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Making paninis without a grill pan?

I really don't want to invest in a single function pan or machine but would love to make paninis at home. What would you use to get that grilled effect? Wrap a brick in foil to weigh it down, put another pan on top? What has been your most effective method, if you don't use a panini grill or pan?


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  1. I realize that this is not responsive to your post, but I was in the same position as you. I love paninis, and finally broke down and bought a Krups panini press on sale for $50...and I love it, and use it way more than I thought I would, probably 2x/week. Sure you can make paninis in a fry pan with a brick, but it's way easier with an electric press. Search the internet, and I'm sure you can find some great buys.

    1 Reply
    1. re: josephnl

      Just looked online, and saw that Williams-Sonoma has the terrific Krups machine for $60, and Target has others starting at $25!

    2. do you have an old waffle iron? lots of those have reversible plates (dimpled one side - flat the other). or a regular clothes iron! just sheath it in foil.

      a brick could work, but awkward. <edit> and I'd do the layers not as I read it pan/food/brick/pan but rather pan/food/pan/brick </edit>

      1. Thanks for the responses. I really don't want to buy a single function item, no matter how the price. It'll be another space hogger.

        I don't have a waffle iron, so no luck in that respect. I forgot I have a small George Foreman grill so I may try that.

        hill food, your layering idea is very helpful. I could also (very carefully) wrap an old book or two in foil, I've got at least one that would weigh as much as a brick!

        Thanks again!

        3 Replies
        1. re: alwayshungrygal

          I see no reason why a George Forman grill wouldn't work well. Report back, if you try it.

          1. re: josephnl

            We have a GF that got little use from day one. Not sure why we still have it but I've made grilled sandwiches on it more than anything else

            I usually just use a cast iron pan and a weight to press the sandwich

          2. re: alwayshungrygal

            Absolutely try your Foreman grill! I recently bought a Cuisinart Griddler to use while my kitchen is being rehabbed. It's very similar to the Foreman grill and it makes GREAT paninis.

          3. I'm Scotish so just don't buy into needing a special piece of cookware to make a GRILLED CHEESE sandwich?? Cast iron pan with bacon press on top work just ine for me. You don't need those big $$ grill marks... imnsho!!

            1. I use my George Foreman grill. Works PERFECTLY.
              The trick is to not use oil on the outside of the bread.
              I "smush it" down a few times during the grilling, they get grill marks and are very toasty :)

              5 Replies
              1. re: sedimental

                Aside from not wanting the extra calories or fat from using oil or butter, is there any reason not to use some butter or oil when using the GF grill? I have a Krups panini press which I love, and always lightly butter the outside of each slice of bread when making a panini.

                1. re: josephnl

                  I think it makes it more like a grilled cheese sandwich, rather than panini -a bit soggy as it cools. I butter or oil (or pesto) the inside of the bread if using drier ingredients but leave the outside plain.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    I guess it's a matter of taste. I always lightly butter the outside of the bread, and my paninis remain quite crisp.

                  2. re: josephnl

                    I always butter the bread and it turns out great, although I make sandwiches with thick slices of sourdough so the thickness of the bread might have an effect on sogginess with butter...

                    1. re: k80k

                      I use thinly sliced bread and lightly butter it. Using my Krups panini press my panini are always crisp! Using butter is simply a matter of taste. I also love Dutch tostis, which are grilled sandwiches done in a special toaster with no butter or fat whatsoever. They are delicious & obviously can be quite healthy, but I've never seen tostis nor the special toaster in the U.S.

                2. A foil-wrapped brick and a pre-heated cast iron frying pan is the easiest way to fake a panini press.

                  2 preheated cast iron frying pans used back to back also work. One is upside-down on the bottom and another right side up on the top.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    Alas, I don't have a cast iron pan. I haven't really needed one yet. Thanks for the response.

                  2. My le crueset grill pan, which was disappointing in it's designed purpose, makes a great panini. Heat pan to medium while assembling sandwiches, then place in the pan weighted down with in our case a plate and something heavy, then flip after a minute or 2.

                    The only reason I say thing was I was so underwhelmed by the pan for cooking meat that I HAD to find a way to make it useful (which now it is)

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: autumm

                        that is a great idea - I have been so saddened by my LC grill pans' lack of usefulness - I have a enlogated handled one (a brand-new 2nd hand *find*) and a smaller square one that was my meat pan when I lived in a veggie house - since I got real cast iron pans I have no use for these suckers and when I do try to use them just end up angered by them (they are about good for putting little grill marks on otherwise cooked foods) co but I have not been able to get rid of them either - Now they are repurposed - awesome.

                      2. I use the ridged side of a CI griddle and a bacon/steak press (and plates with canned beans when making several at once) as weights. I spray the bread lightly with oil and turn several times. A CI griddle takes little room and is a definite multiuse item...steaks and chops, pancakes, panini, English muffins, hash browns, toasting spices, etc.

                        1. Thanks again for all the responses. I'm going to try the George Foreman grill method since I already have that (gifted to me by my son). I've got a small one and don't use it often enough to keep it on the counter tho that's the only place I have for it. Hopefully making paninis will increase the usage.

                          If I don't like those results, I'll try the pan/panini/pan/brick or foil-covered heavy book method.

                          Thanks again!

                          1. I'll tell you what I do if you promise not to say paninis any more. ;-)

                            To make a grilled cheese sandwich (sometimes with additional stuff), which I think is the same thing, but in Italy we call it "un toast" -- go figure (a panino in Italy is a generic sandwich) -- I make the sandwich and put in in either an ordinary skillet or on the ridged grill pan and weigh it down with the meat tenderizer. If I am making two at the same time, I either keep the meat tenderizer moving or else put a plate on top of the sandwiches and weigh that down that the meat tenderizer. When one side is golden brown, I turn the sandwich and cook the other side the same way. Ideally this is done slowly so that the bread doesn't burn before the cheese melts.