The Oster DuraCeramic Panini Maker presents a somewhat rare feature for cooks with its ceramic-coated cooking surface. While other sandwich makers tend to use conventional nonstick surfaces, this panini press employs natural ceramic on both its grilling surfaces. This creates a strong surface that resists chipping, flaking and scratching. Oster also maintains that the ceramic surface lasts four times longer than traditional nonstick cooking areas and heats up faster.
In case you are concerned about potential health hazards, the cooking area has been rated free of PTFE and PFOA, toxic chemicals often used in nonstick cooking surfaces. When these types of surfaces begins to flake, this can pose health risks for anyone eating food cooked on them. Oster states the DuraCeramic Panini Maker is safe from these difficulties, since it does not contain either of these chemicals.
However, it was a bit disconcerting when we tested this sandwich toaster with making a grilled cheese sandwich, since the cooking plates released an ugly odor. Although you get a cooking area of 71 square inches, it seemed too small during our test, and our sandwich ended up with overflowing cheese. Getting a sandwich off the cooking surface was somewhat troublesome.
However, this sandwich maker gives you excellent pressure. We found the sandwich was flattened just right, as was a turkey, cheese and pesto panini, which turned out well.
Our temperature test, which used slices of white bread laid side by side throughout the cooking area, produced unsatisfactory results, with uneven cooking on the outer edges. The temperatures came to 154 degrees for the top cooking plate and 149 degrees for the bottom.
One other drawback of this sandwich grill is that you get no height settings, so making thick sandwiches can be troublesome. The cooking surface can handle two sandwiches from a standard bread loaf or one artisan sandwich at a time. However, it might be tricky to get even cooking levels for thicker breads or fuller sandwiches. This panini maker does have a heat setting, though, so you can change the temperature from bread toasting to higher levels that can cook steaks.
This sandwich toaster comes with an indicator light for when it's ready to begin cooking and a cord wrap for its 29-inch electrical cord. Unfortunately, you cannot store this panini maker standing upright, which means you need to make a bit of room for it in your kitchen cupboard or closet.
The appliance opens a full 180 degrees, so it lies flat on the kitchen counter and you can use both cooking plates as lidless grilling surfaces for meats or vegetables. You get a cleaning tool and two drip cups to catch any excess oils that run off. One troubling aspect of this panini press is that, although you get a heat-resistant handle, the rest of the exterior gets extremely hot, so it's a good idea to be careful when using it and keep it away from children.
If you want both ridged and flat cooking surfaces, take a look at the Breville Panini Duo BSG520XL.
The Oster DuraCeramic Panini Maker offers just the right pressure to make good-tasting and well-textured sandwiches, a 180-degree opening capability that lets you grill on your kitchen counter, and a durable ceramic coating. However, you do not get height adjustments, you cannot store it standing upright, and the outside gets quite hot while this appliance is in use.