The Best Panini Press

Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press

Our Top Pick for 2016: Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $69.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Slapping together a sandwich in a matter of minutes makes for the perfect lunch, but it’s even better when it’s heated or grilled. You could place the sandwich on a hot plate where flipping it every few minutes is required. However, today’s sandwich enthusiasts are turning to the reliable panini press. This specialized counter appliance is much more versatile than just a standard, sandwich maker. Current models have features that will give you a chance to avoid the stovetop for most basic meals. Before you buy that next trendy appliance, take a close look at the top rated panini presses we reviewed.

Table of contents

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Stainless Steel Exterior
1500-watt Panini Press
Even Grilling And Toasting
Nonstick Cooking Surface
Nonstick
Double-sided Contact Cooking Plates
Adjustable Height
Scratch-resistant
Height Adjustable Hinge
On & Heat-ready Indicator Lights
Flat Bottom Plate
Adjustable Thermostat
Restaurant-quality Paninis
Ribbed Top Plate Creates Grill Marks
Easy-view Temperature Range Window

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press

Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $69.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThe clear winner among panini presses today is the Duo Nonstick model by Breville. Its basic design offers a sleek and attractive look, which complements nearly any kitchen decor. Shiny, silver metal covers much of the appliance’s exterior, but there’s also distinct black accents. The handle looks and feels safe as you open and close the plates during your cooking processes. When you read about the product’s reviews, they’re largely positive in nature. You’ll want to take a close look at this press before considering any others during your shopping trip. Ultimately, Breville puts a lot of thought into their product.

The core feature that consumers want in their panini press is consistent heat. This appliance was made with power as a top priority because it’s rated with a 1,500-watt energy value. When you plug the press into an outlet, you can instantly feel the plates becoming hot. Breville refers to their cooking surfaces as “Quantanium,” which is a specialized material created for the manufacturer. Your sandwiches will benefit from the nonstick surfaces with scratch-resistant features. It’s nearly impossible to damage the plates by accident.

Breville created their panini press with unique cooking surfaces for both the bottom and top sections. You want those signature grill marks so the top plate is ribbed for that purpose. The bottom section is perfectly flat in order to give your sandwich the even cooking surface that it demands. Melt cheese, crisp the bread and heat your meats with perfect continuity throughout the sandwich by using these plates.

One drawback to this model is the plates themselves. The manufacturer didn’t make the plates removable in their design. You must wipe them out on the countertop. Although some consumers report that the wiping process is sufficient enough for their purposes, other users aren’t too pleased with this limitation. Ideally, they want to remove the plates and soak them. When you consider this appliance for your home, you’ll need to decide for yourself if the fixed plates are appropriate for your cooking needs.

Curious children might roam around the home, and the panini press is an attractive item to explore. However, the plates become very hot during operation. Adults should always supervise the appliance when it’s in use. When it’s not being used, Breville designed their appliance with a safety lock. Snap this lock into place, and you can carry or store the press with ease. Children cannot open and close the press either, which keeps them out of harm’s way. Wrap and store the cord away because Breville added a handy compartment to the appliance. You can take this press over to a friend’s house without dragging a cord around, for instance.

Purchasing this panini press also means that you benefit from the included user manual. It discusses all of the main points about the press, and you also receive some of the best recipes. These meals are designed for this particular press so that you can make the most out of your sandwiches. Follow the directions, and you shouldn’t have any problems making that dream meal.

As you read through the user manual, you’ll notice several positive features to the plates themselves. The appliance comes with a floating hinge. This design feature means that the top plate is largely independent from the bottom section. You can fit a large or skinny sandwich between the plates without squeezing the contents out with a poorly angled, hinged design. In fact, there are four height settings that create countless sandwich options in your kitchen. Simply match your sandwich’s size to the appropriate height, and you’re ready to press the bread.

Don’t limit your cooking to just sandwiches alone. This panini press is versatile for other foods as well. Add a breakfast burrito or sandwich wrap to the press. You’ll see the grill marks hold the item while it melts everything into a gooey masterpiece. Be confident with any cooking process by relying on the activation lights. Turn on the press with the red light glowing brightly. It will turn green when the plates are hot enough for your meal. The light may turn red for a moment after the food is added, but this temperature change is very minimal. In fact, the plates are so evenly heated that its possible to cook pancakes on the flat section. Simply experiment with the press, and you’ll be thrilled with the meal variations.

