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If you love hot, toasty sandwiches, a sandwich press can make the job easier since these toast sandwiches on both sides at the same time while pressing down on the sandwich during cooking. You can make paninis, grilled ham and cheese, Cuban sandwiches, and more. Some sandwich presses can also be used to cook burgers or steaks with adjustable temperature controls, and others have removable plates, so you can cook more than just sandwiches. Other presses are designed just for sandwiches but do that job very well with integrated plates and a single temperature that’s perfect for bread. Removable plates are great for versatility and for easier cleaning. Meanwhile, presses with permanent plates tend to cook more evenly.
Best Overall: IMUSA Electric Stainless Steel Nonstick Panini Press
This press has a stainless steel exterior finish and a nonstick cooking surface. While you can’t adjust the cooking temperature, it is set at the perfect degree for toasting sandwiches without burning them. Lights indicate that the press is on and when the press is ready for cooking.
The flat surfaces of this appliance are ideal for pressing sandwiches while toasting the bread evenly. The large 12 x 10-inch surface can accommodate at least two normal-sized sandwiches, and the floating hinge adjusts for cooking foods of various thicknesses, from quesadillas to fat sandwiches.
Since the surface is completely flat and there’s no ledge to contain juices and no-drip tray to collect cooking fats, this isn’t useful for cooking meats or other foods that might drip.
Best Budget: Cuisinart Sandwich Grill
This deep-pocket sandwich press is different from presses with flat or ridged surfaces since it has wells that the sandwiches fit into. You can cook one or two sandwiches at a time. The raised edges around the perimeter seal the ingredients inside while a diagonal ridge creates an indent across the sandwiches to divide them for easy slicing.
This press doesn’t have adjustable temperatures and has two indicator lights that show when power is on and when it’s ready to cook. While you can also use this for cooking French toast or omelets, you wouldn’t use this for grilling steaks or chicken. If you build a sandwich that’s too fat, it might not fit in this press, and you’re limited to using traditional sandwich bread from the grocery store. Homemade bread or other shapes might not fit in the wells.
Best High-End: Cuisinart GR-300WS Griddler Elite
The original Cuisinart Griddler was an innovation when it arrived on the market, but the Griddler Elite takes sandwich making to a whole new level. This grill and griddle have removable and reversible grill/griddle plates that make cooking and cleaning easy. For ultimate control, the upper and lower plates can be controlled separately, and the sear function can heat to 500 degrees for up to 2 minutes.
The lid can be used to smash sandwiches or can lock in multiple positions for light contact or even no-contact cooking. That no-contact option is perfect for open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches and is the ideal way to reheat pizza with a crisp crust and perfectly warmed cheese. When this isn’t working as a panini or contact grill, it opens flat for use as an open grill, griddle, or combo cooker for pancakes, bacon, eggs, and more.
Best for Singles: Dash DMG001BK Mini Maker Portable Grill Machine + Panini Press
This mini press can cook your burger, grill your pineapple, and make your sandwich. It’s perfect for English muffins, bagels, burger buns, and other round breads, but might not fit standard square-shaped sandwich bread quite as well because of its 4-inch round shape. Not just for home kitchens, it’s also great for any space that doesn’t have room for a large press, like an RV or boat. The grill plate can’t be removed, and the unit can’t be immersed, but users say that the nonstick surface makes it easy to wipe clean after cooking and the small size means it stores easily.
Best Design: Oster Titanium Infused DuraCeramic Panini Maker and Grill
While most sandwich makers feature traditional nonstick coatings, this one has ridged plates with a ceramic coating that’s less likely to bubble, flake, or peel off. It cooks faster than similar models, and the temperature is adjustable allowing you to choose just how toasted you want your sandwich. It’s also nonstick, but the plates are not removable, which can make it more difficult to clean.
This press has a floating hinge that allows it to adjust for foods of different thicknesses, and it opens completely to create a flat surface for grilling. It has adjustable feet so you can tilt the unit to drain grease or adapt to uneven cooking surfaces. It includes two drip cups and a cleaning tool.
Best for Families: Breville Panini Press & Grill
With the capacity to cook up to four sandwiches at once, this panini press is great for families, and it can be used as a contact grill as well as a sandwich press. The top plate adjusts for a variety of sandwich thicknesses, so it won’t smash too hard while cooking perfectly.
The bottom grilling surface can be set for a variety of angles so grease and juices can drain away when making burgers or steaks, and it can be kept level when making grilled cheese or quesadillas, so the cheese will stay with the sandwich. The grill plates are not removable, but the nonstick surface makes them easy to clean when cooking is done.
Best for the Dorm: Lekue Microwave Grill, Sandwich Maker, Panini Press
Perfect for dorm rooms, RVs, and small kitchens that don’t have space for countertop appliances, this handy grill and panini press works in the microwave. It’s easy to use, too—just preheat the press in the microwave, add the food, clamp it closed with the stretchy silicone bands, and cook until the food is done.
Because the metal absorbs heat, the food gets great grill marks that impart flavor, while the food cooks through. Cleanup is easy, too, thanks to the nonstick surface, and it can be washed in the dishwasher for super-easy cleanup when dinner is done. Not just for sandwiches, this can also be used to grill meats and vegetables.
Best Specialty: Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker with Timer
Imagine having a breakfast sandwich made in 5 minutes at home—perfect for those mornings when you’re craving something hearty but don’t really have a lot of time to make or pick up something at the drive-thru. This sandwich maker lets you make yummy meals out of English muffins, biscuits, small bagels, and more. And it’s pretty easy cleanup too, thanks to the fact that you can toss all of the removable parts in the dishwasher.
You can get creative with this product, or if you want to be inspired, it comes with recipes. Customers have said that it makes some pretty perfect sandwiches and that it’s easy to use. Some people have warned that the machine comes with a little bit of a learning curve and that it takes some trial and error to get it down. If you’re willing to play with it a little, though, it could be the perfect addition to your mornings.
Best Smart Features: Breville BGR820XL Smart Grill
If you're looking for something that has a little more versatility than your typical sandwich press, Breville's Smart Grill has you covered. With three temperature settings, six height settings, and two modes (panini or barbecue) this indoor griddle/grill can press sandwiches, sear meat, and grill vegetables. It opens to lie flat in barbecue mode, giving you double the surface area to cook and the option to use either the ribbed plate or the flat plate. It also features Element IQ technology, which automatically adjusts the temperature when you throw on cold food to the pre-heated surface to avoid any heat loss.
The base can be tilted to drain fat in panini mode or there's a drip tray when it's in barbecue mode. Plus, the removable nonstick plates ensure an easy cleanup. There are also easy-to-use temperature and time control dials and a backlit LCD display. This small appliance isn't cheap, but if you want a high-tech sandwich press that can also grill your meat, the Breville Smart Grill certainly proves its worth in functionality.