Best Panini Press
Who doesn’t love a perfect sandwich? Over the years of making lunches and snacks, I started to appreciate the help of small appliances. And I assure you – you can’t make great sandwiches without a panini press!
Especially if you have little kids, appliances with multifunctional functions will become your best friend very soon. I love how nowadays designers have that in mind, so we have more gadgets like panini press – from paninis to waffles!
I had a panini press a long time ago, and when it died, I couldn’t find the same one, so I forgot about it. The other day my older boy wanted to pack lunch for school and told me that he would like something more convenient for carrying.
A tuna sandwich is my first choice, but I know he likes a hot lunch, so guess what occupies my time now? The search for the favorite panini press, of course.
Why buy a panini press?
If you think about it, panini is the ultimate meal. All that diversity of your favorite ingredients between crunchy bread – it doesn’t get any better if you ask me.
These devices are usually multifunctional – you can use them as an indoor grill as well. You can grill meat, patties, vegetables, or anything that comes to your mind and fits plates of the panini press.
You place it on the grill, and the device will do the rest. You don’t need to babysit the pan or oven. And the great part is that most of them only require a quick wipe, so you won’t even need to deal with bothersome dish cleaning.
A panini & sandwich maker can save you a lot of trouble and time. I used mine daily, both for preparing and reheating. In my opinion, these presses are way healthier than a microwave.
The panini press will make reheated food a little bit crunchy, but it is an insignificant compromise for my own and the health of my family.
If you want to bring your sandwiches and panini to the next level, you’ll wish to own one of these beauties!
How to pick the best panini press?
A panini press may seem simple, but every model comes with its features and uses so that you may select them accordingly. You should choose to accommodate your needs: will you need it for paninis and sandwiches only, will you use it daily, how much space do you have on the countertop, etc.
But there are universal features and characteristics you should check before you buy the panini press:
Buying a panini press is not a small investment, so before buying, you should look for quality and durability first. The press shouldn’t be flimsy or unstable – it should stay firm on the countertop without any loose parts.
You’ll be lifting the top lid often, so the hinge mechanism needs to be made from quality materials because the plastic ones are prone to break down quickly.
Handles are the weak spot on panini presses, so pay close attention to them – they bear the most pressure of pushing down the hinge while making thick sandwiches. You’ll be touching them with every use, so they need to be heat resistant to avoid burns.
Doing my research, I didn’t stumble on a lot of models that have the on/off button. Usually, you plug and unplug it. It is not very safe, so be aware of this flaw because it can be a severe hazard.
No temperature control is also something that an average panini press lacks, so choose hard-to-reach places for your press. Always wear mittens to avoid burns.
The panini presses usually have indicator lights to tell you if the temperature is right, but sometimes, when preparing several batches, these lights get a little confused. The favorite way to solve this is to cool the press down and start over. It seems that this is the way the panini presses work, so when it comes to safety, it is mainly all up to you.
I mentioned earlier that these presses could be used as a grill, so why don’t you buy 2 in1 if you have a chance. Maybe you’re thinking you’ll be using it only for panini but trust me, you’ll be amazed that you can make patties or quesadillas with no trouble.
Depending on your needs, you can choose between ribbed or flat plates. The ribbed ones give your sandwiches grill marks but are harder to clean.
4. The functionality of the lid
When it comes to the lid, the great option is to purchase the panini press with a hovering one. This way, you can make thick or flat sandwiches, melt cheese, or even make pizzas.
Ensure that the hinge mechanism is firm in place and not made of plastic. The plastic ones break easily, and once they are broken, your panini press will work worse or not at all.
5. Easy maintaining
Although they mostly require wiping with soap water, in my opinion, panini presses with removable plates are more convenient. If there is no drip tray or drainage canal, the grease from baking will end up on electronics or your countertop soon enough.
Plates with ribs will require more time to clean because you’ll have to wash every rod separately. A brush will do the trick, but be sure that the press is cooled down before you start cleaning.
Armed with this knowledge, I’m sure you’ll be able to find the finest panini press that suits your needs.
5 Best Panini Press Currently Available: My Honest Reviews
Let’s explore what’s currently popular on the market and compare the top picks. Because we learned together what’s important for a proper panini press, now we can see how these devices cope with our criteria. Let’s begin!
Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo – Heavy, firm and it heats up quickly
When I saw this panini press, I was amazed by its melting and toasting functions. Realizing that it refers to different positions of the top lid and not heat control was a bit disappointing.
Nevertheless, it is a powerful machine; strangely, it takes some time to heat up properly – but when it does, it will bake you some perfect sandwiches. Having a ribbed top plate and flat bottom is a little unusual, so if you are a panini lover, you’ll need to be fast. If you want grill marks on both sides, you’ll need to flip sandwiches quickly. Because of a heavy top plate, your sandwiches might be cooked unevenly.
Hovering top is ideal if you bake open-face, but the press is really massive and extremely hot so you’ll have to be very careful. This is mainly because it has no on/off button and you can’t adjust the temperature. If you have nosy kids, as I do, it is hazardous to leave it working on the countertop because the handles get hot quickly and stay that way.
The flat bottom is particularly suitable for pancakes because of the non-stick material, so additional oil is not needed. It doesn’t have a grease drip tray so preparing with as little oil as possible will help you with cleaning.
Speaking of cleaning, you’ll have enough trouble cleaning it because it doesn’t have detachable plates.
- Great power
- Non-stick plates
- eNo thermal control
- Plates aren’t detachable
- No, on/off switch
Chefman Electric Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker – Universal and multifunctional
This panini press is very versatile, due to the fact that the floating hinge can be opened flat. This means it is adjustable for any thickness of sandwiches, and you can use it as an indoor grill.