Many users report that this press doesn’t require any oil or butter to keep the sandwiches free from sticking to the cooking surfaces. The nonstick coating allows you to cook the panini “dry” while reducing the food’s calorie intake. However, consumers still appreciate some buttery taste to their sandwiches. Whether you use butter or no oil at all, the Breville model will still produce some of the best sandwiches you’ve ever eaten.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): IMUSA GAU-80102 Electric Panini and Sandwich Maker

IMUSA GAU-80102 Electric Panini and Sandwich Maker

View it on Amazon for $69.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerWhen you’re looking for a high-quality press with a reasonable price, you’ve struck gold with the Sandwich Maker by IMUSA. A large handle seems to beckon you to open up the plates and gaze inside. At first glance, you might be intrigued at the fact that this press has such a large interior. Consumers can cook an entire meal with this one appliance in many cases. Be sure to examine this appliance very closely as you narrow down your panini-press choices.

IMUSA prides itself on a simple design that withstands the trials of daily cooking. This panini press has a stainless steel exterior with a slightly shiny appearance. It fits nicely into any kitchen, and folds flat when it’s not in use. Line this press up with other small appliances, such as the toaster, and your loved ones will always have an attractive tool to create tasty sandwiches.

This panini press has a floating hinge that’s connected to the top section along the sides. The top plate can swing in a large arc with the help of this properly positioned hinge. As you pull the top plate up during the pressing process, you’ll notice the bottom hinge has a large and secure assembly along the bottom section. This press has a durable appearance that’s proven among consumers. Some people report that they use the press dozens of times during the week, and it continues to operate with ease.

The manufacturer advertises this press as more than a sandwich maker. In fact, it’s possible to cook meats on the surface. Hamburgers, steaks and hot dogs can quickly heat up on the flat surface. There is a drawback to this cooking strategy, however. The press has a ridge along the plate’s perimeter so that all of the added ingredients remain in the press. When meats expel their fats, they cannot be drained out in an efficient manner. As a result, your meats will retain this fat and form high-calorie meals. If you’re looking for a healthy way to cook your meat, another appliance might be necessary.

The ridged plates surround a perfectly flat surface that measures 12-inches long and 10-inches wide. It’s important to note that the plates don’t have those telltale grill-mark ridges. Some consumers report that the markings aren’t necessary and that the ridges only contribute to a difficult cleaning process. If you aren’t concerned about a grill-mark appearance, the IMUSA press is a well-designed product for your needs.

Users are thrilled with the flat plates so they use them for more unique meal creations. Add bacon, onions, tomatoes and sausage to the press. After only a short time period, you have a meal that’s perfect for the breakfast table. Some consumers are fans of Hispanic foods, such as tortillas. The plates can conform to any food height, including thin tortillas. Mix up homemade tortillas, and cook them right on the plate. You may never purchase store-bought tortillas again.

A feature that’s both a positive and negative detail includes the heat setting. The manufacturer didn’t include any temperature control in this panini press. You simply turn it on and wait for the indicator light. Consumers report that the plates achieve a comfortable temperature, such as 375 degrees Fahrenheit on the top plate compared to 350 degrees F. on the bottom section. When the plates come together, the heat may slightly increase because of the close confines. The indicator light should always be green, however, so that the press is at the highest possible temperature.

If you’re considering this product as a gift, IMUSA makes their press attractive with an included gift box. You can order the press, and it comes automatically wrapped in the gift box. When you need to ship a product to a loved one, this gift-box feature is especially helpful.

