How to Make Panini Without a Panini Press

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!

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KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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35 Comments

  1. 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.

    Posted 2.19.09 Reply
  2. 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? 🙂

    Posted 2.19.09 Reply
  3. Marguerite wrote:

    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!!

    Posted 2.19.09 Reply
    • Brittny wrote:

      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.

      Posted 2.26.10 Reply
  4. 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

    Posted 2.20.09 Reply
  5. RobinSue wrote:

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

    Posted 2.20.09 Reply
  6. grace wrote:

    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!

    Posted 2.20.09 Reply
  7. Chuck wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.20.09 Reply
  8. Jennifer wrote:

    You totally forgot to include the waffle iron!

    Posted 2.20.09 Reply
    • Connie wrote:

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

      Posted 12.10.09 Reply
  9. Kristen wrote:

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

    Posted 2.20.09 Reply
  10. John wrote:

    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????

    Posted 2.20.09 Reply
  11. Very informative chart. Thanks

    Posted 2.20.09 Reply
  12. sunnyday wrote:

    We make do with a george forman grill.

    Posted 2.22.09 Reply
  13. lo wrote:

    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 🙂

    Posted 2.22.09 Reply
  14. Sandie wrote:

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

    Posted 2.23.09 Reply
  15. elra wrote:

    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.
    Cheers,
    Elra

    Posted 2.24.09 Reply
  16. Kevin wrote:

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

    Posted 3.5.09 Reply
  17. Janel wrote:

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

    Posted 4.22.09 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      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: https://paninihappy.com/the-grill-method-smackdown/

      Posted 4.22.09 Reply
  18. 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!
    -Sylvia

    Posted 4.30.10 Reply
  19. Cady wrote:

    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.

    Posted 3.28.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Thanks for the great tip, Cady!

      Posted 3.28.11 Reply
  20. Carole Mazzocca wrote:

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

    Posted 3.16.13 Reply