Panini presses are a convenient appliance for making a gourmet sandwich in your own kitchen. These multifunctional appliances instantly upgrade your sandwiches by adding grill marks, melting cheese, and making crispy crusts. You also can use them to cook a variety of foods, including chicken, seafood, and even dessert.
Electric panini presses, also called panini grills, plug into standard electrical outlets and generate heat to cook food. They’re more common than manual panini presses, which require an external heat source such as a campfire. Panini presses come with many features that make cooking your favorite meals quick and easy.
The best panini presses for your kitchen are convenient and multi-functional. Read on for reviews of some of the top panini press options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Grill
- RUNNER-UP: Chefman Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: George Foreman 2-Serving Electric Indoor Grill
- UPGRADE PICK: De’Longhi CGH800 Contact Grill and Panini Press
- MOST VERSATILE: Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
- BEST PERSONAL SIZE: Dash Mini Maker Portable Grill Machine + Panini Press
- BEST LARGE CAPACITY: George Foreman 9-Serving Basic Plate Electric Grill
- BEST NONSTICK: Brentwood Panini Press and Sandwich Maker Non-Stick
Panini Press Plate Materials
Panini press plates are made out of aluminum and cast iron, or they’re constructed with a nonstick coating. Each surface has pros and cons. To help narrow the search for the best panini press, read on to discover the main differences between each type of plate.
Suitable for preparing smaller quantities of food, panini press plates made of aluminum heat up quickly. Moreover, they turn off between uses, helping to conserve energy. Price is another favorable factor: Aluminum panini presses usually represent the less-expensive option.
Cast-iron panini presses take more time to heat up, but they retain heat longer. The even heat that cast iron provides translates to more consistent cooking. Cast iron is a good choice to cook large quantities of food. Regular maintenance and periodical seasoning help foods cooked in cast-iron models resist sticking.
Nonstick panini plates not only heat up quickly, but they’re also easy to clean, because food rarely sticks to them. They require little-to-no cooking oil or spray. However, nonstick surfaces damage more easily than other types of panini presses, so they require proper care and cleaning.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Panini Press
Each of the different panini presses on the market comes with its own features and benefits. Panini presses vary in terms of style, functionally, versatility, and ease of cleaning. Keep reading for some important considerations when shopping for a panini press.
Size and Capacity
Larger panini presses, which allow cooks to make more paninis at one time, are a good option for feeding a larger group. However, they typically consume more power than smaller panini presses, so individuals or couples should consider a small or medium option. Panini press capacity ranges from a single serving up to about nine servings, depending on what you’re making.
Panini presses aren’t just for cooking sandwiches. Instead, these versatile appliances can cook many different types of food, including chicken, burgers, and seafood. Most panini presses have multiple functions, but some are more versatile than others. If you’re looking for only one appliance for most of your cooking, a panini press may be a good choice.
A floating hinge is a convenient feature that allows the adjustment of the top plate to fit different-sized sandwiches in the press. A standard feature on most panini presses, it’s a must-have if planning to make different types of sandwiches or cook food with various levels of thickness ranging from a grilled cheese sandwich to a thick piece of steak.
Choose the ideal type of cooking plate to suit your preferences. Panini press plates come in various textures: smooth, grooved, and mixed. Smooth plates are easier to clean, but the grooved varieties add grill marks, which makes sandwiches look like restaurant-quality food, enhancing both taste and appearance. Panini presses with removable cooking plates are the easiest to clean, and most are dishwasher-safe. When evaluating cooking plates, also look for the ability to distribute heat evenly, which helps provide consistent cooking results.
Temperature controls allow cooks to adjust the heat and experiment with different cooking temperatures. Most models cook at temperatures ranging from 120 to 570 degrees Fahrenheit. More precise temperature settings help make different types of food in addition to paninis; for example, meat requires higher temperatures to safely cook all the way through.
Some panini presses come with built-in timers, so cooks can easily monitor cooking times and track when food is ready. This convenient feature allows cooks to set the timer and cook other dishes while waiting for paninis or other food items to cook on the press.
A drip tray, a standard feature in a panini press, helps provide hassle-free cleanup. Drip trays collect grease and oil that drip while a panini press cooks food. Typically built into the hardware of the press, the trays usually detach for cleaning.
Ease of Cleaning
Clean a panini press after each use. Panini presses with removable plates are the easiest to clean: The plates can go straight into the dishwasher. Use a damp sponge to wash panini plates with unremovable plates. Empty and clean the drip tray after every use, taking care not to get the electrical components wet. Never submerge the entire panini press in water.
Our Top Picks
Panini presses are useful appliances to add to your suite of cooking tools. Whether looking for a gourmet sandwich maker or a multifunctional unit that can serve as a panini press, grill, or griddle, consider these recommended options. The top panini presses elevate your sandwiches and make food preparation a cinch.
Use the multifunctional nonstick Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Grill to cook a variety of foods, from sandwiches to quesadillas. It features a 180-degree floating lid that evenly presses sandwiches of any size (and creates grill marks), along with a locking lid to warm up open-faced sandwiches.
The 10-inch by 8-inch nonstick plates, which can accommodate two to three sandwiches at once, are easy to clean with a damp cloth. Built-in power and preheat lights make it easy to know when the press is turned on and preheated. This panini press comes with a cool-touch handle and can store upright to save space. It has an attractive chrome outer finish.
