Although they’re often incorrectly regarded as one-trick gadgets, panini presses are among the most versatile appliances you can have in a kitchen. They’re the best possible way to prepare homemade paninis, but in addition to flattening sandwiches, bread, and quesadillas, and reheating pizza, some panini presses also function as a full grill or griddle. Just open the cover and create a double cooking surface for pancakes, eggs, French toast, hash browns, and bacon. You can also use them as a half grill/half griddle or as a contact grill to cook burgers, boneless pieces of meat, and thinly cut meat and veggies quickly and healthily.

George Foreman

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The grill plates are perhaps the most important consideration when buying a panini press. Ones that evenly distribute heat will yield better and more consistent results. Nonstick plates are lighter and cheaper, while cast iron is sturdy, less likely to scratch and flake, and a better option if you’ll be using the panini press frequently. Getting a model with removable grill plates will allow for more versatility, and they’ll be easier to clean.


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If you get a panini press with a floating hinge, you’ll be able to open and close it at different heights, which will permit you to grill both short and extra-tall sandwiches and meats of different sizes. An adjustable thermostat will allow you to grill a wide variety of foods at different temperatures, while a larger surface area means you can use the panini press to grill more items at once.


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A drip tray keeps your cooking surface free of oil and stray sandwich crumbs, and it also makes it easier to discard oil and grease when cleaning up the panini press. Try to clean the panini every time you use it. Removable plates are generally dishwasher safe, but always make sure to check the product manual. If you can’t remove the plates, you can wash your press with a damp sponge, but be sure not to get any of the electrical parts wet and never submerge the entire device in water.