How to Make Panini Without a Panini Press

by on February 19, 2009

If I were queen, you would all have panini presses!If I were queen for a day, I’d grant every household a panini press (and space to keep it) because they’re so useful and versatile and, in my opinion, the easiest way to make great panini. However, until I seize … er … receive such power I thought I’d update the Panini 101 series with my handy little guide for making panini without a panini press. Chances are you’ve already got a pan or appliance in your kitchen that’ll do just fine!

Alternative Panini-Making Methods

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

>Ready to buy a panini press? Check out my Panini Press Buying Guide for the features to look for.

>Want more panini recipes? See my Recipe Index for a list of all recipes on Panini Happy.

>Traveling to a new city soon? Browse Panini Happy’s Great American Sandwich Guide to find the best sandwiches across the country!

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mom24@4evermom February 19, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Well, maybe you can’t grant everyone a panini maker, but you gave me one–I won your contest in December. Thank you for that chance, it works great.

This is a really handy list though. Thanks.


2 The Duo Dishes February 19, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Griddle and grill pan are what we’ve got (well an oven too, of course), so we must go forth with those in hand. It would be nice to get a panini maker. Anymore giveaways coming up? 🙂


3 Marguerite February 19, 2009 at 5:29 pm

I make panini in my George Forman grill. Since the top comes down at an angle, I turn them half way through to be sure all the filling doesn’t squish out the bottom edge. I LOVE panini!!


4 Brittny February 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I use the George Foreman too. Such an easy way to make paninis with something I already have! And it has the nice grill marks and everything. My husband and I fell in love with paninis while we were on our honeymoon in Paris, so I’ve considered investing in a panini grill… but so far I haven’t found any good reason that my George Foreman doesn’t do the same thing.


5 Bellini Valli February 20, 2009 at 5:55 am

I have a grill pan, so what I do is put a heavy cast iron skillet on top of my panini in the grill pan, turn the sandwich over half way through cooking and voila:D


6 RobinSue February 20, 2009 at 6:23 am

Girl you totally rule! Great little chart you made for us paniniless folks. I will do some of these ideas for sure. thanks!


7 grace February 20, 2009 at 10:16 am

kathy!! this is awesome! i’m chart-obsessed, not to mention a big fan of the panini, so you’d better believe that this is bookmarked and starred and will be put to good use!


8 Chuck February 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

Great informative post! I can’t live without my panini press. I did the potatoes for the first time in mine and they turned out amazing.


9 Jennifer February 20, 2009 at 1:21 pm

You totally forgot to include the waffle iron!


10 Connie December 10, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I use a waffle iron too! I love the fun pattern it makes. =p


11 Kristen February 20, 2009 at 1:58 pm

You are so brilliant! Love this post, and I love the comparison chart.


12 John February 20, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Look – if you don’t have a panini machine and you make a sandwich on a griddle or toaster oven, it is not a Panini. It is a griddle or toaster sandwich. Same goes for skillet, oven or over an open campfire on a stick. IT IS NOT A PANINI!!!!

Please allow us snobs, that have invested a lot of money in our Panini machines, a moment of fame and happiness in our kitchens. Or gun clubs, or fraternal clubs, whatever.

Now I think I will go outside and cruise around the neighborhood on my tricycle. I wonder if I could call it a bus ride????


13 The Food Hunter February 20, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Very informative chart. Thanks


14 sunnyday February 22, 2009 at 5:46 am

We make do with a george forman grill.


15 lo February 22, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Great chart! And despite the fact that these days I own a fancy-dancy panini press, I still look fondly upon the days when I used to make paninis with a foil-wrapped brick and a skillet.

Am pretty sure anyone has the stuff to make a panini if they really want to 🙂


16 Sandie February 23, 2009 at 9:11 am

Great chart, Kathy—especially for those feeling panini deprived (if they lack a panini press). Necessity is the mother of all invention, right?!


17 elra February 24, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Thanks for this great tips. Very clever indeed.
I just showed my son how to make panini this afternoon. I don’t have panini press either, so I used 1 large cast iron skillet, then put another smaller size cast iron skillet on top of the panini. Voila, he has a perfect panini.


18 Kevin March 5, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I use a grill pan and press down on it with the bottom of a metal mixing bowl.


19 Janel April 22, 2009 at 12:14 pm

What do you think about using a George Foreman? Or does it need to cook one side at a time?


20 Kathy April 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Hi Janel,

I consider a George Foreman grill to be essentially the same as a panini grill (if you’re using it to grill panini) in that it conducts heat from both the top and bottom and usually has raised grates. You might be interested in the Grill Method Smackdown post I did a while back where I compared the Foreman grill to a panini grill and the skillet method:


21 Arizona Solar April 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm

It was difficult for me to get the hang of using a skillet for paninis… however it works out well that I like fillings that lay flat and don’t spill out or over. Skillet works well for me, but I’d die for a nice panini maker!


22 Cady March 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Note for the oven-users:
You can still do the press bit. Put your panini(s) on a baking sheet, put another baking sheet on top, then complete the stack with something heavy and oven-proof. I use my dutch oven. Still no grill marks, but the pressing helps a lot. Depending on your bread you might want to hit both sheets with cooking spray.

I actually have a panini maker and still do them in the oven for dinner parties so I can make a ton at once.


23 Kathy March 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Thanks for the great tip, Cady!


24 Carole Mazzocca March 16, 2013 at 7:18 am

Need a recipe for panini in sandwich cake listed on Pinterest.


25 Kathy Strahs March 16, 2013 at 7:35 am

Hi Carole – I believe you’re looking for this post:


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