar lids, lift can tabs, or pick up the can’s lid once it’s removed from the can. These functions add an extra layer of convenience to your can opener. Depending on your household, you may want to look for a can opener with other features. For example, you may want a can opener that can be used left-handed, is arthritis-friendly, or has safety features to avoid sharp edges.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you use a manual can opener?

Different types of can openers work different ways, but to work a bunker can opener, the most common type, hold the handles open and position the can opener so that the blade is as close to the edge of the top of the can as possible, with the gear behind the blade on the other side of the lip running along the edge of the can. Then, simply squeeze the handles together so that the can opener is gripping the can and turn the key so that the can opener travels along the edge of the can, cutting as it goes.

Side cut can openers work similarly, but the blade should be positioned along the side of the can, while the serrated wheel that grips the can should be positioned along the edge of the lid.

What are the different types of manual can openers?

There are way too many types of manual can openers to list here, but a few of the most common are key or church-key can openers, bunker can openers, and side cut can openers. Bunker can openers are probably the most common can opener these days. They have handles like those on a pair of pliers and a key that turns both a serrated wheel that grips the can and a round blade.

How do you clean a manual can opener?

For typical cleaning, you can wash your can opener with dish soap and water or, if the manufacturer indicates that the can opener is dishwasher safe, you can just toss it in the dishwasher. Either way, make sure it’s dried thoroughly after to prevent rusting.

If your can opener needs deep cleaning, soak the moving parts in vinegar (white and apple cider vinegar work equally well) for a few minutes for a lightly soiled can opener up to a few hours for a very grungy can opener. Then, use an old toothbrush to scrub all the nooks and crannies before rinsing the can opener. Repeat this process until any build-up is gone. Finally, add a bit of dish soap to the toothbrush and give your can opener one last good scrub to get rid of any grease, then rinse the can opener. Once again, you’ll want to be sure to thoroughly dry your can opener to avoid rust.

How long do manual can openers last?

The lifetime of manual can openers depends on the quality of the can opener, the frequency with which it’s used, and the way it’s taken care of, but manual can openers can typically last for at least a few years. To get the most out of a can opener before you have to get a new one, buy one with a blade made from a durable material that will hold an edge, like steel, then be sure to clean the blade between uses and store your can opener in a way that protects the blade from damage.

Other Manual Can Openers We Reviewed

Top Pick
Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener
The Starfrit Mightican Manual Can Opener is the best manual can opener that you can get.

We looked at 20 other manual can openers. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best manual can openers list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your home. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Compact Manual Can Openers

Bartelli Soft Edge 3-in-1 Ambidextrous Can Opener

Bartelli Soft Edge 3-in-1 Ambidextrous Can Opener

This ambidextrous 3-in-1 can opener can be used with just one hand, making it ideal for individuals with joint pain and other limitations.

Key Features:

  • Can opener, jar opener, and bottle opener in one
  • Ambidextrous
  • Single-handed use
  • No-squeeze design
  • Stainless steel blade

Cost: $13

Joseph Joseph 20005 Can-Do Can Opener

Joseph Joseph 20005 Can-Do Can Opener

This little can opener has a footprint that’s barely larger than the actual opening mechanism, saving space in your kitchen drawer.

Key Features:

  • Automatically grips the can when you twist the handle
  • Grips the removed lid until you press the release button
  • Safe side cut design
  • Available in green/white and gray/black

Cost: $8

US Shelby Co. P-51 Can Opener, Set of 2

US Shelby Co. P-51 Can Opener, Set of 2

The larger size of the P-51 means that some find it easier to use than the P-36, so you may prefer a set of two P-51s instead of one of each.

Key Features:

  • Multi-purpose
  • Made in the USA
  • Great for emergency preparedness
  • Military standard quality and design
  • Can last for decades

Cost: $4

Ergonomic Manual Can Openers

Boston Warehouse Toucan Can Opener

Boston Warehouse Toucan Can Opener

The handles on this manual can opener are not just comfortable, they’re also cute, forming the beak of this toucan design can opener.

Key Features:

  • Stainless steel blade
  • Magnetic lid holder
  • Easy to use
  • Cute, fun design
  • Matches other kitchen tools in the Animal House product line

Cost: $18

Chef’n EzSqueeze One-Handed Can Opener

Chef'n EzSqueeze One-Handed Can Opener

With single-handed operation, this can opener is great for both people with disabilities and kitchen multitaskers.

Key Features:

  • One-handed use
  • Stainless steel blade
  • Magnetic lid lifter
  • Top-rack dishwasher safe

Cost: $18

KitchenAid Can Opener, Red – KC130OHERA

KitchenAid Can Opener, Red - KC130OHERA

KtichenAid is one of the best-known brands in kitchen products, so you know you can depend on their can openers too.

Key Features:

  • Stainless steel blade
  • Comfortable, oversized knob
  • Easy to clean
  • Lifetime limited warranty and one-year replacement warranty
  • Available in several different colors

Cost: $13

Kuhn Rikon Can & Bottle Opener

Kuhn Rikon Can & Bottle Opener

This product not only openers your cans, but it also has a built-in bottle opener, jar lid loosener, and pull tab lifter to help you open everything you need.

