Are you shopping for a panini press to join your growing collection of kitchen gadgets and gizmos? We’ve hunted through the wide variety of units available on the market and found a press that will toast your sandwich to perfection, is easy to clean, offers additional cooking perks, and will meet your budget.
The panini press that offers the most bang for your buck is the Cuisinart GR-300WS Griddler Elite Grill, but does come with a significantly higher price tag. However, when you realize this item can also open up flat and perform as a countertop griddle with dual temperature controls and is an easy to clean unit, it may turn out to be the best investment you’ve made on a small appliance.
If you are shopping on a budget, check out the Cuisinart GR-11 Griddler 3-in-1 that can save you a hundred dollars while still delivering a quality press that can still serve double-duty as a griddle.
For the sandwich shop looking for a budget friendly unit with professional quality durability, the Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo will sear as many paninis as you can make without its heating element giving up the ghost.
For a complete rundown of the seven best panini presses, check out our detailed reviews in the section below and happy toasting!
Cuisinart GR-300WS Griddler Elite Grill
The number one item on our panini press parade is the Cuisinart GR-300WS for all the extras that it provides above and beyond a one-step press that will just clutter up your counter. While you are paying more than double the price compared to some budget models, the quality of the construction and versatility handsomely pay off on the investment.
More Than a Panini Press
The Griddler comes with removable heating plates that are flat on one side and ribbed on the other. Use it to make pancakes, quesadillas, french toast or even grill a steak. Of course its floating hinged lid will toast and flatten your panini to perfection, but you’ll be reaching for it to do so much more.
Is Able to Open Flat
The hinge can be unlocked and the unit opens up flat, doubling your cooking surface when grilling burgers. Grease drains off and collected in a dishwasher safe cup that stores underneath. Pop out the plates, run them through the dishwasher, and you’re ready to try something else. The handy recipe booklet offers up a bunch of tasty treats for you to try.
Set Your Temperature
Many sandwich presses simply have an on/off button. Set each side of the Griddler to your preferred temperature. Sear on one side while lightly toast on the other. Indicator lights let you know when the griddle is hot enough to turn out pancakes golden brown and fluffy.
- Six cooking configurations for versatile use
- Griddle plates are removable, reversible, and dishwasher safe
- Sears up to 500F
- Two temperature controls
- Tall handle is difficult to operate under standard height cupboards
- More expensive unit
- Does not have waffle plates and other Cuisinart waffle plates don’t fit
- Browns unevenly due to single loop heating element
Hamilton Beach 25460A Panini Press Gourmet Sandwich Maker
If you are looking for a bargain in a panini press, the Hamilton Beach 25460A is the low priced unit that’s going to provide a nicely toasted sandwich without a lot of fuss.
Space Saving Unit
While you might think twice about the durability of the plastic hinge and handle, you won’t complain about the Hamilton Beach’s ability to stand upright and slide to the back of the counter. The lid locks into place so it doesn’t flop open when you are not expecting it.
Floating Lid Works for Any Sandwich
The floating lid automatically adjusts to a thin cheese quesadilla or the hearty hoagie you just had to try and toast without fiddling with knobs. Simply slide in your sandwich masterpiece when the light turns green and you’ll have a warm, crispy lunch in just a minute.
- Floating lid allows you to press any thickness of sandwich
- Can store unit upright to save space
- Low price
- Green indicator light lets you know when it’s ready to go
- No variable temperature controls
- Fixed grill plates cannot be removed for washing
- Single grill surface–no griddle/grill option
Cuisinart GR-11 Griddler 3-in-1 Grill and Panini Press
If you want all the versatility of the Griddler Elite, but don’t want to shell out the big bucks, Cuisinart created its less expensive cousin the GR-11 Griddler.
Double Your Cooking Surface
Just like its big brother, the GR-11 has an unlocking hinge that allows you create a large flat top griddle or grill, ready to make a delicious cheese sandwich or sear a nice rib-eye steak. Simply turn its adjustable front feet and grease drains toward the convenient cup stored in the bottom of the unit.
Yes, there’s no scrubbing using one of those awkward brush tools. Just pop out the grill plates and toss them in the dishwasher. Flip them over for a flat surface or enjoy criss-crossing grill marks on your signature sandwich. Remember, this is not the premium unit, even if it looks like it. The GR-11 will not stand up to the same abuse you are able to churn out on the more expensive model.
- Adjustable front feet allows for improved grease drainage
- Removable grill plates for easy cleaning
- Hinge release allows unit to open flat for double the cooking space
- No temperature controls
- Lower quality construction compared to Elite unit
- Plates tend to pop off when they shouldn’t
George Foreman GRP1060B 4-Serving Removable Plate Grill
You probably recognize the name as a reliable tabletop grill that helps to reduce the amount of fat in your food. The George Foreman GRP1060B still does all that with some upgrades integrated and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to purchase.
