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Panini grill - best bread to use and need recipes

I recently bought a panini maker as I love those grilled sandwiches in restaurants. I bought a large whole Ciabatta bread and found the slices too thick for my grill. I've read that Ciabatta and sourdough bread is good for a home panini grill. Are there others? I'm not crazy about these two breads and like more of a 7-grain bread for crunchiness.

So far I've made grilled vegies with goat cheese, peanut butter & jam, tuna melts. All your favorite recipes are appreciated.

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  1. We use French bread sandwich rolls. It just needs to be a somewhat thicker bread. Use what you like. For recipes go to the cuisinart site. They have lots of sides, entrees, sandwiches, for use on their Griddler. They would work on any brand.

    1. Ciabatta, focaccia bread-hearty breads.

      1. I've tried a lot of different rolls and breads that had good crusts on them, but what I find works best is bread that is sliced so the softer doughier part is exposed to the heat rather than the top and bottom of the crust. Usually what we'll do is get a nice loaf (generally some kind of artisan white or sourdough) from our local bakery or Whole Foods and have it sliced and we've been very happy with the results - the panini gets nice and toasted and I don't have as much of a problem getting everything to stick together. I also really like Trader Joe's Tuscan Pane - nice density and works perfectly in panini.

        We've used lots of different fillings but generally keep things pretty simple and pick just a few really nice ingredients always starting with cheese and adding vegetables, a spread or meats: proscuitto with mozzarella or fontina; goat cheese with olive tapenade and/or roasted red peppers; cheddar and red onion either with or without turkey or ham; fontina with slices of tomato and pesto...and for dessert we're big fans of nutella panini (esp with strawberries).

        2 Replies
        1. re: pellegrino31

          I agree. Sliced rustic breads, crusty sourdough, batard, pangnotta, boule -- all make great panini sandwiches.

          1. I use torpedo shaped hard rolls, slather some melted butter on both sides

            1. I've been using a flax-seed ciabatta from Trader Joe's when I don't have home-made. It's unsliced, so thickness isn't a problem. Baguettes from the Vietnamese banh mi shops and handmade pita and blue corn tortillas from ethnic grocers are good, too.

              1. Beau
                There really isn't any 'best type of bread' for a grilled sandwich. You can use any type of bread that you find tasty. Many times I have useed Wegman's brand of 7 grain and I've loved that nutty crunchiness. If you like 'bakery' bread, you can just buy a whole loaf and cut it to order. Even plain sub rolls or regular Italian hero-type bread should work well. If you really really love the Panini-style sandwich and you dont' already have one, get the type of grill that has the hinged top. It will allow for thicker slices of bread.

                1. My boyfriend is a crazy panini afficionado and here's what I've learned from watching him: It's good to use ciabatta bread but cut the domed top off the loaf (be careful not to cut yourself when you slice the bread horizontally!) before you slice the entire thing. This method allows for even grilling (i.e., your grill can flatten the top of the bread easily instead of lop-sided grilling. Also, fontina cheese is nice to use as it's a bit milder than mozzarella. His favorite is a classic basil, mozzarella (or fontina), tomatoes, with a bit of homemade green pesto.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: taylor_blair

                    Sounds delicious, though I don't find Fontina milder than fresh Mozzarella.
                    I skip the tomatoes and add roasted red peppers, Gives it a more intense, slightly richer, taste.
                    If you want to surprise him, try to track down a jar of Marco Polo Bruschetta
                    and let him spread it on the bread before he adds the other ingredients (It's more like a roasted red pepper spread) . It gives it an amazing taste. :-}

                  2. I'm crazy about mixing cheese and fruit in paninis.

                    talleggio and summer stone fruit is awesome. to get a little bite, I first rub the bread with some garlic clove (just for flavor), and arugula goes well for some more bite/green.

                    love it!

                    1. My favourite is roasted yam, freash spinach (or arugula)and goat cheese.

                      As for bread, my local deli (where I get the aforementioned panino) used to take foccacia, slice it as one would normally slice foccacia for a sandwich, then turn it inside out. So, they would spread their basil mayo on the herb and salt covered side, and place the toppings on the exterior of the bottom half. So, the white, soft part of the bread would face OUT and would therefore come into contact with the panini press. There would be no burnt rosemary, and the inside of the bread became really nice and toasty.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: miss_bennet

                        oh man, that sounds so good. i'm going out and getting a loaf of foccacia right now!

                      2. Thanks for so many wonderful suggestions.

                        Keep 'em coming.

                        1. Best bread would be anything with a tight crumb that would hold together when the slices are under 3/4" thick.. Doesn't really matter after that. Also, if using cheese, it's better on top so it melts down into the rest of the fillings. Unless you don't want it to melt down of course.

