Panini Press Reviews
Find your Perfect Sandwich Maker
Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Especially one that’s warm and toasty, fresh out of a panini press.
My husband and kids definitely do, but I really didn’t like having to pay a premium to buy them from restaurants and sandwich shops. So, being the endeavoring frugal mom that I am, decided that it was time to invest in our own panini press. It seemed so simple, but there are actually so many different models and devices out there I almost gave up on it completely.
But there was no way I was going to let my family down, so I put my nose to the grindstone and learned everything that I could about panini presses. And since I know I’m not the only financially-minded mom out there with a sandwich-obsessed family, I decided to create Panini Perfect to share everything I found.
Below are my honest reviews for the best panini presses I’ve seen, to help you find the one that’s right for your family’s needs so you can get to the joy of making your own grilled sandwiches without the headache that I had to face.
Best for Big Sandwiches
Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo Press
If you’re like my husband, then sometimes you can get carried away when you make a sandwich. I swear, sometimes seeing him stack all the meats and cheeses on those slices of bread is like watching Shaggy on the old Scooby-Doo cartoons. When you’ve got a massive sandwich that you need to press, then you need an extra large panini press like this model from Breville that’s built to handle your super-sized grilling projects.
Wider Grilling Surface
A lot of panini presses are made to handle more narrow slices of bread, such as you would get from a more rustic loaf. If you want to cook up two sandwiches at once, there’s a chance you’ll have to angle them on the grill in order to actually fit two on at once. Here, you won’t have to worry about any of those cooking shenanigans, since this panini press is designed to actually accommodate larger quantities of food. With a working area of 13-inches by 11¾-inches, you’ve absolutely got enough room to fit more than a single sandwich on here at once, so you won’t have to wait ages if you’re planning on preparing more than one ‘wich at a time. A wider surface area also means a more even heat distribution on smaller meals, so the edges of your sandwiches can actually get cooked properly.
Multiple Height Positions
Like I said, some of you probably stack your sandwiches pretty high, which can lead to some major troubles on other types of panini presses. Here, you won’t have to worry about that because this press comes with multiple height positions built right in. Instead of giving you a single hinge that can only handle foods of a certain thickness, you can easily adjust the height control slider on the side of the unit for exactly how much grilling space you need. This is a great way to add some extra inches to make room for an extra thick sandwich, or give the food some breathing room so you’re only toasting the outside and not fully pressing the sandwich down flat. This will also come in handy if you want to use the press to grill up some meats or vegetables, since those can call for a wide array of space needs.
Best Multi-Function Panini Press and Griddle
Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
For those of you that want to be able to press your sandwiches and grill up other foods without having to own multiple different appliances, this is the model for you. It actually combines an impressive number of devices in a single unit, all while giving you the ability to switch between each one with minimal effort, so the only thing holding you back from making amazing kitchen creations is your imagination, and not your tools.
5 Functions in 1
First and foremost, this model gives you a powerful panini press that enables you to make all of the grilled sandwiches you would ever want with the signature panini grill lines. You can also use it as a contact grill, which allows you to grill meats and vegetables on both sides simultaneously and eliminate the need to constantly flip your foods during cooking. If you want to do some traditional grilling, you can actually unfold the press completely and use it as a full grill, just like you would on an outdoor grill. Thanks to the removable components, you can swap out the grooved plates for smooth ones and turn the unit into a full griddle to cook eggs, bacon, and more. Finally, you can use one smooth and one ridged plate and have a combination grill and griddle working all at the same time!
Adjustable Temperature Controls
Since this model gives you so many cooking options, it only makes sense that it would also give you more flexibility when it comes to the cooking temperatures. I really liked discovering this feature because it means you can fine tune the temperature based on the exact type of food you’re cooking. The heat for pressing a sandwich isn’t going to be the same as what you’d need for frying eggs or grilling a steak, so it’s really great that you’re not limited in what you cook. You’d be surprised how often I’ve seen products that give you a lot of options on the surface, but don’t actually let you use them all like you would think. Of course, even with the adjustable temperature controls you’ll still need to keep an eye on your foods to make sure they don’t burn.
