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Few sandwiches are as infamous as the Panini. Its beautiful grill mark and melting interior, gives the sandwich another depth of flavor. For most people, the Panini is only accessible in the restaurant. Thankfully, you can make your own with a Panini Maker and Grill. Its a simple pan with ridge mark, most are electric operated with a heating coil inside. But the Best Panini Maker are the simple cast iron press.
What is a Panini Maker and Grill?
A Panini Maker is a tool to make Panini sandwiches. Modern Panini Maker are electric models that resembles a George Foreman Grill. In fact, the design are very similar. The plate on the top and bottom are heated via a coil. When it reaches optimal temperature, you press down. This gives it the signature grill mark.
Traditional Panini Maker are made of cast iron. There will be two accompanying tool, the pan and the press. Like the electric model, these tool have ridges to give it grill mark. To use it, heat up both the pan and the press. Once hot, drop the sandwich in and press down.
Sandwich Maker vs Panini Maker?
There is little difference between the two. In essence, they are the same, the only difference is the ridge mark. I will say that the sandwich maker is more versatile, you can do regular cooking as well as make sandwiches.
How to Use?
Using a Panini Maker is pretty easy. For the electric model, start by setting the temperature. Some models have temperature setting to tell you when its ready. When ready, place the sandwich in and lower the lever. The amount of time it should be press depends on the model and temperature. Generally, I try it for 30 seconds to see if its done.
For the cast iron pan and press, heat it up over a open flame. Once hot, place the sandwich and press. Just be aware that its a lot hotter than the electric model. Make sure you dont burn it.
Electric Panini Maker are a chore to clean. Models with removable plate are ideal. Since you can just rinse it at the sink. For those with integrated plate, you need to clean it with a damp towel. Since most have a nonstick coating, its relatively easy. However, sometimes you get stubborn stain. In these cases, try splashing some water while its hot.
For the cast iron model, just wipe it down. You can use soap, but be careful about stripping the seasoning. Some have enamel coating with no seasoning. So you dont have to worry about rust.
Best Panini Maker and Grill List
Below, you will find a list of the Best Panini Maker and Grill. There are a few models available, choose one that best suits you.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Panini Press, 9″, Licorice (Best Overall)
Le Creuset is one of the biggest name in the cookware industry. Their products are beautiful and is held to the highest standard. This Cast Iron Press with the grill pan is perfect for making Panini Sandwiches. The ridges are not too tall and far enough to give a defined grill mark. If you want, you can even make grilled chicken/vegetable. It is a bit limited though. Plus, you need to buy the pan separately.
Cuisinart Griddler, Elite, Silver,GR-300WSP1 (Best Electricl Panini Maker and Grill)
If you want a electric model, this is the way to go. The plates are removable and comes with different side. This means that not only can you make Panini, you can do regular cooking as well. There are a few different models of the Cuisinart Griddler, but the elite is the top of the line. It has the highest power rating and easy to use control. If you want the best, then go for this model.
Breville Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press (Best Buy)
Breville got their start making the toastie maker. A sandwich maker of similar design. These Panini Press is similar at a more affordable price. While they do have higher end models, this is a good alternative. It also has flat and ribbed plate for versatility in cooking.
A Panini Sandwich are a Italian Classic. With the right tools, you can even make it at home. I personally prefer the traditional cast iron press. Its more durable and you dont have to rely on a outlet. However, if you want electric, then the Cuisinart Elite Griddler is a good choice. There are a lot of more affordable option out there, Breville is one of them. Or you can even get the standard Cuisinart griddler, all of which works well.
Looking for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the crust? Check out our article on the Best Sandwich Cutter and Sealer.