Believe it or not, it wasn’t until the mid 20th century that the electric can opener became a popular appliance in Western kitchens; it was invented during the Great Depression but didn’t catch on for several decades.
Today, electric can openers are so much a part of our culture that if you handed an old-fashioned, manual can opener to a millennial, they might not know what it is – let alone how to work it.
Many first- and second-generation electric models weren’t made with much forethought. Some didn’t have any way to hold the lid once it was removed from the can, so it fell right into the food and had to be fished out by hand.
And until fairly recently, all standard electric openers cut into the top of the can, leaving the jagged edges on the lid (and jagged cuts on our fingers) most of us are sadly familiar with. A major breakthrough was the invention of the “side-cut” electric can opener, which removes the lid at the seam and doesn’t require keeping a stash of band-aids nearby.
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One of the first appliances you’ll probably buy for a new kitchen is an electric can openers for seniors, and even well-made ones need to be replaced fairly regularly. That’s why we’re sure the Groom+Style rankings for best electric can openers will come in handy for most readers sooner, rather than later.
Best Electric Can Openers
1. Cuisinart SCO-60 Deluxe Stainless Steel Can Opener
The Groom+Style review team very rarely declares a tie. We prefer to choose a clear-cut #1 product, even if it takes a game of rock-paper-scissors for the team to resolve things. However, we’re breaking our own rules for the electronic can opener category, so that we can include a #1 choice for top-cut models and a #1 for side-cut units.
Our favorite top-cut electric opener is the Cuisinart SCO-60 Deluxe. You have to be careful when sifting through Cuisinarts; they have many similar models, and the lesser products (like the CCO-50BKN) have plastic parts which aren’t likely to hold up over the long term. The SCO-Deluxe, however, is made completely of stainless steel – even the magnetic can holder. That’s a prescription for durability and solid performance, since you can wipe down the mechanism with a wet cloth without worrying about rust. The brushed stainless look is quite attractive, too.[youtube id=”ArEikK3brn4″ width=”750″ height=”340″ position=”left”]
G+S also likes the fact that this Cuisinart model is bottom-heavy with a wide base and rubber feet, meaning there’s little danger that it will tip over when opening a large or stubborn can.
As we’ve mentioned, this is a top-cut unit, so you do have to be careful of jagged edges after the lid has been removed from the can. However, the design of the SCO-60 Deluxe, with a precision Power-Cut blade, a one-touch press-and-release operation lever (ideal for those with arthritis) and a strong magnet, means that very few lids will “surprise you” when you’re ready to remove them. The only negative: this is not an ideal opener for oversized cans like #10s.
Not all of Cuisinart’s appliances live up to the brand’s name. This one does, and if you want a standard top-cut model, it’s worth paying a little more for the SCO-60 Deluxe.
Facts and figures for the Cuisinart SCO-60 Deluxe Stainless Steel Can Opener:
2. Hamilton Beach 76606Z Smooth Touch Electric Can Opener
Here’s our other top-rated electric can opener, which is the best choice for those who want a side-cut model. We delve more into the pros and cons of these “smooth edge” openers in our buying guide. But in a nutshell, the blade separates the entire top of the can along its side seam, rather than cutting into the top and “sawing it” off just the lid. This means there are no sharp edges to nick the fingers, no lids falling into cans, no cutting teeth touching your food, and no risks to smaller children using the unit.
The 76606Z has many of the same “pros” as the Cuisinart: it has a one-touch, ergonomically-designed operation lever that is easy for those with limited flexibility in their hands, it has a wide bottom so it will remain stable when working on large cans, and the magnet on the top is strong enough to hold those cans firmly in place. The chrome and black design make it a beautiful addition to a kitchen, as well.
The “con” of this Smooth Touch model isn’t specific to the Hamilton Beach; it’s the same issue you’ll encounter with most side-cut openers but important to consider. You have to hold the lever on the unit down in order to cut, and the machine doesn’t stop automatically after the 360° rotation is complete. That means if you let the opener go around more than once, there’s a possibility that the blade will be cutting into already-cut metal, and shards can fall into the food. That doesn’t happen often if you’re paying attention – but it can.
The review team is partial to top-cut openers for the reason we’ve just mentioned, but many people swear by the side-cut method. This is the best electric can opener for seniors.