Key Features:

  • Single-handed operation
  • Built-in lid lifter
  • Integrated bottle opener, jar lid loosener, and tab lifter
  • Doesn’t leave a sharp edge
  • Available in black and red

Cost: $20

OXO Good Grips Snap Lock Can Opener

OXO Good Grips Snap Lock Can Opener

Another great OXO product, this can opener locks into place on the can so you don’t have to keep a tight squeeze while opening your cans.

Key Features:

  • Contoured, slip-proof knob and handles for comfort
  • Easy to manipulate locking switch
  • Large, easy to turn knob
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Great for weak or painful hands

Cost: $15

Pampered Chef Smooth-Edge Can Opener

Pampered Chef Smooth-Edge Can Opener

Pampered Chef is another big name in kitchen supplies, so you know you can trust that their products are high quality.

Key Features:

  • Comfortable, durable plastic handles and knob
  • Doesn’t leave sharp edges
  • Built-in lid lifter
  • Built-in pull tab lifter

Cost: $38

Zyliss Lock N’ Lift Can Opener

ZYLISS Lock N' Lift Can Opener

With soft and oversized handles, smooth mechanics, and the ability to lock onto the lid, the comfort of this can opener is hard to beat.

Key Features:

  • Easy to use
  • Magnetic lid lifter with push-button release
  • Stainless steel cutting wheel
  • 5-year warranty
  • Available in blue and green

Cost: $15

Zyliss MagiCan Can Opener

ZYLISS MagiCan Can Opener-min

Another product from Zyliss, this can opener is lightweight, compact, comfortable to hold, and easy to use.

Key Features:

  • Stainless steel blade
  • Durable, lightweight ABS plastic body
  • One of Real Simple‘s Best Kitchen Supplies of 2013
  • Easy to clean
  • Integrated lid lifter

Cost: $9

Heavy-Duty Manual Can Openers

Amco 709BK Swing-A-Way Opener

Amco 709BK Swing-A-Way Opener

Except for the soft cushioning on the grips, this can opener is made entirely out of steel so it can stand up to just about anything you throw at it.

Key Features:

  • High carbon blade
  • Built-in bottle opener and pull tab lifter
  • Comfortable handles
  • Skip-proof feed

Cost: $10

Made in USA Can Opener

Made in USA Can Opener

This can opener was designed in 1954 and is still made in the United States today, demonstrating the peak in American production.

Key Features:

  • Sturdy, durable construction
  • Built-in bottle opener and tab lifter hook
  • Comfortable grips
  • Easy to turn

Cost: $17

Nogent Classic Service Manual Can Opener

Nogent Classic Service Manual Can Opener

Designed by a Frenchman for commercial foodservice, this can opener is the perfect balance of space efficiency and durability.

Key Features:

  • Compact size
  • Plastic coated butterfly knob for comfort
  • Made from high-quality steel and chrome-plated nickel
  • Doesn’t leave sharp edges
  • French designed and manufactured

Cost: $23

Swing-A-Way COMINHKPR88501 Can Opener

Swing-A-Way COMINHKPR88501 Can Opener

This can opener has a crank instead of a knob, making it much easier and more comfortable when you have a bunch of cans to open.

Key Features:

  • Designed for commercial use
  • Rubber coating on handles and crank for comfort
  • Five-year guarantee
  • Available in black, green, or gray
  • Crank is great for sustained use or users with disabilities

Cost: $17

WMF Profi Plus Stainless Steel Can Opener

WMF Profi Plus Stainless Steel Can Opener

This can opener also functions as a bottle opener and jar lid prier, plus you can easily hang it up with one of the loops on the handles so it’s convenient whenever you need it.

Key Features:

  • Sleek, modern German design
  • Made from satin-finished 18/10 steel
  • Built-in bottle opener and lid prier
  • Loops on handles for hanging

Cost: $31

Side Cut Manual Can Openers

Bartelli Soft Edge Safety Can Opener

Bartelli Soft Edge Safety Can Opener

The safe cutting blade, easy to turn knob, and no-squeeze design of this can opener make it great for users with disabilities and even children.

Key Features:

  • Automatically locks onto the can
  • Easy to use
  • Squeeze-free operation
  • Built-in bottle opener

Cost: $8

Good Cook Safe Cut Manual Can Opener

Good Cook Safe Cut Manual Can Opener

This can opener is available individually, but also in a two-pack and a combo pack with a vegetable peeler, making it a great gift for someone outfitting their own kitchen.

Key Features:

  • Made from heavy-duty chrome
  • Rust and tarnish resistant
  • Durable, ergonomic handle and knob
  • Non-slip

Cost: $8

OXO Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener

OXO Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener

I’ve actually been using this can opener in my home for years and I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do!

Key Features:

  • Soft, oversized non-slip handles and knob for comfort and ease of use
  • Stainless steel cutting wheel
  • Built-in lid lifter
  • Smooth, skip-free movement

Cost: $22

Wall-Mounted Manual Can Openers

Swing-A-Way Wall Mount Can Opener with Magnet

Swing-A-Way Wall Mount Can Opener with Magnet

Wall mounting clears up drawer and counter space and keeps the can opener convenient for use with even your largest, heaviest cans while you’re cooking.

Key Features:

  • Easy to operate crank mechanism
  • High carbon cutting wheel
  • Lid lifter magnet
  • 3 locking positions to keep the can opener out of the way when not in use
  • Bracket and screws included

Cost: $9

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