For a quick grilled cheese sandwich or for more intricate dishes, a panini press comes quite in handy. Shorter cooking time, super-easy cleaning and appealing results is what it usually offers. Do not let yourself be in any way deceived by its looks. A panini press is a real machine in the kitchen and it can help you a lot when you are on a tight schedule.
Check out today’s article to discover some of its benefits and main features. Also, get ready to explore our selection of ten best panini makers on the market. We put them under the spotlight and give you a handful of reasons to pick one. Bear with us till the end (or just scroll all the way down) for a sample of creativity and inspiration in the kitchen. We chose six mouth-watering recipes for paninis and not only.
Are your analytical skills (and taste buds) ready? Let’s get started!
Why Should You Buy A Panini Press?
Having a panini in your home or restaurant can be really useful at times. But before we jump to our list of benefits, one short note.
What is a panini, to be more exact? Well, “panini” is the Italian word for a toasted bread sandwich. Therefore, the panini press is the cooking appliance that can help you cook the best sandwich.
Now, there’s more to it than what meets the eye. Take a closer look at the list below to understand the multiple benefits of a panini maker.
- You can prepare a large amount of sandwiches at once.
If you have a big family, always hungry, then the last thing you need is to hear them complain about waiting. With a large panini press, you can prepare several delicious sandwiches at the same time. This way, serving a quick snack or even a meal is faster.
- It allows you to prepare healthier meals.
Featuring a non-stick surface, these appliances make it easier to cook healthy. No more cooking oil or butter needed for a large variety of dishes. Even for vegetarians, these presses make cooking delicious and healthy meals a breeze. Plus, by making your own sandwiches at home, you can choose what you put inside and control how much you eat. For those on a diet, this can prove really helpful.
- You can cook anything you want on it.
Do not limit your imagination to sandwiches. You can prepare steaks, burgers, even waffles on a panini press. Grill your favorite vegetables or prepare an omelette on the run.
- You can enjoy a genuine Italian panini at home.
If your last visit to Italy left a mark on your eating habits, you may want to reproduce some of the dishes from there. While pasta requires different cookware, a savoury panini is always a good idea and easy to make.
- It’s a top-notch appliance, yet super-easy to use.
The history of the panini press is not too long. And while the design might intimidate sometimes, these appliances are easy to use. They mostly require plugging in and setting the desired heat intensity. In a matter of seconds, the cooking surface becomes hot and you can throw in your ingredients.
- Provides reliable performance.
You do not have to wait for too long to see your panini maker heat up. That means cooking time is easily reduced and you know the food will be properly cooked. Thanks to the high heat intensity and proper distribution, nothing gets burned. And at the same time, the inside is well roasted
- You can reheat food in it.
If you do not own a microwave or you find it not so efficient sometimes, consider a panini press. Pizza, grilled meat and more can be easily reheated on its surface, no sogginess included. The panini maker gives that golden, crispy touch even to reheated food.
How To Choose The Best Panini Maker?
Before cravings strike, you should keep your head cool when choosing a model of panini press. A well informed purchase decision is always recommended. To help you with that, here are the highlights of a buying guide. Find below the main features to look for in the best panini maker.
The larger the cooking surface of your panini press, the more sandwiches you can prepare at once. For a large family or if you often do gatherings with friends, this can come in handy and save you time in the kitchen. But if you only plan to use it for yourself or have little space available at home, consider a smaller sized model.
As you can expect, the more power a panini maker has, the better performance it offers. From making simple sandwiches to cooking chicken breast in a few minutes, it is all possible. Consider your actual needs, in order to get a model that really matches your cooking necessities. Otherwise, you might get your electricity bills pumped up too much.
Most modern models of panini presses allow you to experiment with what you cook inside. Check the manufacturer’s specs to confirm what type of meals you can prepare. Also, look at the extra features (temperature adjustment, timer) to get a clearer image of all you can do.
