Do you always crave for Panini or grilled sandwich but concerned about the costs of dining in a restaurant? I was in your shoes before. I would always go out for lunch to enjoy hot and delicious Paninis. But once I computed how much the habit cost me, I decided to buy a Panini press instead.
Suffice to say; it was one of the best decisions I made. A Panini press enabled me to prepare mouthwatering sandwiches comparable to those I used to enjoy in restaurants. I usually serve Panini with a smoothie I make using a quiet blender.
In this post, I will share with you some of the things to look for in a Panini press and list five models that I feel best suits a typical homemaker like you.
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
What to look for in a Panini press?
One of the first things to consider in shopping for a Panini press is the grill surface area. You won’t only have to determine how many sandwiches you’d like to prepare at once, but also the space in your kitchen. A smaller sized press should be able to make 1-2 Paninis. Think you’ll be preparing more? A press with a large grill must be what you need.
The plate material must also be taken into consideration. Panini presses differ in the plate materials used—some are made of aluminum; others of cast iron and non-stick. Aluminum can heat up very quickly. However, it also loses heat too fast. You’ll also need to use release spray or oils when you opt for a Panini press made of aluminum.
Panini presses with a non-stick plate are easy to clean because the food won’t stick to the plate. Non-stick plates also heat up quickly. The main downside of Panini presses made of non-stick plates is that they easily get damaged.
Cast iron is better than aluminum regarding heat retention. It can also provide even heat. When properly seasoned and maintained, the cast iron plate can also be stick resistant. However, it can take a while for cast iron plate to heat up. Plus Panini presses made of cast iron tend to be more expensive.
If money is no object, I suggest you look for models with advanced features like an adjustable thermostat. It can be really helpful if your plan to grill not just Panini but other kinds of foods like burgers, so you don’t have to buy a burger press.
Going back to plates, it’s good to have a Panini press with removable plates. While this isn’t exactly a must-have, it is very helpful. Fillings usually ooze out of the Panini and into the grill grates which means you’ll have to spend more time and effort in cleaning up. Now if your grill comes with removable plates, you can simply pop them into the dishwasher.
You’ll also want to have a Panini press with easy reach and ergonomic handles. Look into the floating hinge of the unit, too, which would let you close the grill at different heights and cook tall and short sandwiches.
Finally, a Panini press with a timer can be a very good addition to your kitchen especially if you are the type of busy homemaker. A Panini grill with timer lets you set the time and allow the machine to do its thing while you do other tasks.
Top 5 Panini Press Available On The Market Today
Now that you have an idea on what to look for in a Panini press, let’s take a look at five of the best Panini grills in the market right now.
#1. Hamilton Beach 25460A
You can rely on this Hamilton Beach unit not only in making Paninis but other foods as well, from Chicken quesadillas to pizza to Bruschetta. You can even make fruit turnovers in this Panini press.
This one measures 5.6 x 13.8 x 12.7 -inches and weighs 6.2 pounds. While not the lightest of kitchen appliances, you will appreciate that it can be stored upright. You can easily fit this Panini press in any kitchen cabinet.
This has a non-stick grill that is very easy to clean. You can simply wipe off cheese or other sandwich fillings with a paper towel. It is really nice that there’s no food that sticks to the surface at all.
It’s a great Panini press for a small family. It can hold up to 2 sandwiches in one sitting. It also has a floating lid/hinge so you can make thicker sandwiches. It’s a bit of a downer that it doesn’t have a timer, though.
- It has a non-stick surface that makes the unit easy to clean
- Can hold up to two sandwiches
- Floating hinge lets you make thick sandwiches
- Versatile as it can also be used in making other foods like pizza and fruit turnovers
- No timer
- No adjustable thermostat
#2. Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo
Breville is a really good brand, so I wasn’t surprised with the number of rave reviews that this Panini press has been getting. It has a non-stick cooking surface and a floating hinge featuring 4 height settings. It measures 13-inches long, 11.7-inches wide and 5.25-inches tall. Breville backs it up with a one-year limited warranty.