If you have a big family, this press is not for you since you can make one big or two small sandwiches per batch. Still, that means it is compact, so it is suitable for smaller kitchens or dorm rooms.
There is no on/off switch, and you can’t adjust the temperature, but it heats very quickly and doesn’t burn food. Before you decide to purchase this model, check if you have a socket close to where you will put it because the cord is very short.
It has a drip tray included which partially compensates for non-detachable plates so cleaning will not be that hard. Soapy water and a damp cloth will do the trick.
The handles and bars are made from metal so they won’t break easily. Despite the size, this press is durable and sturdy. The handles don’t heat up so you can push the lid when making taller sandwiches. Still, I don’t recommend doing that with bare hands.
It is easy to use, and if you have teenagers, they can make snacks by themselves. Yes, it is that easy that kids can use it, but it is not that safe. My hubby got himself a surface burn because he adjusted the lid by hand.
- Heats up quickly
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Small surface
- Short cord
- No on/off switch
- No temperature control
Hamilton Beach 25462Z – Compact, strong, and passionately red
If you have limited space on the countertop and like the passionate color red, this model will suit you just right. Small-looking at first sight, this panini press packs a punch – 1400 W of heating power is at your disposal.
But that much power can be counterproductive in my experience. Since there isn’t an on/off button and you can’t control the temperature, you might end up with burnt or unevenly grilled sandwiches.
25462Z has no timer as well, so you’ll need to babysit it all the time. But if you put a little effort to check it from time to time, you will be rewarded with tasty sandwiches. You can be creative with it and make quesadillas, omelets, grilled chicken breast, and so much more.
If you like to experiment in the kitchen, you’ll love that you can lock the lid so it can hover over the top of your food without touching it; this feature will enable you to make pizza and open-faced sandwiches with no trouble.
Just keep in mind that this press doesn’t have a drainage line or a drip tray, so if you don’t use a plate or bowl to collect oil, you’ll be cleaning the whole countertop.
Cleaning is easy because of the non-stick grill plates, but it would be much more efficient if you could take them off completely – technically, this way you are wiping, not washing the press.
- Can grill open-face sandwiches, pizzas, etc.
- No on/off button
- No timer or temperature control
- No removable grill plates
- No oil drainage
Proctor Silex Panini Sandwich Press – Confused indicator light but good power
This press has good power and warms very quickly, but there isn’t a feature to control the temperature. Although the temperature control is automatic, it is perfect for toasting bread, making panini sandwiches, and cooking meat. It has a grill surface big enough to make two standard sandwiches, making it ideal for couples.
Non-stick grill plates are not removable but are super easy to clean, even from burned cheese. It has a drip tray, so you don’t need to worry about the messy countertop, but since there is no rubber on the back legs be careful moving it to avoid scratches.
It has no on/off button, but it has indicator lights to tell you when it is ready to put your paninis in. Furthermore, it doesn’t tell you when food is done.
It seems that indicator lights get a little confused after one batch, so if you don’t want burnt food, the good thing you can do is to start completely over.
The lid should be heavier – ribs on grill plates are a little shallow and don’t make that panini look on thicker sandwiches. But you can always push the lid to make that recognizable look.
A very short cord is quite a nuisance if you don’t have an adequate place for this appliance. Due to the lack of an on/off switch, this short cord can prevent your kids from touching or breaking the cable.
- It works both as a panini press and as a grill
- Suitable for dorms, small kitchens
- Indicator light
- Drip tray
- Easy to clean
- No, on/off switch
- Shallow ribs
- No temperature control
IMUSA USA GAU-80102 Large Electric Panini Press – Great paninis without grill marks
If you are looking for a press-only panini, this model is perfect for you. The flat surface is effortless to maintain, and it will heat your paninis more evenly than ribbed ones. This model is not suitable for grilling because it doesn’t have canals to drain oil. If you don’t want your countertop to be flooded with oil, put the plate under it.
The press itself is spacious (houses about four regular-sized sandwiches, two baguette-style) so it is good for larger families.
The hinges can be manipulated to accommodate various sizes, and I would recommend thick bread because the lid is heavier and makes really flat sandwiches.
The downside is that it doesn’t have a feature to hold the top open so if you want to melt the cheese, you’ll have to be creative and use a mug to keep it open.
The plates are removable so you can wash them in the dishwasher, and this is my favorite thing. I’m not a hygiene freak, but I don’t like the idea of just wiping things off, I get the impression that the oil stays on the plates.
The only thing that concerns me is its durability because it is made mostly from sheet metal. It does look sturdy, but I’m not sure it would last more than a couple of years.
Without an on/off switch and no automatic shut-off, I believe that it is not that safe. Made from plastic and sheet metal, it is a notable danger, especially for families with kids.
- Removable plates
- Makes great sandwiches
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- No oil drainage
- The lid doesn’t stay open
- No, on/off switch
When it comes to choosing the right panini press, it’s really all up to you. I’m sure that after reading my reviews, your decision will be easier. If you live alone or you have limited countertop space, I recommend Proctor Silex Panini Sandwich Press because it is compact and easily fits dorm rooms or smaller kitchens. Maintenance is easy, and it has a drip tray, so you don’t need to worry about filthy countertops. And if you have a large family or you often have guests I recommend Chefman Electric Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker. At first glance, the capacity of this press is not that special, but when you see what you can make with it, you will fall in love with this panini maker. Share the good news or ask any question – I’ll be more than glad to answer it!