Use the 4-slice Chefman Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker to press a sandwich. Alternatively, open the lid 180 degrees to convert it to a grill for burgers, veggies, and more. A push button easily turns this appliance from a panini press to a lay-flat grill, providing a cooking surface of nearly 10 by 18 inches. The floating hinge adjusts to accommodate thin or thick sandwiches along with different sizes of food. This compact panini press contains nonstick grill plates, a sloped design that drips grease to the back, and a removable drip tray for easy cleaning.
The George Foreman Electric Indoor Grill and Panini Press has a compact design suitable for kitchens limited in counter space. At a price suitable for lower budgets, its size still can handle sandwiches or other foods. The grill can accommodate two servings and has dual-contact heating to speed up the grilling time.
The durable nonstick grill plates mean a tidier countertop. Its signature George Foreman sloped design helps remove fat for leaner meat. Its removable dishwasher-safe drip tray collects excess fat or grease. A power-ready indicator light lets users know when the panini press is turned on and ready to cook.
The De’Longhi Contact Grill and Panini Press adds some features that upgrade the electric grilling cooking experience. Double-sided contact cooking plates offer quick and even grilling and toasting on a surface of about 14 by 14 inches. The height-adjustable hinge can accommodate thick sandwiches or meat cuts. An adjustable thermostat and temperature range window help cooks maintain precise temperatures.
The slightly tilted grill surface means that grease and oil drain into a small cup for healthier cooking with less fat. This panini press has easy-to-clean nonstick grill plates, a cool-to-the-touch handle, an on-off indicator light, and a safety locking system for convenient storage.
Use the Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler as a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, or half grill/half griddle to suit different food items and cooking styles. It has a brushed stainless steel exterior, sturdy handle, and floating cover that adjusts for foods of different thicknesses.
The 11-inch by 9-inch nonstick cooking plates are removable, reversible, and dishwasher-safe for quick cleanup. Grease drains into the integrated drip tray for healthier cooking results. Use the adjustable temperature controls for more precise cooking, and monitor progress by using the convenient indicator lights that specify when the griddle has reached the desired temperature and is ready to cook.
The Dash Mini Maker Portable Grill Machine and Panini Press weighs just over 1 pound and has a 4-inch nonstick cooking surface, making it a smart choice for an apartment, dorm room, small kitchen, or RV. Use it to make individual servings of favorite foods such as paninis, burgers, or breakfast sandwiches without large power-heavy appliances.
This personal-size panini press takes only a few minutes to heat up. It has a dual nonstick surface, which creates even cooking and consistent results, and its preheating indicator light turns off when the panini press is ready to use. An included recipe book helps make single-serving cooking a little more creative.
The George Foreman 9-Serving Basic Plate Electric Grill and Panini Press can step up to help feed a hungry crowd. With a 144-square-inch grilling surface, it should handle up to nine servings of sandwiches or similar-size food. The grill includes dual-contact heating elements that quickly generate even heat for consistent cooking results. It also has a sloped design to help drain away grease and a dishwasher-safe drip tray for simple cleanup.
This panini press features dual cooking positions; use it as a grill or panini press in the sloped position or lay it flat for a smooth cooking surface. The nonstick cooking plates can cook meals without butter or oil, and the floating hinge adjusts to cook food of various sizes. Its preheat indicator light turns green when it’s ready to grill. Clean this panini press after each use by wiping it with a damp cloth.
The powerful 750-watt Brentwood Nonstick Panini Press and Sandwich Maker can quickly and evenly cook one to two sandwiches, adding grill lines to each. Power and preheat indicator lights help users track when the panini press is ready to cook. The nonstick grill plates prevent food from sticking to the cooking surface, which means easier serving and cleaning. Food easily slides off the nonstick grill plates, which measure nearly 10 by 9.5 inches. This panini press comes with a cool-touch locking handle and cord wrap, making it safe and easy to carry in and out of storage.
The Advantages of Owning the Best Panini Press
Panini presses are a welcome addition to any kitchen. With a range of useful features and benefits, they have the ability to cook many different types of food. Panini presses are versatile, durable, and simple to use. Some of the top advantages of owning a panini press include:
- A panini press can cook several types of food, from sandwiches and burgers to pancakes and omelets.
- They’re easy to clean, and some have removable dishwasher-safe plates and drip trays.
- Panini presses offer a quick and easy method of cooking.
FAQ About Panini Presses
Now that you’ve had a chance to review some of the best panini presses, you may have some additional questions. Additional information about panini presses appears in these frequently asked questions and answers.
Q. What’s the difference between a panini grill and a panini press?
A panini press is sometimes referred to as a panini grill. However, a manual panini press requires an external heat source, such as a campfire to heat the plate and warm up the sandwich. Alternatively, a panini grill must plug into an electrical outlet to generate heat to cook the food.
Q. What can you make in a panini press?
Enjoy making a variety of foods in a panini press—everything from paninis to bacon, to turnovers or cake.
Q. How do removable plates work in a panini press?
Removable plates come out of the panini press for convenient cleaning. Many removable plates are reversible, which means you can use the smooth side as a griddle and the grooved side for grilling.
Q. How do you clean a panini press?
Panini presses should be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Removable plates can be washed in the dishwasher. Wipe presses without removable plates with a damp cloth or sponge.