Just like pizza and pasta, the Italians have come up trumps with their panini.
Essentially a toasted sandwich, whatever goes with cheese should likely find a home in between two slices of bread which are then pressed and grilled together with the application of heat.
That includes some exotic combinations such as Mac and Cheese, Apple and Bacon, or Eggplant Parmesan.
Some of the greatest paninis are also some typical stupendous sandwiches such as the Tuna Melt, a Grilled Caprese, Loaded Turkey, or even Bacon and Eggs.
You should also feel free to experiment with a panini as the possibilities are almost endless, just as they are with the sandwich itself.
Go for a simple Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese, a Pizza Panini, or Avocado Veggie Panini. Cheese also goes really well with sautéed mushrooms, though a Ham, Apple, and Swiss Panini is worth trying too.
Not to mention a Strawberry, Turkey, and Brie Panini. Until you have tasted sweet strawberries with rich melted brie then you cannot say that you have truly lived.
In this guide, we will look at 20 of the best panini recipes. There is also room for three bonus recipes which will show you how paninis can also be desserts.
The 20 Best Panini Recipes
Mac and Cheese Panini
Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese
Prosciutto and Provolone Panini
Pesto Panini with Mozzarella and Tomato
Chicken Panini with Pesto and Peppers
Strawberry, Turkey, and Brie Panini
Bacon and Eggs Panini
Cheesy Veggie Panini
Ham, Apple, and Swiss Panini
Loaded Turkey Panini
Grilled Chicken Avocado Panini
Italian Grilled Caprese Panini
Cheese and Sautéed Mushrooms
Italian Tuna Melt
Apple and Bacon Panini
Avocado Veggie Panini
Garlic Parmesan Panini
Eggplant Parmesan Panini
Apple Pie Panini
Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Panini
1. Bruschetta Panini
The simple taste of Bruschetta is well worth making into a panini.
Spread mayonnaise to one side of both bread slices then layer on turkey slices, mozzarella cheese slices, basil leaves, and tomato slices.
Close up the sandwich and cook in the panini press until the cheese has melted.
2. Mac And Cheese Panini
For a carb-tastic meal, put some Mac and Cheese in a panini.
This is a great way of using up some leftover Mac and Cheese too so warm it up then shape it into a slice of the bread you are using then top with cheese slices.
The Mac and Cheese will get warmed up in the panini press too so make sure you can handle it comfortably.
Butter up your bread and place the slices butter-side-down. Top one slice with some sliced cheese then layer the Mac and Cheese on top with that other layer of cheese slices.
Cover with the other slice of bread and cook until warmed through and the cheese has melted.
3. Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese
If you like garlic bread, then you will love this Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese. Mix in some softened butter with garlic and parsley then spread over both sides of your bread slices.
You can do this in a hot skillet to brown both sides of the bread but you can use the panini press too.
Layer on some grated American cheese or cheddar (you can mix them up too), season with salt and pepper, then cover with another slice of bread and cook until the cheese is melted.
4. Prosciutto And Provolone Panini
Prosciutto and provolone are simply meant to be cooked together as a classic meat and cheese combo. Brush olive oil over the bread slices then spread on some pesto.
Top with half of your provolone cheese then the prosciutto slices, and red pepper strips before finishing with the rest of the cheese. Close up your sandwiches and cook until the provolone has melted.
5. Pesto Panini With Mozzarella And Tomato
Preheat your panini press and spread pesto onto each bread slice and layer on some mozzarella slices. Layer on fresh tomato, sprinkle on some salt, sandwich with another side of bread, pesto-side-down.
Coat both sides of bread with melted butter and grill until the cheese has melted. Be careful biting into this one as the tomato can take on a lot of heat.
6. Chicken Panini With Pesto And Peppers
Chicken and peppers go exceptionally well together, throw in some pesto and you have a taste sensation.
Coat half of your bread slices with pesto then layer on mozzarella slices, cooked chicken slices, and roasted red pepper slices.
Brush on olive oil to both outer sides of the bread then cook in the panini press until the cheese has melted.
7. Strawberry, Turkey And Brie Panini
Until you have sampled strawberries with brie you have not yet lived. Layer half of your bread slices with basil leaves, smoked turkey slices, sliced strawberries, and thickly sliced brie.
Spread on pepper jelly to the remaining bread slices then sandwich them up and brush both sides with melted butter. Cook in a preheated panini press until golden brown and the strawberries are falling apart.
8. Bacon And Eggs Panini
Paninis can be for breakfast too such as this Bacon and Eggs Panini. It’s pretty easy to make as it’s essentially scrambled eggs and bacon in a toasted sandwich.
Fry your bacon strips and drain the fat on kitchen towels. Remove from the pan then scramble your eggs and heat up your panini press.
Butter a slice of bread then lay it butter side down while you layer scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese on top. Cover with another slice of buttered bread and cook butter-side-up in the panini press until crispy.
9. Cheesy Veggie Panini
No meat, no problem for this panini. Slice up half an avocado with some tomato and butter up both sides of the bread.
Layer on some mayonnaise, spinach, those tomato slices, and Colby Jack cheese. You can choose to include your avocado slices to warm in the panini or simply serve them on the side.
10. Ham, Apple, And Swiss Panini
When fall arrives, you really should try a Ham, Apple, and Swiss Panini. Preheat your panini press and spread some melted butter on each side of the bread.
In a bowl, combine mayonnaise and Dijon mustard then spread onto the bread slices. Layer up ham slices, apple slices, and Swiss cheese then ensure that the bread is butter-side facing up. Cook until golden brown.
11. Loaded Turkey Panini
If you have cooked up some turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas and are wondering what to do with the leftover meat then make a tasty sandwich.
