Are you considering a panini press for your kitchen?
We don’t blame you – these amazing little machines can transform the most basic 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 on the market. We have also included a section reviewing everything you need to know about the best panini press before making your purchase.
Let’s get right down to it…
- What Is a Panini Press?
- How to Use a Panini Press
- What Makes a Good Panini Press?
- Best Panini Press Reviews
- Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
- Hamilton Beach 25460A Panini Press Gourmet Sandwich Maker
- Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press
- Breville BSG600BSS Panini Press
- Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press
- George Foreman 4-Serving Removable Plate Grill and Panini Press
- Chefman Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker
- Ovente Panini Press Grill
- Brentwood Compact Dual Sandwich Maker
- OSTBA Panini Press Grill and Sandwich Maker
- Best Panini Press: Honorable Mentions
- What is the Difference Between a Panini Press and a Sandwich Maker?
- How Do You Season a Panini Press?
- Bottom Line
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 is 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 a countertop contact grill with two ribbed heated griddles on the top and bottom that can be closed together to press and grill the food 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 countertop and plug it 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 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 chicken pieces 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, being burnt, or not being cooked all the way through.
Drip trays are good when cooking on a panini press because it gives the oil and grease somewhere to drain to as you cook. It also helps you easily dispose of grease and oil when you are done.
Depending on your needs, the size of the panini press you invest in will make a difference.
A smaller panini press will take up less counter space, but it will also limit you in your choice of size and the quantity of food that you can grill at one time. So, if you have a bigger family, you might want to consider a larger panini press.
Cost is also a factor, as larger panini presses are usually more expensive. However, you will also find that with such a wide variety of panini presses available on the market today means a variety of different price points to choose from.
When choosing the best panini press for your budget and requirements, think about how often you will be using it, whether it is going to be a family panini press or a more commercial panini press option, and how durable it needs to be for the price you have your eye on.
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 choosing a panini press that can be cleaned quickly and easily to keep things sanitary is important.
A Panini press with nonstick 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.
Depending on the brand you go with, some panini presses may come with additional accessories. For example, some accessories help with the cleaning and maintenance of your machine. For a better idea about what the panini press offers, make sure to read through reviews and compare each model with other brands to find exactly what you need.
The warranty is another part of the buying process that also depends on the brand you choose. Many people prefer to purchase a panini press that comes with a manufacturer’s warranty attached.
Best Panini Press Reviews
Here’s our roundup of the 10+ best Panini presses that are the biggest hits for the home kitchen…
Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
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
Hamilton Beach 25460A Panini Press Gourmet Sandwich Maker
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 a 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 nonstick panini press plate makes 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
- Nonstick 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
Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press
This Breville panini press is another super popular model that is sure to deliver gourmet results.
Well-known brand Breville has coated the surface of the Panini Duo’s griddle plates with nonstick 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. In addition, 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
- No temperature control
Breville BSG600BSS Panini Press
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 with a cooking surface large enough for two servings at a time, and the clever compact design can be stored vertically to take up less space.
The griddle plates are nonstick, 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
Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press
This sleek, stainless steel Cuisinart panini press is small but perfectly formed.
Featuring nonstick 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
George Foreman 4-Serving Removable Plate Grill and Panini Press
This durable panini press by George Foreman can handle up to 4 servings at any one time and benefits from a super hard-wearing nonstick coating on the griddle plates.
Even better, the griddle plates on this George Foreman grill 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 with removable grill plates
- 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
Chefman Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker
This budget panini press has the added advantage of opening up completely flat, which 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 ideal for 1 or 2 people.
The griddle plates are nonstick, 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
Ovente Panini Press Grill
The Ovente Panini Press Grill is one of the best panini presses that comes equipped with a timer. The timer and temperature settings are built into the device, so all you have to do is set the timer, and the panini press will automatically shut off when it is ready. It also features a café floating lid so you can adjust it to the thickness of the food you are pressing and grilling on the cooking surface.
It also features a cool-touch handle and a power-on indicator light for safety. The nonstick panini plate presses are easy to clean with a brush, and there is also a drip tray to catch all the fat and grease so it can be easily disposed of.
- Has a built-in LCD display with digital temperature and timer settings, making it easy to use
- Floating lid is ideal for size adjustment as needed
- Safe and practical
- Easy to clean with nonstick coating
- Does not have a removable cooking plate
Brentwood Compact Dual Sandwich Maker
With this Brentwood panini press, you can enjoy one to two sandwiches at a time with easy-cut diagonal indentations. It has a cool-touch handle for safety, so you can open the panini press and move the unit whenever you need to. The nonstick plates make cooking on this cooking surface easy and mess-free. Clean-up is always a breeze.
