Best Panini Presses For the Perfect Sandwich (2021)

You may think that getting a quality sandwich requires eating out or buying some expensive machinery. On the contrary, though, a good panini press can get you a quality grilled sandwich in the comfort of your own home. The best panini presses get that wonderful crisp on the outside of the bread while warming the materials within. So if you are hankering for a crispy sandwich with warm gooey cheese and flavorful meat and veggies, consider investing in a good panini press.

Of course, not all panini presses are made equal and some are clearly superior to others. Finding the right one can be hard with so many options. That’s why we put together this product review of the best panini presses out there. These panini presses have been rated for quality, ease of use, and overall cost.

Without any further ado, let’s get to the good stuff.

Table of Contents

Best Panini Presses – Comparison

PictureProduct NameMaterialDimensionsPrice
Cuisinart 5-In-1 GriddlerCuisinart 5-In-1 GriddlerStainless Steel13.5 x 11.5 x 7.12 in
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Dash Mini MakerDash Mini MakerNonstick5 x 6 x 2.8 in
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Hamilton Beach GourmetHamilton Beach GourmetNonstick4.5 x 12.3 x 12.6 in
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Oster DuraCeramic PaniniOster DuraCeramic PaniniCeramic4 x 12 x 10 in
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Lodge Cast Iron SquareLodge Cast Iron SquareCast Iron8.3 x 8.3 x 1.5 in
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Imusa Large ElectricImusa Large ElectricSilver4.9 x 16.6 x 14.8 in
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Breville Smart GrillBreville Smart GrillStainless Steel16 x 14 x 5 in
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George Foreman Multi-PlateGeorge Foreman Multi-PlatePlastic9 x 15.5 x 13.5 in
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George Foreman 2-ServingGeorge Foreman 2-ServingPlastic9.38 x 5.12 x 10.25 in
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10 Panini Presses That Will Make You Say “Mama Mia!”

1. Cuisinart 5-In-1 Griddler

Cuisinart 5-In-1 Griddler

Up first on our list is the Cuisinart 5-In1-Griddler. Cuisinart is a favored manufacturer of kitchen appliances due to its high-quality products and the Cuisinart is no exception. The main draw of the Cuisinart is its versatility. It can be used as a contact grill, full or half grill, griddle, and panini press right out of the box. The Griddler is made from a sturdy steel frame and has iron cooking grates for fast cleanup and good heat retention.

On the front of the device are knobs that control the temperature of the grill and an indicator light that tells you when your food is done. You can control the heat so you can slightly toast a sandwich or full-on grill some burgers. The cooking plates are non-stick, removable, and reversible and the design drains the grease for healthier cooking. Best of all, the removable plates are dishwasher safe so clean up is a breeze.

Overall, the Cuisinart is a good entry-level grill that can handle many different cook jobs. It is compact enough that it can fit on your kitchen counter and in a cabinet while not in use but has a large enough cooking space you can prepare an entire meal for 2. It also comes with a convenient scraping tool that helps clean up that pesky residue like melted cheese.

What We Liked:

  • 5-fold functionality
  • Indicator light lets you know when the food is done
  • Separate temperature knobs for different areas of the grill
  • Removable iron cooking plates
  • Integrated grease trap/drain

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Cooking plates are not truly non-stick
  • Poor customer support

2. Dash Mini Maker

Dash Mini Maker

Ok, we know that technically the Dash Mini Maker is a waffle press, not a panini machine. But it still makes a solid panini even if it’s designed for something else. The Dash Mini Maker is kind of a mini all-purpose griddle and can make hashbrowns, biscuits, mini pizzas, and more; whatever snacks you can think of. We found that this is an excellent panini press because of its compact size and ease of use.

The Mini Maker weighs less than 1 pound and takes up less space than a regular dinner plate so it’s great for small apartments, campers/RVs, and college dorms. There are no knobs or switches; you just plug it in and the surface starts to heat up. As such, it’s extremely convenient and easy to use but might be difficult to use for things that require a specific cooking temperature. Both sides of the grill surface are non-stick and can be wiped down with normal dish detergent and water.

