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.

Family-Friendly Size

This 60 square-inch non-stick appliance handles main courses and sides, with a signature sloped style to drain fat to a drip tray, and dishwasher-safe surfaces that pop out for easy clean-up. 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.

Floating Hinge

This model’s top half can adjust to accommodate the size of the food put inside of it. The appliance turns on when plugged in, and an indicator light glows green when it’s preheated. 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.

Sleek Design

Features an LCD display, digital temperature control, panini-friendly floating hinge, and reversible plates for multi-surface cooking. When propped fully open it offers twice the grilling space. 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.

Also Consider

Swappable Parts

Multiple panels allow you to make multiple foods with this product, from a variety of breakfast foods to steaks and savory dinner dishes. It heats up within a few minutes, so you won’t have to wait long to cook. OSTBA

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Cooks on Both Sides

The top of this option can be set in place, allowing just one side to be used for open-faced sandwiches and bruschetta, among other things. Hamilton Beach

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