More details on the Hamilton Beach 76606Z Smooth Touch Electric Can Opener:
3. Hamilton Beach 76380Z Classic Chrome Heavyweight Can Opener
“I don’t want a fashion statement, I don’t want technological innovation, I don’t want to pay a fortune – I just want a reliable electric can opener!” Hamilton Beach, as it has for decades, has just the appliance for the traditionalist.
The Classic probably looks like the can opener you’ve had in your kitchen forever, and it works the same way. It’s a top-cut model that isn’t as fancy-looking as the Cuisinart, but it definitely gets the job done. In fact, you might like one aspect of the 76380Z even more: the sharp blade cuts higher above the rim than most competitors, so there’s less of a chance that liquid ingredients will spill over the top during the opening process. There’s an auto-shutoff feature and a knife sharpener on the back of this opener, and the chrome cutting unit can be removed for cleaning.
This Hamilton Beach can grip and open small cans without requiring you to hold the lever down while it’s working. However, that’s not the best idea if you’re working with a larger can (28 ounces worth of canned tomatoes, for example), as the unit isn’t sturdy enough to support heavy cans by itself and has a tendency to tip over in those situations.
This is basically the can opener most people have owned since they’ve had a kitchen, and for good reason. It gets the job done at a very reasonable price.
Specs for the Hamilton Beach 76380Z Classic Chrome Heavyweight Can Opener:
4. Bangnui Smooth Edge Can Opener
No counter space? No problem. The Chef’s Star is a battery-powered, handheld can opener, shaped much like a computer mouse, which doesn’t have to be plugged in and can stay tucked out-of-the-way in a kitchen drawer until it’s needed. One clarification we should make: even though this is classified as “handheld,” once you clamp it onto the top of a can and push the on/off button, it works on its own and doesn’t require you to do anything except remove the lid when it’s done.
Speaking of removing the lid, this is a side-cut electric can opener (as most of these battery-powered models are). It cuts at the seam of the can, so that the entire top is removed and there are no sharp edges ready to attack your fingers.
Unlike most battery-powered smooth-edge openers, the Bangnui has an auto-stop function so there’s no danger of it continuing to rotate around the can and dump metal shavings into your food once the top is removed. That’s the primary reason the review team chose it over competitive handheld models. However, as with most competitors, the battery-powered motor isn’t very strong so it may take several rotations for the gadget to open your can.
The Bangnui opener is quite expensive for a small plastic appliance, so G+S doesn’t think it’s the right choice for those on a budget. It’s very cool and a great space-saver, though.
Looking closer at the Bangnui Smooth Edge Can Opener:
5. Black+Decker Spacemaker Multi-Purpose Can Opener
If your primary goal is saving space, why not go all the way? This is G+S’s favorite under-the-cabinet model, and it’s a workhorse that not only houses a can opener, but also a bottle opener, knife sharpener and bag opener. (Why would you need a bag opener? We have no idea, but it’s on there.) This is a bulky appliance but the tools are hidden behind a fold-down door, so it looks fairly sleek when bolted onto the underside of a flush-bottom cabinet.
This is the most powerful electric can opener the review team has checked out, and its strong motor will make quick work of any can you feed it, even large #10 cans. There’s an auto-stop feature built into the unit, and the power cord folds into the back of the appliance so you only need to pull out as much as you need to reach an outlet. Just be careful when using this Black+Decker model; not only are there sharp edges on the can’s top after it’s cut off, but there are also sharp edges on the plastic door that folds down for use.
Installing the Spacemaker can be challenging, but Black+Decker includes templates that help somewhat. If your kitchen work area is small, you’ll be glad you made the effort when you see all the room you’ve saved on your counter.
Digging deeper on the Black+Decker Spacemaker Multi-Purpose Can Opener:
6. Aicok 3-in-1 Electric Can OpenerNo products found.
If you’re willing to break the bank (approaching $100 for an electric can opener?) for a side-cut model that makes a fashion statement, the Aicok 3-in-1 is an excellent choice. The review team couldn’t justify placing it higher than #6, though, because even though the unit looks like elegant stainless steel, it’s really plastic. Only the opening mechanism is stainless.
The smooth-edge cuts from this Aicok are top-notch, and unlike the Hamilton Beach, there’s an auto-stop function which prevents shavings from falling into the can during extra rotations. The head comes off easily for cleaning by hand or even in the dishwasher, even though as a side-cut opener, the teeth won’t contact food so only occasional cleaning is needed.
Standard-sized cans aren’t a problem for the Aicok, and it also comes with a knife sharpener and a bottle opener (that’s what makes it a 3-in-1 model). And the smooth-edge style makes it a safe choice for a kitchen used by kids.
The team definitely liked this Aicok electric can opener, which is a very good side-cut choice. The price? The team didn’t like that quite as much.
Getting to know the Aicok 3-in-1 Electric Can Opener:
7. Proctor Silex Plus 76370P Extra-Tall Can Opener
It sure would be terrific, if you regularly opened very tall cans, to have a very tall can opener to do it with. Despite its name, though, this Proctor Silex probably isn’t what you’re looking for. It’s a bit taller than average and can handle somewhat-large cans, but don’t expect to be able to sneak a restaurant-sized can underneath the blade.
The 76370 is one of the more expensive models in the Groom+Style rankings, and while the review team thinks that price is a little high (which is why you see it down here at #7), this electric opener’s ability to grab and open just about any can on the first try does make it worth a good, long look.
The handle is removable for easy cleaning, there’s a knife sharpener on the rear side of the appliance, and despite the plastic casing this is a top-cut unit which should last you at least a few years. We’d just wish that for the sake of honestly, Proctor Silex had at least left off the “extra” in the “Extra-Tall” name.
A bit pricey but a solid performer, the Proctor Silex Plus is a reliable electric can opener – and some may like the fact that it’s a little taller than average.
Specs for the Proctor Silex Plus 76370P Extra-Tall Can Opener:
8. Handy Can Automatic One-Touch Electric Can Opener
Some people are on tight budgets. Others can’t stand the idea of spending a lot of money on an appliance that may have to be replaced frequently. For the consideration of both groups, we offer the Handy Can Opener, a functional model that’s not only cheaper than the other products in our rankings, but priced lower than most manual alternatives.
There’s nothing fancy about this unit, which is similar to the Bangnui in every respect except price. It’s small so it doesn’t take up very much counter space, or can be kept in a drawer for storage. It’s battery-powered (2 AAs) so there’s no cord to worry about. It cuts below the lid of the can, so there aren’t any sharp edges tempting your tender fingers. It doesn’t require manual dexterity, which is a bonus when you’re dealing with arthritis. And it shuts off automatically when it’s finished.
So why is this electric can opener ranked well below the Bangnui? Quite simply, it does a good job, but it’s pretty fragile. If you’re careful with it, it will last you for a while. If not, it won’t. So – do you feel lucky, punk?
The Handy Can electric opener isn’t going to be one of your treasured kitchen appliances for years, but for ten bucks, you shouldn’t expect it to. But it’s as handy as its name.
A closer look at the Handy Can Automatic One-Touch Electric Can Opener:
Electric Can Opener Buying Guide
For an appliance that’s been a kitchen standard for fifty years, electric can openers are far from perfect. Just about every style and model has at least a couple of “cons” to go along with a list of “pros.”
Even so, the majority of today’s electric openers are easy to use and will – for the most part – open standard cans without major glitches or hassles.
That’s why convenience and aesthetics are two of the most important things to consider before making a purchase. Sure, some electric can openers work better than others, and we’ve highlighted the “best of the best” in our Groom+Style reviews. But a terrific model which clashes with the rest of your kitchen décor, or a monster that takes up too much space in your apartment’s kitchenette, is going to annoy you every time you look at it or try to make a casserole on your small counter.
There are literally thousands of electric openers to choose from, though, so you’re probably looking for more helpful information than just “buy one that you like and one that fits.”
We happen to have that helpful information right here.
Types of Electric Can Openers
Top-Cut vs. Side-Cut
We’ve briefly mentioned the one big innovation that’s changed electric can opener technology over the last fifty years: side-cut operation. But it deserves more of an explanation.
Electric models have traditionally mimicked the way that a manual can opener works. After a can is locked into the device, a blade pierces through the top edge of the can’s lid while a motor powers gears that rotate the can. As the can completes its 360° rotation, the blade cuts all the way around the lid’s edge, and the separated lid is held above the can by a magnet on the arm.