                          I do this every day for my shop and as I make a bunch of premade panini that'll sit in a refrigerated case for anywhere from 0 to 4 hours, I look for breads that aren't going to get overly soggy. We're fortunate enough to have a terrific local baker that makes wonderful ciabattinas (single serving ciabatta) and a great sesame semolina bread with an exceptionally tight crumb. If I knew they'd be eaten immediately, I;d use focaccia, but too often, that does get soggy if you're using wetter veggies (e.g. tomatoes, roasted peppers, anything marinated). But if you really wanted to make a Rueben panino, no reason you couldn't use pumpernickel or rye.

                          Typical Italian panini generally use no more than three ingredients, the emphasis being on flavors of the ingredients, not volume. Last summer when I was in Rome I made a point of stopping by the local Subway equivalent, called, appropriately, "Mr. Panino". Here was their menu:

                          1. Vegetariano – grilled zucchini, grilled eggplant, grilled radicchio sauce

                          2. Milanese – prosciutto cotto, mayo, egg, lettuce

                          3. Inglese – pancetta, edamer cheese

                          4. Modenese – chicken breast, grilled radicchio, mayo, balsamic

                          5. Toscano – grilled pork sausage, lettuce, tomato, mayo

                          6. Tirolese – speck, edamer cheese

                          7. Parma – prosciutto crudo, mozzarella

                          8. Romagnolo – cream cheese, arugula

                          9. Caprese – tomato, mozzarella, basil

                          10. Siciliano – tuna (in olive oil), tomato, mayo, lettuce, oregano

                          11. Calabrese – hot salame, provolone, tomato sauce

                          12. Bolognese – mortadella, arugula

                          Hope those choices gives you some inspriation.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Panini Guy

                            Thanks, Panini Guy - not only did your post give me inspiration, it gave me a craving for all those paninis you listed. Wow! Thanks for taking the time...

                            1. re: Panini Guy

                              We absolutely need a Mr Panino location here

                            2. If you like crusty breads, but find them a bit unwieldy for grilling, try this:
                              use a serrated knife to slice off the ends, and then slice a thin layer off the top and bottom (hence, most of the crust is removed). Now cut through the bread, creating top and bottom halves. Brush them lightly with olive oil on all sides, fill the sandwich with whatever you like, and grill. The result is a crispy, grill-lined sandwich without the thick chewiness of a typical loaf. You can use this same technique on multigrain baguette, whole wheat ciabatta, or whatever you prefer. In the alternative, you could try a lavash or pita bread. As for fillings, I'll just add that sturdier breads do better with multiple ingredients, and softer breads do better with less bulk, perhaps a thin layer of cheese and thin layer of meat (which is how you find them in Italy).

                              1. I like Turkey Pastrami, with Havarti cheese, and thousand island dressing on artisan bread that I make.
                                I also like smoked turkey breast with asiago cheese on artisan bread I make, sometime I make rye , and sometimes pumpernickel.

                                1. When I lived in Italy my standby was roasted vegetables (red peppers, zucchini and eggplant, normally), with fresh mozzarella on foccacia that had been spred with pesto.

                                  I recently had a sandwich here in Canada with roasted beets, zucchini and red onions on multigrain bread that had been spread with pesto and garlic-herb cream cheese. You could try something like that as well.

                                  1. I discovered that middle eastern (eg Iranian sangak) and Indian (eg naan) flatbreads work wonderfully in our sandwich press.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: fmed

                                      I recently got a panini grill for Christmas and have been experimenting a lot with recipes. Thus far, I have been most impressed with a 'rustic' bread that I purchased at Costco. It's stiff and substansial, with lots of nice holes for the sauces and juices to creep into.

                                      As for recipes.. This is a modification of a great waffle I recently ate at a restaurant in Portland: A rustic type bread, peach or apricot jam (I just use Smuckers Apricot Preserves), bacon, brie, and fresh basil. Not healthy by any means, but oh man, it's good.

                                    2. I have been using garlic naan from a local Indian restaurant. It's incredible frankly, makes the best Cuban sandwich I have ever had.

                                      1. Best bread? Whatever bread best compliments the ingredients you put between the slices.
                                        Recipe? Anything you have a mind to put between two pieces of good bread.
                                        The Panini press is perhaps the most versatile of cooking instruments and anyone who hasn't got one has no idea what they're missing out on.
                                        Thick slices of raisin bread with bananas, peanut butter, bacon, mix and match.
                                        French or Italian breads impregnated with crushed garlic and filled with sharp cheddar cheese and tomato slices with some fresh basil.

                                        1. This is really good in the panini maker!

                                          Italian Sandwich

                                          Really good French roll
                                          Mayo (aoli if possible)
                                          3 slices mortadella
                                          3 slices proscuitto
                                          Caprese salad made with fresh mozzarella balls, sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil & a little olive oil....you can add pesto if you must have more basil!
                                          Drizzle of Italian dressing

                                          Lettuce and tomato if desired, add after the cheese has melted.

                                          You can eat it cold too and it's wonderful.

                                          1. Prosiutto, parmasean, fontina cheese with spinach and sundired tomatoes!!!! to-die-for!!