Are you considering a panini press for your kitchen?
We don’t blame you — these amazing little machines are able to transform the most basic of ingredients into the most delicious grilled Italian sandwiches. They really take lunchtime to the next level.
If that sounds like something you want to wrap your chops around, fear not — we’ve compiled this guide to the best panini press machines on the market — as well as what you need to know before you buy.
Let’s get right down to it…
- 1 What is a Panini Press?
- 2 How to Use a Panini Press
- 3 What Makes a Good Panini Press?
- 4 Best Panini Press Reviews
- 4.1 Aicok 8-Serving Panini Press
- 4.2 Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
- 4.3 Hamilton Beach 25460A Panini Press Gourmet Sandwich Maker
- 4.4 Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press
- 4.5 Breville BSG600BSS Panini Press
- 4.6 Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press
- 4.7 George Foreman 5-Serving Multi-Plate Evolve Grill System
- 4.8 George Foreman 4-Serving Removable Plate Grill and Panini Press
- 4.9 Chefman Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker
- 4.10 Oster DuraCeramic Panini Maker and Grill
What is a Panini Press?
Nothing beats biting through the crisp, crunchy bread crust of a Panini and sinking your teeth into the scrumptious gooey interior all oozy with cheese — it’s total comfort food heaven.
But a Panini press isn’t just limited to making traditional Panini sandwiches, in fact there are a wide range of other tasty possibilities including cakes, waffles, perfectly crisp bacon, other grilled meats and veggies, and omelets — and that’s just to name a few!
Read on to find out more about how to use a Panini press…
How to Use a Panini Press
A Panini press is basically a countertop contact grill with two ribbed heated griddles top and bottom that can be closed together to press and grill the food within to perfection on both sides simultaneously.
Here’s our step by step guide on how to use a Panini press — and the best thing is that it’s super simple!
- Place the panini press on your counter top and plug in
- Set the panini press to the desired temperature setting on the dial to heat up
- When the Panini press has attained the correct temperature, open it up and place the food that you want to grill on the bottom griddle
- Close the Panini press by bringing the top griddle down onto the lower griddle, gently applying the required pressure to the food sandwiched between the two griddles. As the food cooks, the Panini press will close further
- Use the Panini press timer to monitor the cooking time
- As soon as the food is ready – eat and enjoy!
Take a look at this video if you’re more of a visual learner:
What Makes a Good Panini Press?
The features of different Panini presses can vary.
Here are the key features to look out for in the best Panini press…
Depending on what it is that you’re cooking, you’re going to need to adjust the temperature accordingly.
For example a traditional Panini cheese sandwich can be cooked at a higher temperature than more delicate foods such as vegetables, or thicker pieces of chicken that need time to cook through.
A Panini press with a temperature dial or thermostat is a must to regulate the temperature accordingly so as not to reduce the outside of your food to carbon, leaving the inside raw.
Equally important is the amount of squeeze you want to apply to your food. The best Panini presses have a floating hinge, which allows you to set the width of the gap between the top and bottom griddles when closed.
This variability means that you can grill foods of different thicknesses and densities with ease without worrying about them not fitting inside the Panini press, or being burnt or not being cooked all the way through.
Depending on your needs, the size of the Panini press you invest in is going to make a difference.
It’s sure that a smaller Panini press will take up less precious counter space, but it will also limit you in your choice of size and quantity of foods that you can grill at one time.
Cost is also a factor, as larger Panini presses are usually more expensive.
Easy to clean
Just like a sandwich toaster, a Panini press can quickly get gunked up with cheese, grease and bits of food.
This means it’s important to choose a Panini press that can be cleaned quickly and easily to keep things sanitary.
A Panini press with non stick removable griddle plates is ideal as it is much easier to keep things clean.
Even better is a Panini press with removable griddle plates that are dishwasher safe, which means cleaning up is even less of a chore for you.
Best Panini Press Reviews
Here’s our roundup of the 10 best Panini presses that are the biggest hits for the home kitchen…
This Panini press by leading brand Aicok is perfectly sized to not take up too much room on the counter top but yet is large enough to comfortably fit 4 Panini sandwiches — or 8 servings of anything else — at any one time.
The grilling height is adjustable to accommodate different thicknesses, and the non-stick griddle plates are easy to wipe down and clean.
There’s also a removable drip tray to catch all the grease and debris.
This Panini press is designed to heat up quickly, and the indicator light lets you know when it’s at an optimum cooking temperature.
- Can be stored in an upright position to take up less space
- Very versatile and convenient
- Heats up fast — only 3 minutes to reach 392°F
- Good value for money
- Grills well and evenly
- Cool touch handle for safety
- Non stick, scratch resistant surface is easy to clean
- Lightweight and portable
- No on/off switch
- No adjustable temperature
Offering six different cooking styles, removable double sided griddle plates with both ridged and smooth sides, and a full 180 degree floating hinge, the Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe is a truly adaptable, multi functional machine — probably the best Panini press.
Use it completely flat as an open grill or griddle, use the top melt function to grill open sandwiches, use it as a contact grill for meats, fish and vegetables — the opportunities are endless.
It can effortlessly cook everything from pancakes to Paninis for up to 6 people at a time, and each hotplate on this Panini press also boasts an individual thermostatic temperature control.
On top of this the griddle plates and other removable parts are dishwasher safe.
- Extremely versatile
- Cooks perfectly and evenly
- Exceptionally easy to clean – dishwasher safe
- Great temperature control
- Excellent value for money considering capabilities
- Searing function is particularly effective
- Integrated drip tray
- Very high quality product
- Griddle plate edges can become very hot so care must be taken
This Hamilton Beach panini press is one of the most popular models on the market right now — and it’s no wonder.
