Sandwiches are an American lunchtime staple: they are simple to prepare, convenient to store, and delicious. And when you grill that sandwich, you obtain something entirely new: a warm and melty panini.
A panini press is all you need to make paninis at home that is deli quality. Isn’t that sufficient? Modern panini presses can be used as grills, griddles, and waffle makers, among many other things. The options are inexhaustible and bewildering.
We tested six of the finest models from reputable brands like Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, and George Foreman. If you are in the market for a new panini press, please read our evaluations of these top-rated models to determine which one is best for you.
At a Glance: The Best Panini Presses
What Is the Panini Press?
The Panini press is a versatile cooking device where sandwiches are simultaneously grilled and pressed between two metal plates.
Once heated, these plates will close, press food together, and heat both sides. The prototype of the panini presses supplanted electric toasters and grills.
An external heat source or electricity heats this product line. Like the finest pancake griddles, these implements feature non-stick surfaces to reduce food residue and facilitate faster cleanup.
In addition to metal plates, a panini press typically features a floating hinge system that can be adjusted to accommodate any sandwich thickness. In addition, some cooking tools include a drip tray or grease cup to collect excess fat during cooking.
The product has a floating cover or a top plate that opens to 180 degrees to place food on; it provides uniform heat distribution.
Several contemporary panini presses are equipped with indicator lights to let you know if they are heated and ready to make sandwiches.
A high-quality panini press should adhere to all health protection regulations, such as being free of BPA, PFOA, and PTFE.
Different Types of Panini Presses
Typically, these terms are used interchangeably. There are only minor differences in their technical features. This line of products is divided into two categories: panini press and panini grill.
Both appliances can quickly prepare sandwiches and other foods at home. However, you can easily differentiate them below:
This device is also known as a sandwich weight press and a grill press. It tends to hold your sandwiches together and press them while utilizing the heat from another appliance.
The top plate of this type is typically made of cast iron and is ribbed. Preheat the container for five to ten minutes before adding food.
Typically, it has a small surface area. Moreover, it is an inexpensive, portable option for picnics and campaigns.
This model can press and cook food using its internal heat source instead of an external heat source.
This model can press and cook food using its internal heat source instead of an external heat source. In addition, you can create delicious griddle treats with this appliance, such as burgers, steaks, bread, etc.
This grill can heat up more quickly than the panini press and effectively regulates the heat. It is also equipped with high performance to cook multiple foods simultaneously.
Nonetheless, it is less portable and more costly than the panini press.
Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Panini Press
Panini presses can accommodate everything from a single sandwich to a steak dinner for the whole family. Before clicking “add to cart,” consider how much counter space you have available and how many mouths you need to feed. This list includes both compact and family-sized presses.
The quality of the cooking plates determines the success or failure of a panini press. The most popular plates are nonstick, as they allow for effortless release of whatever is being pressed. Additionally, they facilitate cleanup. Some presses have detachable plates that reduce thorough cleaning without risking damage to the electrical base.
There are also a variety of cooking plate designs, including smooth, grooved, and combinations of the two. This is a matter of personal preference, but many individuals prefer the grill marks produced by surfaces with grooves. Several of the paninis we evaluated feature a combination of cooking surfaces.
Panini presses can be manufactured from aluminum, cast iron, or nonstick materials. Typically, the most cost-effective option, aluminum plating, heats up rapidly. Aluminum can be heavy and does not retain heat well. Even more severe than aluminum, cast iron is nonstick and easy to clean (just wipe it). They require more maintenance, but they are long-lasting and will last forever. Nonstick surfaces can be fragile, so you must be careful not to scratch them, but they are easy to clean and require extraordinarily little oil.
If you are making a sandwich, you only need a simple on/off temperature control or an appliance that turns on automatically when plugged in. However, if you intend to use your panini press for grilling meat, you will require greater temperature control.
As you consider purchasing your panini press, you will notice that most can do more than simply press sandwiches. Modern panini presses serve as indoor grills, griddles, and waffle makers. These multifunctional presses are more expensive, but they eliminate the need for many countertop appliances.
Once you leave the realm of inexpensive panini presses, the majority will be designed for simple cleanup. Either the plates will be cast iron, requiring a simple wipe down, or they may be removable and dishwasher safe. However, it depends on the model, so check the cleaning instructions before purchase.
Sandwich presses have unique characteristics of floating hinges, timers, and precise temperature control. As its name suggests, a floating hinge allows the top of the sandwich press to float above your sandwich without crushing it. Even presses without floating hinges don’t typically damage what you’re grilling, but if you prefer a softer touch, choose a press with a floating hinge.
Some individuals may not need a timer. A timer could be useful if you frequently multitask while preparing dinner or frequently burn food.
