Despite their sandwich-specific moniker, panini presses are a convenient appliance for preparing a wide variety of foods. Depending on the power and plate design of the model, you can use them to make everything from toasty sandwiches to thick steaks. With a clever design and 1,800 watts of power, the Cuisinart Griddler is one of the most versatile presses available. It's also one of the best Christmas gifts of the season.
The Griddler features a floating hinge that, when adjusted, alters the height of the top plate to accommodate foods of almost any thickness. Whether you're making a thin quesadilla or a thick hamburger, the freedom to adjust the space between the plates makes for even cooking and consistent results.
With this floating hinge, you can also fully open your panini press and use it as a two-plate contact grill. This special configuration instantly takes your press from a simple sandwich-making machine to a multipurpose kitchen appliance. When the top is down, your press can function like a griddle, allowing you to grill steaks on one side while preparing chopped vegetables on the other.
Like most panini makers, the Griddler features two non-stick aluminum cooking plates. On the Griddler however, these plates are not only removable, but also reversible. On one side, the plates are grooved to give your food pleasing grill marks. On the other side, the plates are flat to facilitate preparing messier items like eggs or pancakes. Cleanup is relatively easy with the Griddler, since its removable aluminum plates are dishwasher safe.
Aside from its versatile plates, the Griddler is fairly basic in its features. Controls are limited to a cooking-temperature adjustment. There’s no timer or automatic shut-off, so you should keep a close eye on your press whenever it's in use.
Cuisinart backs up the Griddler with a solid warranty policy. Under normal home use, this warranty protects you from any defects in workmanship and materials for up to three years from the date of purchase.
For its price, the Griddler boasts an impressive level of functionality. Its floating hinge and reversible plates allow you to prepare more dishes, more easily than a typical panini press, while dishwasher-safe components make for easy cleanup. Although it's not the most advanced panini press available, the Cuisinart Griddler represents an impressive balance of versatility, quality and price.