When it comes to upgrading your plain-Jane sandwich, a panini press is the perfect tool. The best models churn out melty, panini press with reversible plates, and even handle thicker panini with fillings like grilled chicken or roasted veggies. Moreover, they usually come with alternative cooking plates that allow them to function as flat contact grills or skillets for cooking pancakes or scrambled eggs. As a bonus, these panini presses take up less space than a full cooktop or toaster oven, making them ideal for apartments and dorm rooms.
To select the top picks for this article, we consulted food experts—including Rennie Dyball, who focuses on kitchen appliances and has tested a number of panini presses—and sought out the cooking expertise of Celereino Cruz, head chef at Ggiata Delicatessen. We also factored in our own experience with each model, as well as the input of our panel of home testers.
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During our tests, we took into account several important features, including the cooking surface, adjustable temperature settings, and timers. We also compared the weight of each model. A heavier model can apply more pressure and make a more substantial sandwich, while a lighter one can be easier to use, but may not heat as evenly.
We also looked at whether a model included removable, reversible plates and how easy it was to clean. Most models have nonstick surfaces that are dishwasher-safe, but you can also opt for a cast iron or stainless steel set. Lastly, we considered the power and readiness indicator lights, as well as whether it had an adjustable thermostat. Adjustable temperatures up to 570 degrees Fahrenheit allow you to cook many different meals on your press, making it a versatile addition to any kitchen.