Assuming the can has been locked into the opener properly and the unit functions as designed, very little can go wrong – unless the magnet isn’t strong enough to hold the lid (in which case it falls into the can), or the user carelessly makes contact with the jagged edge of the cut lid (in which case the can’s contents can take on the telltale tinge of residual blood). Neither of those negative outcomes is really a big deal, unless the user is very awkward – or a child.
One day, an enterprising engineer came up with a great idea. What if the blade cut along the side seam of the can instead of piercing the top? That way, the lid would stay attached to the lip of the can so there would be no sharp edges to worry about, and a side-cut lid would be too large to fall into the can. This design could mean fewer inadvertent finger cuts, and perhaps more importantly, a kid-safe electric can opener.
There are added benefits to side-cut electric can openers, often called “smooth-edge” models by their manufacturers. They’re more sanitary, because the cutting teeth never come in contact with the food inside a can, and they don’t rust quickly for the same reason (since the teeth theoretically never get wet). They don’t have to be washed as frequently, either.
Side-cut openers are now readily available and are a good choice for families with young children. They haven’t become as popular as you might expect, though, because of several potential drawbacks.
First, it can be harder to tell when the can has completed its 360° rotation, since you don’t see the lid separating from the lip; if the blade continues to cut after a full rotation, it may start to cut small slivers of metal which could fall into the can (and the food it contains). Second, the side-cut lid may not be cut exactly evenly, making it difficult to remove the top from the can. That’s why some models are sold with small sets of pliers, which can be used to grab the lid and take it off.
You won’t pay a lot more for a side-cut model; in fact, some top-cut units are more expensive. So your decision should be based on whether you think side-cut is the greatest idea you’ve ever heard of – or just a gimmick. Most members of the review team are so used to using traditional electric can openers that we’re careful around sharp can lids, and don’t see an enormous benefit to the newer design. The few team members who have small kids, however, love the side-cut versions for safety’s sake.
Electric Can Opener Styles
The majority of electric can openers are exactly what you picture: standalone appliances which plug into the wall and take up counter space. As long as your kitchen isn’t postage-stamp sized, the space these units occupy usually isn’t too much to sacrifice for the utility of having them available.
There are several other options, however.
Some manufacturers offer over-the-counter electric can openers, which can save badly-needed room on the top of a counter when their case is mounted on the underside of a cabinet. They’ve fallen somewhat out of favor in recent years, but are still sold.
Smaller, battery-powered can openers are also often classified as “electric,” and they can be kept in a drawer until needed. These models are generally oval-shaped, are clamped or placed onto the top of a can, and since magnets hold them in place they can be left to circle the can and cut off the lid without needing to be held or guided. Side-cut battery powered models are available as well.
Other Buying Considerations
You can expect to own a good-quality large kitchen appliance for years before it needs replacement, but electric can openers are more likely to fall into the category of “good for only a few years.” There are some features to look for, though, if you want a can opener which doesn’t seem to die fairly often.
The power of an electric can opener is important, but not really something to really focus on when making a purchase decision. As long as you’re buying from a reputable manufacturer (or relying on our Groom+Style reviews), you’ll be unlikely to find an under-powered model.
The G+S review team has already addressed the importance of the footprint a can opener will take up on a counter. A size issue that’s less-often considered – until it’s too late – is the height of the unit. For example, if you plan to use the appliance to open 7-inch tall #10 cans, check to make sure your electric can opener is tall enough to fit those cans between the model’s arm and the counter.
One final note: many electric can openers cannot properly handle odd-shaped cans, since they’re designed to work on lids that are perfectly circular. Cans made of very thick metal can also present a challenge to less-expensive models. If you are partial to ingredients that come on these types of containers, you might want to reconsider your decision to buy an electric model – or at least keep a trusty manual can opener nearby.
Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Can Openers
Q: Do extra features like knife sharpeners detract from the performance of an electric can opener?
Q: Are some can openers better choices for the elderly or those with arthritis?
Q: My electric can opener often drops the lid into the can, or drops the can onto the counter, after cutting. Why?
Q: How do you clean an electric can opener?
Q: Will an electric can opener work on a can with a pop-top lid?
Q: Why can’t I get my opener to work on a normal-sized can?
Now that you have easy access to all those canned goodies you might want to consider updating your pots and pans!