Any sandwich enthusiast knows that a pressed sandwich is pretty hard to beat—the bread is crispy and toasted, while the interior is warm and the cheese is ultra melty. Ever had a Cuban? This classic sandwich with ham and cheese is probably the most well-known pressed sandwich—and for good reason.
Whether you’re constantly making sandwiches or want a countertop appliance that can also cook burgers, wraps, burritos, quesadillas, bacon, veggies, and steaks, a sandwich press is a fun and useful gadget to have in your kitchen; we listed our favorites below.
Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
5 nonstick, removable, dishwasher-safe cooking plates
Floating cover can adjust height
Opens flat for griddling and grilling
Drip tray makes for easy cleanup
Bottom plate heats more than top
Hidden drip tray easy to forget when cleaning
A bit small for a large family
This Cuisinart griddler will take your sandwiches (and more) to the next level. It's a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, and half grill/half griddle all in one—it has five different BPA-free nonstick cooking surfaces, all of which are removable and dishwasher-safe. (You can also order an optional waffle plate!) The floating cover allows you to adjust the height of the press depending on what you’re cooking, too, allowing it to stay parallel with the bottom plate while giving ample room for thick Cubans and hefty cuts of meat. You also have the option of opening it up to grill or griddle flat. Knobs on the front of the device control the functions and heat levels.
We first laid it flat to grill onions, seemingly a simple task, but onions need to cook slowly to avoid burning—we're happy to report that went well. We were also able cook sliced mushrooms on one side and zucchini on the other as well as two sandwiches at once, though the bottom side tended to cook at a higher heat than the top. When using it as a contact grill, steaks and burgers received nice grill marks. Better yet, the nonstick plates are actually satisfactorily nonstick: Burned-on cheese slid off like a dream.
One potential flaw we found was that in its flat configuration, one side sat at a slightly steeper angle than the other. This became beneficial, though, when we cooked eggs or pancakes on the flatter side and sausages on the other half: Grease drained more efficiently into the drip tray. Speaking of which, the drip tray is pretty well hidden, which is great because you don't necessarily want to see that; just don't forget it's there because it does need to be washed after use.
Price at time of publish: $100
Cooking Surface: 11 x 9 inches per plate; 2-slice capacity | Includes: Removable and reversible plates for contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, and half grill/half griddle | Features: Integrated drip tray, hinged floating cover, opens flat | Material: Brushed stainless steel housing | Total Size: 13.5 x 11.5 x 7.12 inches | Warranty: Limited 3-year warranty | Power: 1,650 watts
Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Grill with Locking Lid
Nonstick grates on both sides
Lid-lock feature allows for open-faced sandwiches, pizza
No temperature controls
This budget-friendly sandwich press from Hamilton Beach costs less than $50 and can grill two to three sandwiches of any thickness, thanks to the cafe-style floating lid. While there are no temperature controls, the maker features power and preheat lights (it takes about six minutes for the plates to warm up), and when it turns from red to green, it's ready to cook. There's no need to flip your Reuben or quesadilla halfway through, either. Both top and bottom nonstick plates heat and brown your bread for you.
What's cool about this model is that it also has a lid-lock feature, so you can make open-faced sandwiches, bruschetta, and even pizza. The bottom plate will cook the underside of your meal, while the top plate hovers overhead without coming into contact. To clean, unplug and let this fully cool first, wipe the cooking surfaces with a paper towel to remove drippings (there is no drip tray) and use a plastic spatula to get rid of cooked-on food, and then take a damp sponge with dish soap to take care of the rest. Upright storage allows you to stow this away in a cabinet with ease.
Price at time of publish: $45
Cooking Surface: 10 x 8 inches per plate; 2-slice capacity | Features: Lid-lock mechanism for open-faced sandwiches, pizza | Material: Plastic housing | Total Size: 4.5 x 12.6 x 11.6 inches | Warranty: Limited 5-year warranty | Power: 1,400 watts
Breville BSG600BSS Panini Press, Brushed Stainless Steel
Crush control feature avoids squishing sandwiches
Comes to full heat very quickly
Option for open-faced sandwiches
No temperature control
If making awesome sandwiches is your love language, then maybe you want to go all out and buy the fanciest, nicest press on the market. This one from Breville is designed with a "crush control" hinge design, which applies just enough pressure to toast the exterior of the bread without squishing the entire sandwich. There is also a height control that allows you to fluctuate between different levels depending on the size of your sandwich or keep it locked open, with the top plate hovering above an open-faced sandwich, flatbread, or fragile, flaky croissant.