- Cooking Surface (Plates)
There are usually three types of cooking plate surfaces: smooth, grooved and mixed. You will like the smooth ones for the ease in cleaning. The grooved plates however give a nice touch to the food, through the grill marks. You can go for a mixed model, to get the best of both worlds. Consider also opting for a panini press with removable plates, with lower maintenance. You can just put them in the dishwasher and go enjoy dinner instead of scrubbing the food remains.
When it comes to plate materials, options vary among aluminum, cast iron, or a nonstick coating. Each surface comes with its own advantages and drawbacks
Aluminum – mostly appreciated for heating up quickly. It allows preparing small amounts of food in a short time. Most budget-friendly panini presses have aluminum plates.
Cast iron – is great for more complex cooking, as it retains heat for longer. Plates made of this material heat slower, but on the long run, are a better choice for large amounts of food. With proper seasoning, their surface becomes non-stick, making cooking more convenient.
Nonstick layer – is easy to clean and also heats up in no time. This kind of surface is however, more prone to damage than other models. So you need to handle it with great care while cleaning.
Our Top Selection Of 10 Best Panini Makers
Time to scan what the market has to offer. The upcoming list is a quick selection of our favorite panini makers. Weigh the pros and cons carefully, before making your decision.
Looking to add an elegant, high-performing touch in your kitchen? The Cuisinart GR-150P1 Griddler Deluxe offers you six cooking options in one. Choose from grilling, panini press or griddle (and intermediary stages). Mix and play with the plates as you wish, they are removable, reversible and have a non-stick surface. Enjoy comfort, great cooking result, with little cleaning hassle. The plates and tools are all dishwasher safe. Plus, you get a three years warranty, to put your mind at ease.
- top performance (up to 1800W)
- versatile (six-in-one cooking options)
- elegant design
- reversible, removable, non-stick plates
- independent temperature control for each plate
- large cooking surface
- dishwasher safe
- drip tray and cleaning tool included.
- high-end product
- complaints on uneven heat distribution and temperature control.
Forget about going out to enjoy a delicious panini. Make it right at home, just as you like it, with the Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Grill. Add all the ingredients you want, this panini maker can handle even the thickest sandwich. The locking lid opens up to 180 degrees, allowing you to use the plates for more than just a quick snack. And if you are unsure when it reaches the right temperature, rely on the green light to be your cue. The red lid of this panini press will make a statement in any kitchen, for sure.
- locking lid opening up to 180 degrees
- built-in ready (green) light
- easy to store (suitable for vertical storage)
- stylish design.
- not dishwasher safe
- non-removable plates
- no drip-tray (tricky to clean grease)
- no temperature control knob.
Pick your favorite breakfast snack and make it in no time. The ORFELD 3-in-1 Panini Press Grill lets you enjoy fresh waffles, sandwiches or barbecues. All is possible thanks to the interchangeable heating plates. Powerful, efficient and dishwasher safe, this sandwich maker is a hit.
- good performance (up to 750-Watts)
- versatile (3-in-1 detachable non-stick coating plates)
- LED temperature indicator lights
- one year warranty
- easy to clean (dishwasher safe)
- no temperature control knob
- common complaints on long heating time
- suitable only for small portions.
Prepare a savoury meal for the whole family with the Hamilton Beach Electric Grill. Suitable to cook up to 6 servings on its 118 square-inch grilling surface, this grill is a beast. Thanks to the temperature adjusting dial, you control the heat intensity at all times. Grill with ease, clean even easier, thanks to the removable plates and drip tray. Dishwasher safe components and non-stick surfaces keep you away from scrubbing. Take a peek at your steak while it’s searing at 450 degrees, with no risk. The sealing lid comes with a window to give you a better view of the process.
- versatile, large cooking surface (up to 6 servings)
- temperature dial
- removable, dishwasher safe components (plates, drip tray)
- viewing lid window
- one year warranty.
- complaints on non-stick surface coating peeling off
- lid plastic components with low resistance (easily broken)
- large sized (taking up more countertop space).
