Want to add more grilled sandwiches to your menu? A panini grill or a sandwich grill is an easy and quick way to do so. These grills come in a variety of different designs and styles and can be a very versatile piece of cooking equipment.

Panini grills can be used for much more than sandwiches. You can also grill small quantities of meat, melt quesadillas, and cook vegetables on a panini grill. With each unit being so versatile already, you’ll first need to determine if a medium-duty or a heavy-duty grill will work best in your kitchen.

Medium-Duty Use vs. Heavy-Duty Use

Consider these questions first:

  • Where are you using the sandwich grill? In the front or back of the house?
  • How frequently will you use it?
  • What type of food will you be cooking on it?

Medium-Duty

Sandwic

Medium-duty grills function best when used intermittently like in a deli, café, or sandwich shop that occasionally sells a grilled sandwich. If most of your menu will be cooked on the panini grill and you’re very busy, this grill will not hold up.

Medium-duty sandwich grills work best when frequently used for warming tortillas, grilling sandwiches, and cooking meats.

Heavy-Duty

Heavy-duty grills work better when constantly used for a variety of tasks. They are built with more durable hinges and stronger bodies to withstand a rigorous high volume kitchen environment.

If you’re producing dozens of sandwiches daily, a heavy-duty sandwich grill is your best option.

Grill Plate Materials

Panini grills come standard with one of three different plate materials.

  • Aluminum
  • Cast Iron
  • Non-stick

Aluminum

Aluminum plates are great on an intermittently used panini grill. They heat up quickly and have a fast recovery time, so you can turn off the grill between uses and save energy. They are also a less expensive option.

The cons of aluminum plates are that they quickly lose heat and they require non-stick sprays or oils.

Cast Iron

Cast iron plates are great for continuous use situations since they provide a constant and even heat. These plates hold onto heat longer to provide more consistent results. Furthermore, if you properly season and maintain the plates, they can be stick-resistant.

The downsides of cast iron plates include a higher cost, longer pre-heat time, and the need to season periodically.

Non-Stick

Non-stick plates are great for health-conscious kitchens looking to reduce cooking oils and fats. They are very similar to aluminum plates. Like aluminum plates, they function best when intermittently used in small eateries.

One major perk of a non-stick panini grill is that it is easy to clean. Unfortunately, they are also easier to damage.

Grill Plate Configurations

Smooth plates and grooved plates offer different textures to your final products. You can also purchase a grill with both smooth and grooved plates for a more versatile cooking experience.

Smooth Top & Bottom Plates

Sandwich Grill with Smooth Top and Bottom

Smooth plates come in complete contact with your food product for a more even cooking. The final texture effect is that of a griddle, making this type of sandwich grill perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Grooved Top & Bottom Plates

Sandwich Grill with Grooved Top and Bottom

The grooved plates create grill lines on the top and bottom of your food. For paninis and grilled meats, this visual appeal can be very helpful.

Grooved Top & Smooth Bottom Plates

Sandwich Grill with Grooved Top and Smooth Bottom

This versatile design allows you to use the bottom plate as a griddle or warmer. If you want to also add grill marks, you can then close the top plate.

Dual Grooved & Smooth Plates

Dual Panini Grill

Dual panini grills can either come in dual smooth, dual grooved, or smooth and grooved options. A smooth and grooved panini grill provides ultimate versatility in your busy kitchen. They are perfect for high volume applications where one piece needs to perform multiple tasks. Grill a small steak on one side, and melt a quesadilla on the other!

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