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(updated for 2024)


Most people are familiar with the classic conventional style of manual can openers: you turn a knob or a key on the opener which propels the cutting wheel along the rim of the can – and voila! – the can is open. And it is exactly the kind of device we will pick for our category of best manual can openers that cut cans on the top.

If you are more interested in smooth edge manual can openers that cut the lid from the side, read instead Best smooth edge can openers.

*This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products I have recommended, I may receive a commission at no cost to you. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.

In 15 can opener types we already discussed the pros and cons of having a manual top cutter. But let’s recap.

Drawbacks of traditional manual can opener

1) The main drawback of a can opener that cuts the can on the top is that while cutting the can, the cutting wheel may come into contact with the food.

If the opener is not cleaned properly after cutting a can, the leftovers of food that get stuck between the gear and the cutting wheel can lead to cross-contamination. 

Related: read about easy fast way to clean and disinfect the manual can opener.

2) Another negative thing about the manual top cutters is that they leave a very sharp lid after the can is opened.


The safe way to open a can with a manual can opener

  1. In order not to hurt fingers it is better not to open the can all the way around, but to leave a little hinge that holds the lid attached to the can. Usually, the lid will raise up a little bit just before getting to the end of the cut if you stop just before it breaks off.
  2. Then you can use a butter knife to lift the lid and empty the food from the can.
  3. After the food is out of the can – press on the lid with the index finger so it goes inside the can and cannot cut the trash bag after it is thrown out.

An issue with the sharp lid is solved by some manufacturers that offer a manual top cutting can opener with built-in magnet. This magnet picks up the lid from the can after the lid is cut completely off the can and then sends it to the trash with a “release” button, so there is no need to touch the lid at all. Recommended in the tables below the Zyliss Lock and Lift can opener has this feature.

3) One more problem with the rotary style manual can openers is that they can get rusty. That is why it is important to choose an opener with a cutting mechanism that is made of stainless steel and will not rust. Our 3 recommended can openers that are on the “best list” will not rust with proper care.

Advantages of manual can opener that cuts the lid from the top

1) The main advantage of the handheld can opener that cuts the lid from the top compared to a smooth edge can opener is that the top cutter lasts much longer. It happens because the cutting wheel of the top cutting opener penetrates thin lid and so it wears out less than safety openers that cut the can through the thick part on the side of the can.

2) In comparison with a corded electric can opener – the conventional manual opener takes very little space (stores in the drawer), does not require electricity to operate and is not noisy.

3) Compared to battery operated openers – manual can openers do not require batteries to operate, and don’t create noise.

Find out more about electric corded and battery operated can openers.

Top 3 manual can openers

It’s now time to reveal our 3 best manual can openers. And the winners are:

1. Zyliss Lock’N Lift because of magnet system: it has a magnet that picks up a lid, and has a release lever. This completely eliminates the need to touch a sharp lid. The opener also comes with 5 years warranty.

2. Cuisinart Zinc Alloy can opener because it is pretty! smile Just kidding. No doubt it is a nice looking piece of equipment, matching wonderfully to your Cuisinart hollow handle stainless steel tools collection, but it was chosen for the robust performance and Cuisinart’s promise of lifetime warranty on its tools and gadgets. It’s also dishwasher safe.

3. OXO SteeL’s oversized knob lets you cut the can easily. I have owned this opener for 12 years and it is still as good as new. Did I mention that as with all OXO products it comes with a lifetime warranty? (Check out manufacturers’ warranty policies).

Read the related article Can openers with a lifetime warranty.

And now compare side-by-side the best manual can openers that cut the can on the top and pick one that suits your needs.

manual can openers

Zyliss Lock'N Lift Manual Can Opener

– cuts can on the top;

– well made ( stainless steel cutting mechanism);

– easy to operate;

– will not rust;

– opener locks onto can, easy to turn the can upside down to drain liquid;

– magnet lifts lid  after can is opened, and the lever releases lid for disposal;

– easy to clean, just wipe with towel;

– 5 years warranty

best manual can openers

Cuisinart CTG-08-CO Zinc Alloy Can Opener

– cuts can on the top;

– well made of durable zinc alloy;

-easy to operate;

– will not rust;

-dishwasher safe;

– part of Cuisinart hollow handle tool collection;

– lifetime warranty



manual can opener, top cutting

OXO SteeL Manual Can Opener

– cuts can on the top;

– well made ( stainless steel  blades and handles);

– easy to operate;

– rust resistant;

– has built-in bottle opener;

– lifetime warranty




Best manual can openers

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Best Manual Can Openers