Do you know what to look for in a panini maker? I know you are thinking, “Surely he jests!” I mean what is a panini maker but two hot plates, one horizontal on the bottom, and one on the top. The top plate is weighted or spring loaded to press down, and basically “heat smash” the sandwich bread and its contents into a dense, yummy, warm explosion of your favorite ingredients that offers a very unique sandwich experience. Even the World English Dictionary defines panini as: “a type of Italian bread, usually served grilled with a variety of fillings.” So, how different could panini makers be? Well, the truth is, in principle, panini makers do have those basic traits. But there are several things that set these hot sandwich machines apart. Let’s cover what to look for in a panini maker.

1 – Non-stick Grill Plates
You would think in this day and age all grill or griddle plates would be non-stick. But the contrary is actually true. Don’t just assume the panini maker you are considering has non-stick grill plates. Make sure it does. And be certain that the top, bottom or both plates have that perforated backyard grill design to give your sandwich that distinctive panini look.

2 – Ample Cooking Surface
There is no doubt that once you start making those great grilled panini sandwiches, someone is going to want to join you. That means you’ll need room for at least two large sandwiches. The difference in price between smaller panini makers and full sized units is negligible, so think adaptability, and get large sized grilling plates.

3 – Lockable or Weighted Floating Top Plate
A lockable or weighted floating top plate or lid means you have the ability to press different sized sandwiches. Some people like thin paninis, and some like a hundred ingredients they can barely get their mouth around. A floating or multi-position top plate allows any sized sandwich to fit, and having it weighted or lockable means pressure combines with heat for that special panini experience.

4 – Indicator Lights
How do lights register as what to look for in a panini maker? I hate to say it, but I have been making grilled cheese sandwiches the traditional way in the past, turned from the oven, and ended up burning them. Even if all the indicator lights do is show that the unit is on, that is a big help. Any other indicator lights are just gravy.

Bonus – Panini Maker Shopping Tip
Now you know what to look for in a panini maker, and if your panini machine has all of the above traits, bingo! You have a winner. But if the panini maker has removable plates for easy cleaning, dual sided plates for flat griddle cooking and grill cooking, the ability to lay the entire grill flat for non-sandwich use and multi-heat settings, you have found THE panini maker king. These extra features are what to look for in a panini maker extraordinaire!