The panini is culinary sandwich magic. It’s somehow both elevated and comfort food simultaneously, with that golden crust contrasting perfectly against gooey insides. You can customize the filling to your heart’s desire and come up with something delicious every time, regardless of dietary restrictions.
No matter how good they taste, paninis can be expensive when you’re buying them instead of coming up with your own creative sandwiches at home. To save some funds but still munch on your favorite lunch indulgence, you might consider investing in a panini press, which allows you to experiment with endless recipes.
However, not all presses are created equal. At the end of the day, you should be able to get multiple uses out of your sandwich-maker besides achieving that ultimate crisp. Here are the best panini presses to meet your various needs.
1. Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
Cuisinart remains a top contender for foodies, and after looking at this grill, we understand why. A consistent bestseller on Amazon with thousands of fans, this five-in-one tool makes cooking more accessible than ever. There’s a drip pan and dishwasher-safe removable plates for a less messy clean-up, while adjustable temperature controls let you cook with precision. This model can get it done with ease, whether you want a burger with perfect grill marks or fancy grilled cheese. It even comes with a book of gourmet recipes.
2. New House Kitchen Panini Press Grill
BEST RUNNER UP
This no-frills model by New House Kitchen isn’t as large as some of its contenders but offers fantastic value with its streamlined steel aesthetic, and a floating hinge that allows you to make sandwiches of all sizes. This press also features elevated feet with non-skidding technology to keep your counter easily yet still keep your grill in one place. A grease trap captures all the mess, while a non-stick surface allows you to prep food without adding cooking spray.
3. Dash Mini Maker Portable Grill Machine
BEST TRAVEL PICK
Sometimes, lugging around a heavy grill makes you want to downsize. If you’re short on counter space or are frequently on-the-go and don’t want to waste money on takeout options, this mini sandwich maker is a massive upgrade from a bland microwaveable meal. This pint-sized panini press helps you make single-serve dishes in just a few minutes, combining speed and efficiency to brown your food the way you like it. Although easy to clean, it can’t be immersed in water — just wipe down with a wet paper towel.
4. Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Grill
BEST NON-STICK PICK
Complete with a locking lid and a chrome finish, the Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press makes a sandwich of any height, and can also create personal pizzas, quesadillas or open-faced sandwiches. We love how space efficient this model is with its upright storage. The top and bottom both have potent grilling power, so you don’t need to attempt a disastrous flip. One reviewer says the surface is big enough for preparing two large sandwiches.
5. Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker
BEST FOR BREAKFAST SANDWICHES
Grill marks are always the answer, but sometimes you just need the comfort of a flawlessly constructed breakfast sandwich. The problem is, that tasty pay-off usually comes with eggshell messes, crumbs and remnants of ingredients. Thankfully, some genius created this electric breakfast sandwich maker, which is the best panini press for breakfast lovers. It simultaneously toasts your bread, warms your meat and cheese, and cooks your egg at the same time. Voila! Your own McMuffin at home, but healthier. All cooking plates can be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher.
6. Cuisinart Cast Iron Grill Press
BEST MANUAL PICK
There’s more than one way to make a mouthwatering pressed sandwich, and this iron grill press is proof. If you’ve ever had a Cuban sandwich or Cubano, you know that the key to making it the right way is using a cast iron grill press, rather than an electric alternative. Cast iron ensures long-lasting quality, and the wood handle on this model is both attractive and ergonomic. A ridged surface on the three-pound model provides beautiful char marks while exerting pressure evenly across your burger or sandwich. This manual option takes up a fraction of the counter space that a plug-in press would, and can be used on stovetop or BBQ.
7. George Foreman Electric Panini Press
BEST BUDGET PICK
If you want something basic that gets the job done for under $20, the George Forman Classic Panini Press will be right up your alley. It has that classic slope silhouette, which naturally removes up to nearly half of your food’s fat for a leaner meal. Over a dozen reviews specifically mention that they use this grill every single day. This classic model does feature a non-stick surface rather than cast iron, but buyers say that they’ve lasted up to five years or more — and that’s with daily use.
8. Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill with Air Fryer
BEST SPLURGE PICK
This five-in-one option by Ninja Foodi is the holy grail of panini presses. It also happens to be an air fryer, which is similar to a deep fryer, but 75% healthier. There’s nothing you can’t do with the Ninja Foodie. It may be slightly out of budget for some, but you won’t even want to go out to restaurants anymore with this monster that can bake, crisp, grill, dehydrate, roast and more at up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the device is smoke-free and comes with a splatter guard, making indoor usage a breeze.
9. T-fal Non-Stick Sandwich and Waffle Maker
MOST VERSATILE PICK PICK
Get your dessert and eat it too with the T-fal sandwich and waffle maker. This unique option features a waffle plate and a grill plate. This offers valuable bang for your buck since waffle makers are often overpriced and really only serve one purpose. This gadget makes everything from red velvet waffles to grilled Monte Cristos. More than one reviewer uses it to make bread, and another reveals a useful snack hack — wrap ingredients and cheese in pizza dough, and you’ll quickly have yourself an irresistible pizza pocket.