Unlike other press designs, this IMUSA product has four, oversize feet. They’ll hold this appliance steady on the countertop as you fill it with stacked sandwiches and other delicacies. This press is known to have a stable base so you’ll be able to use it for almost any grilling purposes. Enjoy the simplicity of this panini press as you surprise guests with spectacular meals.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): De’Longhi CGH800 Contact Grill and Panini Press

De'Longhi CGH800 Contact Grill and Panini Press

View it on Amazon for $59.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardAlthough the De’Longhi Panini Press comes in at third place, there’s no mistaking this appliance as a heavy-duty design. The press seems to rise up from the countertop with an incredibly robust appearance. If you plan on filling this press with double- or triple-decker sandwiches, the De’Longhi model is a perfect addition to your home. Take a closer look at this panini press and compare it to others. It’s a tough competitor within the industry.

One of the first features that you might notice is the hot plates. These high-quality plates have ridges on both the bottom and top sections. You’ll be able to imitate those panini grill marks with ease. Some consumers are concerned, however, that the ridges are too wide. As a result, they may create uneven heating between the peaks and valleys. Other consumers, in contrast, appreciate the ridges because of the unique look that the sandwich takes on. In the end, you’ll need to make a personal decision about the ridges and their effectiveness as you cook.

A positive feature to the plates is their angle. Unlike other panini presses, this product has a slope to its cooking surfaces. If you decide to cook meat or a buttery sandwich, the angled plates will allow the fats to drain away from the food. Most presses are simply flat and tend to work poorly for meaty recipes. Try fish, hamburgers and steaks on the press. You’ll have an alternative to the skillet with just one test recipe.

The grease doesn’t just flow right onto your countertop either. The manufacturer includes a catch cup that fits right under the drainage opening. Place the cup into position when any fatty dish is being heated. That fat can be quickly drained away, which leaves your meals as healthy as possible. Removing the fat might remind you to wipe down the press’s surfaces after cooking too. The DeLonghi press makes cleaning very simple with its smart design.

Some consumers state that the lack of a power switch is frustrating. You must plug the device into a nearby electrical outlet and remove it from power after use. It’s not possible to leave the press plugged in with it switched off. This tiny flaw can be overlooked by some consumers. You’ll need to consider your household’s needs before selecting this press.

This press has a strong, storage lock that allows you to place it in an upright position. If you don’t plan on using the press for a long time period, fold and swing it upright against a kitchen wall. You’ll free up considerable space along the counter for other needs. For example, preparing holiday meals and other major cooking projects usually requires ample countertop space. This panini press simply makes it easier to maneuver within a confined, kitchen space.

Some consumers are concerned about the wobbly sensation observed when the press is in its upright position. The appliance actually leans on its power cord located on the rear side. As a result, you may not want to place the press in this position for long time periods. Unless you can adjust the power cord out from under the appliance, the weight might damage it.

Although there are both good and bad features to point out on this press, almost everyone will be thrilled with the temperature gauge. An analog gauge located on the appliance’s front side allows you to monitor the temperature. When you’re cooking meats, in particular, this gauge is especially important.

This press does take up some space in your kitchen. Ideally, you’ll need a little more than 210 square inches of space dedicated to this press. It also has a tall, 6-inch height. A corner or side section of the counter are perfect locations for this appliance. You’ll want to pull it out on a daily basis anyway.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Hamilton Beach 25460A Panini Press Gourmet Sandwich Maker

Hamilton Beach 25460A Panini Press Gourmet Sandwich Maker

View it on Amazon for $32.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickFor less than $30, you can have a professional-style panini press that still has all of the basic features included in its design. Hamilton Beach is known for its kitchen appliances, and their Gourmet Sandwich Maker isn’t an exception. Although it has a low price tag, it doesn’t skimp on quality. Explore some of these features on this panini press when you’re about to make your final purchasing decision.

You may be used to a press weighing more than 10 pounds, but this appliance is a lightweight 6 pounds. You can lock it closed, and store it away whenever necessary. Some consumers report that it folds up into a relatively thin package, which saves you space on the countertop. It’s important to be careful with this press, however. Because it’s lightweight, it has some delicate parts. Ideally, it should rest on the countertop or safely in a corner with a locked position.

As you plug the press into the electrical outlet, indicator lights will explain the appliance’s current status. The light turns green when the plates are hot enough for your sandwich. It’s normal to expect a preheat time of about six minutes. After this time period, the green indicator light should illuminate. A properly operating press continually maintains the green light, which indicates that your food is cooking at a uniform pace.

