What to Look for in the Perfect Panini Press
They are toasted, compact, and sumptuous in their melty goodness – they are the venerable Panini. Not to be confused with your plain old grilled cheese, the Panini is a culinary contribution that comes from Italy, but the days of having to visit a reputable Italian restaurant for lunch to get one are long gone. Thanks to the advent of the Panini maker, you can enjoy these delightful grilled sandwiches right in your home.
However, while this kitchen appliance is considered a true luxury, if you pick the right Panini maker, it can be used for more than just pressed sandwiches. As Alton Brown says, the best kitchen tools are also multi-tools. The Panini press is one such multi-tool. You use it to make perfect crispy bacon, juicy burgers, and even some amazing French toast. Unfortunately, if you don’t know what to look for when hunting down the best Panini press, you are going to get something that has a fraction of the uses and still doesn’t give you those perfect pressed sandwiches that you crave.
That being said, what do you need to look for when buying the BEST Panini press?
2018 Panini Presses Comparison Chart
- Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo
- Flat bottom plate for fast, thorough cooking; ribbed top plate creates grill marks
Floating hinge; 4 height settings; on/ready lights; nonslip feet; locking storage clip
- Measures 13 by 11-3/4 by 5-1/4 inches; 1-year limited warranty
1500-watt panini press with nonstick, scratch-resistant Quantanium cooking surface
- Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
- 5-in-1 countertop unit works as a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle and half grill/half griddle
Brushed stainless-steel housing; sturdy panini-style handle; floating cover to adjust to thickness of food
- Black Dials
11.50" x 13.50" x 7.12"
- Oster ECO DuraCeramic Panini Maker
- Unique, innovative DuraCeramic non-stick ceramic coating, lasts 4 times longer, won't flake or peel and is PFOA and PTFE free
Cooks up to 20% faster to save energy and time
- Silver Chrome
15 x 6.8 x 13.6 in
- Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
- Six cooking options in one: contact grill, panini press, full griddle, full grill, half grill, half griddle, top melt
Removable, reversible and nonstick grill/griddle plates
- Adjustable top cover with 6 presets & grilling surface - 240 square inches open
13.3 lbs (16.4 lbs shipping weight)
- Proctor Silex Panini Press
- Great tasting panini at home
Grills sandwiches of any thickness
- 12" x 8.5" nonstick grids
ultra light plastic but durable/sturdy
Our Top Picks for the Top Panini Makers
If you want your Panini press to not only make great grilled sandwiches, but also want a real multi-tool in the kitchen, the Smart Grill by Breville is the way to go. Not only does it come with completely removable and dishwasher-safe plates, but it comes with a drip tray for all your greasiest foods.
With adjustable heat settings and six different height settings for the floating hinge, you can cook pretty much anything, no matter how ridiculously tall it is. However, even if you don’t want to press your food, The Smart Grill also opens flat for full BBQ grill mode.
Click the red buttons for all of information you need on the current availability.
The DeLonghi has almost everything you would want in a great Panini press as well as a contact grill. It has a high rising floating hinge that allows it to accommodate tall food, and its adjustable thermostat allows you to cook your sandwiches as well as your meat to your perfect specifications while still getting those great grill marks. However, the one thing that it doesn’t have is removable plates. The non-stick surface does allow for easy for easy clean up via wiping off and it does have a grease drain, but not as easy to clean as removable plates.
The T-Fal may not have the heat control of other grills that allow you to put the grill on specific temperatures, but it does have six setting for specific food such as sandwiches, red meat, burger, sausage, fish, and poultry. However, what sets it apart from the pack is that it automatically adapts its grilling cycles to adjust to the thickness of the food. This means that your sandwich will never have near-burned bread without the cheese even melted in the middle again.
The great part is that it actually works quite well. The adjustable floating hinges let you put some pretty tall food in and it has audible beeps for the specific cooking settings. As well as having a drip tray, the T-Fal also has removable plates for easy cleaning.
The Cusinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe is, like many Cusinart Panini presses, is multiple grilling tools in one neat package. The best part about multi-grills is that they almost exclusively come with removable plates to go with its number of grilling options. However, the real benefit of this model is that it only has one set of reversible removable plates so you don’t have to keep track of a number of different plate options. As it turns in a grill, a griddle, and a Panini press, the Griddler Deluxe also comes with fully adjustable dual-zone temperature control for the best controlled cook you can get.
The Breville Panini Duo is a step down from the previously featured Breville model, but you get the comparable functionally for a fraction of the price. While it lacks removable places, it does have all the other basic features of a great Panini press. The floating hinge, while not adjustable, rises high so you can get the perfect press on your food while the four heat settings are enough for almost anything that you need to cook. Essentially, this is the Panini press for those that want to keep things simple without going outside of their price range.