Best Sandwich Makers of 2018

Linda Thomson ·
Writer/Reviewer
Updated
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We invested 80 hours testing and studying sandwich and panini makers to find the best product. We chose the Cuisinart Griddler & Panini Press Gr-11 as our top overall pick because not only does it prepare the best sandwiches and paninis, its cooking surfaces also serve as a griddle for other foods. This device has legs that tilt it on a slight slant so when you're cooking hamburgers or steaks, the fat will drain into a reservoir — not soak into your food. This also is an easy-to-clean machine. 

Best Overall
Cuisinart Griddler & Panini Press GR-11
The multipurpose Cuisinart Griddler & Panini Press Gr-11 makes great sandwiches and paninis, and its cooking area opens and lies flat so you also can cook other food like eggs and pancakes.
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Best Budget
Proctor-Silex Sandwich Maker 25401P
Inexpensive and compact, the Proctor-Silex Sandwich Maker 25401P does a fine job making hot sandwiches. It heats evenly and its small size makes it easy to store.
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Most Versatile
Breville Panini Duo BSG520XL
The Breville Panini Duo BSG520XL is a multifunctional sandwich maker you can use not only for hot sandwiches and paninis, but also for eggs, pancakes, steaks and burgers.
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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Performance & Convenience
Prep & Cleanup
Design
Help & Support
Grilled Cheese Test
Panini Test
Uniform Temperature
Sandwich
Panini
Hamburger Patty
Sandwich Removal
Time to Ready (minutes)
Assembly Time (minutes)
Cleaning Time (minutes)
Size
Dishwasher Safe
Upright Storage
Total Cooking Area (square inches)
Ready Light
Heat-Resistant Handle
Cord Wrap
Cool Outer Surface
Warranty
Email
Telephone
Instructional Video
$45.99 Amazon
8.1 6.9 9.1 8.1 9.4
75%
80%
65%
90%
4
1
1
Medium
-
72
-
1 Year
-
$89.98 Amazon
8 8.8 6.3 8.4 9.4
90%
85%
80%
-
85%
4
1
2
Large
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104
-
-
1 Year
-
$69.90 Amazon
8 6.9 8.1 8.8 10
70%
80%
90%
-
100%
4
2
2
Large
-
92
-
1 Year
$69.95 Amazon
7.9 6.9 7.3 10 9.4
65%
75%
75%
90%
4
1
2
Large
-
112
1 Year
-
$38.99 Amazon
7.7 8.1 6.3 8.1 9.4
85%
90%
70%
80%
3
1
2
Medium
-
-
71
-
1 Year
-
$37.99 Amazon
7.6 8.1 6.9 6.9 9.4
90%
75%
90%
-
-
75%
4
1
3
Small
45
1 Year
-
$48.39 Amazon
7.5 6.3 7.9 9 8.8
80%
75%
75%
-
95%
2
1
2
Large
-
120
-
-
90 Days
$27.79 Amazon
7.2 6.9 6.3 8.1 9.4
80%
70%
100%
-
-
75%
2
1
2
Small
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77
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1 Year
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Best Overall
Our testing showed the Cuisinart Griddler & Panini Press Gr-11 makes great grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as turkey and cheese paninis.
Occasionally, we found the top of a sandwich or a few spots on the bread were toasted less consistently than other areas, but those were the exceptions. In general, we got nicely compressed sandwiches, excellent melted cheese and overall good consistency. This machine did take longer than other models to cook sandwiches, but the results were first-rate. The sandwiches themselves and any spilled contents came off the surface easily. This sandwich maker’s grilling surface can be opened flat, and you get preset temperatures so you can cook such foods as steaks and hamburgers. The device is slightly slanted so any grease will drain into a removable reservoir. This took about five minutes to assemble, which is not bad. This Cuisinart is easy to clean, and its removable cooking plates can be washed in the dishwasher. This is particularly important if you use it to cook meat.
Pros
  • Generally cooks evenly
  • Does not squash sandwich bread
  • Removable plates can go in the dishwasher
Cons
  • Top of the sandwich sometimes comes out less toasted
  • Takes time to make a good sandwich
  • On occasion, you will get a lighter area in toasted bread
$45.99Amazon
Read the full review
Best Budget
The compact Proctor-Silex Sandwich Maker 25401P costs little, but still does a fine job making sandwiches.
