From preparing mouth-watering deli sandwiches in the comfort of your own home to grilling up or reheating delicious foods and ingredients in a matter of minutes, panini presses are all about versatility today.
It is not only that these remarkable kitchen tools can toast your panini type of bread such as ciabatta, focaccia or baguette to golden crispy perfection. If you opt for a panini grill press instead of the common pan-style press, you can up your cooking game by creating fast and easy meals and desserts that are fully customizable to your tastes and dietary needs.
But what are the differences between these two types of appliances and how can you know what is the best panini press for your needs? Let’s find out all about the top products and the differences between these two types of presses.
Top Panini Presses Reviews
Cuisinart Panini Press 5-in-1 Griddler, GR-4N
Cuisinart GR-4N does so much more than toasting paninis and it is this multi-functionality that makes it such a popular choice in people’s homes (more than 14,000 reviews available on Amazon).
Of course, the Griddler® makes great panini sandwiches, yummy quesadillas, and open toasties with those perfect looking grill marks. But there’s a lot more to it.
By turning into a full griddle, you can quickly cook eggs, bacon, and pancakes all at the same time but separately so you don’t combine flavors. How great is that, especially when preparing breakfast for two people or a big family.
Lunch and dinner is not a problem either for Cuisinart GR-4Ndue to the contact grill function and the full grill function. The contact grill quickly and simultaneously grills various types of foods from thin boneless chicken to vegetables and fish while the full grill is great for doubling your cooking surface and using it to grill anything from burgers to sausages and even steaks.
Plus, if you worry about consuming too much fat through your diet, there is a grease trap that allows all the extra fat to drain off the base making clean up super easy.
This product has a solid construction with a sturdy handle and a hinge that helps the floating cover adjust to the thickness of the foods and close evenly on top. Whenever you use the contact grill, just make sure that the thickness of the different items is the same so that they can all be cooked at the same time.
The cooking plates are non-stick so they can be easily cleaned but they are also removable and dishwasher safe.
However, hand washing the plates can extend the life of the coating.
- Weight: 8 pounds.
- Cooking surface in inches: 200 open / 100 closed.
- 1500 Watts.
- Temperature controls and indicator lights that signal ready to cook and power on.
- Stainless steel housing.
- BPA free cooking surfaces.
- Cleaning tool and panini press recipes included.
- 3 years limited warranty.
Hamilton Beach Panini Press Grill & Gourmet Sandwich Maker
If you are looking for a small panini press that will not take much space on your kitchen counter or your cabinet, this compact and beautiful looking red finish appliance is a great option.
It is lightweight and therefore easy to move around and can be stored in an upright position. From dorms to offices and small houses, this is a handy device to use for quickly made snacks and sandwiches.
From making paninis to open-face sandwiches and bruschetta, the functional floating lid adjusts to the thickness of your bread and locks according to the desired height so it hovers over your food and does not come into contact with it.
This is particularly useful if you don’t want your bread to be smashed but it also comes handy when you are making cheese quesadillas and you need the lid to be adjusted to a pretty tight position.
Hamilton Beach does not come with a griddle, a slanted surface or a drip pan to drain off the grease, so grilling fatty meat and other oily foods may not be a good idea. Also, the company does not recommend it for cooking raw pieces of meat.
This is mainly a sandwich grill. Its cooking surface can easily accommodate two sandwiches and it does not open flat. There is not an automatic shut off feature like in most of these devices, so you need to keep a close eye till your food is done and then unplug the device.
There is also a red light feature that goes on when you plug the device and turns into green once it reaches the right temperature and is ready to cook.
Cleaning is not a problem for this little beauty. The non-stick surface can be easily wiped clean with a soft sponge or a paper towel. To avoid damaging the coating, do not use any metal utensils to scrape away grease or food remnants.
You can use a plastic spatula instead.
- Weight: 5.8 pounds.
- 1400 Watts.
- It comes with a storage lid latch.
- 8″ X 10″ cooking surface.
- Manual comes with a few recipes.
- Limited warranty.
Cuisinart Grill And Panini Press GR-5B Griddler
The Cuisinart GR-5B is a redesign of the Cuisinart GR-4N Griddler. With a sleek contemporary design, an LCD screen display and some improved features, this appliance has been attracting a lot of positive reviews from users who had the old model and wanted to try out its improved version.
This model still comes with those very handy 5-in-1 cooking features which made it so famous. Being able to use it as a contact grill, full grill, griddle and panini press is what makes this product versatile and unique.
