Are you hoping to make delicious paninis and hot sandwiches at home? Are you looking for a quick, easy and effective way to make your own favorite fillings? A panini maker can take the hassle out of making paninis at home and ensure that you always have delicious sandwiches whenever you need them.
We looked at the best panini makers available and chose the Cuisinart Griddler Elite for its variety of functions and usability features. We've chosen our 10 best panini makers for you to consider and also created a handy buying guide reviewed by a chef to help you make your choice.
Jim Quast (JQ) is a lifelong professional restaurant and corporate R&D chef that loves everything food-related and the tools both big and small to make those great food memories. He's a super huge BBQ, grill, and kitchen gadget fanatic. JQ has spent the last 30+ years trying to figure out what works to make your kitchen life easier and fun. If you can use it to slice it, dice it, cook it, smoke it or store it, he's been there checking it out. Food = Life! https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-quast-59769011/
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Table of Contents
Before buying a panini maker, there are a few points you should take into consideration. To help you with this, we've put together this handy buying guide!
A floating hinge allows you to close the grill at different heights. This means you can grill sandwiches of different sizes and thicknesses with the same grill. Whether you’re putting together a high, multi-layer baguette full of fillings or a flat sandwich of cheese and two slices of bread, a floating hinge will do them both.
A floating hinge also allows you to grill open-face paninis as you can set the upper plate to hover above the sandwich without touching it. Most panini presses have this feature, but smaller and more portable panini makers often don't have floating hinges.
Another option is a grill pan and press. These are non-electrical presses that can be used on the stovetop with electric or gas burners. The pan has the same raised ridges that plates on electrical presses have and comes with a heavy iron lid that acts as the top plate.
There are a few main considerations when it comes to which size of grill is the best for you. The first is the size of your kitchen. There is no point in buying a large panini press if you don’t have either the space to store it or the space to use it.
You need enough space to lay out the press to prepare your panini and the ingredients. You also need to ensure that you have enough space above to fully lift the lid as you will need to open and close the press.
The second consideration is how much food you will make at once. If you’re going to be making paninis or toasted sandwiches for one, then a large grill is unnecessary. If you’re going to be cooking for a larger family, then you might want to grill several paninis at once to save time and ensure everyone gets their food at the same time. Look for grills that are larger than 10 inches by 10 inches.
You should also consider the shape of the grill. Many panini grills are rectangular to match the long style of the bread usually used, but it's also common to find grills that are more square. If you have narrow counter space, then a rectangular grill will potentially fit better than a square one. Larger square ones are good for cooking multiple paninis at once.
When it comes to making that perfect panini, an adjustable thermostat is a desirable feature. The best temperature for your panini will depend on the ingredients, the type of bread, and how much cooking it requires. If you're making thinner paninis, then lower temperatures of around 200 are best. For thicker paninis or paninis made with large cuts of meat, higher temperatures of around 375 degrees will get the paninis cooked quicker but might burn your bread if you're not careful.
You can use lower temperatures to cook meat-filled paninis, but be prepared to wait for a longer period of time. Some paninis have an even bigger range of temperatures so that they can cook more than just paninis. A press that can sear meat might have a top temperature nearer 500 degrees, which is great for things like making burgers, but these kinds of temperatures aren't necessary if you're only looking to cook paninis.
Some high-end panini presses might have a digital display that will clearly show you the grill temperature. If the press has a timer, the display will also let you see how much longer the press has before your panini is finished. Other presses might show they've reached their temperature or finished cooking by using lights, instead.
Paninis and grilled sandwiches are notorious for losing some of their fillings while being cooked, especially if cheese is involved. Removable plates can make your life much easier when it comes to cleaning and might even be suitable for the dishwasher, making the clean-up even easier.
If the press doesn't have removable plates, then make sure they are non-stick. If cleaned while still warm you can often just wipe them clean. Make sure they're not still red-hot though, as you run the risk of burns.
Another bonus with removable plates is that it is possible to get different types of plates for different types of grilling. For example, you can find diagonal grill plates for toasted sandwiches, smooth ones for burgers, or even plates to make waffles. Some panini presses will come with these different plates so they can be used for more than just paninis.
Try to get a press with a coated or heat-resistant handle so it won't burn your hand when you lift or lower the press. Many presses come with a drip tray that can be used to catch any excess oil or grease produced by the food.
It's also important to get a press that tells you when it is fully preheated and ready to go. Not all panini makers have on/off switches, and many will start heating as soon as they're plugged in. If this is the case, make sure the unit has a light so you will know whether it is on or not.
Some higher-end models might allow you to control the temperatures of the top and bottom plates independently to give you even more options when it comes to cooking. Some can also open fully flat so you can make open-faced sandwiches or use both surfaces as a large grill.
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Best Multi-Function Maker
Best for Effortless Cooking
Best for Easy Storage
Countertop Panini Press ｜GP0620R
Best Panini Maker With Safety Features
Best for Easy Cleaning
Classic Grill and Panini Press｜GRP4842P
Best Panini and Waffle Maker Combo
Duo Panini Press｜CGH1030D
Best for a Large Cooking Surface
Express Pocket Sandwich Maker
Best Portable Option
180° Grill and Panini Press
Best Non-Electrical Option
Electric Griddle - Crepe Maker｜PKGRIL43. 5
Best for Making Paninis and Grilling Together
If you're looking for a professional style press that has a full range of options, this may be the choice for you. There are six different cooking options, including panini press, full griddle, and full grill. It also has a sear function that can sear either or both plates as required. The LCD display clearly shows the cooking mode and time left.
