Whether it's a quick mid-week lunch munch or a lazy Saturday brunch, you can't beat a delicious, hot panini. You need the right bit of kit to up your toasted sandwich game though, so we're taking a look at the best panini presses available right now. Spoiler alert: We rate the Cuisinart Griddler — it's a lean, mean, panini makin' machine. Stock up the fridge with cookable comestibles and take a look through our selection.
This five-in-one wonder works as a panini press, contact grill, full grill, full griddle or half grill/half griddle. The floating lid cover adjusts to different food thickness, so is great for huge Scooby snack subs. You can double your cooking area by opening the press up, giving you both sides to griddle on — a handy almost 200 square-inch cooking surface.
The 11-inch by 9-inch cooking plates are reversible — ridged on one side and smooth on the other — and are removable so you can either wipe them down or put them in the dishwasher. We love the adjustable controls. The selector knob lets you choose the grill or griddle function. Once you've chosen your role, it then gives you adjustable temperature control.
This panini press made the list for its all-round good specs, its stylish chrome looks and two special features that set it apart from rival models. This Hamilton Beach option can be stored upright, which is handy for people with limited cupboard or counter space.
The other functionality we love is the lid action. It can flip open, it can be used as a floating lid, perfect for cooking paninis and other toasted sandwich products, but it also can be locked open. This means you can use this to heat or re-heat pizza, and make open-faced style bread products, like bruschetta.
The Dash Mini is precisely that. It measures in at a compact 5 inches by 6 inches by just 2.8 inches and weighs just over a pound. This makes it perfect for dorm rooms, shared kitchens, office lunchrooms, and even camper van living.
Adding to its appeal, it's available in a range of colors — light blue, pink, red, silver, black and white— which means you can pick a shade to suit your decor. The dual cooking surfaces are non-stick and wipe clean, and it comes complete with its own recipe guide for mini-meal inspiration.
Breville was the first company in the world to make a sandwich press for use in the home. From this pedigree comes the Panini Duo, an ingenious contraption that offers a non-stick, scratch-resistant Quantanium cooking surface. The cleverness continues with a flat plate bottom for even cooking and a ridged top plate to create the grill mark aesthetic.
The flat plate gets hot enough to cook fried eggs and pancakes. This, and the 1,500-watt heating element makes for quick cooking times — a toasted sandwich can be ready in as little as five minutes. The floating hinge will adjust to sit perfectly on any depth food, but also boasts adjustable height control for non-contact cooking of open-faced bread products, pizza and the like. A brushed stainless steel finish and a cord wrap make for good looks and tidy storage.
The king of the panini press market, this Krups version is expensive as it offers so much more functionality than your average (sloppy) Joe machine. This includes its fantastic USP — intelligent cooking. It detects the thickness of your food and automatically adjusts cooking times accordingly.
In addition to that, there are cooking modes for different food types -- burger, chicken, panini, sausage, red meat and fish — and the option to select doneness levels for relevant products. The control panel is perfectly angled and has a clean and easy-to-use design.
The temperature is customizable, from 250 degrees to 525 degrees and there is a frozen mode for freezer produce. The drip tray is removable and dishwasher safe, as are the die-cast aluminum grill plates.
We're highlighting this option as its two-in-one design should appeal to a specific type of home cook. If you like to cook up side dishes to go with your paninis, this lets you multi-task on one tidy machine. Each side of the griddle has its own thermostat which can be controlled independently from the other. There are five heat settings on each.
The grill plates are non-stick, and there's a removable drip tray to catch any fat or juices that escape from either side of the griddle. Safe operation is ensured by cool touch outer material and heat-insulated handles.
The grill plates are an adequate size at just under eight inches wide and deep, probably not big enough for family meals, but a good size for solo diners or couples.
Whether you're looking to griddle up a grilled cheese, squash a salmon bagel or melt a mozzarella muffin, the panini making machines on the market today are competent and within the budget reach of most households.
These panini presses boast some exciting innovations. You can choose between lids that can lock to increase the amount of different bread-based products you can cook, adjustable temperature for better control when cooking, removable plates for easy cleaning, and in the case of the Krups Grill, intelligent cooking and different cooking modes.
While the Krups is recommended if you can stretch to its high price, our overall recommendation goes to the Cuisinart Griddler, as a more affordable option it still boasts as many features and as much functionality as the average panini-lover could ever need.