The 5 Best Panini Presses You Can Buy, According to Our Tests
There's nothing quite as satisfying as biting into a warm, gooey panini—but making them at home can sometimes prove to be difficult. Some like to press theirs down with a spatula, while others may use a heavy piece of cookware to get a nice, even press. But if you really want to streamline your panini process and get this deli-quality delight at home, all you need is a panini press.
Even better, today's panini presses can do a lot more than just press sandwiches: You can use them as grills, griddles, waffle makers, and so much more. The options are endless—and overwhelming. To help you find the best one, we asked our product tester Rachel Johnson to put the top options on the market to the best. She considered the overall feel, efficiency, volume, and ease of cleaning of each panini press on this list. With these factors in mind, Rachel found the Yabano Panini Press to be her favorite model. Read on to discover the best panini presses on the market, according to our testing.
- Best Overall: Yabano Panini Press
- Most Versatile: De'Longhi Livenza All Day Combination Contact Grill
- Easiest to Clean: Cuisinart Contact Smoke-Less Mode Griddler
- Best for Large Families: Breville Sear and Press Grill
- Best Health-Conscious: George Foreman 5-Serving Panini Press
What to Consider When Buying a Panini Press
1. Temperature Control
Many basic panini models will feature a simple on/off temperature control or just automatically turn on when plugged in, and if you're making a sandwich, that's all you really need. But if you plan to use your panini press for, say, grilling meat, you'll likely want to have more control over the temperature.
As you look into purchasing a panini press of your own, you'll find most can do more than just press sandwiches. Today's panini presses double as indoor grills, griddles, waffle makers, and more. Of course, these multi-functional presses come with higher price tags, but they also eliminate the need for countless countertop appliances.
Panini presses can range in size from single-sandwich to family-size surfaces that can accommodate an entire steak dinner. Consider how much counter space you have to spare and how many mouths you have to feed before clicking "add to cart." You'll find both compact and family-size presses on this list.
4. Cooking Plates
The quality of the cooking plates can really make or break a panini press. Nonstick plates are most popular, as they allow for easy release of whatever it is that you're pressing. They also make for easy cleanup. Some presses feature removable plates, which are easy to thoroughly clean without worrying about damaging the electrical base.
There are also a number of cooking plate designs, whether that's smooth, grooved, or a mix of the two. This largely comes down to personal preference, but many prefer the grill marks provided by grooved surfaces. Many of the paninis we tested feature a combination of different cooking plate surfaces.
How We Tested Each Panini Press
Our seasoned product tester, Rachel Johnson, put each panini press to the test by, wait for it... making paninis! Each panini press was used to make this Chicken Pesto Panini recipe. She also used them to cook bacon to test the grilling capabilities of the presses when applicable. Here are the factors she paid extra attention to:
- Overall feel: Does the press look and feel like it's made to last?
- Efficiency of machine: How quickly and evenly does the press heat and cook food?
- Volume: How much can fit on the cooking surface at one time?
- Ease of cleaning: Is the cooking plate removable? Is it dishwasher-safe? Is the surface easy to clean?
Rachel has completed testing, and the results are in. There's a pick on this list for any home cook — whether you're looking for a simple model or one with all the bells and whistles. Curious about what else Rachel tested? Keep reading to learn about the competition.
Best Panini Presses to Buy, According to Our Tests
Other Panini Presses We Tested
There can only be so many winners. Rachel found these presses to fall just short of the competition.
De'Longhi Retro Indoor Grill & Panini Press
This grill and press combo actually performed well in Rachel's testing, but its bulky build and difficult-to-clean materials kept it from earning a superlative. Unlike the De'Longhi Livenza All Day Combination Contact Grill, the grilling plates are not dishwasher-safe. However, this model does boast a spacious surface area, which may be attractive to families.
Buy it: De'Longhi Retro Indoor Grill & Panini Press, $80; Amazon
Hamilton Beach Gourmet Sandwich Maker
"Materials seem to be of fairly cheap quality, and the overall design isn't very cohesive and feels markedly busier than other comparable units," says Rachel in reference to this affordable press from Hamilton Beach.
While it performed well in Rachel's panini testing, the lack of a grease trap made grilling on this surface somewhat difficult. This is a perfectly adequate press for paninis, but it doesn't provide the versatility of other presses at a similar price point.
Buy it: Hamilton Beach Gourmet Sandwich Maker, $35 (Originally $40); Amazon
Dash Pocket Sandwich Maker
Once again, Dash has created an utterly adorable, pocket-sized countertop appliance that's ideal for cooking for one. However, the "pocket-sized" aspect of this press puts it at a disadvantage. While it's great for storage, the petite model only allows for smaller bread and can accommodate just one sandwich at a time. On top of that, this unit only has one functionality, making it hard to compete with more versatile models. But this could be a great option for a dorm room or a temporary living space.
Buy it: Dash Pocket Sandwich Maker, $13; Amazon
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