While its no a gourmet sandwich press, the Mini Maker is a good housewarming present or birthday gift for the busy student. It comes in 10 different color options so you’ll be sure to find something that matches your accoutrements of choice. The manufacturer also includes a comprehensive 1-year warranty and recipe book for snack ideas.

What We Liked:

  • Super versatile. Makes waffles, paninis, toast, quesadillas, etc.
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Extremely easy to use; just plug in and cook
  • Very affordable
  • 1-year warranty
  • Includes handy recipe idea book

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Electrical components are not amazing
  • Needs to be greased to prevent sticking

3. Hamilton Beach Gourmet Sandwich Maker

Hamilton Beach Gourmet Sandwich Maker

Coming in at 3rd is the hamilton Beach Electric Panini Grill. On first impressions, we like how large the cooking surface is and how adjustable the top lid is. Many panini presses do not have enough space between the lids, so it’s hard to press a fat sandwich without its innards spilling out. The 180-degree movable lid comfortable makes it so even fat sandwiches are evenly pressed and cooked.

Power and heat indicators on the top of the lid tell you when the grill is hot and when your sandwich is ready. It folds up into a vertical shape when not in use for easy storage and there are two locking mechanisms on the side that hold the top lid in place. You can even open the entire grill 180-degrees and have two separate cooking surfaces for grilling.

Both the top and bottom cooking surfaces are non-stick and safe to clean with detergent and water. One problem we found is the lack of a grease trap which makes certain cook jobs messier than they need to be. However, for less greasy items like sandwiches, it works like a charm. The disconnected top and bottom plates are great for evenly toasting big sandwiches and it is space smart when in storage. We would like it if you could remove the grill plates for cleaning, but it’s not such a big deal as they are pretty easy to clean anyway.

What We Liked:

  • Wide mouth design fits large sandwiches
  • Locking mechanisms on the sides
  • Easy to clean
  • Opens to make two grill surfaces
  • Easy to read LED indicators

What We Didn’t Like:

  • No temperature adjustment. It’s either fully on or fully off
  • No grease trap
  • Grills cannot be removed for cleaning

4. Oster DuraCeramic Panini Grill

Oster DuraCeramic Panini Grill

One problem with several non-stick grills is that their metal cooking surfaces are usually coated in Teflon, a material that keeps food from sticking. While Teflon is perfectly safe to cook on, if the surface gets scratched, Teflon can flake off and make its way into your food. The Oster DuraCeramic panini press ditches the Teflon coated plates and opts for a touch ceramic. Ceramics are naturally non-stick and do not require any synthetic coatings like Teflon.

Moreover, ceramic has better heat retention properties than most metals. The Oster can cook nearly 30% faster than a standard metal surface and will last up to 8 times longer if properly maintained. The top panel opens up 180 degrees so you can fit even the fattest sandwich and create 2 grilling surfaces. A single knob on the front controls temperature and convenient LED indicators let you know when the device is heated and when it’s done cooking.

Lastly, the Oster comes with 2 plastic drip cups for catching grease and a scraper tool for cleaning the grill. Overall, the Oster is a wonderful ceramic panini press that doubles as a tabletop grill. Cooking is fast, efficient, consistent, and clean-up is a breeze thanks to the titanium-infused ceramic grill plates.

What We Liked:

  • Ceramic grill plates have better heat retention than metal plates
  • It Opens 180 degrees to function as a tabletop grill
  • Single knob control is precise and easy
  • Fits thick sandwiches
  • Comes with a convenient scraper tool

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Adjustable feet are kind of flimsy
  • Plastic drip cups get hot when filled with grease
  • Metal utensils can scratch the ceramic

5. Lodge Cast Iron Square Panini Press

Lodge Cast Iron Square Panini Press

Let’s talk a bit about Lodge. The lodge is a Tennessee-based company that has been making iron cookware for over 100 years. The LPP3 panini press is a neat kitchen add-on which consists of a simple one-pence handle and press. Unlike the other items on our list, the Lodge is not a panini machine per se but a simple handheld panini press that can be used with virtually any grill, skillet, or stovetop. Simply heat the press on the stove and then place it on top of your food on the grill or in the skillet. The heavy cast-iron presses the sandwich while also cooking it.

