Panini Help
November 26, 2008 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for a panini press?

Mrs. Jedi would like to buy a panini/sandwich press for her parents for Christmas. Any MeFites with recommendations or tales of caution with regards to hot sandwich making? Price range <$100.

posted by i_am_a_Jedi to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have one of these and like it a lot. It doesn't have many cool features or anything, but it makes sandwiches very well and it's well under $100.
posted by relucent at 8:20 AM on November 26, 2008

I really like my Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler. It's the perfect size for 2 sandwiches or a quesadilla, and it heats up really quickly. Just be sure to buy a sponge, as cleanup on these things is no fun and you don't want to scratch the plates.
posted by fracas at 8:39 AM on November 26, 2008

I love love love my panini grill, it's by DeLonghi. I know I'm going to sound like a spokesmodel, but it is awesome. I've had two or three sandwich parties where I get sandwich ingredients and people make and grill their own sandwiches. Boy that sounds really dorky.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:01 AM on November 26, 2008

I have this Hamilton Beach one and while I love it and use it all the time, it's my second. The first one, which I got for Christmas last year, just died after about three months of heavy use. Hamilton Beach was very nice about replacing it free, but I did have to go through a long phone call and then mail them the cut off cord and plug (that was kind of weird, I thought) and pay them $5 or something for shipping the new one and all in all it took about a month, possibly more, to get it replaced. The replacement one is still working away happily, so probably the first one was just a lemon, but still. You might want to take that into account.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:16 AM on November 26, 2008

Not having money for specialist kitchen appliances, I used to use a standard George Foreman lean-mean whatever-the-hell-it-was with some extra weight on top. Worked a treat. Better actually, than my ex-girlfriend's Breville panini maker.
posted by theyexpectresults at 9:18 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I checked that Amazon link, I found this review. So, hmmm, I'm not the only person that's happened to. Interesting.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:20 AM on November 26, 2008

I also have a Cuisinart Griddler, but I have the GR-4 model which has removable plates that can go in the dishwasher.
posted by mkb at 9:32 AM on November 26, 2008

We use a George Foreman grill, too, and it works great. Plus you can use it for other things.
posted by jdroth at 9:37 AM on November 26, 2008

mail them the cut off cord and plug
That's so they know you're not BSing them to get a free panini maker when you have one that still works fine, or never bought one in the first place. There's most likely something on the cord or plug that identifies it so they know it came from their item, without making you pay to send the entire unit back to them.

Oh, and I use the foreman with a book on top method. And there's always the alton brown "grill pan, add sandwich, top with cast iron skillet, top with brick wrapped in foil" method.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:38 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've had this Krups one for a couple of years now. It's served me nicely and seems well-constructed. Very easy to clean too.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:38 AM on November 26, 2008

I used to have a little George Foreman grill thing. It was ok, but...I found that the lack of removable grill plates made it a real pain to clean. They say "nonstick coating" but after a few uses it was like layers of grease were building up on it and it was losing the non-stickness. And trying to hold the thing open over the sink to clean it off better without actually getting it all wet was awkward and annoying - to the point where I quit using it.

So basically I'm just recommending that, whatever the price or model, you should really try for one with removable grill plates. It will make keeping it clean and useful SO much easier.
posted by dnash at 9:51 AM on November 26, 2008

I use the Lodge cast-iron sandwich press. It's a slight improvement over Alton Brown's brick and somewhat easier than using your backup cast-iron skillet as a press. One simply heats it up on a spare burner and presses out delicious sandwich. The one I linked is round but it comes in rectangle shape as well.
posted by stet at 10:45 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Surprised no one mentioned the hand held iron over a piece of sheet metal, pressing down for 2 minutes, flipping over the sammy and doing it again. Perfect Paninis with nicely pressed seams to boot.
posted by watercarrier at 11:01 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

nthing George Foreman.
posted by fixedgear at 12:00 PM on November 26, 2008

I thought the header said panini dress, and I was really curious to know what that was. Darn.

In any case, go for one that has an on/off switch toggle. We have one that just starts firing up when plugged in, and it's kind of bothersome.
posted by softsantear at 12:47 PM on November 26, 2008

I think I should mention that you might be tempted to get a Black and Decker Waffle Iron/Griddle/Grill combo, but that it wouldn't be a good choice. It's a great machine and a great value, but it cannot hold a thick sandwich. It's excellent for waffles, and it works fine as a pancake griddle, and you can press a small sandwich (made from sandwich bread rather than something more rustic), but it would not make a good panini or provide grill marks. The sandwich press does a good job, but it doesn't offer grill marks.

George Foreman grills probably are good for the job, but I can understand you being averse to it, since they'd seem a bit tacky compared to a sandwich press. Also, should you decide to get them another press with similar grooves, consider ordering the sponge that comes with the Foreman grill, as I have heard that it's the best one for cleaning such inserts easily, so that they'll not have to do too much work cleaning.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:19 PM on November 26, 2008

I've got the Cuisinart Griddler GR-4, too, and it is awesome for sandwiches, will accomodate almost any thickness and cooks like a champ.

But, the best part is the flexibility for cooking other things, so you are not left with a uni-purpose appliance.

It comes with 2 sets of interchangeable cooking plates, grooved and smooth. I just pop 'em in the diswasher after they've cooled for super easy cleanup.

The Griddler also folds completely flat so you have a large, open heated area for cooking pancakes, etc.

The only shortcoming I've found is that it doesn't get hot enough to sear tuna properly.
posted by Exchequer at 1:45 PM on November 26, 2008

If you think you might want to go for one of the cast-iron presses, I got a rectangular one at Target yesterday in a wee gift set. It's pretty heavy.
posted by sugarfish at 5:14 PM on November 26, 2008

Foreman grill. Perfect for this kind of thing.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:14 AM on November 27, 2008

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