Channel Your Inner Cook With These Panini Presses

Halved cheese panini on board

Get ready for the most versatile cooking appliance that will ever grace your man cave.

The panini press is an electric apparatus with two grill plates that clamp down to provide an even cook on both sides of whatever is in the middle, whether that be meat, vegetables, or, you know, a panini.

The quality of grill plates is notoriously hit or miss so we have picked out three excellent machines, one entry-level, one mid-tier, and one premium.

George Foreman Grill Plate

Closed black George Foreman grill
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Dimensions (LWH) 9.40" x 5.10" x 10.25"
Weight 2.8 lbs

From the two-time former heavyweight boxing champion, George Foreman, we have a quality entry-level sandwich maker.

Entry-level in the sense that it has no temperature options or extra features such as lid-locking (adjusting the top grill to different heights), and only being able to fit one sandwich at a time.

Regardless, the iconic sloping bottom surface makes up for it by collecting excess fat into a dishwasher-safe drip tray. A simple way to keep the calories down.

It also features an indicator light that turns on at the optimal temperature.

Cleaning it is straightforward. Simply unplug it from the wall, wait for it to cool down slightly, and gently scrub with a wet cloth before drying with a paper towel.

The drip tray can either be put in a dishwasher or washed directly under the faucet.

The George Foreman is way more than just a sandwich maker or panini press. It can grill chicken, steak, bacon, and even vegetables - leaving grill master-worthy charred lines.

Its smaller size means you won't be making a family feast in a rush, but that's not the purpose. For quick, easy meals, this is perhaps the best value for money in terms of home appliances.

Non-stick Chrome Panini Press

Open panini press with two sandwiches inside
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Dimensions (LWH) 11.60" x 12.65" x 4.50"
Weight 6.1 lbs

Previous device a bit too small for your liking? This 1400W non-stick panini press from Hamilton Beach is our mid-range pick which is substantially bigger and packed with more features.

Firstly, it has a floating top lid with multiple height settings to evenly cook both sides of your sandwich due to it being completely horizontal, as well as leaving space for open-face sandwiches. It is controlled by a foolproof lock on the side.

A thin profile makes this panini press perfect for storing upright when not in use. Even the cord can be wrapped underneath leaving barely any protrusion.

The 10" by 8" cooking surface area comfortably fits two sandwiches with a little room to spare on each side, avoiding cheese from melting off the edge.

Non-stick grill plates are found on both the top and bottom and do an excellent job at funneling fat to the outskirts.

The indication light comes on within 6 minutes but we found it reaches scorching temperatures in only a few minutes so don't be afraid to start using it before the light turns green.

Available in three styles: chrome, retro red, and stainless steel.

Premium Electric Griddler

Front view of silver griddler
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Dimensions (LWH) 8.75" x 16" x 13.75"
Weight 12 lbs

What do you do when consumer-grade home appliances aren't enough? Get yourself a high-end, heavy-duty griddler.

Weighing just under double the previous press, this machine from Cuisinart has all the controls you would ever want.

Unlike most panini presses on the market, this features adjustable temperatures ranging from 175 degrees all the way up to 450. Just what you need when you are not only using it for sandwiches, but also meat and vegetables.

In fact, everything is controlled by just two buttons. One to turn on and off the machine and the other to adjust temperature, how long the machine is on, and the grill/griddle mode options.

The dishwasher-safe grill plates are both removable and reversible, allowing for easy cleaning and evening out the usage over time.

The unit is made from high-quality stainless steel which covers the cover, handle, and LCD control pad, while the non-stick plates are thick enough to retain and disperse the heat.

It will be a permanent fixture on your kitchen space compared to the other machines due to being too bulky to store in most cupboards. But that can be a positive since you will be more inclined to use it.

If you are like us and only make grilled cheese sandwiches, you will be happy to know that a gourmet recipe book is included.

Cast Iron Grill Press

Handhel grill press with wooden handle
See Current Price A tried and trusted alternative to the electronic presses is a cast iron grill weight which is straightforward to use and maintain, and far more affordable.

Simply preheat it on an open flame stovetop (or induction cooktop) and wait until it starts to smoke. Get your panini ready in a pan then place on top - flipping each minute while firmly pushing down.

Tip: Flip it over the same way each time so the grill pattern doesn't overlap.

The biggest benefits are that you have full control of how thin/thick the panini is, and that you won't be dedicating half a cupboard to storage.

How to Properly Clean a Panini Press

Unplug the machine after use and wait 5-10 minutes (or after you have finished your food) until it cools down. Take a sheet of paper towel and wipe the fat residue and remaining food off. Then put a few drops of soap on a sponge, put it in warm water, and wipe both plates thoroughly.

Do the same for the removable drip tray or just put it in the dishwasher.

Avoid at all costs using a knife to pry off food clumps. This is the fastest way to destroy the nonstick coating.