panini on panini press with ingredients next to
Credit: Rachel Johnson

The 5 Best Panini Presses You Can Buy, According to Our Tests

Our tester picked the Yabano Panini Press as the winner. 
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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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.

Our Favorites

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. 

2. Versatility 

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. 

3. Size 

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 

Panini press with four pressed sandwiches on hot plate
Credit: Amazon

Best Overall: Yabano Panini Press

Priced at $50, this press is going to give you the most bang for your buck. It has a sleek, lightweight build that can easily go from cabinet to countertop.

Rachel found its surface area to hold about two conventionally-sized sandwiches or wraps at a time. Plus, it doubles as an open-faced, two-sided grill that can be used for meat and vegetables (aided by the oil drain lips on each side). It heats up quickly and evenly, and the textured surface gives you the sleek grill lines on your sandwiches and wraps. The grill itself is non-stick, making it super easy to wipe clean. Measuring 12 x 13 x 4 inches, this is a compact option that is great for small spaces.

But with a lower price tag, you can expect that this model will lack a few features common in higher-end models, such as removable cooking plates and adjustable temperature controls. Rachel also found the grates to be relatively thin compared to other models, but it still makes great pressed sandwiches.

In essence, this is a simple, affordable panini press that will effectively press sandwiches and even do some grilling. It doesn't feature all the bells and whistles of other models, but it's good at what it does, and you can't beat the price. 

Buy it: Yabano Panini Press, $50; Amazon

Best Panini Presses
Credit: Amazon

Most Versatile: De'Longhi Livenza All Day Combination Contact Grill

This compact panini press-plus-grill combo can do more than meets the eye. It features three different cooking plates: a grilling plate, a sandwich plate, and a waffle plate. The removable, dishwasher-safe plates can be interchanged with the push of a button. 

Unlike some other models that automatically turn on when plugged in, this press features an on/off button for more control. This press earned high marks in several tests: "The sandwich was evenly browned and filling stayed primarily inside. The top lid is not so heavy that it pushes out the extra cheese. The bacon can be cooked on the grill grates, but only a few pieces at a time. The detachable drip tray is effective in catching extra grease. I also tested a batch of waffles and the press made really tender square waffles," says Rachel. 

At 18 by 14 inches, this is a compact model that can easily go from cabinet to countertop. The cooking plate can fit two sandwiches (or waffles) at a time. "The reduced surface area of this model's grill plate is the most notable tradeoff when compared to other models," says Rachel. Overall, this is a great model for those looking to save space and eliminate the need for other appliances. 

Buy it: De'Longhi Livenza All Day Combination Contact Grill, $241 (originally $300); Amazon

Best Panini Presses
Credit: Best Buy

Easiest to Clean: Cuisinart Contact Smoke-Less Mode Griddler 

Cuisinart applies innovative technology to this panini press/griddle combo: "The backlit digital control interface elevates the elements of customization and calibration leaps and bounds beyond other countertop grills. Included timer settings lend an approachable feeling that can guide new users step-by-step," says Rachel.

Among the endless heating options on this model are four "smokeless" settings, a poultry setting, and a temperature range of 175 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. There are a number of ways to use this model—use it as a sandwich press, use it as an open-faced or two-sided grill, or reverse the grill pans and use the flat-top griddle surface instead. 

Each plate is removable and dishwasher-safe, and the widely spaced grill ridges make for easy cleaning if you choose to wash them by hand. In fact, the press comes with a multi-edged cleaning/scraping tool. 

This is a spacious appliance that may not be suited for cabinet storage, but it more than makes up for it with its versatility, customizable settings, and easy cleanup. 

Buy it: Cuisinart Contact Smoke-Less Mode Griddler, $130; Best Buy

Best Panini Presses
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Best for Large Families: Breville Sear and Press Grill

Cooking for the whole family with a panini press has never been easier thanks to this model from Breville. The large surface area can hold up to four items (such as sandwiches, burger patties, beef medallions, or small tenderloins) on each grill plate. 

The simple yet functional control panel features a power button, three preset heat settings (panini, burger, sear), and two dials to separately control the two grill plates. And like the Cuisinart model, the grill plates reverse to reveal a flat-top griddle surface.

Each grill plate is removable and dishwasher safe, with wide grill ridges for easy cleanup. Due to its size and build, this unit is best suited to live on the countertop, although the lock function keeps the lid secure if you do need to transport it. 

The size, functionality, and versatility of this model make it ideal for families looking to get as much as possible out of their panini press. 

Buy it: Breville Sear and Press Grill, $180; Williams Sonoma

Best Panini Presses
Credit: Amazon

Best Health-Conscious: George Foreman 5-Serving Panini Press 

The name George Foreman is synonymous with countertop grilling, but the panini press is nothing to sneeze at. "Users can use this to grill any variety of meats (burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken), vegetables, and sandwiches," says Rachel. 

This compact press can comfortably fit two sandwiches at once. On the downside, it doesn't feature removable plates, so cleanup is a little more involved. But like all George Foreman products, this press cooks food without added fat, and the nested drip tray allows excess fat to be removed, so you can feel better about what you're eating.  

Buy it: George Foreman 5-Serving Panini Press, $59; Amazon

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. 

Reviewers echoed Rachel's sentiments, noting that removable plates would create a better user experience. One noted that the machine "does not get hot enough, and the handle got stuck and broke within a few uses." 

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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