The DeLonghi Contact Grill & Panini Press is an easy-to-use sandwich maker that is durable, with an adjustable thermostat and a large cooking area. You get considerable versatility with this panini maker, since you can use it to grill fish, poultry and other meats. You also can grill sliced vegetables, making this a versatile and useful sandwich grill.
The grill comes with a drain cup that you can put to one side of the press to catch any oils released during cooking, so you do not have to chow down on greasy burgers or steaks if you don't want to. The cooking surface is big, giving you a total of 112 square inches of heating space, which is the second largest of all the sandwich toasters we reviewed. This sandwich maker can handle as many as four good-sized sandwiches at a time with no trouble.
The DeLonghi features a 90-degree hinge that lets you open the grill fully, so you add or remove items without difficulty. The top of the press is attached to the hinge and stands straight up when opened. You also can adjust the height of the hinge to take on thick or thin food items, so you do not need to worry whether it can handle a slender trout fillet or a thick steak.
You can use a temperature control knot that ranges from low to high temperatures, and a display above it shows the temperature set for the grill. This also has a red indicator light that lets you know your DeLonghi is plugged in and on, and when the heating element reaches the temperature you want, a green light lets you know it is ready for cooking.
This panini press offers a number of helpful safety features, including a heat-resistant handle and an area to wrap the 34-inch cord. It also presents a benefit most people will appreciate, especially parents with young children: The outside stays cool enough to touch. This device locks for safety, and you can store it standing upright, which saves space.
Our testing of this sandwich grill produced some mixed results. Unfortunately, the grooves are so deep that this impedes you from making an evenly cooked grilled cheese sandwich, and the top of the sandwich ended up more toasted than the bottom in our tests. If you’re in the market for both ridged and flat cooking surfaces, you might want to examine the Breville Panini Duo BSG520XL.
We had somewhat better luck when we tried making a panini with bread, turkey, cheese and a pesto sauce, but even then, the results were a bit mixed. We got even toasting from one side to the other, but the appliance's grooves on one side made a more pronounced mark than the other side. Our panini was rather smashed, and some ingredients leaked out.
In another test, we laid slices of white bread across the cooking surface from one edge to the other to see how evenly this sandwich maker would toast them. The results indicated that you cannot always get even temperatures throughout the cooking surface. Our actual temperature testing showed the top level came to 167 degrees, while the bottom was 164 degrees.
On the bright side, this sandwich grill is easy to clean. Although it is not dishwasher safe, it has nonstick surfaces. Even cheese that melted onto the cooking area came off with no trouble. You can simply wipe the surface and empty the drain cup if you choose, or wash the grill plates and cup. It takes a little bit of effort to get into the grooves when washing, but it took just two minutes to clean this panini maker.
The DeLonghi Contact Grill & Panini Press gives you multipurpose cooking on quite a large cooking surface for a countertop appliance. Although we encountered a few glitches while cooking, the foods we made were tasty. This panini maker's height-adjusting hinge, simple cleaning and easy storage make it a fine choice for your kitchen.