As for paninis, you can make what would otherwise be a panini, but the machine lacks ridges, so you don’t get the signature sear marks of a panini maker. Nonetheless, the resulting “panini” sandwich tasted good, even while lacking its identifying calling card. The flat cooking surface cooks evenly, and this sandwich maker got perfect scores when we tested the evenness of heat distribution with two slices of white bread. The slices showed uniform browning from edge to edge. The cooking surface for this sandwich maker is small, so you can make only two regular-size sandwiches at a time. If you opt for larger bread slices, you’ll end up making one sandwich at a time. We found that a grilled cheese turned out nicely, but we had some trouble getting the sandwich off the cooking area. Otherwise, we encountered no problems with stickiness. As far as cleaning, this machine takes little time and effort. If you wipe or wash it down, it takes about two minutes. This also comes with a clip lock so you can snap it shut and store it standing upright, which is a great space-saver. You also can wrap the 24-inch electrical cord around a cord wrap area, saving even more storage space.
Pros
  • This is compact
  • It is inexpensive
  • Makes great sandwiches
Cons
  • No ridges for that grilled look on paninis
  • Small cooking surface
  • Cheesy sandwiches can stick to the cooking surface
$27.87Amazon
Read the full review
Most Versatile
The Breville Panini Duo BSG520XL sandwich and panini maker lets you prepare excellent sandwiches and more, providing a flat cooking surface for foods such as pancakes, eggs, steak or hamburgers.
You can adjust the floating hinge that connects the two cooking surfaces to four heights, which offers considerable cooking flexibility. This feature lets you cook thin, medium and thick foods. Our testing with white bread slices showed even heat distribution and consistent toasting. It’s easy to make sandwiches with this device, but it offers only one cooking surface with ridge grills, so if you’re making a panini, you must flip it over to get the grilled-looking effect on the other side. Sometimes the machine can compress bread too much for a panini, and it turns out a bit flat. However, the paninis generally were tasty, warm and good – they just needed the extra effort of turning them over to get grill marks. This Breville sandwich and panini machine is designed with a scratch-resistant cooking surface, so it’s a snap to remove food. Cleaning is a simple task and in our testing it took only one minute and 45 seconds. Although you can do more elaborate cleaning, you also can simply wipe this machine down with a soft cloth.
Pros
  • Makes fine sandwiches
  • Can cook foods like pancakes, eggs and steak
  • Can adjust the height of the cooking surface
Cons
  • No grill ridges on the bottom cooking surface
  • Must flip a panini to get grill marks on both sides
  • Paninis can sometimes turn out too flat
$69.90Amazon
Read the full review
Best for Cooking Quantity
The IMUSA Large Panini Press was the largest sandwich maker we tested, with 120 square inches of cooking space.
This is a great for making lots of sandwiches at a time or larger food items. The cooking areas are flat non-stick surfaces – not ridged like other panini makers. This means you won’t get the grill lines found on true paninis, but rather a nice toasted surface. The IMUSA opens to a 90-degree angle, making it easy to place food inside, but it does not have a floating hinge to hover over thicker food. This panini press made all our sandwiches thinner and flatter than other sandwich makers, due mainly to the excessive pressure from the top lid. The non-stick grill surface was easy to clean and wipe off and it can be stored upright to save space in the kitchen.
Pros
  • The 120 square-inch, non-stick surface makes cleanup quick.
Cons
  • The edge of the handle becomes dangerously hot when you're cooking.
$39.99Amazon
Read the full review
Best for Manual Temperature Control
The De’Longhi CGH800 Contact Grill & Panini Press is a high-quality sandwich maker that has an adjustable thermostat and a large cooking area.
The temperature is easy to read with a needle showing the temperature you’ve selected. We like the ability to adjust the temperature manually instead of simple high, low or medium presets. In our tests the De’Longhi CGH800 performed well, making four good-sized sandwiches with ease. You can also grill fish, poultry and other meats on this panini maker. The grease drains into the included drain cup, making it easier to clean up after cooking. The top griddle opens to a full 90-degree angle, and it can also be set to hover above the food for broiling or to handle thicker sandwiches and foods.
Pros
  • This panini press has a good-sized cooking surface.
Cons
  • You do not always get even temperatures across the entire surface of this sandwich maker.
$69.95Amazon
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

