Shopping

Best panini press – 7 sandwich maker machines for delicious lunches

Pick up the best panini press to elevate your lunches, with top panini press machines from Cuisinart, Breville and more top brand

Best sandwich maker
(Image credit: Future)

The best panini press can turn even the limpest of lunches into delicious, toasty paninis filled with melted cheese and other fillings. Also known as a panini press, the humble toasted sandwich maker can seal the outside of your sandwich to keep all the delicious fillings inside. 

Some of the best panini press in our guide can also be used to make waffles and even to grill meats when off-duty, so these multi-functional machines will more than earn their spot in your kitchen. 

Featuring top panini presses and toasted sandwich makers from Cuisinart, Breville, Black & Decker and more great brands, here are our top picks of the best sandwich makers 2021. You can see more of the best toasters in our buying guide, including top two- and four-slice models for perfect toast.

Best panini press

Best panini press cuisinart

(Image credit: Cuisinart)

1. Cuisinart Griddler Elite

Best panini press for added extras

Specifications
Dimensions: 15x16x9 inches
No. of sandwiches: Two
Settings: Contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, half grill/half griddle, and top melt; dual-zone temperature control
Reasons to buy
+Large cooking surface+Six cooking functions+Dual-zone temperature control+Attractive brushed stainless steel housing
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively expensive-No waffle plates available

With the Griddler Elite, the question to ask is what can’t it do. This electric grill boasts six cooking functions and can tackle any task with its ability to grill, griddle, half grill, half griddle, panini press, and top-melt sandwiches, meats and other items. So if you fancy some French toast, chicken and vegetables or a panini, this is the ideal machine. The Griddler Elite’s sleek, brushed stainless steel will also look the part on any counter.

There’s a large grilling surface of 240 square inches across both plates, so you can easily griddle a couple of steaks and eggs, or two generous sandwiches at the same time.

With the dual-zone temperature control, shown on the LCD, you can take advantage of the two plates to cook separate items at different temperatures, griddling an egg on one plate while grilling bacon on the other. There’s also a searing function, which cooks at 500˚F for up to two minutes at a time, a 60-minute countdown timer, and an adjustable top cover with six presets to top melt and lock for storage.

The grill and griddle plates are removable, reversible and nonstick, and are safe to put in the dishwasher, which along with the integrated drip tray, make cleaning up afterwards easy.

Black+Decker 3-in-1 Waffle, Grill & Sandwich Maker

(Image credit: Black+Decker)

2. Black+Decker 3-in-1 Waffle, Grill & Sandwich Maker

Best panini press for versatility

Specifications
Dimensions: 9x9x4 inches
No. of sandwiches: Two
Settings: Waffle Maker, grill or sandwich maker
Reasons to buy
+Three different plate types+Compact design+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively expensive-No waffle plates available

This is ideal if you’re looking for a little bit more from your traditional toasted sandwich maker. With its 3-in-1 compact design, the Black+Decker model lets you cook up a batch of waffles, grill some bacon or make a cheese toastie thanks to its interchangeable cooking plates.

The plates are all nonstick and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning afterwards, and they feature grease run-off channels for collecting and disposing of fat. The temperature indicator on the top of the device indicates when the plates are perfectly pre-heated and ready for your food, and the cool-touch handles mean you can open and close the lid during cooking without burning your hand.

The compact design will fit anywhere on your kitchen surface and makes it easy to store out of the way when not in use.

panini press

(Image credit: Ostba)

3. OSTBA Sandwich Maker, Toaster and Electric Panini Press

Best budget panini press

Specifications
Dimensions: 8x9x3 inches
No. of sandwiches: Two
Settings: Standard toasted sandwich
Reasons to buy
+Great value+Compact size+Quick to use
Reasons to avoid
-Non-removable plates-Only one setting-No on/off switch

The OSTBA Sandwich Maker, Toaster and Electric Panini Press might not be the fanciest or most versatile of the models we’ve included here, but it’s ideal if you’re just after the basics: a perfect cheese toastie.

As well as toasted sandwiches, you can also grill omelettes and crisp up your French toast. And you won’t be waiting long for your snack, as it only takes about a minute to heat up, and then another three minutes or so to toast.

While the plates aren’t removable, so you can’t just put them in the dishwasher after use, thanks to the non-stick coating, they’re still simple to clean. Just wait for the plates to cool down and then wipe them clean with a damp cloth.

As well as being fantastic value, the OSTBA sandwich maker’s compact size means it’s easy to tuck away in a cupboard or take with you when travelling if you really can’t live without your toastie.

Indicator lights on the top cover show when it’s ready to cook, and the cool touch locking handle means no risk of burnt paws.  

Breville

(Image credit: Breville)

4. Breville BGR820XL Smart Grill

Best smart grill panini press

Specifications
Dimensions: 16 x 14 x 5 inches
No. of sandwiches: Two
Settings: Low, sandwich mode, sear, BBQ mode
Reasons to buy
+Can act as a home grill+Different intensity modes+Easy and smart controls+Fat draining for convenient cleanup
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-No options for waffles

The Breville BGR820XL Smart Grill not only acts as a panini press, it also opens up to work as a grill in 'BBQ mode' and has a variety of settings for sandwiches as well as searing. 

