- A panini press is an instant upgrade to almost anything you are cooking. If it can be cooked on a grill, a panini press is what you need if you are limited to indoor cooking.
- The best appliance of this type out there is the Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddle. This is a counter-top appliance that can be used as a grill, panini press or grill, half griddle, and full griddle. It is great as a panini press, but you are limited only by your imagination with this, the best panini press.
7 Top Panini Press: Our Picks & Recommendations
- Best Overall: Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
- Best Budget: Oster Titanium-Infused Dura Ceramic 2-in-1 Panini Maker
- Best Cast-Iron Panini Press: Waring large Italian style Panini Grill
- Best Panini Press With Removable Plates: DeLonghi America, Inc CGH912C Indoor Grill
- Best Flat Panini Press: Breville BSG620XL Nonstick Panini Press
- Best Ceramic Panini Press:
What are the Top Features of the Best Panini Press?
Grill versus Press
One thing to realize is that a panini press and a panini grill are the same things, and that may simplify your search a bit. A panini is essentially a sandwich with grill marks on the outside.
Usually, this is done with an outdoor grill, but if you are stuck inside you have to use something else. Indoor cooks use the panini grill or press.
The only real difference in a grill and a press is the source of heat. If the appliance creates the heat, it is a grill. If it holds it over another heat source it is a press.
Indoors or outdoors:
A manual one, without an electrical heat source, can be used outdoors in a camping setting. The electric models that provide a heat source are grills and are used indoors. You will likely have to choose one or the other.
Related reading: Best Charcoal Grill
Electric grills take up a fair amount of space, but they do come in different sizes. Consider the space you have available when shopping for the right panini press.
Aluminum or cast iron:
Pay attention to the materials. Some are made of cast iron and some are made of aluminum. Obviously, the aluminum would be lighter and easier to use. A cast iron one would hold heat in longer.
Some units can do more than others, so it is good to pay attention to those details.
Most of the best panini grills have adjustable handles that allow you to control the thickness of what you put in the press. The more adjustments available the more options you will have in cooking.
Get one with a lot of settings and pay attention to how thick it can be.
The plates can be made of aluminum, cast iron or a non-stick surface. Aluminum is great when it is not used a lot. It heats quickly but loses heat quickly.
Cast iron is for prolonged use, more expensive, takes longer to heat but holds in the heat.
The non-stick surface is good for businesses that do not use it constantly. Non-stick is very convenient but can be easily damaged.
Single vs. Dual
Some setups include two presses, which take more space but gives you a lot more options as far as cooking. You can cook different things at the same time on a dual unit.
How to Choose a Panini Press
A basic press with no heat source can be bought for as little as $20. Grills, with their own heat source, are usually $100 to $200, but professional restaurant grills can go for more than $1,000.
Determine how much you will use it, and match that to your budget.
The options available:
A basic panini press is pretty simple, but if you have a grill indoors, you can get very fancy.
Pay attention to the options. Some have enough flexibility to cook steak, vegetables and even bread.
The best panini press is one that allows you to cook many things in addition to great sandwiches.
Some grills are multi-function and include a grill setup. There can be three cooking modes, The lid can be made into a second flat area and cooking surface. It can be turned into a griddle this way.
Also, pay attention to whether it has a drip tray to catch any grease that may develop.
Grill vs. Griddle:
Some allow you to remove these plates and that adds cooking options, while some do not. More functions to affect the final price.
Related: Best Electric Griddle Buying Guide
Best of both:
Some grills allow you to use the panini press as either a grill or griddle. Some will allow you to use them at the same time even with different settings. These are the highest end, or best panini press, and are at the higher end of the price range.
However, even the higher price would be less than buying the- two appliances separately.
How strong is it?
There are light duty panini grills that do basic things. There are also heavy duty ones that will do just about anything and are very tough appliances.
Consider how much it will be used, what it will be used for, and where it will be used when making your choice.
7 Best Panini Maker Reviews
Best overall: Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler.
Why you will love it: This grill can do it all. It is great if you are cramped for space. You could get by with this being your only cooking source. It is very flexible and does not take up an incredible amount of space. Settings are straightforward and easy to understand. It cleans up easily.
This is the Cadillac of panini grills. You can cook almost anything with this unit, and make the best panini sandwiches you have ever had.
This is a counter-top unit that takes a bit of space, but you can use it is a panini press, a regular grill, full grill or griddle as well as a half-grill or griddle.
With five options you can easily prepare a complete meal with this appliance. It can also be a contact grille. The surface can also be doubled by leaving the plate in the open position.
The plates have a non-stick coating, and you may remove them and reverse them for more creative options.
The plates are dishwasher safe and
The surface is also a nontoxic panini press. This unit is 13.5 inches long, 11.5 inches wide and eight inches tall. Switch to and from grill to griddle by flipping the plates over.
This unit has a lot of adjustments available, so you have options. Temperature can be controlled to a very precise level,
A cookbook and a scraping tool are included, and there is a users manual. While it does have a lot of options, the controls are simple to use and easy to understand.
Red and green lights let you know when it is ready for cooking. It has a floating hinge that adjusts itself to the food you are cooking, allowing you to have a wide variety of thicknesses, and it cooks both sides evenly.