For those a bit tight on countertop space, the George Foreman 2-Serving Panini Press is ideal. A simple, eye-catching design matches a surprising performance in such a small body. Prepare a romantic breakfast for you and your loved one, in little time. With enough grilling power to give you a tasty burger, this panini press eliminates the need for oil. The non-stick surface allows you to cook with little to no grease, which is healthier and easier to clean.
- budget friendly
- small sized press, great for tight spaces (ideal for two servings)
- fat-removing sloped surface
- drip tray
- three years of warranty
- powerful, durable grill.
- no temperature control knob
- non-removable grill plates
- limited cooking surface.
Team up with a powerful and sleek machine while cooking. The Cuisinart Electric Griddler is a real beast in the kitchen, wrapped in steel. Thanks to the floating lid and removable, reversible plates, it allows you to cook a variety of meals. From grill to griddle or sear, this is more than a panini press. It comes improved with a user-friendly LCD display, giving you full control. Define temperature, timer and functions as you please.
- sleek design & versatility (5-in-1 cooking options)
- removable, reversible cooking plates
- dishwasher-safe components
- LCD display
- digital controls (temperature, functions, timer).
- heavy body
- hot surface and handle during use (risk of skin burn)
- complaints about customer service quality.
Life gets better when you are enjoying the little moments. The Yabano Sandwich Maker helps you have more time outside of the kitchen. With its simple yet versatile design, this little appliance can surprise you. Prepare waffles, sandwiches or meat, the choice is yours. This device comes with three detachable plates, for extra convenience. All feature a non-stick coating for easy use and cleaning. Safety comes first, thanks to the cool touch handle and anti-slip feet included.
- versatile (3-in-1 detachable plates)
- LED indicator lights
- safety features (cool touch handle, anti-skid feet)
- easy to clean (non-stick coating).
- some complaints on long heating time
- uneven heating distribution (according to some buyers).
The Blue Diamond Cookware Griddle Deluxe stands out with its diamond-infused ceramic coating. When we say it’s highly resistant, we mean it. By design, this non-stick coating is 5 times harder and lasts up to 10 times more, compared to other coatings. You can easily prepare waffles, sandwiches or burgers with no fear of scratches. The cooking surface is fully safe to use, easy to clean and durable. The top plate lets you pick your favorite grill touch and adjust to any sandwich height.
- highly resistant non-stick coating
- removable cooking plates
- versatile design
- lay-flat design
- user-friendly temperature control (single knob)
- metal utensil safe
- dishwasher safe plates
- indicator light
- double drip tray
- a bit heavy
- occupying a large countertop space (in full griddle mode).
Make your restaurant-like grilled cheese sandwiches at home, as fast as you can say “panini”. Well, maybe while you say the name of the Electric Panini Press Indoor Grill from Aigostar. With its 1500 Watts, this versatile grill lets you get creative in the kitchen. Use it as a panini press a steak grill or roaster machine, all on your countertop. Set the desired temperature and get ready to grill. Use the built-in timer to get the side-dishes ready while your meat is cooking safely.
- smart temperature control
- built-in timer
- large cooking surface (11.4 X 9.5 inch)
- versatile design (closed, 90° or 180°degrees open)
- removable, sloped plates with non-stick coating for easy cleaning.
- indicator lights (power, ready)
- safety features (anti-scald handles, non-slip feet).
- flawed design (no lay-flat option available, according to some buyers)
- difficult to store in tight spaces.
Top performance in an appealing design, that is the definition of the ECX Sandwich Maker. With three different plates, this sandwich maker easily becomes a waffle/donut maker. But that does not stop here, as you can grill meatballs or other foods in it too. your breakfast can be ready in three minutes, with this powerful and compact machine. Safety features such as overheat protection or anti-skid feet put your mind at ease. Use the timer and adjust the temperature for the best and most convenient results.
- appealing, compact and versatile design
- good performance for its size (up to 600W)
- LED indicator lights
- built-in timer
- overheating protection
- cool touch handle
- anti-skid feet
- removable cooking plates.