Slanted Design Drains Grease
While it does not have the floating lid and adjustable height found on true panini presses, the Foreman grill features a slanted cooking surface that naturally allows grease to flow away from burgers, steaks and other fatty foods. The grease cup can pop into the dishwasher for easy cleaning. For a sandwich press, it does the job as expected. You won’t find temperature settings or dual-surface plates, but at the same time you aren’t spending a lot of money on the unit.
Removable Plates are Easy to Clean
The biggest benefit to the newer Foreman grills is the removable cooking plates that are Teflon coated. You can pop them in the dishwasher or rinse them off in the sink. However, the coating does wear over time and it you’ll need to replace the plates or the grill to continue enjoying non-stick cooking.
- Large cooking surface can handle four burgers at once
- New heating element reaches cooking temperature faster
- Removable non-stick plates wash up quickly
- Sloped design allows for better grease drainage
- Short power cord makes it difficult to set it up where you want it
- No temperature control doesn’t sear meat
- Clips for the plates are thin and tend to break
Proctor Silex 25453A Panini Press Gourmet Sandwich Maker
When looking for a dedicated panini press, Proctor Silex has delivered this beautiful unit you could find in your favorite bistro cooking up gourmet sandwiches. Its chrome and black exterior is going to blend with your modern stainless steel kitchen.
Large Cooking Surface
When you enjoy toasting up lunch for your family, this press can cook up to four sandwiches at a time with its 12-inch wide cooking surface. Non-stick plates will imprint those gorgeous sear marks on the bread and wipe down easily after you are done. There’s no need to dig out the skillet, just turn on the unit, allow it to warm up and you are ready to cook.
Adding a panini press to your collection of countertop appliances doesn’t mean you have to lose working space. The Proctor Silex has large, sturdy feet on the bottom and back. Simply snick the locking lid into place, unplug it and tip it upright to store at the back of the counter, out of the way. You are spending a few dollars more than a real bargain unit, but you get professional performance and appearance for those extra bucks.
- Locking lid and large feet allow you to store upright and out of the way
- Twelve inch wide grill surface cooks several sandwiches at once
- Attractive stainless steel matches your decor
- Plates are not removable
- Higher price with same features as less expensive models
- Lock on lid doesn’t always snap in place
- No temperature control
Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press
When Cuisinart crafted the GR-1 Griddler, they wanted those looking for their 3-in-1 grills but trying to avoid a high price tag to grab up this moderately priced unit. Unfortunately, while it bears the Cuisinart and Griddler names, it is truly only a panini press. Which if you want perfectly toasted sandwiches, you’ve come to the right place.
Floating Lid and Indicator Lights
You’ll be able to overstuff the sub roll and press it down as the floating lid will adjust to just about any thickness of bread and fillings. When you turn it on a red light warns you to wait before loading it up with food. The light turns green to inform you it’s ready to go! It’s user friendly and an intuitive design.
Cuisinart certainly didn’t skimp on the details as the GR-1 has the heavy-duty look and feel of the more expensive units. You’ll be able to rely on this press for years to come while cooking up to four sandwiches at a time on its large grilling plates.
Only a Panini Press
That being said, the plates are not removable. This one doesn’t have an unlocking hinge for double the room to turn it into a griddle. The temperature is preset, so it’s really only on or off–you won’t be searing your steaks on this unit. And you pay as much or more for this unit as the GR-11 Griddler Grill.
- Cooks paninis to perfection
- Floating hinge adjusts for any thickness sandwich
- Indicator lights and recipe book help you make the most of the unit
- Grill plates do not remove
- No temperature setting
- Higher price
Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press
When you’re looking for a superior dedicated panini press, Breville Panini Duo delivers in style. Professional quality is packed into the moderately priced unit for perfectly toasted treats time after time.
Powerful Heating Element
Its 1500w heating element reaches toasting temperature in short order and can withstand hours of use. When you are the toasting master for large house parties, this is a professional grade model that won’t give up after a couple servings. Cheese and bread will melt and toast is just a minute or two for fast and fat free cooking. The stainless steel finish matches the high-end finish of your kitchen.
Grill and Griddle Plates Heat Evenly
The top plate is ribbed to create the classic grill marks on your sandwich while the bottom plate is a flat griddle. The flat plate delivers higher temperature and even heat to your panini, for melty, toasty goodness in a fast and convenient appliance. Your budding chef will always get the crispy finish to their warm sandwich creation they want.
Adjustable Durable Lid
The floating hinge on many presses is often the part that fails first. The Breville opted for four adjustable heights on the lid, to allow for extra-thick paninis while increasing the durability of their product. Switching between thin and thick just takes a twist of a knob.
- One flat and one ribbed plate provides superior even heating while still giving you grill marks
- 1500w element delivers a sear worthy heat
- Professional quality construction will stand up to years of abuse
- Plates are not removable
- Higher price
- Four settings for hinge height instead of floating lid