In the realms of sandwich makers, panini presses truly hold a privileged place and rightfully so. A good panini press is supposed to provide a consistent heat distribution throughout its heating area, it should be spacious enough to prepare two or more paninis at the same time, and should be very easy to use. To some extent, these are the same characteristics that best describe a good sandwich maker, at least in the traditional sense. At the same time, you must pay close attention to the methods employed in the preparation of the paninis and how versatile they are overall. That said, let us find out what are the ten best panini presses the market has to offer and what to look for when shopping for one.
Best Panini Presses Of 2018
10Proctor Silex 25453A Panini Press
With this spacious panini press, you are able to prepare sandwiches of almost any thickness with minimal preparation beforehand. Part of the reason why it’s so efficient in preparing multiple sandwiches is the large grilling area that can be manipulated via several preheating options that you can choose from. It also features power and preheat lights along with a cafe style floating lid that presses down evenly on the paninis.
9Panini Press Indoor Grill
This high-quality panini press features a large 9×10.5-inch heating plate surface that allows you to prepare a wide range of sandwiches and paninis. The same surface stands out by being extremely easy to clean, which is definitely something one should look for in a panini press. You do this thanks to its non-stick surface and two grease catchers, a design that is guaranteed to not only be easy to maintain but also a lot more durable than most panini makers out there.
8Lodge LPP3 Cast Iron Square Ribbed Panini Press
The first thing you notice about this simplistic yet highly efficient panini press is the fact that both its handle and press are cast as one piece for easy maintenance. Given its construction, it also offers an unparalleled heat retention and even heating, which makes preparing seasoned food very easy and intuitive. Easy to care for, you are guaranteed to use this particular press for years before it starts showing any signs of damage, many thanks to its basic design.
7De’Longhi CGH800 Contact Grill and Panini Press
It is important for a panini press to be not only easy to use but also large enough to accommodate large quantities of food at a time. This is precisely what makes the CGH800 stand out, a spacious panini press that also doubles as a contact grill. Due to the precise, customized grilling it offers, you can use this versatile press to cook a wide range of dishes, a versatility you get because of a fully adjustable thermostat and easy-view temperature range window.
6IMUSA USA GAU-80102 Large Electric Panini Press
The IMUSA GAU-80102 features a non-stick surface that makes it not only efficient when preparing a multitude of sandwiches but also extremely easy to clean. It also benefits from a floating hinge for adjusting its cooking height along with power and heat indicator lights that give you full control over its cooking/grilling capabilities. At the same time, it also enjoys a polished stainless steel exterior with cool-touch handles that make the grill easy to operate.
5Oster DuraCeramic Panini Maker and Grill
With a unique and innovative Dura Ceramic non-stick ceramic coating, this complex panini maker from Oster stands out as one of the most durable out there. This construction ensures that the grill won’t flake or peel over time, no matter how often or intensely you plan on using it. It is also why it can cook up to 20% faster than most panini presses while saving you an awful lot of time and energy in the long run.
4Hamilton Beach 25462Z Panini Press
Hamilton Beach 25462Z allows you to prepare delicious paninis in no time and without going through a great deal of preparation like many of the more traditional presses would demand. Due to its ingenious, fully-adjustable design, it allows you to prepare paninis of any thickness. This is owed to a cafe-style floating lid that presses down evenly on anything you place on its 10×8-inch nonstick grid.
3Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo
With this 1,500-watt panini press, you get a lot more cooking prowess than what traditional presses offer. Equipped with a nonstick, scratch-resistant Quantanium cooking surface, this powerful panini press enables you to prepare multiple paninis at a time with minimal effort on your part. It also features a flat bottom plate for a faster, thorough cooking and a ribbed top plate to create those sweet grill marks many people enjoy.
2George Foreman GRP4842P
Just like the George Foreman grills many of us know and love, the GRP4842P encapsulates the sheer cooking capacity that made the brand so well-renowned into a lightweight, portable panini press that you can take with you almost anywhere. This 3-in-1 grill, panini, and waffle maker can cook almost anything from delicious meals to chicken, steak, burgers, or veggies. It also features a high-heat searing burst that raises the temperature of the grill to 500 degrees for 90 seconds if needed for that restaurant-grade results.
1Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
This versatile 5-in-1 countertop grilling unit from Cuisinart is perhaps one of the most effective panini presses on the market today. Due to its ingenious design, it works as a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, or half grill/griddle at the same time. It also benefits from removable and fully reversible nonstick cooking plates that drain grease for a more healthy cooking environment and an integrated drip tray for good measure. At the same time, it also features a brushed stainless steel housing that makes it thoroughly durable and tough to break.
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What To Look For In A Panini Press
Not many people know this but panini presses differ quite a lot from one another, especially the multi-purpose ones that also double as grills. Depending on the grill quantity, cooking surface, press lid adjustability, and a multitude of other characteristics, these presses can be quite different in regards to what you can use them for. To determine what unit best suits your needs, you must first figure out the features that make a good panini press.
Types Of Panini Presses
In principle, panini presses can be divided into two major types: medium-duty panini grills and heavy-duty panini grills. With medium grills, you get the type of sandwich-making capacity of your regular deli, cafe, or sandwich shop. These presses can handle a reasonable amount of ingredients when preparing paninis of a moderate thickness. Heavy-duty panini grills, on the other hand, are best used when preparing multiple paninis at the same time. These grills usually stand out by being much more versatile overall, which is reflected by their robust construction and durable hinges.
A good way to determine the potency of a panini press is to take a closer look at its plate material. You can expect a certain degree of variety in this respect, with all the benefits and drawbacks of each particular material. With aluminum plates, for instance, you get a cooking surface that heats faster and with a greater heat transfer. The surface, however, loses heat just as easy as it heats up, a surface that usually requires a fair deal of oil. Cast iron surfaces, on the other hand, have a much better heat retention and provide a more even heat distribution. Either way, you must ensure that regardless of the cooking plate, the panini press you choose has nonstick properties.
Another thing to consider is the plate configuration, both in regards to the overall design and the practicality. We say this because commercial sandwich makers can have different plate configurations to choose from. This way, you get to choose between grooved plates, smooth plates, or a combination of the two. With a grooved top and bottom configuration, you get the visual appeal of a classic panini sandwich or grilled meats, whereas with a smooth top and bottom, you get a more even heat distribution along with a griddle effect.
Single Or Dual
You also have to consider the type of unit you want in terms of capacity and distribution. In this respect, there are single and dual panini grills, each with their own particularities and maintenance requirements. Single panini presses, as the name suggests, are more compact and save up a lot of counter space. The biggest downside here is the limited cooking space and the fact that they can only be used to prepare a single type of sandwich at a time. With dual panini grills, you get more versatility overall, mainly because they allow you to cook different types of sandwiches on each of their separate grills.
When we talk about floating hinges, we refer to the panini maker’s top plate and how it adjusts to the thickness of the sandwich. Some of these units can be adjusted to specific parameters, whereas others used auto-balancing tops that utilize torsion spring hinges to automatically press down on the sandwich regardless of how thick it is. Most of the time, commercial panini presses have self-leveling top plates.
One must also look for a panini press with ergonomic handles, a key element of any cooking appliance. One issue panini presses used to have is the high, hard-to-reach grill handles, a problem that modern panini presses have solved to some extent. Even though there isn’t a lot wrong with the traditional design, it does pose a certain risk long-term, so perhaps lower profile designs should be preferred instead.
Seeing how different types of paninis require different ingredients being processed at different temperatures, it is an absolute ‘must’ for a panini press to have a fully adjustable thermostat. Usually, panini presses range from 120 to 570 degrees Fahrenheit, which should prove enough to help you prepare a wide range of sandwiches. Not only that but it can also end up saving you a lot of time in the long run.
Speaking of time, you should also look for a panini press with a timer. Although not absolutely necessary, having a panini press with a timer enables you to prepare a panini beforehand and then go about your business without having to worry about its preparation. Once the program is complete, the timer function automatically turns off the panini press at the right time to avoid overcooking the sandwich.
Last but not least, make sure that whatever panini press you get is easy to look after. While most of these presses are usually easy to clean, the ones that do not have nonstick plates tend to be a bit more difficult to care for on account of the debris that gets stuck to them. Furthermore, allowing carbon buildup to accumulate on the grill plates vastly reduces the panini maker’s overall effectiveness.