The surface, or exterior, is stainless steel, making for easy cleanup and it will look sharp for years. The plates are made of non-stick aluminum.
- Great flexibility and easy to use
- 200 square inches of cooking space
- Relatively small, fits well on a typical counter
- Grease management not as good as it could be
- Buttons that release plates can break
- There is no timer or automatic shutoff
Best Budget appliance: Oster Titanium-Infused DuraCeramic 2-in-1 Panini Maker and Grill.
Why you will love it: Oster i packs a powerful and handy punch with its best panini grill. Ceramic coating helps it cook faster and evenly. It is at the lower end of the price range, but just because it is cheap does not mean it is cheaply made. It is a simple, low-cost option that works very well.
This Panini grill is highly functional and offered at a good price. It does not do everything, but what it does, it does well. The press can be opened 180 degrees to make a flat surface that can turn it into a countertop grill. It has a DuraCeramic coating that is nonstick, an will resist flaking or peeling. It cleans up easily.
The ceramic coating allows it to cook faster. There is a tray for grease to drain away, and two small cups to catch that grease. It comes with its own cleaning tool and instruction manual.
This is a simple unit, but one of the best things is that it has a floating hinge system. This allows the panini press to adjust to different sandwich thicknesses and adds to its versatility. It also has adjustable feet, to facilitate draining while you cook.
This appliance will fit easily on your countertop. it is 12 inches wide and 10 inches deep, and four inches tall. It weighs about five pounds, so is very portable as well. The top can be opened to increase your cooking space.
The plates are unique for this type of kitchen appliance. The non-stick ceramic coating gives you the benefit of ceramic cooking which heats up faster than other devices made of metal. The only downside is that over time the plates, which cannot be removed, will turn brown. They are still fine to use, but it does lessen the appearance.
The floating hinge is not height adjustable, but you can fold that back into a full grill easily.
- Can be used as a grill easily
- Good grease drainage system
- Ceramic coating heats up fast
- Plates not removable,
- Cleaning is not always easy
- Plates can turn brown over time
Best Cast-Iron Panini Press: Waring large Italian style Panini Grill
Why you will love it: The words “cast-iron” imply heavy-duty performance, and that is what you get with this grill. The cast iron makes it durable. The hinge is also adjustable, and you can make sandwiches up to three inches thick. This is also a big unit that can handle a few sandwiches at the same time.
This is an industrial strength panini press that could be used in a busy restaurant, so it will handle anything you can throw at it in your home.
It is designed for restaurant use, and tough enough to handle that, but it could be used by an individual as well.
It would be great for a small restaurant that does not require constant use. When used constantly breakdowns have been reported.
It is heavy, because of the cast iron, weighing in at about 70 pounds. It has a cooking surface that is 16 inches wide and 17 inches deep.
It is almost 10 inches tall. The cast iron has great points but is not always easy to clean. You will like the draining system as it is easy to use and effective.
The outside is made of stainless steel. The inner workings of cooking spaces are made of cast iron. It has a removable drip tray, The plates can be turned over so you can get the grill marks, or have a flat surface like a grill. The top plate adjusts itself up to three inches. It will cook up to 570 degrees.
It has adjustable feet so you can set it up to drain effectively It has indicator lights to tell you when it is ready for cooking.
The bottom line is that this unit has a great reputation when it is not in constant use. It can be used several times a day, but when used constantly problems tend to emerge.
It may not be as tough as you would like if your restaurant is always very busy.
- Cast iron cooking surface for even cooking
- Big enough to handle a lot at once
- Versatile enough to cook chicken and steaks
- It is big and heavy, more for restaurant use
- Has had reported breakdowns with a lot of use
- Too strong for home use, not always strong enough for commercial use
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Best Panini Press with Removable Plates: DeLonghi America, Inc CGH912C Indoor Grill.
Why you will love it: This is a fairly small appliance that packs a big punch. It has five cooking functions and can be a panini press or a full griddle. It has removable plates for easy cleaning and a great oil drain system. Sleek design, not too expensive and highly functional.
The panini is an Italian sandwich, and DeLonghi is an Italian company. They should know how to make the best panini. It is simple by design, without a lot of bells and whistles, but what you do get is a great panini grill and griddle all in one. It has a glass lid that is separate from the body. This allows you to see the meat as it is cooking.
Removable plates give you more options. You can convert the appliance from a panini grill to a regular grill, and go back an forth with ease. These cost more than fixed plates but this one makes the grade because it is at a fairly low price to start with.
It is even more valuable with two sets of plates inside that you can customize into five cooking functions. You can even do more than one function at a time.
It has cool-touch handles so you won’t burn your hands trying to remove the plates. Buttons on each end make the plates easily removed as well. It has a ceramic coating that gives even heating throughout the surface.
These plates can be run through a dishwasher, but some people prefer to wash them by hand.
It has a stainless steel body with a sleek design that will look good in any kitchen. It comes with a spatula and two oil drainage collectors. It weighs around 12 pounds. The cooking surface is 12 by 6.5 inches and can be increased.