The mini footprint is just the right size for 1 or 2 people. It features a floating hinge to adapt to any thickness of sandwich or other food.
Handy indicator lights let you know when the Panini press has power and when it is ready to cook on. The non-stick griddle plates make food easy to remove once cooked, and can be wiped clean after use.
Another bonus of this Panini press is that it can be stored upright when not in use — ideal for people with limited space in their kitchens.
- Very affordable price
- Simple to use
- Non-stick griddles are very practical and easy to clean
- It can grill paninis and sandwiches of any thickness
- Heats up quickly – fast and convenient
- Compact design
- Can heat up very hot. No temperature control
- Floating top griddle doesn’t always stay in position
This Breville panini press is another super popular model that is sure to deliver gourmet results.
Well known brand Breville have coated the surface of the Panini Duo’s griddle plates with non-stick Quantanium, which is also resistant to scratching making the griddles highly durable.
Instead of both griddle plates being ribbed, the bottom griddle plate on this Panini press is flat to ensure even cooking throughout. The floating hinge means the opening can be adjusted to fit different sandwich thicknesses.
This Panini press is the perfect size for 1 or 2 people, and is made from sturdy stainless steel.
- Excellent quality and durability
- Easy to use and keep clean
- Doesn’t take up much space – easy to store
- Cooks excellently and evenly
- Preheats rapidly
- Flat bottom griddle is ideal for cooking other foods
- No on/off switch
- Again, no temperature control
Our second Breville panini press, the BSG600BSS has some truly great features: one of which is the special ‘crush control’ top griddle plate, which works like a floating hinged lid, but with added weight control to give just the right amount of squeeze on your toasted cheese without it being crushed.
This is a small Panini press large enough for 2 servings at a time, and the clever compact design can be stored vertically to take up less space.
The griddle plates are non-stick, and there are also useful indicator lights.
- Great for making Paninis and reheating leftovers and grilling other foods
- Easy to keep clean
- Attractive design
- Crush control works well – expect light and fluffy paninis
- Has open face setting for single sided sandwiches
- Doesn’t take up much room
- No ridges on the griddle plates
- No temperature control
This sleek, stainless steel Cuisinart panini press is small but perfectly formed.
Featuring non-stick griddle plates, an adjustable floating hinge, and a cooking temperature preset to the ideal setting for grilling the perfect Panini, this press also comes equipped with a special cleaning tool to ensure it stays spotless.
A green indicator light tells you when it’s ready to start cooking and it even comes with a little book of recipes to help get you started.
- Easy to use
- Well constructed and clearly of high quality
- Simple to clean
- Grills evenly
- Great size for two people
- Temperature cannot be adjusted
- Works great for Paninis but less well for other foods
This large panini press is the first of our servings from George Foreman.
The digital control panel allows for precise temperature control, and this Panini press can also be used to bake, grill, toast and cook everything from muffins to steaks, and pancakes to pasta bakes thanks to interchangeable hotplates.
The griddle plates on the Evolve Grill are ceramic coated, meaning they can handle being heated to seriously high temperatures. This enormously multipurpose mean machine can handle up to 5 servings at a time, and the removable non-stick griddle plates, baking trays and drip tray can all be washed in the dishwasher.
The floating hinge can handle different food thicknesses and the griddle plates can be angled to drain off unwanted fats and oils for a healthier result.
- A healthier way to cook thanks to fat draining angled grill
- Exceedingly versatile
- Easy to keep clean
- Simple and quick to use
- Useful timer feature
- Variable temperature
- Construction quality could be better — it doesn’t feel as durable as similar priced models
This durable Panini press by George Foreman can handle up to 4 servings at any one time, and benefits from a super hard-wearing non-stick coating on the griddle plates.
Even better, the griddle plates on this model are removable, and they can be popped in the dishwasher for effortless cleaning.
This budget-friendly Panini press also features a slightly sloped bottom griddle, which means fat is drained away from the food during cooking to be collected in the handy removable drip tray which is also dishwasher safe.
In addition, there is an adjustable floating hinge to adapt the height of the Panini press opening.
- Very easy to keep clean and dishwasher safe
- Heats up fast
- Excellent value for money
- Can even cook some food from frozen
- Effective at removing fat from food
- Lightweight and compact
- No temperature control
- Short power cable
This budget Panini press has the added advantage of opening up completely flat which means it can also be used as a traditional open grilling surface with a larger surface area.
When closed, the Chefman Panini Press Grill, and Gourmet Sandwich Maker is small, but an ideal size for 1 or 2 people.
The griddle plates are non-stick, and there is a removable drip tray to catch any runoff which can be cleaned in the dishwasher. It also features a floating hinge to allow for height adjustment.
- Very affordable price
- Multipurpose thanks to the two grilling styles
- Neat design
- Gets up to temperature quickly
- Durable product
- Removable drip tray
- Very small size
- Not the most even griller
- No temperature control
Coated with natural ceramic, the griddle pans of the Oster DuraCeramic Panini Maker and Grill are built to be long lasting and scratch resistant as well as non-stick.
This Panini press can be opened fully flat to double up the grill space for cooking meat, fish or vegetables, or you can just choose to use the Panini press function.
Surprisingly for such an affordable machine, this model benefits from an adjustable temperature dial for that precision touch, and the whole grill can be tilted to drain fats and oils effectively.
This Panini press is small and easily stored away, and is a good size for a single person or a couple.
- Appealing design
- Very inexpensive
- Excellent features for the price
- Variable temperature control
- Easy to clean
- Ceramic coated griddle plates work well
- Very quick to heat up
- The outside of this Panini press can get very hot
- Height of opening is not adjustable
Which is your pick for the best panini press?
Featured image by Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0 licence)