From grilling steaks to making waffles, eggs, and sandwiches, everything (or almost everything) is possible for this tool which a lot of people love using as a barbecue alternative for those colder months.
So, what has changed in regards to its older version? Of course, the new model looks more modern but it has become more user-friendly as well. A large and easy to read LCD screen displays the cooking functions (griddle or grill) as well as the temperature, the timer, preheat, preheat bars and sear.
There is also an on/off button and a dial to select the desired function as well as to set the temperature and the timer.
The plates are not only removable as in the older model but they have also become reversible so you save space by storing those extra plates. In addition, the little scoop that was previously used to catch the extra fat dripping from the surface has been replaced with an enclosed drip tray.
This new feature allows you to easily collect the grease in the tray without any mess on your counter and remove it from the base for easy cleanup. Also, the latch that releases the plates seems to be better designed and makes removing the plates a bit easier.
On the downside, the metal parts of the grill except for the handle get very hot so you need to be careful especially if there are kids around. Also, some users have found that grilling in the corner areas is less intense.
- Weight: 11.33 pounds.
- Temperature: 175-450 degrees in 25 ̊ increments.
- Stainless steel handle, top cover, and control panel.
- The cover opens flat.
- Dishwasher safe and non-stick plates.
- BPA free.
- Cleaning tool included.
- Gourmet recipes and food temperature guide included in the manual.
Breville Duo Electric Panini Press 1500-Watt
For perfectly toasted, nicely browned and crunchy bread, BrevilleDuo is one of the top choices out there. It heats up very quickly and as it is powerful enough, it can make your panini sandwiches in a couple of minutes (4 open toasties or two large sandwiches).
The bottom surface is smooth and flat, allowing for a thorough even cooking while the top plate is ribbed so it creates those pretty grill marks on any type of bread. The surface’s coating is Quantanium, a non-stick system that is reinforced with titanium particles. This makes the coating more durable and increases scratch resistance. It is also said to be free of PFOA.
The floating hinge features four height settings and easily adjusts to the thickness of your cooking materials, maintaining even pressure. From pancakes to open sandwich melts, eggs, and hash browns, users love using this product for a variety of purposes.
This is mainly a panini press, so it doesn’t come with a grease tray. Also, the plates are not removable but this is not a big problem since the bottom smooth surface is easy to wipe clean.
We like that the cord can be easily wrapped and stored in an area below the device. The plates can be locked for safe and compact upright storage. What some users don’t like though, is that there is not an On/Off button and the appliance needs to be unplugged each time you are done with your cooking.
- Weight: 8.38 pounds.
- Stainless steel housing with die-cast arms.
- ‘Power On’ and ‘Ready to Cook’ Lights.
- Nonslip feet.
- The manual includes cooking recipes.
- 1-year limited warranty.
George Foreman 4-Serving Grill and Panini Press With Removable Pates
Another very popular panini press and grill, George Foreman GRP1060Bis a compact and pretty looking appliance that does not take up much space on your countertop or in your cabinet.
This a favorite press for people who need quick and easy lunch or dinner solutions with the majority of them using it to grill meat, fish and veggies. It heats up quickly and cooks evenly. The 60-square inch grilling surface is enough for two or three people depending on the size of the servings.
We like the sloped surface that is designed to direct all the excess grease away from your cooking item and into the drip tray. However, the tray is not part of the device so you need to place it correctly and avoid moving the unit while your meal is getting cooked.
The 1-inch hinge adjusts to the thickness of your food and the lid is heavy enough to compress it evenly eliminating splatter if you are cooking hamburgers or other types of meat.
The plates are non-stick but you can use a small amount of oil either on the plates or on your food before placing it on the grill surface. Avoid using a non-stick cooking spray because the alcohol it contains can damage the coating. The plates are also removable and dishwasher safe.
This is a very affordable product that users find durable and easy to use. What they don’t like though is that it does not come with a safety on/off button.
- Weight: 9.9 ounces.
- 1150 Watts.
- It comes with power and preheat indicator light.
- PFOA free.
- The cooking guide chart included in the manual.
- 3-year limited warranty.
Lodge LPP3 Cast Iron Panini Press
For fabulous grilled paninis, juicy meat, veggies or seafood, this heavy-duty cast iron panini press is an affordable option that will last for years and will only improve with time!
If you are looking for a healthy alternative to those Teflon coating presses, the iron cast is the way to go. The fact that it does not contain Teflon makes it safe for both humans and animals alike.