A few reviewers reported receiving error messages on the display or said that the quality was not what they expected. For most, though, it heated up quickly and evenly, and it pressed paninis perfectly. They praised its versatility and ease of use, as the different settings and LCD display made it easy to cook different foods.
This panini press offers much more than just toasting your sandwiches as it has six automatic cooking programs that cover foods such as sandwiches and different meats. The grill will cook both fresh and frozen food and has a large drip tray to catch any juices or grease that are produced while cooking. The plates are non-stick, removable, and dishwasher safe.
There are reports from some reviewers that the plates on this grill were not always of a consistent temperature and that sometimes, it could under or overcook. However, reviewers said that the press is really easy to clean and wasn't as messy as some other products. They found that the preset programs made cooking different types of food very easy.
If you have counter space but are lacking storage space, this press may be a good compromise as it can be stored standing up. It has a floating lid that can be locked in place depending on the thickness of your sandwich or to cook open sandwiches. The center of the floating lid has two lights that confirm when it is receiving power and when it has finished preheating.
Some reviewers didn't feel that the plates heated evenly and said this resulted in unevenly toasted sandwiches. However, most reviewers said that the plates are sturdy and easy to clean, despite not being removable. Many buyers praised how compact the maker is and that it can be stored upright, saving even more room. They also praised the lid as it didn't squash their sandwiches.
The press has an automatic shut-off feature and anti-skid feet to ensure it remains safe while being used. It has two lights to show when it is plugged in and has finished preheating, and there is also a drip tray to catch any extra grease. The thermostat will make sure that the plates stay at a consistent temperature.
Reviewers said that the press heated up very quickly and can get very hot. They advised keeping a close eye on the press and not toasting anything for too long. They also said that it is easy to clean and simple to use. Reviewers like that the unit is compact but is still large enough to toast two sandwiches. Several reviewers have been able to use this as a grill for other food items also, such as bacon and burgers.
The plates on this panini press can be opened flat so it can also be used as a grill for meats or open sandwiches. The plates are part of Starfrit's The Rock range and are designed so that even melted cheese won't stick. The plates are also removable and dishwasher-safe and an indicator light on the front will confirm when they are ready for use.
Although each grill plate has a drip cup, reviewers said that the plates were too level to allow excess grease to run off. This was especially an issue when grilling fatty meats. However, many reviewers confirmed that nothing sticks to this panini press and they were very please with how easy it was to clean. The ease of use was also complimented.
This grill from George Foreman has removable ceramic plates. As well as grill plates for your paninis, it also comes with waffle plates, and additional plates can be purchased for it. The plates are all dishwasher-safe. The temperature of the appliance is adjustable and can also be used to sear meats.
There are some reports from reviewers of the buttons on the appliance failing after several months, leaving buyers unable to use the press. Most reviewers were pleased with their purchase, however, and were able to cook several types of food, not just paninis. The sear function was praised and reviewers confirmed it was easy to clean.
If you like to make large paninis with the biggest slices of bread this panini press might be what you need. It has a large grilling surface so you can not only press large paninis but several at the same time. In all, the press has seven functions including waffle and oven broiler mode.
Some reviewers reported that it was difficult to adjust the floating hinge to the correct height. Overall though, most reviewers loved this grill. They praised the ability to control the temperature of the two plates and how well it cooks several different types of food. They said it was easy to clean and made great paninis.
This simple and small sandwich maker is perfect for anybody that is low on kitchen space. It comes in several different colors and has an indicator light on top to confirm when the plates are preheated to the right temperature. It also comes with a recipe book to give you some ideas.
Reviewers said that this product was very small and only small slices of bread properly fit, so make sure you double-check the size before you purchase. The simplicity of this press was a big hit with many reviewers, though. They said it is perfect for one person or small spaces such as dorm rooms or RVs. They confirmed it's quick to heat up and easy to clean.
If you don't want to add another electrical appliance to your kitchen or are looking for a panini press to take camping, then this pan and lid set might suit your needs. The pan and lid are made from cast iron and can be used on either a stovetop or fire to create paninis and grill other foods.
Reviewers were critical of the choice to make the pan and lid handles out of plastic as although this means they don't get hot, it makes them more prone to breaking. They liked how easy it is to use this press and praise the lid for being heavy enough to press their sandwiches. Reviewers found it the right size for making one panini and also easy to clean.
This press-and-grill appliance has a large bottom plate that is half flat and half ridged. The ridged side has a grill press plate that can be closed over it to press paninis. It has an on/off switch and adjustable temperatures so you fully control how it cooks. There is a removable grease tray, too.
The lid is plastic and a few reviewers found this plastic to be quite brittle. Some received broken units and some others found it broke easily if the press was roughly handled. However, reviewers said that the plates were easy to clean. They liked that they can multitask on the same unit, for example, cooking pancakes and sandwiches at the same time.
We've collated some more recommendation lists to help you make that perfect sandwich. Check out these other great products to get even closer to sandwich nirvana.
If you're still looking for some ideas, why not check out the best-selling panini makers on Amazon?
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
No. 1: Cuisinart｜Griddler Elite｜GR-300WSP1
No. 2: T-fal｜Opti-Grill｜GC7
No. 3: Hamilton Beach｜Panini Press｜25460A
No. 4: Ovente｜Countertop Panini Press ｜GP0620R
No. 5: Starfrit｜Panini Press｜024500-002-0000
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