MostSpace Saving Panini Press
Hamilton Beach 25460A Gourmet Sandwich Maker
Panini presses vary in shape and size quite a bit and can take up a lot of space, which is why I was so pleased to stumble across this amazing model from Hamilton Beach, makers of some really manageable and approachable home appliances. With this panini press, you can focus on making your sandwiches without any troublesome extras or having to deal with a space-eater in the kitchen.
Sized for Easy Sandwich Grilling
One thing you’re going to learn when you start looking into all of the panini presses out there is that many of them are pretty big. That can be a good thing if you’re planning on grilling up big sandwiches or preparing large quantities of food, but when you’re faced with a tiny kitchen or limited counter space it can lead to some serious problems. This panini press was built to handle enough food to prepare up to a few sandwiches at a time, so you can definitely press enough food for yourself or even two people to enjoy, all without any bulky power mechanisms that would just swallow up your kitchen in no time.
Upright Storage Capability
As if having a powerful press that wasn’t the size of a microwave wasn’t good enough, this model is made to be incredibly easy to store. When you’re done with your press and it’s all clean and cooled off, you can actually fold it up into a surprisingly slim profile. Best of all, you can actually store it standing upright, which can really make all the difference when you’re storage space is at a premium. Nothing is worse than having a whole shelf taken up by a single appliance with a low height. Now, you can slide this panini press into a cabinet or between your other countertop appliances and still have plenty of room to move and work with. Being able to store it without losing all that overhead space is pretty neat, and not something I’ve seen on many other appliances.
Best Panini Press for the Money
George Foreman GRP1060B Grill
Enjoying a delightfully grilled sandwich in the comfort of your own home shouldn’t be a luxury only for the rich, and that’s exactly why the timeless George Foreman Grill is such a wonderful little device. If you’ve seen the commercials, you probably already know you can use it to grill hamburger patties and other meats indoors, but it’s also capable of functioning as a panini press without any special modifications or changes.
Easy to Clean
While it might seem like a panini press wouldn’t get very dirty during use (it is only grilling bread after all, right?), you’re almost certainly going to experience all kinds of overflow and other issues when you really get into the swing of using it. That’s why it’s so important to be able to clean your press easily and completely, something that isn’t always available on other budget-level panini presses. Since this unit is made to handle meats – which can get quite messy – it’s got a lot of great features to help make cleanup a smoother process. From the nonstick grill plates, it’s also angled downward towards a drip tray, so any cheese, oils, or sauces that come off of your sandwich won’t pool up inside and turn into pesky messes that you’d have to scrape out. The plates are also dishwasher safe, which is absolutely fantastic for something like this.
No Cut Corners
This is another feature I was very pleased to read about when I looked at what you got with this panini grill, since you definitely don’t want to have to sacrifice quality in order to keep your costs down. From the inside out, this model is made to give you a great grilling and pressing experience, starting with the durable and removable plates. There’s also a movable hinge that allows the press to expand and accommodate different food thicknesses. In addition to this nifty feature, the unit is also designed to heat up faster than other models, which means that you won’t have to wait as long for your food to cook and crisp. It’s pretty common for budget models to have less power, and on a panini press that would translate into longer cook times and less crispy bread. It’s just nice to see a manufacturer create a product that’s in a more affordable range that doesn’t cut out all the essential functionality.
Best Grill and Press Toaster
Cuisinart GR-11 Griddler 3-in-1
Grilling is an art form in and of itself (or at least that’s what my husband likes to say), and I can definitely say that freshly grilled food is unlike anything else, especially when you can put that food into a toasted sandwich. Since not everyone can get access to a full-size grill, a combination grill and panini press like this is literally the perfect solution to allow anyone to enjoy everything both methods have to offer.