This ribbed square panini press is 8.25 inches and fits a square 10.5-inch skillet and round skillets of 12 inches or bigger. Apart from using it in a skillet, you can also use it on griddles or outdoor grills to reduce cooking time and help release extra fat for a healthier dish.
It comes pre-seasoned with soybean oil and can be used in the oven as well. Cast iron is a durable material that takes a little more time to heat up but its main advantage is that it has superior heat retention and the recovery time is better so the temperature does not drop down so easily. This is very important especially if you are searing meat.
The main purpose of this press is to hold down the food so that it is firmly and evenly pressed against the cooking surface. If you lay the press in the pan while preheating, it will give a boost to the cooking process but it won’t cook the food as such. It will create those nice sear marks and deliver good weight on the bread, but you may still need to flip your sandwich, bacon or steak once to finish it off.
Make sure that you wear oven gloves when lifting it up and down because the press is hot and heavy. This product is perfect if you are often camping. It does not easily get damaged but you should avoid leaving it outside as the rain can lead to rust.
You can hand wash it using some hot water and a cleaning tool but avoid using harsh detergents and leaving it to soak long in the sink because this can rid of the seasoning.
- Weight: 4 pounds.
- Made in the USA.
Imusa Panini Press 80102
Imusa80102 is a multi-functional appliance with a sleek stainless steel design that would look attractive on any countertop.
Its big cooking surface (12″ x 10″) is perfect for preparing more in number and bigger sandwiches that taste delicious. Both cooking plates have a flat smooth surface without ridges so you get more even and consistent cooking on both sides of the toast.
Imusa heats up very quickly so you may want to have your toasts ready before connecting it to the plug. Preparing a variety of foods from pancakes to hash browns, grilled cheeses, burgers and more makes this device very handy and versatile.
The floating hinge easily adjusts to thicker or thinner types of bread but some users have found that the lid is heavy and can squash the sandwich flat if the bread is too soft. Therefore, you may want to use thick bread which won’t get crushed.
The plates are not removable but due to their smooth non-stick feature, they are very easy to wipe down with a damp paper towel or a soft sponge.
Although the actual plate size of this product is big, it doesn’t take up much space to store. The lid lock comes handy when storing it upright and the cord reel below the device makes it even easier to store.
On the downside, the top of the unit gets hot. However, the handle stays cool to the touch.
- Weight: 9.7 pounds.
- 1400 Watts.
- On & Ready Indicator Lights.
- Non-slip rubber feet.
- 1-year limited warranty.
Oster DuraCeramic Panini Press and Indoor Grill
For an environmentally friendly and healthy alternative to Teflon coating, this Oster panini maker and grill comes with titanium infused ceramic coating that is free of Teflon and PFOA. This makes it a safer option for people and a non-toxic solution if you have birds in the house.
The ceramic coating is non-stick and more resistant to scratches, peeling or flaking. With proper care, it is more long-lasting and durable than Teflon.
Oster features a large surface that can easily accommodate 3 sandwiches or 6 open toasties at a time. It also opens up to 110 degrees so it can be used as a grill. For low-fat meat, you can use the slanted feet to help direct the juices to the front side of the plate and into the drip tray. For easy cleanup, the tray is removable.
In addition, there is a floating hinge that adjusts to different bread thicknesses. To ensure uniform grilling, make sure that the thickness of all the food items is consistent so that the cover closes evenly on the top.
On the downside, some users have found that the cleanup is cumbersome when you are grilling greasy foods because the plates are not removable. The burn marks may also stay if you don’t clean it right after use (allowing enough time for it to cool down of course).
On the bright side, this is a lightweight, sturdy and effective unit that is reasonably priced.
- Weight: Approximately 6.5 pounds including the cord.
- It comes with temperature controls.
- Power and ready to cook indicator lights.
- Foot extenders.
- 1-year limited warranty.
De’LonghiCGH800 Contact Grill and Panini Press
De’Longhi is a very stylish panini press that can easily turn into a contact grill. It heats up fast on both sides and comes with a grooved surface that is slightly tilted so that the oil drains away into a plastic drain cup. You just need to keep the cup in place.
Toasting and grilling are even with this beauty but if you want to grill marinated meat, you should dry it with some paper towel first. Also, the bottom plate should be greased if you are grilling fish.
The hinged top plate adapts to any food or bread thickness. This unit quickly brings 4 bread slices or two sandwiches to crispy perfection and has a solid construction.
The cleanup may take a little more time though because the plates cannot be removed. However, it is easy to clean the grooves in between because they are not so close together.
For easy folded storage, this product comes with a lock and it can conveniently sit upright in your kitchen cabinet.
- 9 pounds.