There are two drawbacks to this low-cost press. You’ll notice that there’s no temperature control. The plates simply have one heat setting for every food. If you plan on cooking meats and other similar foods, the lack of temperature control might be an issue. The plates themselves aren’t removable either. Most consumers don’t mind the fixed parts, but other buyers might be concerned. You simply can’t clean the plates efficiently when they’re permanently attached to the appliance’s frame.

You’ll enjoy an ample 10-inch by 8-inch plate surface when you choose this Hamilton Beach product. This plate design allows you to add up to three sandwiches onto the cooking surface. The height factor isn’t an issue because the top section can accommodate even the tallest sandwiches.

A distinct feature to this panini press is the locking hinge. If you plan on adding a pizza to your press, you don’t want the toppings to melt onto the top section. Lock the top section just above the bottom plate so that it’s hovering over the food. The heated plate will still contribute to the pizza’s cooking process. Create pizza, bruschetta and other items with this hover feature.

Some consumers report that their food simply tastes better when it’s cooked in this panini press. This perspective is subjective, however, so you’ll need to weigh your appliance options as you look at different products. If you plan on using a press on a relatively frequent basis, this appliance can serve your needs well. Simply wipe it down after each meal, and you’ll be ready for the next grilling session.


Pre-purchase considerations

Temperature Control

Every sandwich ingredient reacts differently to various heat levels. A hot, press setting could burn the bread but leave the meats cold. A high-quality press includes some temperature control. There might be preset levels, or you may pick out a specific temperature based on the given food. The right temperature is incredibly important when it comes to cooking meats. If you plan on searing a steak or cooking up some hamburger patties, temperature control allows you to heat them well past rare or medium. Safe cooking temperatures are the goal with meats, whereas your sandwiches merely need to be melted.

Removable Parts

The most ideal panini press allows you to remove its main parts. Both the top and bottom plates might be removed in order to switch them out with other accessories. Ribbed or flat plates will offer your recipes some variation as you feed the entire family. The removable feature also frees you from time-consuming cleaning processes. Wiping an appliance off with fixed plates can be difficult. Crumbs and oil may become stuck in tiny crevices that might be easier to access with removable parts. Removable plates and accessories can be immediately placed into a sink of soapy water after their use. With just a quick scrubbing, you can grill more sandwiches in no time.

Household Size

A budget-friendly panini press is a perfect choice for a single person or small family, but they may not work for larger groups. Before you settle on any appliance, consider your household’s size and cooking needs. If you want to cook at least two sandwiches at a time, a large sandwich maker is necessary. Although most presses won’t cook too many sandwiches at once, you can at least prepare two meals at a time so that the cooking process is streamlined. A family of six cannot use a single-sandwich panini press with ease, for example. Buy a panini press based on your personal needs, and lunch will be served in a timely manner.

Floating Hinges

As you shop around for panini presses, you’ll be greeted by many different products. Keep in mind that a main feature of any press is the floating hinges. The press shouldn’t have an opening that’s similar to a book binding. The hinges should allow for some leverage at the top section in order to cover tall sandwiches. Ideally, the top plate will move almost independently from the bottom section. This design feature allows consumers to press narrow cheese sandwiches and stack BLTs with no problems. A book-binding design will only press the sandwich at an unusual angle. Some of the ingredients will inevitably fall out of the sandwich too.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Regardless of which model you choose, always clean it out on a regular basis. The models with removable parts are usually the easiest to clean, but not if the appliance is neglected over time. Ideally, the press should be cleaned out once a week when it’s used on a constant basis. This basic maintenance reduces built-up grease and crumbs within the tiny crevices. With a proper cleaning, your panini press can last as long as a few years. Hot and gooey sandwiches will be a common sight in your home as a result.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Joanne Kellar Bouknight, Equipment Review: The Best Panini Presses, Finecooking.com
  2. Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press, CNET.com
  3. Food Tips, 10 Best-Rated Electric Panini Press & Grill Makers: Review 2016, Foodtips.org
  4. How to Make a Panini, wikiHow
  5. Panini Recipes, AllRecipes.com

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