Spread some melted butter on the outside of your bread slices then layer on turkey slices, sage leaves, goat’s cheese, cranberry sauce, cooked bacon, and Muenster cheese.
Press it together and cook until the inside is warm and the cheese has melted.
12. Grilled Chicken Avocado Panini
Chicken and avocado work really well for a nutritious and tasty combination in a sandwich. Mash up an avocado and spread it on two slices of bread before adding sliced tomato and seasoning.
Layer on cooked chicken breast slices then top with grated cheese. Cook until the bread has crisped up and the chicken has warmed through.
13. Italian Grilled Caprese Panini
Caprese is a sensational panini to order and you can make one at home pretty easily too.
Brush one side of bread with olive oil and layer on mozzarella slices, basil leaves, and tomato slices, then drizzle on balsamic vinegar and add seasoning (see also ‘40+ Fresh Moreish Mozzarella Recipes‘).
Sandwich it together then brush the top with olive oil and cook until toasty and the mozzarella cheese melts.
14. Cheese And Sautéed Mushrooms
Mushrooms work great on a pizza and incredibly well with Swiss cheese in a panini. Slice up some cremini mushrooms and sauté them in olive oil until caramelized.
Top half of your bread slices with Swiss cheese and the other half with caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms.
Create your sandwiches and spread on melted butter to both sides of the bread and cook until golden brown.
15. Italian Tuna Melt
The tuna melt is a classic sandwich recipe and simply has to be included here. Combine canned tuna (see also ‘33 Scrumptious Canned Tuna Recipes To Try At Home‘) with diced red onion, chopped green olives, mayonnaise, pesto, lemon juice, and capers.
Preheat the panini press, coat each side of bread with olive oil then layer them up with mozzarella cheese and a tomato. Cook until crispy and the cheese has melted for a delicious panini.
16. Apple And Bacon Panini
Yes, apples and bacon slices do work really well together as the sweet bacon combines with the tart apple.
Cover the bread slices with Dijon mustard and divide cooked bacon rashes, Granny Smith slices, and grated Cheddar cheese between them.
Sandwich them together and cover with melted butter then cook until crunchy.
17. Avocado Veggie Panini
Avocados go really well with all sorts of vegetables in a panini. Melt some butter in a skillet over a medium-high heat, and sauté shallots then mushrooms.
Add cherry tomatoes and kale then sauté until wilted and season with salt.
Meanwhile, add mashed up avocado onto each slice of bread, arrange the vegetables on top, sprinkle on some cheese, cover with bread and cook until browned.
18. Pizza Panini
The delicious taste of a pizza, in a panini. Roast grape tomatoes at 425°F (220°C) with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano until they start to burst after around 15 minutes then mash them up to create a tomato sauce.
Spread the sauce over one side of each slice of bread then layer up mozzarella cheese and basil with some sliced meat such as pepperoni. Close up the sandwich and cook until toasted.
19. Garlic Parmesan Panini
Garlic goes so well with Parmesan that you will be obliged to cook it in a panini. Combine mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and garlic powder in a bowl.
Apply butter to the outside of each slice of bread and place butter side down in the press.
Layer on Swiss cheese, ham slices, tomato, and more Swiss cheese, cover with the cheesy, garlic mayo sauce then top with the bread butter side up then cook until crispy and hot.
20. Eggplant Parmesan Panini
Eggplant Parm is a classic Italian sandwich recipe, and rightly so. Cook garlic in olive oil over a high heat, turn it down, and add a can of crushed tomatoes with basil.
Add salt, simmer, and heat up the eggplant cutlets. Dip them in half of the tomato sauce then lay over the bread and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Spread pesto on one side, top the eggplant on the other and then cook in a panini press until golden brown.
21. Nutella Panini
You have likely had Nutella on toast, how about in a panini? Use French bread for that extra decadence and heat up your panini press.
Spread Nutella on a single side of bread then marshmallow cream on another slice covered with banana slices. Sandwich it together, brush on melted butter to the outside and cook until nicely toasted.
22. Apple Pie Panini
What makes this panini stand out is not the apple pie part, but rather the use of cinnamon raisin bread. Whisk together honey and mascarpone cheese until fluffy and preheat the panini press.
Spread butter onto the outer bread slices and layer on the sweet mascarpone spread with thinly sliced apple, then close up the sandwich and sprinkle on some brown sugar.
Once the apple has warmed up you can serve it with a dollop of ice cream.
23. Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Panini
We should all know how well peanut butter goes with banana and chocolate chips. Preheat the panini press then spread each of the bread slices with peanut butter.
Top one slice with sliced bananas then top with chocolate chips. Top with another slice of bread, peanut-butter-side down and cook until the chocolate chips have melted.
Paninis can be such a simple and rewarding meal. If you can think of anything that goes well with cheese then it can be in a panini.
Chicken, turkey, prosciutto, garlic, bacon, the list goes on. Choose your cheese wisely as mozzarella melts really well yet some cheeses, even Cheddar, can struggle to provide the same gooey consistency.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Best Types Of Bread For A Panini Sandwich?
You may find yourself heading to an Italian deli to find the best bread to use for a panini sandwich.
The likes of ciabatta and focaccia hold up to grilling a lot better than sourdough though baguettes do well too. Make sure your panini press is nice and hot so you can see those delicious grill marks when it is done.
Why Do You Butter The Bread On A Panini?
The main reason for buttering the bread for a panini is to get that decadent crunch. The bread will toast up regardless yet with some butter, it provides a moreish taste.
Simply melt the butter first then brush it on the bread with a pastry brush. Once the panini is ready there should be a golden, crunchy color to the bread slices.
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