- 1500 Watts.
- It comes with an adjustable thermostat.
- It opens at 90°
- Cool-touch handle and handgrip.
- ‘On/Off’ and ‘Ready’ indicator lights.
- Cooking indicator.
- Cord wrap.
- Cooking guide included.
- Limited warranty.
Panini Press Grill vs Pan-Style Panini Press – What Is The Difference?
As the name implies, the pan-style press looks like a pan. It is made of cast iron and consists of a skillet grill and a ribbed top plate that goes on the top of the food items and looks like a regular pan lid.
The function of this utensil is easy and very similar to a waffle iron. A heat source such as a campfire, barbecue or a stove is needed to warm the fillings of your sandwich and make the bread crispy. You just need to heat up the press on the heat source for 5-10 minutes before adding your panini.
This manual press comes very handy if you are a camping enthusiast who likes to feast on paninis. However, it may not cook as many sandwiches as the press grill due to its smaller surface and it takes more time to heat. It is also harder to clean because of the extra oils remaining in the pan.
On the bright side, it costs less than a panini grill and you can take it wherever you go.
On the other hand, if you are ready to sacrifice mobility in the name of versatility, speed, and ease of use, then buying a panini press grill is a better investment.
Unlike the pan press, the grill needs to be plugged into a source of power to turn on. From heating sandwiches to grilling vegetables and thin boneless pieces of meat to reheating pizza and other foods, the options are endless as long as you let your creativity flow.
It also heats up more quickly (3-5 minutes) and you can better control the temperature. It has a bigger cooking capacity so you can cook more of the same item at once.
Plus, if you want to stay a little healthier, you can opt for a model with a drain-off feature which allows you to reduce some of that fat in the foods you consume. Less fat also equals less clean up time, don’t forget! Most of these products come with removable plates that are dishwasher-safe.
Top Features To Look For In A Panini Press – Buying Guide
Purpose Of Use
If you are planning to use your press only as a panini maker and you don’t want to pay the extra cost of those additional features that turn a press into a grill, then the best choice is to find a press that what it does best is paninis.
On the other hand, if you find yourself somewhat enticed by the option to prepare different types of food all in one appliance, then choosing a multi-functional panini press that can be used as a grill or a griddle should better match your cooking needs.
There are various options here. If you like ridges on both sides of your bread, choose a press that features ridges on both of its plates.
However, if you like grooves only on one side of your sandwich, you can go for a model that features a griddle as the bottom plate and a grooved plate as the top. The griddle provides more even cooking and is a little more versatile than the ridged surface. For example, you can prepare pancakes and other types of food that are better grilled on a flat surface.
If you don’t like to be restricted by one option or the other, you can opt for a multi-versatile appliance such as the Cuisinart Griddler. This product has plates that are not only removable for easy cleanup but they are also reversible.
By reversing the plates, you have the option to turn your appliance into a grill, griddle or panini press depending on your specific needs.
Size Of The Cooking Surface
This is an important feature to know before buying your press for obvious reasons. Another feature you need to check is whether the appliance opens flat so you can double your grilling surface in case you need it. This is useful if you are entertaining or have a big family.
To adjust to the different thicknesses of the bread, you will need a floating hinge. Some of these hinges apply even pressure to your sandwich whereas others are heavy and may flatten your sandwich more than what you would desire.
There are also options where the hinge can be locked so that the plate does not come into contact with the food item.
Checking how high the temperature goes is particularly important if you are planning to use your press to sear meat.
Teflon Non Stick Coating Or Not?
If you are looking for a healthy and environmentally friendly non-stick coating that is free of Teflon, safe choices are ceramic and iron cast panini presses.
Drain Cup Or Dish
To remove excess fat from your food, you may want to look for a model that comes with a drain cup or a dish. The drain dish is a less messy version as it is integrated into the device. Also, it is easier to clean. You just need to remove it and throw it in the dishwasher.
Most of these presses are easy to clean as they are non-stick and they have removable plates that you can put in the dishwasher. The griddles are also easier to clean than the grooved surfaces.
Ease Of Storage
If you want to store your press in the cabinet, check if it can be stored in an upright position so you can save some space. To make storage easier and safer, a lot of these presses come with a locking feature and a cable storage area at the bottom of the unit.
The Bottom Line
For the sandwich enthusiast or literally anyone who likes practical and easy solutions for their breakfast, lunch or dinner, panini presses are amazing kitchen tools and they are quite affordable, too.
Ready to Panini? Matching your needs with the features of these appliances will help you make the best buying decision.