Sandwich Maker vs Panini Press: Which One Is Better?

Toasted or grilled sandwiches make for an easy, quick and tasty snack. You can whip a couple up for your kids in five minutes or prepare several of them for your guests.

There are two main ways to make a toasted sandwich. You can use either a simple sandwich maker and toaster or a Panini press. Both make tasty sandwiches and both are very easy to use. So which one should you buy for your kitchen?

It depends on your needs. Each appliance has its pros and cons and is ideal for different situations. Here’s a look at what you can do with each appliance.

Sandwich Maker

A sandwich maker is a very simple appliance. It’s perfect if you want a warm and lightly to medium toasted sandwich. You simply place your sandwich on the bottom plate and close the lid. It’s a good idea to apply a light layer of vegetable or olive oil on the plates to create a nice brown toast on the bread. Additionally, you can use ordinary sliced bread.

The sandwich maker does all the rest. You don’t even need to select a temperature setting and it will indicate when the sandwich is ready.

With a sandwich maker, you can have your sandwich ready in less than five minutes.

Because of its size, a sandwich maker does not allow thick sandwiches. You can make a simple cheese sandwich or cheese and ham sandwich. But you can’t add more than 2 or 3 ingredients. The lid won’t close properly and the ingredients could spill out.

If you frequently make simple sandwiches for your kids or yourself, I recommend the sandwich maker. It’s cheaper and faster to use. It is also fool proof. There is no way you are going to burn a sandwich even if you have never used the appliance before.

Pros of a Sandwich Maker

  • It really easy to use. Most sandwich makers don’t have any buttons to tinker with. Just pop the sandwich inside and close the lid.
  • It’s also fast. You’ll have the sandwich ready in less than five minutes. This comes in handy for those busy mornings when you need to rush out of the house.
  • It’s fool proof. Everything is automated in a sandwich maker from the preheating to the toasting temperature. Your sandwich is going to be perfect all the time.

Cons of a Sandwich Maker

  • It’s limited in terms of what you can make. You can only make a simple sandwich. Some sandwich makers can be used to make an omelette but that’s just about it.

Panini Press

A Panini press is essentially a small weighted grill. It grills your sandwich, giving it those lovely grill lines on the surface.

What makes the Panini press unique is its versatility. You can not only make sandwiches, you can also grill meats, fish, vegetables and even fruits. So it’s ideal if you want to try out a broader variety of grilled sandwich and non-sandwich recipes.

One of the main advantages of the Panini press is its ability to accommodate thicker sandwiches. While in a sandwich maker you can only make a 1 or 2-ingredient sandwich, feel free to pile on when using a Panini press.

For instance, you can have grilled chicken breast (which you can also grill on the Panini press), some avocado slices and two layers of cheese. The sandwich will still fit in the press. If it’s really thick, you can easily adjust the clearance of the top plate in most presses.

One thing to note with Panini presses is that they do better with thicker bread. In fact, it’s common to use thick Italian bread such as ciabatta or focaccia.

Pros of a Panini Press

  • It’s much more versatile than a sandwich maker. You can grill meats and vegetables as well as sandwiches.
  • You can make thicker sandwiches with more ingredients.
  • It doesn’t just warm or lightly toast bread, it properly grills it. Some people find a Panini-made sandwich tastier.

Cons of a Panini Press

  • It’s a bit more time-consuming to use compared to a sandwich maker. But you can still have your sandwich ready in five minutes or so.
  • You have to be more careful with the temperature to avoid overdoing the sandwich.
  • It’s more expensive than a sandwich maker.


Both are fairly easy to use appliances. The only reason you might take longer with a Panini press is because you spend more time preparing your sandwich ingredients. But the end result of both machines is a warm and toasty sandwich (which you can eat with oven cooked frying chips, for example).

2 thoughts on “Sandwich Maker vs Panini Press: Which One Is Better?”

  1. Dear Elizabeth,

    Thank you for this article, it certainly provides excellent comparisons between these two culinary devices. However, I’ve long been interested in the niche field of gastronomical vocabulary and your article raises some compelling questions for me. I’m curious if you have any thoughts. My journey on this path began with the seed of a thought that grew into more than a mild irritation with the English language, it began with the thought: What really IS a “panini press”? It occurred to me that this name really describes nothing at all. Consider the process during which this tool is used: I prepare a sandwich, I place the sandwich between the plates of the tool, I press the sandwich, I am left with a panini after I’ve stopped pressing. No where in this chain of events is a “panini” actually pressed (read: no paninis were harmed in the making of this meal). A sandwich, most certainly is harmed. I therefore submit that the device we generally consider to be a “panini press” is actually a “sandwich press”. Now, to take matters further (perhaps repair some of the damage done by my lexical critique of such a well-loved term for this wonderful kitchen apparatus), how might we still include “panini” in the title of this pseudo-grill? To this I say, “Simple enough!” One may refer to their device of choice as a “panini maker”, for it is a device that makes paninis! Presses sandwiches, yes, but MAKES paninis. Given the time I’ve spent pondering this mysterious mistake so prevalent in our society, I couldn’t help but be struck by the title of your article (once-again a wonderful addition to the available literature on the subject, which is scant to say the least). I have addressed the latter portion of your title (“Panini Press”) and proffer that the former may not refer to that which you might think. For in the creation of a sandwich, and by extension a panini, I—not the device—am the real sandwich maker. Once again, thank you for the good read and I hope to see its sequel appear soon—I hope in support of this New Movement to reclaim the true crafting essence of a panini maker.

    Gratefully and hungry as ever,
    A Humble Sandwich Maker


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