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What Are the Different Types of Can Openers?

(16 Can Opener Types)

Here’s a list of 16 types of can openers available on the market today, along with their pictures, descriptions, pros and cons, and recommendation for who they’re best suited for.

types of can openers - manual

Did you know that there are many different types of can openers? From the manual and electric to the air driven crown punch, each one has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the most popular can opener types on the market today. We’ll also discuss which ones might be best for your specific needs. So whether you’re a newbie when it comes to can openers or you’re just looking for an upgrade, read on for some helpful advice.


  • Can opener categories: manual, electric, pneumatic
  • Two kinds of can opener: top cut vs side cut
  • 16 can opener types 

      Types of manual can openers:

1.  Traditional handheld can opener – top cut

2.  Safety (smooth edge) manual can opener – side cut

3. Heavy duty screw to the countertop manual can opener

4. One-handed (ratcheting) tin opener

5. Emergency (military) can opener

6. Old fashioned claw can opener

7.  Punch can opener (church key)

8. Left handed can opener

9. Manual crown punch

       Electric can opener types:

10. Freestanding traditional electric can opener (top cutter)

11.  Countertop electric smooth edge can opener (side cutter)

12. Hands free battery operated can opener (works on AA batteries)

13. Automatic cordless rechargeable can opener

14. Under cabinet can opener (electric corded)

15. Commercial electric can opener

        Pneumatic can openers:

16.  Air powered industrial crown punch opener

  • How to choose the best can opener type for your needs

 *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.

What are the 3 main categories of can openers?

Can openers come in three primary categories depending on the sources of the energy that cuts the lid off the can.

The most common type is the manual can opener. Manual can openers are operated by your hand and run on your muscle power. They can have a knob or crank that you turn or lever that you push in up and down motion to cut through the lid.

Another type of opener is the electric can opener. This type is powered by a small motor or pair of batteries that rotate a blade around the lid of the can, cutting through it so you can pull it off. Some electric openers also have magnets that hold onto the lid after it’s been cut off so you don’t have to worry about dropping it.

Finally, there is the pneumatic or air powered can opener. This type uses compressed air to punch the round blade into the lid of the can.

Side cutting vs top cutting can openers

Another important thing to consider when it comes to choosing a can opener is how the lid is cut off:  from the top of the can or from the side of the can.

manual can opener (top cutter)

Top-cutting can openers make a cut around the inner perimeter of the lid.

The cutting wheel touches the food and leaves a sharp jagged edge on the lid. If the opener is not cleaned after each use it can lead to cross-contamination.

manual can opener :side cutter

Side-cutting can openers, make a cut around the side of the can just below the lip of the lid.

They remove the outside rim of the can without coming into contact with the food and do not leave a sharp edge on the lid. That is why side cut can openers are often called safety, smooth edge or sanitary can openers. 

You can find side-cut and top- cut can openers among manual and electric models. Pneumatic can openers are top cutting.

Manual can opener types

Now let’s take a closer look at different types of manual can openers.

As we mentioned above, manual tin openers are hand operated. They can be divided into  many kinds depending on the mechanism used to cut into cans.

1.Traditional Handheld Can Opener – top cutter

manual can opener, top cutting

Oxo SteeL Can Opener

This type of manual tin openers open the can by turning a knob, (or key, or crank) that propels a cutting wheel along the rim of a can and cuts the lid from the top of the can. They are known as rotary-style openers.


  • easy to operate
  •  takes little storage space
  • by not cutting lid all way around you can drain liquid from the can
  • not expensive


  • leaves sharp edge
  • cutting wheel touches the food
  • most of the models can rust
  • require cleaning after each use (just few models are dishwasher safe)

Who should use this type of opener?

  • great for occasional use for the majority of people
  • some models with a small knob are not recommended for people with arthritis and weak hands.

Learn more about the best handheld manual can openers.

2. Safety (smooth edge) manual can opener – side cutter

manual safety can opener

Rosle Smooth Edge Can Opener with Pliers.

Smooth edge can openers make a cut from the side of the can. 


  • leaves smooth edge after cutting
  • the wheel doesn’t touch the food
  • easy to maintain
  • easy to use
  • doesn’t take much storage space


  • can create metal shredding falling into food
  • doesn’t last as long as the manual top cutters
  • hard to latch onto the can


Good for:

  • people with kids where safety is a concern

Not so good for:

  • elderly and people with dexterity problems

Read more about smooth edge safety can openers

3. Heavy duty screw to the countertop manual can opener

types of can openers - heavy duty manual can opener

Edlund 11100 Old Reliable #1 Manual Can Opener with Plated Steel Base.

This kind of opener needs to be screwed down to a sturdy surface. Turning the handle engages a knife that cuts into the lid of the can.