The main downside of this option is that it is not an electric panini press and it must be used with a stove. However, it is the perfect kitchen accessory when you want to make something that needs to be toasted but doesn’t want to devote the counter space to a separate panini grill. Cast iron means the pres is extremely tough, has good heat retention, and does not need to be seasoned.

If you want a comprehensive all-in-one panini press, then the Lodge may not be the choice for you. However, as a simple kitchen accessory that can turn any skillet or grill into a panini press, it’s extremely useful. Cast iron is a great substance for cookware and the Lodge is very affordable.

One other criticism is that the one-piece cast iron construction means the handle can get very hot. Make sure you wear some oven mitts when handling the press.

What We Liked:

  • Solid cast iron construction is durable
  • Does not need to be seasoned
  • Minimalist and works with any grill, skillet, or pan
  • Easy to clean and store
  • Versatile

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Some people want an all in one panini press
  • The handle can get very hot; make sure you wear oven mitts
  • Cast iron is heavy

6. Imusa Large Electric Panini Press

Imusa Large Electric Panini Press

One of the first features of the Imusa Large Electronic Panini Press is its flat grill surface. Many portable grills have a ridged cooking surface to emulate the texture of a full-sized BBQ grill but the Imusa instead takes its design cues from a flat iron grill. The flat surface is great for sandwiches but also things like eggs, pancakes, hash browns, pizza, fish, and more. The device has a powerful 1,400-watts heating element that heats fast and evenly.

Like the Hamilton and Oster, the Imusa has a 180-degree hinge that lets you use the top grill plate as a second grill surface and an adjustable floating hinge that fits even the largest sandwich. The cooking surface is made from stainless steel which is easy to clean and does not stick. There are not any controls or knobs so it’s easy to use, but that does mean you cannot set a specific cooking temperature. 2 convenient lights on the lid let you know when the grill is heated and when cooking is finished.

The Imusa is good because it has a powerful heating element and a large cook surface. Unfortunately, the size means it takes up a fair amount of counter space and the lack of ridged cooking surface means grease is not drained as efficiently. However, many items best cooked on a flat top are better with a bit of grease, so this is not a huge problem.

What We Liked:

  • The flat top grill is a nice change of pace
  • Very versatile
  • 180-degree lid opens up into second grilling surface
  • Adjustable hinge for large items
  • The powerful heating element heats and cooks fast
  • Great for breakfast foods

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Takes up a fair amount of counter space
  • Does not drain grease that well
  • No temperature control

7. Breville Smart Grill

Breville Smart Grill

Up next is the Breville Smart Grill and, true to its name, it’s smart in every way imaginable. The Breville gives you multiple setting options, a temperature and timer knob, and a digital display that tells the temperature and current cooking time. The hinge opens up 180 degrees so you can turn it into a second grill space.

One amazing feature of the Breville is its smart Element IQ technology that uses embedded heat sensors to adjust the temperature of the grill in real-time to compensate for changes in the heat. With 1,800 watts of power, the Breville is strong, smart, and quite good-looking if we do say so ourselves. The shiny chrome finish makes it look that much more high-tech and the plates can be removed for easy machine washing.

Speaking of plates, the Breville has plates made from titanium-infused alloy called Quantanium that gives it its non-stick properties. The temperature/cook time display is bright, accurate, and can be switched between Fahrenheit and Celsius and the cook setting knob has options ranging from high to low to panini and sear modes. A built-in drip tray can be removed to clean up.

What We Liked:

  • Titanium infused quantum surface is tough and non-stick
  • It Opens 1800-degrees into BBQ mode
  • Knobs for temperature and timer
  • Heat sensors auto-adjust grill heat
  • Large cooking surface
  • Temperature and timer display

What We Didn’t Like:

  • The drip tray can be hard to remove
  • Takes up a lot of counter space
  • Pricey

8. George Foreman Multi-Plate Evolve Ceramic Grill

George Foreman Multi-Plate Evolve Ceramic Grill

The penultimate option on our list is another from George Foreman, this one their foray into ceramic plated grills. The Multi-Plate is a 3-in-1 panini press, waffle maker, ad traditional grill wrapped up into one and gives a ton of cooking options. The Multi-Plate comes with grill plates you can switch out depending on what you are currently cooking. The grill plate is made from a durable ceramic while the panini press and waffle press plates are made from a non-stick iron.