Seamless Switching Between Modes
When you want to do some indoors grilling, all you need to do is open up the unit and fold the lid out until it’s laying completely flat on your counter or table. Then, you just use one of the preset grilling temperature settings and you’re ready to cook up some steak strips, chicken breasts, or even a portabella mushroom cap. Then, let’s say that you want to use some of the food you just grilled in a sandwich. Well, it’s as easy as preparing the sandwich, changing the heat setting to the panini mode, laying it on the lower section of the grill, and closing the lid over the sandwich. You can also gently press down on the lid to seal the heat into the sandwich, give it some deeper grill marks and compress the sandwich itself so all of the flavors are sealed in nice and tight. No elaborate changes necessary, so you can spend more time enjoying your food and less time dealing with a complicated device.
Built-in Drip Tray
I really appreciate that the manufacturers took the time to think about how people would actually use this panini press and add in some features that would actually be helpful. I can’t even stress enough how difficult it can be to clean home cooking appliances, especially when you’ve got meats and other tough to handle food debris that build up on it. Most models aren’t going to give you any kind of drip tray, which means that you’re going to have grease and oil pooling up on the grill. When you do have a tray, they’re usually separate component that you have to set under one edge of the press, which means that you can have it spill onto the counter. Here, the tray is built in, so you don’t have to worry about positioning anything near the draining end. All you have to do is take it out and empty it after you use the grill, and you’ll keep things nice and clean.
Best Sandwich Maker with Ceramic Plates
Oster DuraCeramic Panini Press and Grill
Ceramic cooking products are much less common than their cast iron and non-stick counterparts, but they offer a lot of different features that can be quite appealing, especially when they come in a panini press. This model from Oster offers a safer, more efficient cooking experience that is also designed to make the cleaning process as painless as can be.
Ceramic Plates for Longer Lifespan
One of the biggest benefits of a ceramic cooking plate is that it is very durable and reliable, since it’s able to resist scratches much better than metals with a non-stick coating. Since traditional non-stick coatings can tear and flake when you use the wrong utensils, this can lead to poor cooking performance or even some serious health concerns. You don’t have to worry about either of those with this model, since the PTFE and PFOA-free coating can withstand more of the normal wear and tear to give you a product that’s built to last quite a while. According to Oster, the natural coating is actually four times more durable than other types of coatings, which is very impressive.
More Efficient Cooking
The ceramic plates also help the panini press function more efficiently, which translates into shorter cooking times and a more evenly distributed crisping across whatever you’re cooking. First, the ceramic heats up at a faster rate than other metals, so you don’t have to wait as long for the grill to be ready. This is actually very nice, since you can create a lot of problems for yourself by trying to put food into a panini press that isn’t at the correct temperature; you’re going to be creating an uneven heating that exposes the outside to more heat and can leave the interior of the sandwich or food cold. There’s also a floating hinge that makes the grill able to accommodate different size sandwiches and foods, as well as adjustable feet that give you the ability to angle the press. This could come in handy if you want to cook something that’s going to produce juices or oils that you want to drain out.
Best Cast Iron Panini Maker
Lodge LPP3 Square Ribbed Panini Press
Now, as wonderful as an electric, countertop panini press can be, they aren’t always the best solution for every meal, such as an outdoor barbecue at a park or the beach. That’s why I was so pleased to come across this manual panini press from Lodge, who also make some of the most famous cast iron pans around. It does the same thing that the electric presses do, but without the need for cords or anything else.
No Electricity Required
Just like with all of the other amazing kitchen appliances and gadgets we use, most panini presses are going to require you to be near an electrical outlet in order to use them. Most of the time, that’s not a problem, but it can still be troublesome. With this manual cast iron panini press, you don’t need any electricity in order to get those signature grill marks on your presses sandwiches. All you need to do is heat up the press, either by placing it over a flame, on the grill, or in your griddle pan, and then place it on top of your sandwich while it’s cooking. This press is designed to be heavy, just like a cast iron pan, so it’s going to naturally put weight onto the sandwich to press it down, though you can press it yourself if you want to give it some extra thinning pressure.
