The mere thought of gooey filling inside of crusty, buttery grilled bread with just the right grill marks on the outside of the bread gets your taste buds ready for a party in your mouth. Panini presses are quickly taking center stage as a staple in small appliances for the home cook.
Home cooks have tried to make panini sandwiches in the kitchen by improvising, using heavy lids or bricks as a press. An electric panini press makes easy work with heated bottom and top plates that evenly grill both sides of the sandwich at the same time. Unlike waffle makers and other table-top grills, the upper plate of a panini press floats above the lower plate. This lets you grill any size sandwich and get an even grill.
Best Panini Presses
Cuisinart makes this panini press that also works as a contact grill, full grill, full griddle and half grill/half griddle. The top griddle floats over the bottom griddle to accommodate sandwiches of different sizes. It has a non-stick cooking plate that is removable and reversible and an integrated drip tray to drain grease. It has a brushed stainless steel housing that looks great on the counter top. The adjustable temperature controls grill your favorite foods to the perfect temperature.
Breville makes this grill with a scratch resistant Quantanium cooking surface with a flat bottom grilling plate. The ribbed top plate creates the grill marks. A floating hinge connects the top grill to the bottom grill and it has 4 height settings. Indicator lights tell you when it is ready to use. When you are finished cooking, use the handy cord wrap and clip the lock for easy storage.
3. Oster Dura Ceramic Panini Maker and Grill
This panini maker has an innovative Dura Ceramic non-stick ceramic coating that is four times more durable than other panini makers and resists flaking and peeling. It saves time and energy by 20% with faster cooking times. The natural, ceramic coating cleans quickly and easily. It includes two drip cups to catch grease and other excess drips.
4. Oster CKSTOM6001-ECO Extra Large Dura Ceramic Panini Maker
This is the larger version of the Oster Dura Ceramic Panini Maker and Grill. It has the same durable, ceramic coating and quick cooking time as the smaller version. This panini maker is perfect for a crowd or a large family because it holds 6 slices of bread. It’s long-lasting and free of PFOA and PTFE, so it’s the perfect choice for safe grilling when you need multiple sandwiches at a time.
This is a panini press that has double-sided cooking plates. It accommodates sandwiches of any size because it has height adjustable settings. In addition to making panini sandwiches, it’s perfect for grilling fish and meats. It has an adjustable thermostat and easy-view temperature range window. The machine is cleverly slanted to encourage draining. The drip tray drains grease away from food and traps it into a cup for easy disposal.
6. IMUSA, GAU-80102
This panini maker adjusts to make different sized panini sandwiches, so it’s perfect for the stacked sandwich. It’s made of easy to clean stainless steel and has a non-stick cooking surface. Indicator lights let you know when the grill is on and when it’s ready to use. Think beyond paninis and use it for grilling vegetables, fruits, meats, and more. It comes in a gift box so it’s also perfect for gift giving.
Panini Press vs. Other Grilling Methods
Before panini presses were commercially available, home cooks did a lot of experimenting on their own to mimic the perfectly grilled panini sandwich. Let’s compare whether any of those methods are any better than buying a panini press that does most of the work for you.
First, there’s the method of using a heavy lid for a press. Pre-heat a frying pan to a medium high heat. Place the sandwich in the pan and top with a heavy lid, pressing it down to make full contact with the pan. Cook it for a few minutes, flip, and repeat on the other side. Your sandwich will be good, but you won’t get the grill marks unless you use a grill pan.
You can do much the same thing by using another heavy pan, like a cast iron skillet in place of a pan lid. You could even heat the top pan on a burner before placing it on top of the sandwich.
You can now buy special bags that allow you to place a sandwich into the bag and grill a sandwich in a wide-slot toaster. The bag won’t burn and it won’t leave a gooey mess in your toaster.
With so many options for making panini, you may be wondering if it’s worthwhile to invest in a panini maker. A panini maker takes the guess work out of grilling sandwiches because they are set up with the right grill pan with the right pressure for even grilling. Panini makers reduce risks of burns. The timer helps make the perfect panini every time. A panini press is a worthy investment for panini lovers.
It is possible to improvise making grilled panini sandwiches by using lids and pans, but they lack the visually iconic grill marks of a panini and you’ll risk getting burned if you aren’t careful. Panini presses are very affordable, so even if you only use yours one in a while, it still makes a lucrative investment.
How To Use A Panini Press
Here is an excellent video demonstrating how to use a panini press: