Picture this: you're in the middle of making your favorite recipe — maybe it's a festive pumpkin pie or a chili made from every other item in the Trader Joe's canned-food aisle — and your can opener breaks. You have to interrupt all your plans and run out to the store to get a new one, right? Not so fast. Turns out, there's a pretty easy way to open a can without a can opener. You just need a common utensil, a little elbow grease, and a can-do attitude (sorry, we had to).
And while we're on the subject of can opening, even if you do have a can opener, there's a good chance you're not using it to its full potential. So before you attempt another recipe, here's what you need to know about opening cans.
How Do You Use a Can Opener?
We know the typical way to use a can opener: fix the handheld tool onto the side of the can so that the knob you're turning is aligned on the rounded side, then turn the lever until the can is open and you can remove the lid.
But there's another way to use a can opener that eliminates some of the common problems of classic can opening, like having to dig out the top of the can or risking cutting yourself. In this method, demonstrated below by TikTok user @julie_eigenmann, you begin by placing the can opener on top of the unopened can, rather than on the side. Fasten the round cutters onto the top, or lid, of the can, so that the tool is flat on top. Then twist the knob the whole way around to open the lid. Voila, you'll see that the entire top comes off in one easy piece attached to the can opener. No digging the lid out with your fingertips.
How Do You Open a Can Without a Can Opener?
If you find yourself without a working can opener, don't worry, you can still access whatever's inside your can. All you need is a metal spoon.
As YouTuber DaveHax explains, first, in one hand, grip a spoon firmly, maybe with a fist. Be sure to use a spoon that you're willing to part with, as you'll probably bend it out of shape. Use your other hand to hold onto the can with a solid grasp. Start rubbing the spoon back and forth on the top while pushing down nice and hard to make a groove. Keep going and you'll soon pierce a hole in the top of the can. Once that hole is made, use the edge of the spoon to slowly cut all the way around the top. It might take a little bit more time and muscle than using a can opener, but you'll eventually open the can up and get your food out.
Important note: be careful opening a can this way, as there will be extra-sharp, jagged edges along the opening.