Panini Press vs. Sandwich Makers – In Depth Comparison

Have you ever wondered why sandwiches from the deli have straight grilled lines and yours don’t? That’s because restaurants use panini presses instead of generic sandwich makers. You can make sandwiches with both, but a panini press is a bit more versatile.

Even then, deciding which one to get is a little tricky. The panini press vs. sandwich makers battle is kind of confusing, so we’re here to help you figure out which one is right for you. Choosing one over the other depends entirely on your preferences, so consider your needs first.

However, let’s get into the quick overview and key differences between these two appliances.

Quick Overview – Panini Press vs. Sandwich Maker

There’re some obvious differences between the two appliances we’re comparing. As each one has its unique feature, let’s evaluate them individually.

1. Sandwich Maker

This is a valuable tool for a quick breakfast. You can fix up a ham and cheese sandwich and throw it in for five minutes for a perfect toast. The sandwich maker will give you a consistent result each time.

Sandwich Maker & Toaster

There’re no temperature settings or buttons on most of these devices. All you need to do is turn it on and wait for the LED to tell you the sandwich is done. Preheating and toasting are automatic functions.

However, this thing can’t hold in thicker sandwiches. You’re usually limited to a two-to-three layered sandwich at a time. Add more, and you have a spillage problem.


  • Effortless to use, even for any beginners
  • Can bake two to three-layered sandwich
  • No need to worry about the temperature issue
  • Puts out a consistent toast each time


  • Has no temperature control

Some of our recommended Sandwich Maker

Image Product Details   Price
GOTHAM STEEL Sandwich Maker Gotham Steel Sandwich Maker Perfect for dorm rooms and all sized kitchens.
Toasts the bread and seals with a diagonal indentation for no fuss slicing in half.
Top-quality performance with the simple to use, easy to clean Nonstick Sandwich Maker.
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Hamilton beach dual breakfast sandwich maker Hamilton beach dual breakfast sandwich maker Breakfast sandwich maker cooks your custom sandwich in just 5 minutes.
Perfect for brunch or a quick, healthy meal on the go.
All removable parts on this breakfast maker are dishwasher safe.
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Cuisinart Grill Sandwich Maker Cuisinart Grill Sandwich Maker Cooks 2 sandwiches, omelets or servings of French toast.
Raised ridges in cooking plates seal edges of bread or omelets to keep ingredients inside.
Nonstick baking plates wipe clean in seconds and includes cord storage.
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2. Panini Press

This one is a bigger appliance than the one we’ve discussed earlier. Unlike a sandwich maker, it’s a grill. While it operates like a clamp-shell, you get better manual control over temperature and such.

And a larger grill means you can make oversized sandwiches and paninis. They can be thicker, too, with more layers. You don’t need to worry about a mess spilling out of the sides.

The best thing about a panini press is its versatility. It can grill vegetables, meat, and other things too. You could compare it to a mini grill with a weighted top. It can even grill a whole burger top to bottom.

Panini Press Grill


  • Quite versatile to grill and bake anytime
  • It makes bigger and thicker sandwiches
  • No mess is created
  • Manual control over temperature


  • It takes longer to work

Some of our recommended Panini Press

Image Product Details   Price
Chefman Panini Press Grill Chefman Panini Press Grill This 4 Slice Grill-Panini Press Combo can be used to press your custom sandwich or open at 180 degrees for grilling burgers, steaks, veggies.
Floating hinge adjusts to accommodate any size sandwich – thick or thin.
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Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Use this Panini press to try savory sandwiches, quesadillas, and sweet fruit turnovers.
This hot sandwich maker features a cafe-style floating lid that evenly presses any size sandwich
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Ovente Electric Indoor Panini Press Grill Ovente Electric Indoor Panini Press Grill Toasts or grills your food quickly to ensure delicious, evenly cooked food every time.
 Creates aesthetically beautiful grill marks for work-of-art meals.
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Comparison Table of Sandwich Maker and Panini Press

Here’s a table outlining the main differences between a sandwich maker and a panini press –

FeaturesSandwich MakerPanini Press
Scope of UseLimitedVersatile
Temperature ControlAutomaticManual
Method of CookingToastGrill

Difference between Sandwich Maker vs. Panini Press

Now, let’s look into more specific differences between these appliances.

  • Size

Sandwich makers are usually smaller in size. That means they can fit smaller pieces of bread inside. You’ll need to use regular sandwich bread to use this kitchen utility. If you use bigger loaves, they’ll spill out on the counter.

On the other hand, panini presses are larger. They can hold bigger and thicker bread like ciabatta and focaccia. You can pile up many layers in your panini and still close the lid properly.

  • Time

Since a sandwich maker only toasts what you put inside it, it takes little time. Usually, it should take around five minutes. However, the specific timing varies depending on the manufacturer.

Panini makers take longer since they grill instead of toasting. Since the bread inside is bigger with more layers, and the heat isn’t automatic, it depends on how you use it.

  • Scope of Use

Sandwich makers are only good at one thing – making sandwiches. They can toast occasional bread, but that won’t bring the best results. The design is simple, and it’s straightforward to use.

That being said, you can’t go wrong with one if all you need is a grilled cheese sandwich now and then.

Panini presses are far more versatile. They act like tiny grills capable of barbecue that happen to make sandwiches. You can grill burgers, fish, meat, veggies, or anything else you want on it. However, it’s not a replacement for an actual grill.

  • Temperature Control

There’s no manual control over how hot you want your sandwich maker to be. It’s set automatically by the manufacturers. The idea is to have a one-size-fits-all approach. And it works if you’re only making a sandwich with it.

Since you use a panini press for a lot more than that, you need more control over how hot it gets. That’s why these things come with temperature settings. You can adjust them based on what you’re cooking. Try keeping low heat for sandwiches, or they might burn.

  • Method of Cooking

There’s a top and a bottom plate on a sandwich maker and a panini press. In the sandwich maker, the plates are relatively flat, usually with curved edges. These plates heat up, toasting the bread between them evenly.

In the panini press, the two plates have ridges that form grills on both sides, unlike the flat sides of a sandwich maker.

This indentation is what gives the sandwiches from delis their distinctive grilled look. Ideally, you can grill whatever you want with this press as long as you can fit it inside.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between a sandwich maker and a Panini press?

The main differences between the two are size, temperature control, and versatility of usage. You can only make sandwiches with the first one, but you can make that and much more with a panini press.

2. Can you use regular bread in a Panini press?

Yes, you can. You can use any bread in a panini press. However, ciabatta and focaccia are the traditional choices for panini.

3. Do you really need a Panini press?

It depends on whether you make Panini regularly. If you’re interested in making paninis, or big sandwiches in general, then go for it; if not, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to your plain old sandwich maker.

4. Do you use oil on a Panini press?

Yes, seasoning the grill with oil is always a good idea. Once you’ve cleaned and dried the press, apply a light layer of olive oil or cooking oil. This oil will give your panini that slightly charred/grilled look.

5. How do you keep a Panini press clean?

Apply a solution of baking soda and water to the grill of your press and wipe it clean. Dry it completely, then apply a light coating of oil.

Final Words

There you have it: a detailed showdown of Panini press vs. Sandwich makers. While they may look similar in appearance, now you know exactly where they differ from each other.

We’ve made these comparisons to help you choose your own. If you need a quick bite, go for the sandwich maker. And if you want a versatile appliance, select the panini press.

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