The grates are coated with PFOA-free nonstick to ensure everything will peel away from the press after cooking. It can hold up to two sandwiches at once; however, its modest size also means that it’s quite easy to store (this can be stowed away upright, by the way) and use on your countertop. Even though it’s more expensive than some other models, its unrivaled results make it a worthwhile splurge.
Price at time of publish: $111
Cooking Surface: 2-slice capacity | Features: Crush control, lid-locking open melt position | Material: Brushed stainless steel housing, aluminum cooking plates | Total Size: 5 x 12.5 x 11.5 inches | Warranty: Limited 1-year warranty | Power: 1,500 watts
“My ideal material for a panini press is cast iron as it retains heat the best and has a very high temperature retention," says TikTok creator Owen Han. "One key component I always look for in a press is a drip tray. This is very helpful in making sure grease and oil do not get all over the place. When it comes to temperature, I look for markings on the unit to indicate temperature settings and make sure it does not take too long to heat up. I also look for a lid that hinges well for thicker sandwiches.”
Best Large Capacity
Chefman Electric Panini Press Grill
Removable drip tray
Opens flat for grilling
Heats in just two minutes
No temperature control
While many panini presses accompany just two slices of bread, this one can handle up to four, and the floating hinge adjusts the cover accordingly if you have a large sandwich to press. For added versatility, it also opens up at 180 degrees for grilling homemade burgers; boneless steaks, poultry, and fish; vegetables; and anything else your heart desires. There is no temperature control on this model, but there are light indicators: red for power and green for when the maker is done preheating. In total, it takes about two minutes to warm up.
No need to worry about cleaning up because the nonstick coating is super low-maintenance and easy to wash. You don't even have to pay mind to grease and other liquids—there's a removable drip tray to take care of the run-off for you. Just make sure to wash this and the nonstick plates after every use. (The plates aren't removable, but can be wiped down with warm, soapy water once the appliance has cooled.)
Price at time of publish: $29
Cooking Surface: 4-slice capacity | Includes: Removable drip tray, opens flat | Features: Opens flat | Material: Stainless steel housing | Total Size: 13 x 10 x 4 inches (available in 2 or 4 slice) | Warranty: 1-year parts and labor warranty | Power: 1,000 watts
If using soft or liquid ingredients to make a sandwich, scoop some of the bread out from the inside of the loaf to make a cup to keep those fillings better contained.
Best Cast Iron Press
Bellemain Cast Iron Grill Press
Small and easy to transport/store
No power source necessary
Cast iron must be seasoned, maintained properly
If you’re looking for a manual cast iron sandwich press, your best bet is this heavy-duty option, featuring the high-heat capabilities and durability of well-seasoned PTFE- and PFOA-free cast iron. It weighs 3 pounds, with equalized weight distribution, which means it can apply a good deal of pressure to whatever it is that you’re cooking on the grill, campfire, or stovetop. The wooden handle is not only stylish, but it also stays cool to the touch during cooking, so you can think more about the toasty grilled cheese or crispy bacon you're about to eat and less about scorched fingers.
Use this press to sear everything from sandwiches, burgers, and steak to bacon and other thin cuts of meat, creating evenly cooked food every time—no raw or overcooked sections in sight. This is 8.5 inches in diameter, an ideal size for your favorite small or medium frying pan.
Price at time of publish: $30
Features: Stay-cool handle | Material: Food-grade, PTFE- and PFOA-free cast iron | Total Size: 8.5 inches in diameter | Weight: 3 pounds | Dishwasher-Safe: No | Warranty: 5-year limited warranty
Best for Breakfast Sandwiches
Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker
Assembles everything in one device
Nonstick and dishwasher-safe
Takes just five minutes
Breakfast sandwiches are already pretty easy to make
Meat must be precooked
Breakfast sandwiches are pretty easy to make already, but if you want a McMuffin-level meal, this compact maker gets everything taken care of in the same appliance. Here are the steps: After the green light comes on to indicate that the plates are adequately heated, add your first bread slice and precooked meat and/or cheese into the bottom compartment (you can even add avocado or vegetables at this point!), crack an egg onto the nonstick egg plate, add your second bread slice on top of the egg, and then slide the egg plate out once the egg is done cooking to finish it off.