These openers are mostly intended for  commercial use and are able to cut large cans up to 11” tall.


  • easy to operate
  • heavy duty
  • can handle tall and heavy cans


  • takes a lot of space
  • needs sturdy surface
  • expensive
  • hard to maintain

Good for:

  • commercial use
  • can be used by one hand if the opener is set in a permanent place.

Learn more about commercial can openers.

    4. One-handed (ratcheting) tin opener

    EZ SQUEEZE can opener

     EzSqueeze One -Handed Can Opener

    In order to open a can, you just need to squeeze ratcheting handles by one hand a few times.


    • operated by just one hand
    • squeeze-to-open design


    • can be hard to get a grip on edge of lid
    • can be hard to turn on the cans

    Good for:

    • one-handed operation
    • can be used by left hand

    Find out more about the best one-handed can openers .

      5. Emergency (military) can opener

      Opening a can with P-38 can opener

       p-38 Military Can Opener

      This type of lightweight can opener is often called a military or travel can opener.

      This kind of a small can opener has a cutter attached to the handle. To open the can, you need to punch a hole into the lid with the sharp point of the cutter and then move the cutter along the edge of the can in slight up and down motion toward yourself.


      • lightweight
      • does the job
      • takes little space


      • leaves jagged  edges
      • touches food while cuts the can
      • most models get rusty
      • hard to use

      Good for:

      •  travelers, backpackers, military, emergency situations. Should keep one in your emergency kit, backpack or glove compartment in the car.
      • Can’t be used by people with arthritis

      Learn more about the best can openers for travelers.

      6. Old fashioned claw can opener

      manual can opener ( lever with a claw)

      Old -fashioned  can opener 

      The old-fashioned can opener is a lever type manual opener with the cutter in a form of claw attached to the handle. There are no moving parts in this kind of opener.

      To use this can opener you need to punch a hole into the lid with the sharp point of the opener and then move the claw along the can rim in slight up and down motion  away from yourself


      • can open a can
      • cheap


      • leaves jagged  edges
      • touches food while cuts the can
      • gets rusty
      • hard to use and clean
      • inconvenient

      Good for:

      • just for nostalgia – to show your grandkids how openers looked a long time ago. 🙂

        7. Church key (punch) can opener

        Punch (church key) can opener

        Punch Can and Bottle Opener 

        A church key can opener is a simple tool that punctures the top of a beverage or soup can so you can drink a liquid or pour the liquid out.

        To use a church key can opener, hold it so that the pointed end is on top of the can and it’s facing down. Puncture the top of the can with the pointed end to make a hole in the lid.


        • can pop a hole in a can with a liquid
        • easy to use


        • not useful for cans with solid food

        Good for:

        • fast and easy way to make a hole in the beverage or in a can with sauce /soup-puree that will be emptied out.

          8. Left-handed can opener

          can opener for left-handed people

          This opener fits on the left side of the can, so it can be gripped by the right hand and turned with the stronger left hand of a left-handed person.


          • Rotates counterclockwise, allowing turning knob for left-handed people easier


          • hard to use for right handed people

          Good for:

          • left handed people

          Learn more about tin openers for the lefties.

          9. Manual crown punch – commercial can opener

          manual crown punch can opener

          Edlund 700SS Manual Crown Punch Opener

          The manual crown pinch is a heavy-duty table can opener that is able to open large cans in a single stroke. It operates by pressing the lever down which punches the circle shaped blade into the can.


          • perfect for opening large size cans
          • can be completely washed down
          • opens can in one move (saves time)
          • can open lots of cans per day
          • automatic lid remover (in some models)


          • need to change the blade for different size of cans
          • very expensive

          Good for:

          Electric can opener types

          An electric can opener is a device that helps to open food cans automatically. There are different types of electric can openers available in the market and each one has its own set of features. Let’s take a closer look at electric can opener kinds.

          10.Traditional freestanding  electric can opener (top cutting)

          electric countertop can opener type

          Cuisinart SCO-60 Deluxe Electric Can Opener

           A freestanding electric can opener sits on the countertop and needs to be plugged into an electric outlet to work.

          To use this type of electric can opener, you will need to press the lever down, so the blade can effortlessly slice through the can all the way around. After the can is opened, the can opener will stop. The lid will not fall into the opened can, it’s held in place by the magnetic lid holder.


          • single touch operation – easy to use
          • opens any size of standard can
          • removable lever for easy cleaning


          • leaves sharp edge
          • cutting knife touches food
          • can’t work when electricity is out
          • takes space on the kitchen counter

          Good for:

          • people with arthritis and week hands

          Read more about the best electric can openners.

