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Hot and evenly-toasted sandwiches don’t have to be pricey indulgences you can only get from your local cafe. With a panini press, you can easily combine bread and fillings into delicious creations at home, without searing cheese and tomato juice into your beloved cast iron pan. While there are many models on the market that just have one function—to make dreamy panini—choosing a grill that can handle meat, veggies, and breakfast items sans sandwich is a practical way to get more for your dollar. Here’s what to look for in an appliance you can use at any time of day to streamline cooking time and craft dishes your whole family will love.

George Foreman

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If you love grilled meats and veggies but want to leave outdoor cooking and the smell of charcoal to the annual barbecue, consider an indoor grill that can make both tasty chicken dinners and sourdough tuna melts. It’s also a great gift for college students whose meals are currently limited to whatever they can microwave or mix with hot water.

Ovente

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If you favor hearty slices of bread from your local bakery and like to layer veggies, protein, and dairy with speciality condiments, choose a panini press that has a floating hinge. This type of hinge can be locked in multiple positions to accommodate thicker sandwiches and can even be used to melt the cheese on an open-faced sandwich if the appliance has sufficient wattage.

Cuisinart

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Many panini presses and electric grills only have two settings: on or off. For serious chefs, choosing a grill with temperature controls is key to keeping your dishes on point. Digital displays with read-outs to the degree can offer superior control, and a built-in timer can hedge against overcooking when your grilled items are just a small part of the feast you’re cooking.

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Hamilton Beach

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