The Breville Panini Duo sandwich maker offers powerful heating and an unusual cooking surface, with the ridged grill of a panini maker on the top but a flat cooking surface on the bottom. While panini lovers will lament having to flip their panini if they want grill marks on both sides, the Panini Duo's unique design provides some additional cooking options.
You can make toasted sandwiches or paninis, and the heating surface gets so hot that you can cook a variety of other foods with ease. Panini purists might not be happy, but this device does offer considerable flexibility in the foods you can cook on it. It is equipped with a floating hinge, so you can choose from four height levels for the heating surfaces and the top grill can hover above whatever you are cooking.
You can adjust this sandwich grill to just the right height to handle sandwich melts, steaks, eggs and other foods not typically associated with panini makers – and you get an even level of cooking no matter how thick or thin the food item is. The cooking is easy, since this panini press lets you know when it reaches the correct temperature with its green indicator light.
Our test for making a grilled cheese, not surprisingly, showed grill marks only on one side, and this device pressed the bread down into a rather too-flat sandwich. However, the cheese cooked evenly. Getting the sandwich off was a snap. This panini maker offers a scratch-resistant heating surface that surrenders food easily. Our grilled cheese lifted right off and came away more cleanly than the ones from any of the other sandwich makers we tested. When we tried making a panini, it turned out nicely as far as even toasting and flavor go, but it was still too flat.
The temperature of the top level reached 172 degrees in our test, while the bottom level got to 195 degrees. However, our white bread test, with slices arranged from one side of the cooking surface to the other, showed consistent browning, which suggests it provides an even heating level.
This is a big panini press, with a cooking surface of 92 square inches, so it can handle quite a few foods at one time. It's also solid and durable with stainless steel housing, which resists scratching. It has a locking clip that lets you secure it when you are not using it, and you can store it standing upright, making it a space-saver for kitchen cupboards. You also get a storage wrap area for the device's 35-inch electrical cord to keep it out of the way. Cleaning it is easy, since you can simply wipe it with a soft cloth. It took us only one minute and 45 seconds to clean up.
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If you don’t want to have to flip your panini over to get those distinctive grill marks, check out the Cuisinart Griddler & Panini Press GR-11.
The Breville Panini Duo is a sturdy sandwich maker that offers even temperatures and quite a bit of versatility for a device intended for sandwiches and paninis. However, the lack of grill ridges on the bottom surface is a decided drawback for panini devotees.