We spent 80 hours researching and testing a variety of sandwich makers in varying price ranges and with different features. We read manufacturers’ websites, examined consumer reviews, looked at warranties and conditions, and then put each of the models we selected through a series of hands-on tests.

Among our tests, we measured how much space each unit would occupy on your countertop. While ideal size can depend on the number of people you cook for, we considered medium and small units to be better in terms of cleanup and storage. We deducted points from the scores of the largest units.

We also measured the total cooking area of each sandwich and panini maker. Again, while ideal size can depend on the number in your household, we considered medium and larger units to be better for getting the most use out of an appliance. This time, we docked points from the scores of the smallest units.

In addition, we looked at how easy each was to clean, whether you could put parts in the dishwasher, how easy it was to store (clip locks to hold a model shut and onboard cord storage earned extra points), and in general examined each sandwich maker's overall convenience, as well as cooking performance and design.

How We Tested

We tested each unit's cooking performance on grilled cheese sandwiches, along with turkey and panini sandwiches. The overall score, out of 100 percent, showed how effectively each sandwich maker could melt cheese and toast bread evenly for the grilled cheeses. We assigned lower scores to models that over-toasted parts of the bread or squashed the bread too flat and let melted cheese ooze out. We used the same scoring method with the paninis, with highest marks given to models that grilled a panini evenly from edge to edge without overly flattening the panini or crushing ingredients so they leaked out.

We determined how evenly each sandwich maker’s cooking surface distributed heat by lining it with slices of bread, giving high scores for even toasting. We gave lower scores for poor heat distribution that resulted in blotchy bread that was either toasted overly dark and dry in spots, or underdone and pasty.

In addition, we timed how long it took to take each machine out of the box and assemble it, as well as how long it took for each model to reach cook-ready temperatures after being plugged in.

For cleaning, we did two tests. We checked to see how easy it was to get the finished sandwich and any leaked ingredients off the surface after cooking several sandwiches in succession – and found dramatic differences among models. Some needed heavy scraping, while others let the bread and leaked cheese come off with almost no work on our part. Once we were done cooking, we timed how long it took to thoroughly clean each sandwich maker.

How Much Do Sandwich Makers Cost?

Sandwich makers are a great convenience in the kitchen but spending more doesn’t always result in better paninis or grilled sandwiches. In our tests we found that some of our cheaper panini presses like the Cuisinart Griddler made better sandwiches than some high-end models. Sandwich makers range in price from less than $20 to just under $100, with the average being about $50 for a quality model. Our advice is to purchase a sandwich maker that is $50 or less as the models we tested in this price range made excellent sandwiches and were easy to clean.

What to Look for in a Sandwich Maker

Performance
The reason you'd buy a sandwich and panini maker in the first place is because you want good food, so we looked for models that cooked these items without undercooking or overcooking. We looked for even heating, not-too-heavy compression for the bread, and rated for flavor and how appealing its texture was once we had cooked our test sandwiches and paninis.

Versatility
It's always helpful to have small kitchen appliances that you can put to several uses. We noted and gave extra points to sandwich and panini makers you can use to cook other foods. Some have heating surfaces that open up, so you end up with countertop griddles for cooking meats and breakfast items.

Ease of Use
There's no point in buying an extra appliance in the kitchen if it is complicated to use and creates extra work. We looked for sandwich and panini makers that release food easily, so your hot sandwich is intact and no messy melted cheese or other ingredients cling stubbornly to the cooking surface. We also checked to see which were the easiest to assemble, clean and store.

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