How to Make Paninis Without a Panini Press

When you're craving a panini, turn to your handy cast-iron skillet.

We’ve all been there; you’re craving an ooey-gooey panini, but there’s a problem. You don’t have a panini press! Luckily, you don’t have to crowd your countertop with another appliance for a cafe-worthy panini. Our Test Kitchen has a secret for a press-free panini.

By the way, this is how to make the best mozzarella, tomato and basil panini you’ve ever had.

Step 1: Pull Out Your Cast-Iron Skillets

The secret for a crispy panini is to use two hot cast iron skillets to toast the sandwich. To start, preheat two cast-iron skillets over medium-high heat. If you can, use one skillet that is slightly smaller than the other so they can be stacked.

Need a new cast iron skillet? Here’s how to pick out the best one for you.

Step 2: Assemble the Panini

While your skillets are heating up, put your panini together. You can use whatever meat, cheese and veggies you’d like, but we’d suggest using a heartier bread, like ciabatta, French bread or thick-sliced sourdough. If you need some inspiration, these are some of our favorite panini recipes.

Step 3: Cook the Panini

paninni makerTaste of Home

Add some oil to one of the skillets (the larger of the two, if possible) and use a paper towel to oil the bottom of the other cast-iron skillet. It will be very hot, so be careful! Put your sandwich in the skillet and then place the second skillet on top of the sandwich, pushing it down a bit.

Then, place a heat-safe weight, like a filled tea kettle or saucepan, on top of the second skillet to apply pressure. Let the sandwich cook for about 4 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and toasty.

Make sure you’re not making one of these common cast-iron skillet mistakes.

Step 4: Eat!

When the panini is done, carefully remove the weight and cast iron skillet and remove the sandwich from heat. Transfer it to a plate, slice in half and enjoy your melty panini.

Once you’re done, clean your cast-iron skillet the right way.

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Caroline Stanko
Caroline has been with Taste of Home for the past seven years, working in both print and digital. After starting as an intern for the magazine and special interest publication teams, Caroline was hired as the third-ever digital editor for Taste of Home. Since then, she has researched, written and edited content on just about every topic the site covers, including cooking techniques, buzzy food news, gift guides and many, many recipe collections. Caroline also acts as the editorial lead for video, working with the Test Kitchen, videographers and social media team to produce videos from start to finish. When she’s not tip-tapping on a keyboard, Caroline is probably mixing up a killer cocktail, reading a dog-eared library book or cooking up a multi-course feast (sometimes all at once). Though she technically lives in Milwaukee, there is a 50/50 chance Caroline is in Chicago or southwest Michigan visiting her close-knit family.