The IMUSA Large Panini Press is just that – large. With 120 square inches of cooking space, this is the largest cooking surface of any sandwich maker we reviewed. The stainless steel device includes two non-stick cooking areas with flat surfaces that are truly non-stick. We had no trouble removing any sandwich, panini or even some spilled cheese from it during our testing.
Since this sandwich grill lacks the ridged grills of a true panini maker, you will not get those attractive stripes on your food and it will taste like something cooked on a cooktop, not a grill. If you want panini style grill marks on your panini, check out the Hamilton Beach Panini Grill Gourmet 25450.
During our tests while making a grilled cheese sandwich, the result tasted great, but the sandwich was smashed far too flat. We had the same experience making a turkey, cheese and pesto sauce panini. Once again, the food was good, but flattened far too much from the excessive pressure.
This sandwich toaster fared reasonably well during a test with white bread slices laid side by side across the entire heating surface. This was to test how evenly the bread would brown, and the slices toasted nicely, even though the temperature of the top portion of the device measured 191 degrees, while the bottom was 170 degrees.
Using this panini maker is easy. It begins heating as soon as you plug it in, and a red indicator light turns on when the device is heating up. A green indicator lights lets you know when the grilling surfaces are ready to toast bread. Unfortunately, you do not get temperature control settings, so you may have to experiment before you learn how to make foods exactly the way you like them.
This sandwich grill opens with a hinge that goes to a 90-degree angle, so it is easy to place food inside, and getting it out is remarkably easy due to the non-stick surface. You also can adjust height settings, which allows you to make thick or thin sandwiches.
The machine does not open fully, so you cannot use it as a countertop sandwich maker with two cooking surfaces. You also do not get a floating hinge, so the top lid does not hover above foods, which is a great feature found in the best panini makers for such things as open faced sandwiches.
One significant problem with this panini press is that it gets hot on the outside of the machine and even on the edge of the otherwise heat-resistant handle. When we tested it, the handle's edge was so hot that we got burned a few times, so clearly this is a kitchen appliance to use with great care. Children should not be allowed to use it or be too close to it.
Although this is a big sandwich maker, you can store it upright, which is helpful in nearly every kitchen since storage space so often is at a premium. You do not get a cord wrap capability to store the 39-inch electrical cord. The cooking surface is easy to clean; it took us about a minute and a half in our tests to clean it by hand. This is not a dishwasher-safe appliance so a non-stick surface is essential.
You can make some flavorful but very flat sandwiches and panini-like foods with this device, but it really does not function like a true panini maker. It is easy to use, clean and store, but our hands-on test revealed some problems. Melted cheese flowed onto the exterior of the sandwich maker, and edge of the handle can became scalding hot during the cooking process.