          11. Countertop electric smooth edge can opener (side-cutting)

          Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch electric can opener

          Hamilton Beach (76606ZA) Smooth Touch Electric Automatic Can Opener

          The countertop smooth edge electric can opener works similar to the traditional freestanding electric can opener. Just press the lever and see your can open.

          The only difference is that this can opener cuts cans along sides for smooth touchable lids.


          • does not leave sharp edges -safe
          • the cutting knife does not touch food – sanitary
          • easy to use


          • needs electricity to work
          • somewhat loud
          • takes space on the countertop

          Good for:

          • everyday use
          • especially great for seniors, people with arthritis and weak hands.

          12. Hands free battery operated can opener (works on AA batteries)

          mini can opener battery operated

          Kitchen Mama Battery Operated Can Opener

          A battery-operated can opener is usually powered by 2 (sometimes 4) AA batteries. In order to use an automatic can opener you need to place it on top of the can, push a button and wait for the lid to be removed with no sharp edges left behind, because the blade cuts along the side of the lid without touching the food inside.


          • doesn’t take much space
          • leaves smooth edge
          • the wheel doesn’t touch the food
          • not loud


          • some  buyers report unsatisfactory performance
          • require frequent change of batteries
          • can produce metal shavings during opening

          Good for:

          • easy to use for people with weak hands
          • perfect for use by children 

          Find out more about the best hands free can openers.

          13. Automatic cordless rechargeable can opener 

          Hamilton Beach can opener

          Hamilton Beach Walk ‘n Cut Cordless Rechargeable Can Opener 

          The rechargeable cordless can opener opens cans hands-free. It moves itself along the lid while cutting and shuts off automatically after the lid is cut off.



          • cordless
          • hands free operation
          • no need to spend money on replacement batteries
          • small compact size for easy storage
          • will work during electricity outage
          • easy to clean
          • opens any size of can


          • top cutting – leaves sharp edge on the lid
          • need to remember to charge the battery

          Good for:

          • everyday use
          • great for the people with arthritis

          14. Under cabinet can opener

          Electric corded under cabinet canopener saves space

          ELECTRA under cabinet Electric Can Opener (3-in-1 tool)

          Under cabinet can openers are really handy devices that can help you save space in your kitchen by attaching to the bottom of your cabinets.


          • Saves space on your kitchen countertop
          • No clatter on your counter
          • Compact and convenient
          • Suitable for one-handed operation
          • Plugs in to an electric outlet so you don’t need to change batteries
          • Opens any size of cans


          • Cannot install it if you have under cabinet lights
          • Works best with flat bottom kitchen cabinets, otherwise you’ll need a spacer
          • Limited options on the market – the most popular brand (Black+Decker hideaway Spacemaker) has been out of production for more than 15 years and can be expensive to purchase now

          Only one brand (ELITRA) currently makes under cabinet can openers in the USA.

          Good for:

          • One-handed operation
          • Opening any size cans, even large ones
          • Safe for children and seniors to use
          • Great for people with arthritis

          15. Commercial electric can opener

          commercial electric can opener

          Edlund 266 Tabletop Electric Can Opener

          Need to open cans in seconds? Use the commercial tabletop electric can opener. Just press a lever – and you are done!


          • easy to use
          • saves time on commercial kitchen
          • able to open large and tall cans


          • expensive
          • the spinned off lid falls into an opened can and touches food
          • leaves sharp edge on the lid

          Good for:

          • highly recommend for caterers, restaurant owners or anyone that has to open #10 cans.

          Pneumatic can opener types

          With this kind of extreme duty machine one operator just with a push of a button can open thousands of cans per shift.

          16. Air driven crown punch opener

          types of can openers - air powered crown punch

          Edlund 625M Air Powered Crown PunchOpener

          Pneumatic crown punch is a heaviest duty stand-alone industrial opener available on the market. It takes just a few seconds for an air driven circle shaped blade to open and remove the lid. Learn more about this commercial can opener from the manufacturer’s manual.


          • opens cans up to 11″ tall
          • automatic lid removal
          • can open up to 3000 cans per day
          • NSF Certified
          • all stainless steel construction
          • easy to clean – just wash it down with the hose
          • completely air operated


          • very expensive

          Good for:

          • commercial and industrial application

          How to choose the best kind of can opener for your needs

          Now that you know a little more about the different types of can openers on the market, it’s time to decide which one is right for you.

          Read our can opener buying guide, do some research on the models we’ve highlighted in this post and choose the best can opener that suits your needs.

          Final thoughts on can opener types 

          Whether you go with a manual or electric option, we hope this article has helped you narrow down your choices and made the decision process a little bit easier. With so many options available, there’s no need to settle for anything less than perfect.

          You have read:

          16 Types of Can Openers