If you only make the occasional pressed sandwich, you may only need an on/off switch. Not all panini presses have temperature control beyond an on/off switch, but if you plan to use your press creatively, such as for grilling meat, it may be worthwhile to invest in one that does.
How We Evaluated Every Panini Press
We put each panini press to the test by making paninis! This Chicken Pesto Panini recipe requires the use of a panini press. Additionally, she cooked bacon on them to test the grilling capabilities of the presses when applicable. Here are the factors to which she paid special attention:
- General sense: Does the press appear and feel to be durable?
- Effectiveness of equipment: How rapidly and uniformly does the press heat and cook the food?
- Volume: How much can fit at one time on the cooking surface?
- Ease of maintenance: Can the cooking plate be removed? Is it safe for the dishwasher? Is the surface simple to maintain?
What Is The Best Panini Press To Buy?
Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach make the best panini presses due to their high quality, durability, floating lid, non-stick cooking plates, ready indicator lights, and user-friendliness. Additionally, George Foreman is notable for its safety, superior coating, and affordability.
Here is a list of the top panini presses for your consideration and comparison. I separately labeled them for easier tracking. Do not forget to jot down the most essential details of their descriptions.
1. Best Overall: Cuisinart GR-4NP1 5-in-1 Griddler Stainless
Cuisinart GR-4NP1 5-in-1 Griddler Stainless, Gridder, Brushed Stainless Steel
The Cuisinart Griddler has five distinct cooking options, allowing it to cook everything from pancakes and sausages to grilled cheese, steaks, hamburgers, and paninis. A movable lid and one set of reversible plates transform the Griddler into a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, and half grill/half griddle.
Dual temperature controls ensure that everything is cooked perfectly every time on the removable, nonstick cooking plates that are safe for the dishwasher, allowing for simple meals and cleanup.
I appreciate having the choice between the griddle and the grill plates. When using the Griddle setting, you can choose a temperature between 200- and 425-degrees Fahrenheit. Using the Grill/Panini setting, you can choose from warm, low, medium, high, and sear temperatures. There are also marks between these settings, allowing you to select, for instance, medium-high.
Cleaning the plates on this Cuisinart is a breeze. The non-stick plates allow me to clean up messes quickly and easily with minimal effort. Quite nice.
I appreciate how the drip tray on this grill is attached to the bottom of the unit. This was a major annoyance for me with the other grill.
Constantly placing it under the grill in the perfect spot, then figuring out what to do with it until it cooled down. I did not want to leave it out because my furry children would interpret it as a meal. Since this drip tray is attached, I can pull it out, clean it, and then replace it in the slot. Easy as pie.
I love that I can fold this unit flat and simultaneously cook bacon, eggs, and toast. It is marvelous. It is so convenient not to constantly have many dirty pots, pans, and frying pans.
Overall, I am pleased with this Griddler. It has been a welcome upgrade to our previous grill and is one of my best Amazon purchases.
- 5-in-1 Griddler
- Removable griddler plates
- Easy to Use
- Simple Controls
- Create a Meal with 5 Cooking Options
- Red/green indicator lights for effortless operation
- Sturdy panini-style handle with hinged floating cover
2. Most Versatile: De'Longhi Livenza All Day Combination Contact Grill
DeLonghi America CGH1020D Livenza All Day Combination Contact Grill and Open Barbecue, Stainless Steel
De’Longhi Livenza All-Day Grill with FlexPress System is the ideal kitchen appliance for home chefs who wish to maximize counter space while demonstrating their culinary expertise. This innovative grill has interchangeable sets of high-performance grill and griddle plates to help you cook efficiently and healthfully, enhancing the flavor of grilled meats, vegetables, and breakfast favorites like pancakes and bacon.
This is extremely simple to use. You just need to turn the dials for the top and bottom plates to the desired temperature, use the up/down arrows to set the time, and, oh yeah, place the food on the grill.
The plates are detachable with the press of a button and have superior nonstick surfaces. I make waffles without oil, and they come off without a trace. The included scoop measures the ideal quantity of batter for each waffle (I purchased the waffle plates separately). Using this with a temperature probe to fry steaks, hamburgers, or fish fillets is revolutionary cooking! There is no repeated flipping. Place the meat probe on the bottom grill, close the top grill, and when the search beeps, the meat is done. That is all!
Set the timer for 10 minutes the first time and observe how much time remains on the display when the food is ready. Make a note of the actual duration. Set the next timer to this duration to automatically go off at the appropriate time (of course, there can be minor variations due to thickness, initial temperature, etc.).
I like the hover feature, which allows you to suspend the top plate over the food without touching it or minimal contact without its total weight.