To get it out of the maker and onto your plate, carefully lift the cover and ring assembly wearing oven mitts and remove the assembled sandwich with a heat-resistant plastic or wooden spatula to avoid scratching the surface. This takes about four to five minutes from start to finish. If you plan on making another one, just wait two minutes to make sure the plates are heated to the correct temperature again.
This maker can't accommodate a standard slice of sandwich bread, but it can fit English muffins, biscuits, and mini bagels. Use a nonstick cooking spray on the cooking plates and rings before each use, and wash by hand or in the dishwasher after each use.
Price at time of publish: $30
Includes: Removable ring assembly | Material: Plastic housing | Total Size: 7.3 x 6.3 x 5.6 inches | Warranty: 1-year limited warranty | Power: 600 watts
To avoid egg leaking, make sure the egg plate is preheated and slid fully into place. The manufacturer recommends using large eggs or smaller (fried or scrambled) to avoid overfilling or fresh egg whites only (no store-bought egg whites). Do not push the handle down, either, as it's intended to hover above the bread and will rise as the egg cooks.
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 it 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 stores easily.
Cooking Surface: 4 inches | Material: Plastic housing, PTFE-free nonstick plates | Total Size: 2.8 x 6.4 x 5 inches | Warranty: 1-year manufacturer warranty, 2-year warranty available with registration to the Feel Good Rewards Program | Power: 350 watts
The Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler is our winner because it offers so much versatility with five different cooking surfaces and has a floating cover to allow any size sandwich to become the best, toastiest version of itself. For a budget pick, we chose the Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Grill With Locking Lid.
What to Look for in Sandwich Presses
Size and Capacity
One of the most important things to consider is the size of the press. The larger the appliance, the more room you’ll have to make sandwiches and wraps, though it will come at the price of counter space and storage space. If you find yourself cooking for large groups of people or a family, it may be in your best interest to go for something with more surface area. Keep in mind that it’s easier to squeeze more into a rectangular-shaped press as opposed to a circular press.
Additional Parts and Surfaces
Some sandwich presses come with multiple removable surfaces so that they’re easy to clean. They also allow you to switch between grilling, griddling, and other cooking surfaces. This way, you not only can make pressed sandwiches, but you can also fry eggs and bacon and toast bagels and muffins. "This isn’t a must-have, but if the grills can be removed, it’s a plus since they can go in the dishwasher,” says Han. Keep in mind that some presses allow you to slightly tilt your cooking surface, which is ideal if you're cooking steaks or bacon so that the grease can safely drip away from the food and, even better, into a drip container.
Some presses don’t have any sort of panel whereas others boast an LCD display so that you can toggle with temperature, timers, tilt/height levels, and specific cooking modes. Of course, if you just want a basic sandwich press solely for pressing sandwiches, all of these added features may be excessive, but if you really plan to use this appliance for sandwiches and beyond, these added control functions could be extremely useful. Of course, these added bells and whistles will make for a more costly appliance.
How do you clean a sandwich press?
Before cleaning a sandwich press, make sure that it’s unplugged and has fully cooled down from cooking. Taking a clean rag or sponge wet with warm, soapy water, gently wipe the surface and the body of the press. If there are any grooves in the board, make sure to get into those nooks and crannies to remove any residual grease. If anything is really stuck on there, avoid metal utensils and opt for a plastic spatula to chip them off. Some presses come with dishwasher-safe parts, too.
What is a pressed sandwich?
A pressed sandwich is any sandwich that is warmed, and a sandwich press is used to apply pressure and gently press the contents of the sandwich close together. This toasts the bread and warms the components of the sandwich for a hot, cheesy meal. While you can get creative and use household items like heavy pans or bricks to make a pressed sandwich, it’s much easier and convenient to use a sandwich press.
What else can you use a sandwich press for?
Sandwich presses typically are two grooved, nonstick surfaces, so you can also use them to cook things like bacon, burgers, chicken, veggies, or anything else that you might put on a grill grate. You can press hash browns, burritos, wraps, quesadillas, or even make homemade waffle cones.
How hot does a sandwich press get?
Sandwich presses typically hover around 350 F to 500 F, anything cooler will not achieve a good enough sear, and anything hotter could cause smoking.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This roundup was originally written by Sara Tane, a food writer and private chef, with a degree in Culinary Arts from Institute of Culinary Education. It has since been updated by Taylor Rock, a commerce editor for The Spruce Eats and big-time sandwich fan.
Owen Han is a Los Angeles-based food content creator famous for his sandwich recipes. You can find him on TikTok and Instagram @Owen.Han.