A Panini sandwich press is a great tool for producing an evenly warmed sandwich or wrap. Rather than only cooking your sandwich from the bottom up, you can warm your sandwich from the top and bottom, reaching a delicious toasty finish at the same time!
In this buying guide you will learn about the best Panini grills and sandwich makers to help you make an informed buying decision using our Panini press reviews and comparison chart.
Top 7: Best Panini Sandwich Makers
Our top picks for the best Panini presses:
- T-fal GC702 OptiGrill
- Breville BGR200XL
- Cuisinart GR-1 Sandwich Maker
- Oster Panini Maker and Indoor Grill
- George Foreman Multi-Plate Evolve Grill
- Calphalon Contemporary Panini Pan and Press
- All-Clad Panini Pan with Press
Use the following table to help you compare sandwich makers and presses top features.
Brand & Model
Nonstick plates, 6 cooking programs
7 height control settings
11" x 7" nonstick grill plates
Floating hinge system
3 in 1 : Grill/Panini/Waffles
Heavy-gauge aluminum construction
Hard Anodized Aluminum
Panini Press Reviews
T-fal GC702 OptiGrill
The T-fal GC702 OptiGrill Indoor Electric Grill is on the smaller side but offers plenty of convenience.
The temperature control is part of the handle for closing the press, and there's a drip tray for extra fat to drip away from the grill. The plates are removable and dishwasher safe.
If you were hoping to set the timer and temperature and let the programming finish your burger or sandwich, you should probably stick close.
The Breville BGR200XL Variable Temperature Panini Grill is loaded with adjustable options, including a manual temperature control and a lid with height adjustment capabilities!
If you're looking to just lightly toast your sandwich or wrap, you can finish it with a little heat without smashing it.
The non-stick plates are not removable, so any burned on oils will cling and be stubborn to remove.
Cuisinart GR-1 Sandwich Maker
The Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press displays typical Cuisinart simplicity and safety.
This is a smaller grill than many; only 14 by 12. The handle offers great extension and some elevation, so when you press down you're not steaming your knuckles.
However, there is no adjustable temperature control, so it's either on or off. Additionally, the cord is a bit short, so you may struggle to find a permanent countertop spot for this tool.
SEE ALSO: Cuisinart Griddler Reviews
Oster Panini Maker and Indoor Grill
The Oster ECO Extra Large DuraCeramic Panini Maker and Indoor Grill is built to cook for a large household.
The temperature control dial is right at the front and there's also a set of go/no-go red and green buttons so you'll know the exact moment to place your sandwiches or burgers on the plates.
Unfortunately, grease doesn't drip from this tool but simply drops into the slots and stays hot, sometimes causing smoke. The ceramic nonstick plates are not removable, so cleanup can be a challenge.
George Foreman Multi-Plate Evolve Grill
The George Foreman Multi-Plate Evolve Grill can be purchased just for sandwiches and burgers, or you can invest in attachments and make waffles as well with this versatile tool.
This grill offers just over 1400 watts of power and will go up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit / 260 degrees Celsius for a quick sear on a hamburger or brat.
Some users have had problems with the top plate sticking, which can weld the machine closed until you can remove the burned food.
Take care which fats you add if you're using the George Foreman at the highest heat. Most oils will smoke at very high heat.
Calphalon Contemporary Panini Pan and Press
The Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Panini Pan and Press is an aluminum stovetop Panini pan with diagonal grill marks on the bottom.
This pan is 1.5 inches deep, so you can use it to cook meats and other dishes. The flat lid will hold the heat, cook from the top and prevent spattering.
The lid for this pan has a tall handle but the curve of the handle is quite extreme. Again, these pans and their press lids are quite heavy. If your hands can't tolerate a lot of weight, this handle may be uncomfortable to use regularly.
All-Clad Panini Pan with Press
The All-Clad 39902 Hard Anodized Nonstick Panini Pan with Press is a workhorse. It comes in at 8 pounds of non-stick cooking power and many users note that the lid is heavier than the pan.
Luckily, the lid is quite wide and squared off so you can get a good grip before lifting it from your food.