- Easy to clean drip tray
- Lid is see-through and retains heat
- Simple design, easy to use
- Temperature does not stay consistent
- Takes a long time to heat up and be ready
- Non stick coating can peel off eventually
Best Flat Panini Press: Breville BSG620XL Panini Duo 1500 Watt Nonstick Panini Press
Why you will love it: This is a small simple press that is a solid performer. It is not designed to do everything but is designed to make a great panini sandwich. It has a flat bottom plate for fast even cooking and has a floating hinge with height settings.
When Breville set out to make this unit, it wanted to make one good enough for commercial use that would work in the home. For a not-too-expensive panini press that will last a long time, this one will be hard to beat.
It has a 1500-watt heating element, so can handle heavy duty cooking of any kind, which makes a panini sandwich a breeze.
It has a stainless steel frame and a durable build. It has a premium quality look that is unmistakable. The adjustable handle and grip are sturdy and well built.
This unit is 11.3 inches deep and 11 inches wide. It is five inches tall. Relatively small and weighs around nine pounds.
It is a heavy duty unit but will work great in your home, as well as being able to handle some light commercial use. The bottom plate is flat which means fast cooking.
The top plate is ribbed, which is where you get the grill marks that make a panini what it is. It has the floating hinge adjustable so you can handle a sandwich of any thickness.
It has adjustable feet to facilitate draining, and they are built to not slip, so there is not likely to be an accident.
It has lights to indicate when it is ready. The power cord also is stored within the unit when not in use. It comes with a user manual and recipes.
One drawback is that only one side has the ridges that makes the grill marks that are hallmarks of a panini.
This makes creating the classic sandwich a bit of a challenge, but it can be done with a little care. It can cook a lot of other things well too, so its versatility might overcome that issue.
- The top plate can be adjusted
- Powerful unit means faster cooking
- Sturdy design should last a long time
- Drainage of grease could be better
- Not as easy to clean as you might wish
- Only one side has grill ridges
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Best Ceramic Panini Press: Oster Extra-large Titanium-infused Dura Ceramic Panini maker
Why you will love it: When it says extra large, it isn’t kidding. It can handle three big sandwiches at a time. The cooking area is 15 inches wide and 13 inches deep. It will open up 180 degrees to create a cooking surface twice that size when you use it as a grille. This appliance can make a lot of food at one time, and it does it very well.
This kitchen appliance by Oster is sturdy in its build and opens into a much larger area for cooking than you would expect. It is made of stainless steel and has a ceramic coating inside.
It has adjustable feet and two drip-cups for good drainage. It has a scratch resistant surface. Cleaning tools, owners manual, and recipes are included.
The two-in-one in the name is legit. It is a fine panini maker and converts to a regular indoor drill easily. It is easy to clean with the tool that is included. It has the DuraCeramic non-stick coating that makes it more durable than regular ceramic type grills.
The ceramic type unit also heats up faster and cooks more evenly than metal units. It does not have any PFOA or PTFE chemicals in the ceramic material, so it is very safe to use.
It has a floating hinge that allows you to have sandwiches of different thicknesses without a hitch. It has a sturdy build so it should last a long time. It can cook faster than you may expect.
It is at its best with making sandwiches, and you get the grill makes that make it a panini. The ceramic surfaces can also handle a lot of heat, and you can make a lot of different kinds of foods in addition to panini.
- PTFE and PFOA free ceramic coating
- Easy to clean
- Portable and easy to store
- Food can slip out of the grill
- Mixed reviews on how easy it is to clean.
- Plates are not removable
Great prices on this unit at Amazon
Best Ceramic Panini Maker: George Foreman GRP482P Multi-plate Evolve Grill.
Why you will love it: This is a small grill that is also a panini maker. It has ceramic plates, a waffle plate, and is made of platinum. You will be amazed at what all this small unit can do. It has several plates that are movable and interchangeable for almost unlimited options.
This grill adds the benefit of being able to make waffles, in addition to being a grill or panini sandwich maker. You can also cook chicken or steaks, and veggies.
Another bonus is a searing burst of 500 degrees for 90 seconds, which gives you even more possibilities.
It has a digital control panel that shows you the cooking time and temperature of the grill. You may cook between 325 and 450 degrees when you are not using the power bursts. The buttons are also level, or even, with the grill, making external cleanup easy.
Ceramic coated plates give a nonstick finish that makes cleanup easy as well.
The plates are all removable and can be put in a dishwasher. There is an easy release that keeps the areas you touch cool, so you can remove the plates even if they are hot.
Adjustable angle tilts the grill too, so you can rain grease and fat easily.
When the George Foreman grill was introduced, it was revolutionary. Since then others have caught up. This one is another leap forward with its ability to cook almost anything, and it does so at a great price.
The cooking surface is about 13 inches by 15 inches.
The ceramic grates are what takes this one to a new level. The hinges work well, so you can make a panini or switch to a level cooking surface easily. This one is also advertised as one that can make breakfast as well as any other meal.
- Easy to assemble and keep clean
- Ceramic grates that are removable
- Good value at the price
- Slightly small cooking area
- Sear button seems overhyped
- Some say coating wears off
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