Another great feature of the Multi-Plate is the digital control panel that lets you adjust cook temperatures with the press of a button and a display that tells you the current temperature and cook time remaining. It also has an extremely useful 500-degree searing burst which raises the temperature of the grill to 500 degrees for 90 seconds to get that seared in restaurant finish.

Like every George Foreman grill, the Multi-Plate is angled so it effectively drains fat and grease. The grill plates are all removable and machine washable and the entire device can be wiped down with a wet washcloth. The only problems are that over time the buttons can get unresponsive and require greater pressure to register and the grill plate locks can wear down and come loose over time.

What We Liked:

  • 3-in1 grilling opens up countless options
  • Ceramic grilling plates
  • Unique 500-degree sear function
  • The digital control panel is easy to read
  • The floating hinge fits large food

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Somewhat heavy and takes up a fair amount of counter space
  • Buttons can get unresponsive with the use
  • Plate locks can wear down over time

9. George Foreman 2-Serving Classic Grill

George Foreman 2-Serving Classic Grill

Coming in last but certainly, not least is another option from George Foreman, this one their classic 2-serving grill and panini press. The 2-serving grill is an update of the classic George Foreman model that dropped back in 1994 in a smaller more portable package. The George Foreman 2-serving panini press is compact, lightweight, and extremely easy to use. There are no pesky knobs or buttons; just plug her in and start cooking.

Like all George Foreman’s., the 2-serving is made with the angled grill surface that can reduce the fat content of cooked meats by up to 42%. The durable plate grills are made from special steel with a non-stick coating on the surface and it comes with a convenient drip tray for catching grease.

The George Foreman 2-serving is probably one of the best value paninis because it operates exceedingly well but is very affordable. This tiny but mighty grill makes the perfect housewarming gift or a good gift for the busy professional who does not have a lot of time to cook fancy meals at home. Unfortunately, the plates are not removable, but cleanup is still pretty straightforward. The only complaint we have is the lack of a temperature knob.

What We Liked:

  • Small, portable, and compact
  • Update of the classic George Foreman model
  • The non-stick coating does not need to be seasoned
  • Very energy efficient

What We Didn’t Like:

  • The drip tray is flimsy and gets hot when full
  • Grill plates are not removable
  • The lid does not open very wide

10. George Foreman 4-Serving Panini Press

George Foreman 4-Serving Panini Press

Sitting at the halfway point of our round-up is the George Foreman 4-Serving Panini Press. Considered by many to be the king of grill presses, George Foreman has been a staple of culinary enthusiasts for a generation. This 4-serving panini press has ample space for up to 4 portion perfect dinner servings and incorporates George Foreman’s signature sloped fat removing design that can drain up to 42% of fat.

The new foreman has a tough durable non-stick coating that is up to two times more durable than traditional coatings and removable machine washable plates make clean up easy. The grill comes with a grease trap tray and simple red/green LED indicators tell you when the grill is on and when cooking is done.

Another great feature of the George Foreman is the adjustable floating hinge that can give you some extra space on the grill for larger cuts of meat and veggies. The angled grill surface drains grease effectively, although some meat creations are arguably better with some grease. Either way, the George Foreman is an excellent panini grill that can whip up tasty delicious sandwiches in just 10 minutes.

What We Liked:

  • Signature sloped grill surface drains grease and fat
  • Adjustable floating hinge accommodates large items
  • Removable plates are machine washable
  • Good quality. George Foreman grills are known for their consistent heating and longevity
  • Non-stick surface does not require extra seasoning

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Takes up a lot of counter space
  • The grease tray is flimsy and gets hot when full


If you are strapped on time and money, then a panini is a cheap meal that tastes great and is easy to make. A good panini press will not only make your sandwiches but can double as a grill for larger items.

So if you are thinking about buying a panini press, you cannot go wrong choosing one of the options on this list. It would be nice to be able to make any kind of sandwich you want, and we bet you’d save some money from going out by making these at home.

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