You’d think all cans now open with ring-pulls, but you can guarantee it’ll be that essential ingredient that comes in a good old-fashioned closed tin. Every utensil drawer should have a can opener, and as we’ll see here, they don’t have to be unwieldy monsters that cause cans to jam open.
Smooth gears and a sharp, piercing blade are essential for smooth opening, and all those we tested delivered the goods.
We took a variety of tins, including more awkward, large or flat-shaped ones and put them to the test with a panel of hungry teens, kitchen gadget fans and older people who admitted opening cans could often be a struggle.
Some of the manual can openers were as easy to use as the electric or battery-operated versions, and we particularly liked anything that held its tin top in place until it was time to jettison. No one wants bean juice on their fingers, after all.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Joseph Joseph can-do tin opener
Place this handy gadget on top of your can and give the large handle a twist. It locks on immediately and cuts with ease. We loved its compact form because it fit into the kitchen drawer neatly and the fact the tin top drops straight in the recycling when you pop the side button.
Buy now £16.00, Joseph Joseph
Judge electric can opener
A must for anyone who struggles to hold and twist handles or with piercing the tin when using a handheld gadget. One quick whirr on this plug-in wonder and there’s an open can with its lid held separately by a magnet. There’s a bonus bottle opener underneath and a useful knife sharpener on the back, too.
Buy now £19.99, Wayfair
Kitchencraft butterfly can opener
This shape has been around since the 1920s and may be basic but, suitably, does exactly what it says on the tin. Squeeze the legs together to pierce the top of the can, then twist the butterfly handle to rotate the cutting edge around it. The nifty handle end opens bottle tops too. This is a worthy classic.
Buy now £1.79, Lakeland
Chef'n can opener EZ squeeze
This model uses a clever ratchet system to open the tin, so simply by squeezing the handle together a few times, the rotating cutter will go through the rim with the use of only one hand. Our tester loved the way it angled the tin lid upwards when finished, meaning she could pour the contents straight into a pan while still being held by the gadget.
Buy now £25.52, Amazon
Culinaire advanced one-touch can opener
Clamp this clever opener to the top of the can, press the button and it will move itself round the rim, opening as it goes. The lid stays attached by magnets when you lift off again. Takes a couple of AA batteries, which click easily into the pebble-shaped casing.
Buy now £20.00, Dunelm
Hoorwood stellar sure grip can opener
Nicely chunky but not too heavy, this is another good choice for those with more limited mobility. Cutting smoothly through tins, the handles are soft-touch and comfy to grip, while the sharp blade cuts smoothly through the tin with minimum effort.
Buy now £15.00, Hoorwood
Ikea stam can opener
A bargain price for such a good looking kitchen essential. This comes in red, white or black and although most of the components are plastic, for the price it’s still a pretty robust piece of kit. The handles clip together neatly when not in use, so it doesn’t take up much room in the utensil’s drawer and it’s suitable for right or left-handed use.
OXO good grips can opener
This is not the most compact opener out there, but it’s the sturdy design that makes it so easy to handle. You can rely on the Good Grips range to be comfortable and great quality and this doesn’t disappoint, piercing the tin and moving around its edge with ease. The only downside is it’s hand wash only.
Buy now £10.99, Amazon
Victorinox spartan pocket knife
Back in 1890, the Swiss government ordered thousands of knives from Victorinox for army use. There were two essential functions – a screwdriver for dismantling weaponry and a basic can opener for tackling food supplies. All these years later, pop a Spartan on your keyring and you need never look longingly at an unopened Fray Bentos pie again. Puncture a hole then wiggle the curved blade up and down round the can – easy, once you get the hang of it.
Buy now £19.99, Amazon
The verdict: Can openers
For ease of use, no mess and great storage, Joseph Joseph’s can-do is our winner. There’s a lot to be said for KitchenCrafts’ bargain classic too – of it was good enough for Granny, it’s good enough for us.