More Flexibility when Cooking
Having a panini press that doesn’t use any electricity really opens up the cooking possibilities, especially if you like to cook on an outdoor grill. When I first came across this product, I instantly imagined my family and me going to the park and grilling up some thin strips of steak and chicken, then making sandwiches using a fresh loaf of bread. With this panini press, we would still be able to make our own panini’s out at the park right on the grill, all without having to figure out how to get an electric press there. You can also use this panini press to get those beautiful grill marks on steaks or other foods you cook at home, as well as use the weight to press down on foods to encourage fat to cook out so that you can enjoy lighter, healthier meals.
Most Luxurious Panini Press
Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
If you love your grilled sandwiches and want to put a little more down for an appliance that’s going to give you that and so much more, than you’re definitely going to be excited to learn about this luxury panini press from Cuisinart. It’s packed full of amazing features that will allow you to not only create those delicious sandwiches but also prepare a slew of other food types as well, all while looking at a sleek and stylish product.
Removable and Reversible Plates
When I say luxury panini press, I really mean it because this unit gives you so much more than a standard model that I almost can’t believe it’s all part of the same product. Cuisinart managed to fit six different configurations into a single device here, starting out with the standard panini press and contact grill. The real fun comes when you open the device completely and start playing around with the different mode combinations, because that’s when you really see how much this device has to offer. There’s the standard full grill and full griddle options, which you can switch to with simple, reversible plates. Being able to switch the plates independently also means that you can split it up, so you can have a half-grill or half-griddle option to cook whatever you want, however you want.
Dual Zone Temperature Controls
Being able to operate a griddle and grill at the same time in your panini press is quite the impressive feat, but that’s not all this model has to offer. There’s also a dual zone temperature control, which means that you can actually change the heat settings for each side of the device independently. If you need a low heat on the griddle for making pancakes, but a high heat on the grill for searing up some meat, you can do it with an effortless action. There’s also a lot of space on this device, so you would be able to cook a lot at a time. Then, when you’re ready to put all your delectable foods into your sandwich for pressing, you just need to close the lid and you’re good to go.
Best for Professional Use
Waring Commercial WPG150 Compact Sandwich Grill
All the panini presses I listed above could be absolutely perfect for use in the home, but I know that some of you out there are looking for a heavy duty press that can handle a lot of action each day. Maybe you’re starting a little restaurant, or you’re planning on operating a sandwich stand at a school fundraiser. Either way, this is a powerful commercial grade panini press that’s sure to meet your high capacity sandwich pressing needs.
High Output Capabilities
The aspect that really sets this panini press apart from other models is its cooking power, because a commercial panini press needs to be powerful in order to handle a high volume of foods in a short amount of time. Most home models are only going to give you basic heat settings, usually labeled for the type of foods you’re making and not for the actual cooking temperature. Here, you can choose a wide selection of temperatures via an easy-to-read dial that has temperature markers in 70-degree increments. There’s also a warning light that will tell you when the press has reached the temperature you set, so you don’t have to guess when it’s ready and inadvertently overcook or undercook your sandwiches.
Heat Resistant Handles for Safety
A powerful panini press like this is capable of getting very hot, so you definitely want to use a model that comes with some safety considerations in mind. I was very happy to learn that this unit has heat-insulated handles, which are designed to resist heating up even when the press itself is approaching temperatures of over 500 degrees. There are two handles on the unit – one smaller handle on the top lid and one larger handle above the press itself. This will allow you to raise and lower the lid comfortably to place and remove sandwiches and other foods, as well as add some extra pressure to really press your sandwiches down flat and achieve the desired thinness for you or your customers.
There you have it! I hope that you were able to find my reviews and insights helpful. I definitely had a lot of fun compiling all of this information, though it was a bit rough in the beginning when I simply didn’t know where to look.
If you still have other questions, or aren’t quite sure what type of panini press is right for you, make sure you visit the other pages on this site. I’ve put together some buying guides that cover a lot of the questions and concerns I had, as well as some situations I was sure others would be facing.
Here’s to all of us enjoying some amazing paninis all year round!