- All-Day Grill Plates
- Even Heat, Edge To Edge
- The Height Of Versatility
- Sized For Family Meals
- Temperature Control
- Large LCD Control
- Digital Cookbook App
- Simple Cleanup
3. Easiest to Clean: Cuisinart Contact Smoke-Less Mode Griddler
Cuisinart GR-6S Contact Griddler with Smoke-Less Mode
It introduces the first Smoke-less Contact Griddler, an innovative kitchen essential that makes grilling delicious meals indoors smoke-free and straightforward. Specially designed plates reduce grease while precise temperature control maintains the optimal temperature for grilling beef, poultry, fish, and pork with maximum flavor and minimum smoke.
This one-of-a-kind appliance was explicitly designed for smoke-free indoor grilling of grilled favorites all year long. It also includes all Griddler’s popular features. In addition, there is a removable drip tray, and the plates are nonstick and dishwasher-safe, making cleanup a breeze.
- Always use parchment paper when grilling food. The food will still have beautiful grill marks, but there will be no cleanup! Fold a sheet of paper like a book, place your cheesy sandwich inside, and grill it.
- Once the food is ready, you slide it out – no cheese or crumbs are stuck to the plates, and no scraping is required. I vouch for it! Even after months of use, our plates still appear brand new.
- Smoke-less Mode features
- LCD Display and Digital Controls
- Adjustable temperatures from 175-425°F plus a Sear Function
- DuoControl Heating Advantage
4. Best for Large Families: George Foreman 5-Serving Panini Press
George Foreman 5-Serving Removable Plate Grill and Panini Press, Platinum, GRP472P
Are you looking for quick and straightforward cleaning? We upgraded our removable grill plates with a ceramic coating that is durable and nonstick. This is merely one of how the George Foreman 5-Serving Removable Plate Grill and Panini expedite the cooking process. Quick preheating, consistent grilling temperature, and dishwasher-safe grill plates allow you to prepare delicious, simple meals in minutes. What do you know, dinner is now ready!
It includes a 5-serving, detachable plate grill, allowing you to feed the entire family in record time. With 72 square inches of grilling space, you can simultaneously prepare five servings of everyone’s favorite foods.
When it came to purchasing a grill, one of the most critical factors for me was whether it was EASY TO CLEAN. One of the primary reasons I wanted a grill was so that the grease would stay in one area and not spread everywhere.
I knew immediately that the grill would require removable plates for this reason. These are so simple to remove and can be washed with hot water. Then, a quick scrub with dish soap will get you back in business.
- 5-Serving Removable Plate Grill
- Premium Ceramic Coating
- Fat-Removing Slope
- Drip Tray
5. Best for Home Use: Hamilton Beach Panini Press
Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Grill with Locking Lid, Opens 180 Degrees for Any Sandwich Thickness, Nonstick 8″ X 10″ Grids, Red (25462Z)
Achieve restaurant-quality results at home for a fraction of the price: the Panini press and indoor grill from Hamilton Beach. You can prepare anything from simple grilled cheese to a delectable Reuben sandwich using your fresh ingredients.
You would like your sandwich to be thick or thin, thanks to a floating café-style lid that presses sandwiches of all sizes evenly. The power and preheating indicators make the grill simple to operate. The 95-square-inch cooking surface provides ample room for simultaneously preparing multiple sandwiches. The Nonstick grid is effortless to clean after use.
It is the ideal size for two delicious sandwiches (on large bread) without being so large and cumbersome that it is difficult to store, move, clean, etc.
Many of the other low-cost models that I researched lacked a floating lid. This container has a hinged floating lid, allowing you to store thick sandwiches with the lid lying flat and evenly on top.
In addition to sandwiches, it is also suitable for burgers and steaks. It is convenient to have this when it is too cold to use the large propane grill outside. We eat a lot of New York Strip and Porterhouse steaks, so this little grill will help us get through the winter without missing the beefy goodness. This sears them perfectly, allowing us to cook them to our preferred “medium well” Additionally, boneless chicken breasts/tenders work wonderfully.
We are both pleased with how well it is constructed, especially given the price. I am pleased to have discovered such a good model at such a reasonable price, and he is pleased that it works so well and is so simple to operate. It is the optimal balance of price, performance, and worth. There are no missing features, and the construction is flawless.
- Make paninis, hot sandwiches and more on this 2 in 1 panini press and grill
- A lid latch keeps the sandwich maker shut between uses
- Easy cleanup with dishwasher safe drip tray, nonstick plates, and included spatula/scraper tool
- The sandwich maker is simple to use with power and preheat lights to eliminate guesswork
- The slide-out drip tray catches grease and keeps mess off the countertop
6. Best Compact: Chefman Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker
Chefman Electric Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker w/ Non-Stick Coated Plates, Opens 180 Degrees to Fit Any Type or Size Food, Dishwasher Safe Removable Drip Tray, Stainless Steel/Black
A restaurant within one’s kitchen! When it comes to creating a memorable meal, it is all about the flavor and the minute details, from the gooey, melted cheese to the crusty, warmed bread with those alluring grill marks. You can press Paninis to perfection at home with the Chefman Panini Press Grill and gourmet sandwich maker.
