The perfect panini

This article was originally published in June 2011

Panini sandwiches make versatile, quick and easy meals, but if you don’t have a panini maker, you can improvise and still turn out a crispy and quite delicious sandwich.


You virtually can use any type of bread with a tight crumb. It’s best to slice the bread thin, no more than 3/4-inch thick.


A typical Italian panini generally contains no more than three or four ingredients, emphasizing flavor combinations. Thin-sliced deli meats and cheeses are perfect for panini, but just about any filling will work. Be creative and keep in mind, the thinner the filling volume, the better the ingredients will fuse together when cooked. When using salad greens, grill your sandwich and then insert anything you’d like to keep leafy — lettuce, spinach, arugula — right before serving.


Search no further than the PCC Deli for delicious spreads and condiments to add an extra layer of flavor in your sandwich creation. Try our PCC Beet Walnut Hummus, Artichoke Dip, or Feta Sundried Tomato Spread.

Basic technique

Preheat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Spread the outside of your sandwich with softened butter or olive oil to keep it from sticking and to create the characteristic crunchy exterior. Place the panini in the hot pan and set a second frying pan on top of the sandwich, placing a can of soup or beans in the top pan to weigh it down. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, flip, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Cut in half diagonally and serve immediately.

Try these tasty combinations:

  • Roasted portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions and PCC Feta Sundried Tomato Spread on rosemary garlic bread.
  • Grilled chicken breast, provolone cheese, romaine lettuce and Caesar dressing on ciabatta.
  • Grilled zucchini, lemon ricotta and olive oil on sourdough bread.
  • Hazelnut butter and bananas on challah or brioche, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Revised July 23, 2020

Related reading