- recommended seasoning of the cooking plates (though non-stick)
- hard to clean (sticky plates) according to some buyers
- only suitable for small portions.
Maintenance Tips For Your Panini Press
To get the best results from your panini press, there are some tips and tricks you should know. Of course, in addition to these, always consider the manufacturer’s indications first. Read the user manual carefully, to know all about restrictions or rules. Follow the recommended way of use, applicable to your panini maker.
- Avoid metal (or hard) kitchen tools.
Most panini makers come with a non-stick coating on their plates, but it can be prone to scratching. Use only silicone or recommended tools, to ensure you cause no damage to the cooking surface.
- Keep your panini maker clean.
Wait for the cooking surface to cool down and wipe the excess grease or crusts formed. Wash the drip tray to avoid creating a mold-friendly environment. Cleaning it after each use ensures protection of the components. Leftover grease or crumbles can pile up in a sticky layer, harder to remove after a while.
- Preheat the plates.
Especially when you plan to cook meat or fish, make sure the plates are hot enough before you put the raw material on. This reduces the cooking time and ensures you avoid sogginess.
- Make good use of its versatility.
Do not limit your panini maker to only sandwiches. Based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, go ahead and experiment. After all, if your electric grill is strong enough to handle a steak, you should try it.
All this reading has probably awoken the hunger in you. And if you are dreaming about a quick snack, we have some ideas to help. Check out these mouth-watering recipes, perfect to try in your new panini maker.
1. Turkey and Cranberry Panini
Give leftover turkey a second chance to enchant your tastebuds. There is something special about this combination of turkey, cranberries and Brie cheese. It really spices up any plain sandwich in an unexpectedly pleasant way. With the help of a panini press, in under 15 minutes, you get a crisp yet melty snack to drool for.
2. Apple, Cheddar and Bacon Panini
Try out this fancy version of the yummy old grilled cheese. You will be pleasantly surprised by this apple, cheddar and bacon panini recipe. Salty bacon embraced by the creamy, melted cheddar cheese may sound savory. But once you add a sweet note of apple and fig butter, your taste buds will go crazy. Give it a shot, you might fall in love with the combination.
3. Sandwich Love
Make love, not war. Or as vegetarians like to say, make sandwich love. This recipe brings to the spotlight all the rich flavors and colors you could think of for a hearty result. Picture some herby balsamic mushrooms, mixed with roasted peppers and onions. Add some spicy arugula and double the cheese. You will not even miss the meat with so much going on in this vegetarian panini.
4. Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Fig Jam Panini
If you are searching for a sweet and salty bite, then this recipe is for you. Indulge your taste in creamy mozzarella texture. Right after, salty prosciutto intertwines with sweet fig jam, for some contrast. A touch of fresh basil adds the final dazzle in this delicious panini. Though very different, these ingredients make up quite a complementary family.
5. Dominican Riki Taki
Get ready to go on a trip with this savory, traditional Dominican dish. Known as a popular street food, this type of sandwich is so consistent, you can serve it at any time, as a full meal. The list of ingredients may sound a bit shocking at first. But right after the first bite, they say you will not want to stop eating it. The Dominican Riki Taki contains beef, cabbage, tomatoes, eggs, ketchup and mayo. Check out this recipe to know more about the preparation steps.
6. Spicy Muffuletta Oven Panini
Let your imagination run wild while your mouth fills with water. This Spicy Muffuletta Oven Panini combines not only homemade olive spread with ham. It puts provolone cheese and Italian meats in the middle for a flood of flavors. Complex, crisp and melty meet spicy, in a hard-to-resist panini, ready in just 40 minutes.
We hope you enjoyed today’s article and you are already making plans to upgrade your panini game. Feel free to share below your experience or your very own special sandwich recipe. We are curious to know more of how you put the best panini makers to use. Drop a comment and tell us more of what you’re cooking! And stay tuned for more of our 2021 cookware selection guides!