The adjustable floating hinge presses the thinnest grilled cheese to the burgers with the most toppings. This grill accommodates delectable foods, not just sandwiches and Paninis. Your culinary creativity knows no bounds! Must grill a steak?
With a single push of a button, the grill can be opened to 180 degrees flat. The closed cooking surface is perfect for four sandwiches or two Paninis, while the lay-flat surface is ideal for burgers, fish, chicken, vegetables, and more! With a sloped design that allows grease to drain to the back, cleanup is just as quick and straightforward.
The detachable drip tray and non-stick plates make it simple to eliminate excess food and grease. This appliance is ideal for small kitchens, dorm rooms, offices, and even road trips due to its compact size, which take up minimal counter or shelf space.
With the Chefman Panini Press Grill and gourmet sandwich maker, you can make delicious sandwiches, grilled dishes, and more without breaking a sweat in the comfort of your residence! There is no need for sandwich-making mastery.
- Non-Stick Coated Grill Plates
- Floating Hinge
- Compact Size
- Easy To Clean
Best Panini Press To Buy - FAQs
In addition to the guidelines for selecting the best panini press, I also include my concise responses to frequently asked questions. This section may also help you resolve your problems.
A panini is an Italian sandwich that can be prepared with various meats and cheeses. Historically, the ingredients were placed between two hot metal plates for cooking, but they are now commonly found wrapped in aluminum foil or sold as pre-made sandwiches in most stores. The name is derived from panino, which means small bread roll.
Using a panini press is simple and can save time when preparing food. Adjust the controls to the desired temperature and preheat the oven for five minutes before adding sandwiches and other ingredients. Depending on the size of your grill press, crack open your food in small portions.
Finally, close the lid gently but firmly and wait until you hear a beep before opening. Examine the food’s appearance to determine if it has been cooked properly. Then, remove the food from the press, cut it into uniform pieces, and enjoy a tasty snack whenever you desire.
Generally speaking, spongier, slightly denser breads are optimal for paninis. Traditional Italian breads such as focaccia and ciabatta are excellent alternatives.
Before adding any ingredients to your panini press, ensure that it has been preheated to the desired temperature for optimal cooking. Also, test various sandwich variations to determine what works best with the design of your panini maker. For instance, thinner sandwiches may cook more quickly, so check on them frequently after starting them.
Grill lines should be seared into thicker cuts to indicate cooking times. Consult the manual for more information.
A panini press can be used to cook various foods, including bacon, waffle cones, hash browns, other crispy potatoes, chicken, vegetables, and more. It can be cooked on a grill; it can likely be prepared on a panini press.
No special equipment is required to use a panini press, but they can enhance the experience. Some grill presses, for instance, include a brush or cleaning cloth to facilitate clean-up after each meal.
Other accessories, such as tongs or skewers, can help cook food evenly without contaminating the appliance or getting too close to it. However, they should only be used with foil-wrapped sandwiches, as open sandwiches may fall apart while attempting to be removed from their slots.
Depending on what you intend to cook, various grill press models are available. Smaller presses can only accommodate a few slices of bread or a small snack, whereas larger presses can accommodate an entire meal with room for a side dish.
Grill-style presses are also available in three distinct types: flat-top, ridged, and sandwich, each of which has different advantages depending on your needs. Most well-known brands will concentrate on one or two classes, so try as many as possible to determine which style best suits your lifestyle.
Most panini presses are simple to clean and require only a few minutes. Utilize a damp cloth to remove any excess crumbs or grease from the plates. If your model includes a bottle brush or toothbrush, you can also use it if particularly stubborn bits of food are stuck to the bottle.
The grill plates can then be sprayed with cooking oil and wiped clean in preparation for the next meal. Remember not to put too much oil in your appliance, which can cause smoke and lead to accidents. Additionally, you can clean around any ridges or grooves in the grill plates before buffing them with a dry cloth to remove any excess oils.
Depending on the brand, size, and features of the appliance, the price of a quality panini press can range from $30 to $200. Before making a purchase, it is essential to conduct research and compare prices between retailers.
A Panini press is an indispensable appliance, whether you are a casual food enthusiast or a professional chef. Its versatility as a food processor makes it an indispensable kitchen appliance. Therefore, do not delay and purchase one to enjoy its benefits.
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