The non-stick surface gets very hot quickly which is something you want if you are always in a rush. Measuring about 7.5 x 11-inches, the grilling plates can accommodate 1-2 sandwiches. This is a Panini maker for single guys/gals or small families. While the plates are not removable, the non-stick coating makes them easy to clean.
Once you are done prepping your sandwiches, you can store the unit vertically with its lock feature.
- The plate heats up very quickly
- Non-stick surface makes cleaning a breeze
- With four height settings on its floating hinge so you can make thicker sandwiches
- The unit can be stored vertically
- No on/off switch
- The plates are not removable
#3. George Foreman 2-Serving Classic Plate Grill
Many people usually associate Panini press with George Foreman, and I can’t blame them. This original George Forman grill features a tough, non-stick coating that is durable and easy to clean. The grill plates are so durable that you can use them for years.
I love the fat-removing slope of the grill that lets users remove fat from their meals. This unit features a drip tray that can be washed in the dishwasher.
This unit is more compact than the two Panini makers earlier. It measures just 5 -inches long, 9 -inches wide and about 9.5 -inches tall. You can make two sandwiches at the same time with this Panini maker, making it a great choice for couples and small families.
Aside from being space-saving, it is also very lightweight at just 3 pounds. This unit is backed by a three-year limited warranty.
- Compact and space-saving
- It is easy to clean
- It can remove fat from meats
- Its grill plates are very durable
- It is lightweight and easy to store
- No thermostat
- No on/off switch
#4. Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press
Like George Foreman, Cuisinart is a very good brand. So you’ll be certain you are getting a quality product with this Panini and sandwich maker. It has brushed stainless steel housing and 11 by 7 -inch non-stick grill plates. The floating hinge can also be adjusted to accommodate thicker sandwiches.
This is not as compact as the George Foreman Panini maker, but it should still fit in most kitchen countertops. It measures 14.5 -inches long, 6.5 -inches wide and 12 -inches tall. The unit comes with a three-year limited warranty.
There’s no on/off switch in this Panini maker, too. To use it, plug it into a wall outlet then wait for the ready to cook indicator to light up.
Cuisinart also provides a recipe book and cleaning tool alongside the unit.
- Non-stick surface makes the unit easy to clean
- Floating lid allows grilling of thicker sandwiches
- Comes with a recipe book and cleaning tool
- With a long three-year warranty
- No on/off switch
- The cleaning tool is cheap and not useful
#5. 8.25 -inch Lodge LPP3 Cast Iron Square Ribbed Panini Press
This is the only Panini press made of cast iron. As such, this Panini press is the best when it comes to heat retention. You can expect to have evenly cooked sandwiches using this Panini machine. You can also be assured that this press will last for a long time as the press and handle come in one piece.
Don’t worry as this is already pre-seasoned. This Panini Press is thus ready for use out of the box. However, you can still season the surface with light oil and heat. This would also ensure that food won’t stick.
A common misconception about cast iron Panini press is that it is heavy. On the contrary, this unit is lightweight at just 4 pounds. It is also compact with dimensions of 8.3 -inches by 8.3 -inches by 1.5 -inches.
Since it is a non-electric Panini press, you will need to place this on a stovetop to grill the sandwich. It may seem low-tech, but I assure you it can get the job done very efficiently.
- Cast-iron Panini press is the best in heat retention
- It comes pre-seasoned, hence ready for use out of the box
- It is compact and lightweight
- It can last for a long time
- It doesn’t have a silicone handle so be careful when lifting it from the stovetop
- Prone to rusting
While I recommend all these five Panini makers, I will go ahead and say that the George Foreman 2-Serving Classic Plate Grill is my favorite in this list. I believe it is the best in the lot, being made of a tough and durable non-stick coating. The fat-removing slope is a great feature especially for health-conscious buyers, and it helps that the unit is very compact and lightweight.
How about you? What is your choice in this list? Let me and our readers know by writing in the comments section below.