If you're planning to heat the lid and use it to grill from the top, be sure to add some fat to the top surface of your food so the lid doesn't stick and ruin your sandwich or wrap.
Why Get A Panini Press & Do They Work?
Panini presses are a good investment if you like your sandwiches warm and melted together. In addition, these presses are also a nice way to add some extra heat to the cooking process.
For example, if you like a bit of sear on your sandwich or wrap, turn up the heat and lay off the pressure.
You can enjoy a crispy grilled sandwich and fresh veggies at the same time.
If you've got the space, an electric Panini press is a handy tool that often offers removable non-stick grill plates that can go directly from lunch preparation to the dishwasher.
For those with limited storage, consider a stovetop Panini pan. These shallow frying pans generally feature a non-stick bottom and durable handle for maneuvering the weight of the top of the Panini press.
Sandwich presses often require a little practice to get a crisp, toasty sandwich instead of an overflowing, gooey mess. If you like to pile your sandwiches high with cheese, dressings, sauces and other liquids, go easy until you see how the heat and pressure of your Panini sandwich maker impacts your favorite ingredients.
If your sandwich gives up its gooey treasures too soon, you can have a slimy, burnt mess on your hands.
Of course, Panini makers generally have a ridged pattern so they can create a grill mark on your food.
Thanks to the high heat capabilities and cooking ridges, you can also use your Panini sandwich maker for hamburgers and other grill-tolerant food.
Please note that cleanup from burgers, hot dogs, brats and chicken may be a bit more involved, and always use safe handling and cooking techniques.
Electric Panini Makers
Electric Panini makers have a manual heat control and a hinged lid for applying heat and pressure to the top of your sandwich.
Many of these have removable non-stick plates for easy cleanup and will allow you access to the area under the plates near the heating element should you have a spill.
When working with any electric cooking tool, always turn off and unplug the tool. Let it cool before you try to tend to any spills or messes.
While the temperature controls and easy cleanup can make an electric Panini maker an attractive purchase, be aware that this tool is generally large and may take up a lot of precious storage room.
Additionally, electric Panini makers are not terribly flexible. Unless you eat a lot of meat on a regular basis, this tool may not get a lot of use.
The electric Panini makers listed below all offer between 1000 and 2000 watts of power. They will heat up quickly and even give you the opportunity to add a bit of sear to what you're cooking.
Keep an eye on the temperature and stick by your Panini maker as the difference between "sear" and "scorch" can be small. Burning your food may weld the two halves of the grill together for a time and make cleanup a hot, dangerous mess.
Stovetop Panini Makers
A stovetop Panini maker has two basic parts; the base or pan and the press or lid. These pans offer a lot more variety in use than an electric Panini maker will, so if space is limited, consider investing in a deep Panini pan with press.
This pan will not only cook sandwiches but can function as a skilled. These pans are generally all metal extremely heat tolerant and can move from stovetop to oven for a quick broiled finish with little trouble.
When handling your Panini pan, be aware that this unit will likely be quite heavy. If your hands and wrists make it hard for you to use a cast iron skillet, this tool may be too uncomfortable for you to manage.
Additionally, once these tools get hot they stay hot; cleanup may take some time.
These tools tend to run large. They also generally don't have a secondary handle across from the long handle to help you balance the pan. If weight is a problem or your household is small, there are smaller Panini pans on the market for a single sandwich or wrap. Most of them are coated in the most up-to-date non-stick finish available.
Many stovetop Panini makers have a ridged bottom and a flat top. If you're hoping to finish off a sandwich with a nice even toasting of the top, these tools will help!
Panini pans can turn a simple sandwich into a lovely presentation. Invest in the tool that works best with your storage needs and physical capabilities, and don't be afraid to experiment a bit.
If we had to choose just one Panini press, we would pick the T-fal Optigrill because of its multiple cooking settings, removable and dishwasher safe plates for easy cleanup.
Your sandwiches and wraps will be much more than just a sandwich!
Did you enjoy this guide? Let us know in the comments with your favorite sandwich maker and recipes!