It also features convenient power and preheat indicator lights and a safety locking lid and cable wrap. It can easily be stored upright, and out of the way, so it takes up minimal space in the kitchen and on the countertop.
- Easy to clean
- Packed full of safety features
- Heats quickly
- Space-saving and compact design
- Since it is compact, it is on the smaller side
- Has no timer or auto-off feature
OSTBA Panini Press Grill and Sandwich Maker
If you are looking for a good-quality and budget-friendly panini press, then this OSTBA Panini Press Grill is just what you need. You can get this OSTBA sandwich maker model in 1-inch or 3-inch sizes. It can press sandwiches, grill omelets, and even crisp up some delicious french toast quickly and easily in the morning. It is simple to use and incredibly efficient.
The nonstick surface makes this appliance easy to clean and ensures you don’t have to fight any stuck-on food and messy cleanups. All you have to do is wipe the grill plate clean after use with a damp cloth after it has cooled.
Because of its compact design, it doesn’t take up much space on your countertop and is also easy to store when not in use. It can be stored upright, which also takes up minimal cabinet space. It is also equipped with indicator lights and a cool-touch handle. The power on and preheat lights tell you when it is time to cook, making this panini press even easier and more convenient to use.
- Compact and space-saving design
- Easy to clean
- Heats quickly and evenly
- Four non-slip feet and a handle lock
- Budget-friendly price
- On the smaller side, since it is more compact
- Hinges are not adjustable for height
Best Panini Press: Honorable Mentions
We couldn’t just stop our list there. We wanted to throw in a couple of honorable mentions as well, so you have a better idea about all the different panini press options you can have at your disposal for making delicious panini sandwiches at home.
Norpro Cast Iron Panini Press Pan
All of the options we have reviewed above for the best panini press have been electric panini press options. However, you can also find cast iron panini press options as well that you can use directly on your stovetop.
Cast iron allows for even heat distribution and retention. This particular cast iron panini press is already seasoned and ready to use. It has raised edges so you can leave those perfect grill marks, and the fat and grease slip easily into the grooves while cooking.
You can use this panini press indoors or outdoors, making it a great option for your next camping trip! When cleaning your panini press, never soak it in water. Instead, handwash the pan, rinse it, and dry it thoroughly.
Dash Mini Portable Grill Machine and Panini Press
Try the Dash portable panini press if you want something smaller, lighter in weight, and more portable. You can choose from various color options, including pink, aqua, black, red, silver, and white. It allows you to cook single-serve sandwiches, burgers, or paninis and is quick and easy to use.
It has a 4-inch cooking surface, so it is definitely on the smaller side, but it also comes with a recipe booklet, and all of its non-electric parts can easily be wiped clean when done. All you have to do to use this panini press is plug it in to start making your favorite grilled sandwich.
The indicator light turns off when it is ready to use. It also has non-slip feet to keep your small appliance securely in place while being used, making it much safer to use.
What is the Difference Between a Panini Press and a Sandwich Maker?
The terms are often used interchangeably, but if you really get down to it, a panini press is more of a small weighted grill, while a sandwich maker is good for a one to two ingredient sandwich. Overall, you can do a lot more when it comes to your panini press than a regular old sandwich maker.
For example, if you feel like a grilled chicken panini sandwich, then a panini maker is the kitchen appliance you will want to reach for since it can accommodate larger ingredients like this. You will also still have room for avocado and cheese slices to add to your grilled sandwich if you wish.
How Do You Season a Panini Press?
Seasoning a panini press helps prevent rust. It can also reduce stickiness, leaving you with a much cleaner cooking experience. A well-seasoned panini press also means less oil you will have to use when making all your favorites.
To season a new panini maker, heat it to a temperature of 350-degrees. Wipe away the oil with a clean cloth and then get the temperature up to 400-degrees. Once the preheat light goes off, add a small bit of oil to the center of the grill. Use a cloth to evenly spread the oil over the cooking surface.
Once this is done, allow the oil to continue heating for at least 15 minutes. Then wipe down the surface again thoroughly to remove the excess oil.
The bottom line? When you choose the best panini press for your kitchen, you will quickly discover how much time this small kitchen appliance can save you when it comes to how long it takes to cook a delicious panini to how long it takes to clean up the mess.
When finding the best panini press for your kitchen, consider the size of your family, the features you want, and how often you will be using it. All of this will help you narrow down your choices to find the best one.
Which is your pick for the best panini press?