How to Use a Can Opener the Right Way

Today is the day you learn how to use a can opener. You'll be amazed at the difference this method makes!

When it comes to kitchen gadgets, the simpler the better. The last thing any cook needs is to be wading through an instruction manual while dinner bubbles over. Fortunately, most essential kitchen tools are pretty self-explanatory. It’s not tough to figure out how to use a whisk or spatula, after all. But what about a can opener?

Turns out, there’s a right way and a wrong way to open cans!

Is This How You Usually Open a Can?

showing how to use a can opener from above the classic wayAlaina DiGiacomo/Taste of Home

I can easily say that every time I’ve used a can opener, this is how it went. Press the handles together to clamp the circular, metal blades down on the top of the can, inside the rim. Then, turn the crank a few times, guiding the blades around the circumference of the lid. You’ll have that can open in no time, with a sharp, serrated lid to go along with it. Not great, especially when you find yourself fishing for the lid to pull it out of the can.

Even if you leave some space for the lid to stay attached to the rim of the can, this method often results in the lid pointing down. Either way, you’ll find your fingers in the contents of the can, trying to pull the lid out by its jagged edge. Yikes! Thankfully, there’s a safer way to use a can opener for all of our recipes made with canned food.

How to Use a Can Opener the Correct Way

showing how to use a can opener the right wayAlaina DiGiacomo/Taste of Home

Instead of clamping the metal blades down onto the lid, turn your hand-operated can opener sideways, with the crank facing up. Clamp the blades together around the rim, versus directly down on the lid. Turn the crank, and you’ll notice a clean cut forming around the top of the can. Once you’ve come full circle, the entire top of the can will be cleanly removed—no jagged edges, and no fishing the lid out of the can. You’ll never look at a can opener the same way again!

If you feel silly for using a can opener wrong all these years, don’t. We also recently learned that there’s a right way to insert a coffee filter, so we’ve made some adjustments to our morning routine.

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Hannah Twietmeyer
Hannah is a writer and content creator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a passion for all things food, health, community and lifestyle. She is a journalism graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a previous dining and drink contributor for Madison Magazine.