If you want a sandwich maker that also acts as an excellent health grill, this is a good choice. It an adjustable plate tilt that can drain fat or make evenly cooked pancakes and eggs. The plates can go from 310- 450°F, which is perfect for toasted paninis without molten fillings. 

The plates are also non-stick, which makes cleaning easy because they're suitable for placing in the dishwasher. 

panini press

(Image credit: Hamilton Beach)

5. Hamilton Beach Dual Breakfast Sandwich Maker with Timer

Best sandwich maker for eggs and muffins

Specifications
Dimensions: 10.5x8x6 inches
No. of sandwiches: Two
Settings: Countdown timer
Reasons to buy
+Good value+Removable plates for easy cleanup+Ideal for cooking eggs and muffins
Reasons to avoid
-No interchangeable plates-Plates too small for bagels

The Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker is perfect for those who want to add eggs into the mix for their toasted sandwich, or to replicate a McMuffin without having to leave the house.

Its dual cooking plates let you cook your sandwich in two distinct parts, say a fried egg for the top layer and some ham and cheese on the lower layer.

The five-minute countdown timer on the front sets off an audible beep once the cooking time is up. Then simply slide out the top plate to unveil your perfectly assembled breakfast sandwich. You can make one or two sandwiches at a time, with different combinations of ingredients and bases, whether a muffin or croissant.

The plates are removable and dishwasher safe for quick and easy cleanup afterwards, and there are indicator lights on the front of the machine to show when it’s powered on and pre-heated.

panini press

(Image credit: Chefman)

6. Chefman Electric Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker

Best panini press for baguettes and grilling

Specifications
Dimensions: 10.5x8x6 inches
No. of sandwiches: Two
Settings: Panini press, contact grill, lay-flat grill
Reasons to buy
+Fits baguettes and stacked burgers+Grill meats and vegetables+Good value
Reasons to avoid
-No interchangeable plates-Non-removable plates-Floating hinge can be stiff

If you’re looking for a sandwich maker that does a lot more than just toast a sandwich, the Chefman Electric Panini Press Grill and Gourmet Sandwich Maker is ideal. You can make standard toasted sandwiches, perfectly pressed paninis or a fully stacked baguette, thanks to the large 9x5.5in surface area of the plate and the floating hinge, which adjusts to press the thinnest grilled cheese to a tower burger.

You can open the grill and use the 10x9in lay-flat surface to cook up the perfect steak, burger, fish or vegetables, while the closed cooking surface can fit two sandwiches or one panini or baguette.

The sloped design means grease drips to the back of the machine, while the removable drip tray and non-stick plates make it easy to clean up after cooking – although you can’t remove the plates so these need to be wiped once cool in the machine.

While it’s not the smallest of models we’ve included, it’s still small enough to fit on a counter or slot onto a shelf.  

The best sandwich makers

(Image credit: T-fal)

7. T-fal EZ Clean Easy to Clean Nonstick Sandwich and Waffle Maker

The all round best sandwich maker

Specifications
Dimensions: 13x12x7 inches
No. of sandwiches: Two
Settings: Waffle and sandwich plates
Reasons to buy
+Easy clean+Waffle plates included+Vertical storage and cord wrap
Reasons to avoid
-No grill-No temperature controls-No on/off switch

T-fal is known for its non-stick surfaces, so if you’re looking for a machine that is going to be as easy to clean as it is to use, this is the ideal for you.

With two sets of plates, each with deep pockets, you can make your favourite toastie or switch the plates and cook up a batch of waffles.

Indicator lights on the front show when the sandwich maker is ready to cook, and the plates are removable, non-stick and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.

Once you’ve finished making your snack, you can tuck the T-fal model away into a small space, as it’s designed for vertical storage and has a convenient cord wrap that fits snugly around the machine.

How do I choose the best sandwich maker?

Sandwich makers and panini presses are quite different, each one offering its own unique take on the toasted treat. You need to decide what’s important to you, so that you can find the right model for your needs. First, do you want to make just traditional toasties, or will you want to grill meat, serve up stacked sandwiches or cook waffles, thanks to the addition of a lay-flat lid, flexible hinge or extra plates?

Next, you need to think about how easy your machine is to clean. Removable and dishwasher safe plates improve cleaning times, which is important if you use your machine a lot; for occasional use, you can save a bit of money by buying a machine that has fixed plates. If your chosen grill does more than toasties, look out for one with a drip tray that can catch grease.  

Finally, think about size, as storage is important, particularly if you have limited space. 

Should I buy a sandwich maker or panini press??

This will depend on what you’re after from your machine. If you’re just looking to make toasties, you’re better opting for a toastie maker as these are the best value, are simple to operate and tend to be compact.

If you want to expand your cooking options with elements like grilling meat or vegetables, making stacked burgers, toasting baguettes, or serving up a batch of waffles, you’re best off investing in a sandwich press, which offer more cooking options, larger surface areas and/or greater control over temperature and settings.

How much should I spend on a sandwich maker?

You can get a basic model for around $20, but for machines with extra features like grilling and removable plates, expect to pay anything up to and even over $100.

What else can you make in a sandwich maker?

The options are endless. You might pick anything from a bagel or baguette to a croissant or muffin for your outer layers. And then inside, as well as the favourite cheese toastie, you could cook an egg, grill some steak or chicken, or go for something sweet like waffles with maple syrup and berries.