When we think of panini sandwiches, we think of the panini press. Panini presses are designed to make the perfect charred marked sandwiches filled with cheese.
Does this mean you can’t make a panini without a panini maker? Absolutely not!
You can make a panini sandwich using day-to-day household products. You can use anything from a grill to a toaster to make your perfect panini. The tricky part is creating the top pressure as the panini maker has a grill lid to cook both sides evenly. But you can achieve that without the top grill as well.
This way, you can enjoy the taste of melted cheese paninis without buying a panini maker. Let’s read how to make a panini if you don’t have a press without further delay.
Assemble Your Panini
A good panini is filled with cheese and made of good sandwich bread. Choose the fillings according to your preference.
Bread: Dense slices of bread or artisan bread loaves are ideal for panini as they can hold their shape in the heat. Cut your bread slices about one and a half inches thick.
Protein: There’s a huge variety of protein available for your sandwich. You can go for the classic chicken or the alternative turkey slices. Some even use fish and vegetables. Tofu and mushrooms are two good vegetarian options. Cook the protein before you add it to the panini.
Cheese: The cheese choice is the most important for a panini. The popular picks are mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, provolone, fontina, and shredded cheese. You can mix several kinds of cheese together to give your panini flavor a boost.
Vegetables: Many people don’t like greens in their sandwiches, but the right combination can elevate the flavor. You can use spinach or arugula. You can add extra punch by using roasted peppers, tomatoes, or zucchini.
Condiments: Finish off the sandwich with the perfect condiment. Pesto, tomato sauce, ketchup, or mayonnaise are excellent picks. Don’t add too many ingredients as your panini may fall apart while flipping. Now that you’ve assembled your panini, it’s time to cook it.
Skillet and Top Pan Method
The best and easiest way to cook a panini sandwich without a panini maker is to use the skillet. If you have a grill skillet or pan, that’s even better because the panini will have that lined look. Follow the step-by-step guide carefully.
Step 1: Add every ingredient you want to your panini sandwich. Make sure to load it with lots of cheese because you can’t have a good panini without melted cheese.
Step 2: Wrap your sandwich in foil. This is done to ensure that the panini doesn’t come apart while cooking or flipping.
Step 3: If you don’t have foil, try to use ingredients that remain in place easily, like sliced meat, shredded cheese, sliced vegetables, and bacon.
Step 4: Heat your stovetop skillet or electric skillet to medium—grease the skillet surface with butter, cooking spray, or oil.
Step 5: Carefully place your panini in the middle. Take another pan to pressure down on the sandwich. Place it on the top of the panini while it’s cooking. You can use a plate, lid, or a heavy can for this task.
Step 6: When one side is down cooking, remove the top pan or plate. Flip the panini over to cook the other side evenly. Put the pan on the top side again.
Step 7: Cook your panini until it looks crispy and golden. Carefully remove the hot foil and wait for the sandwich to cool down. Now it’s ready to be served!
Grill and Top Pan Method
One of the popular ways to make your panini without a panini cooker is grilling. The grill marks give your sandwich that classic charred panini look, and it is very simple to make.
This process follows the exact steps of the skillet method. The only difference is that you have to be extra careful while cooking the panini in the foil. Without proper supervision, grills can cause accidents. You can even use brick for top pressure instead of a pan or plate. If you aren’t worried about the grill marks, you don’t have to use anything to weigh down the panini.
It is another handy kitchen appliance. If you have a griddle, you can make paninis in them. The process is the same as skillet and grill methods. However, since griddles don’t have sides, flipping the sandwich is easier.
Oven or Toaster Oven
This process works for both the oven and the toaster oven. The oven is a great way to make large batches of paninis. So, if you have a party or feeding a huge group of people, be sure to use the oven to make them. The directions are given below.
Step 1: Preheat the oven or toaster oven to medium to high heat, around 375o F 190o C.
Step 2: Assemble your paninis and place them inside the oven. While using the oven, proteins like chicken and turkey need to be monitored closely. They tend to overcook and dry out easily. Try to use juicy proteins.
Step 3: It needs only 5-6 minutes to cook. Cook until the bread is toasted and golden. The cheese should be melted perfectly.
This is an unusual method, but you can try this one out if you don’t have a pan or oven. You need a toaster with wide openings. Otherwise, you can’t fit the whole panini in it. To make a proper panini with toasty bread and melted cheese, you need a little something called toast bags. They are reusable, washable, and dishwasher-safe little bags that hold your sandwich. This is to ensure the melted cheese doesn’t ruin the toaster. Follow the below instructions.
Step 1: Remember that due to the size restriction, you can’t make a large sandwich. So, use sliced meat and shredded cheese.
Step 2: Toasters can’t provide a toasty golden side on the inside part of the bread. If you want crunchiness on both sides, you can butter one side of two slices of bread, put them in a roasting bag, and toast them.
Step 3: Once toasted, apply butter on the other side and put cheese and meat within the slices’ toasted side. Step 4: Place the assembled panini inside the toast bag.
Step 5: Insert the bag into the toaster. The open side of the bag needs to be outside. Cook until nice and golden.
Video: Making Panini without Press
Panini Filling: You have to make your sandwich based on the appliance you’re using. Since skillets, grills, or pans require you to flip the panini for even cooking, you need to wrap it in foil. Without the foil, don’t try to add too many things as the sandwich will surely fall apart. Don’t use lean meat when cooking in the oven.
Cooking Time: Don’t leave your panini unsupervised while it is cooking. The cooking time and temperature are standard across all panini presses. Since it’s not the same for grills, pans, ovens, or toasters, try to monitor the cooking process.
Hot Appliances: Unlike panini makers, these appliances will get very warm quickly while cooking. Try to be careful while using them not to burn yourself.
Hopefully, now you know the steps to making the perfect panini without using a panini grill. You can choose from several processes. You can use a skillet or grill or even an oven or toaster. You can try out different methods and see which works for you best. Just be careful of what ingredients you use as not all can cook perfectly on certain devices.
Make sure to cook the sandwich until cheese is melted. Now, you can make the perfect panini without a hassle. Enjoy your food!