The Secret To Making A Panini Without A Panini Press

Who doesn't love a good panini? All that warm, melty goodness inside, surrounded by crisp, toasty bread... and, best of all, unlike a triple-decker sandwich or a great big greasy sub, paninis are rather flat and easy to fit into your mouth without the filling falling out all over your shirt. While numerous restaurants offer paninis on their menus, even the ubiquitous Starbucks (although theirs isn't the healthiest), the best way to create your own perfect panini is to make one at home.

But wait, don't you need some special equipment for this, like a panini press? No worries. Even if you have no panini press — nor the funds and/or counter space to add one to your kitchen collection — you can still make the perfect panini as long as you have a pair of cast-iron skillets.

The skillet panini hack

Taste of Home shares the secret to a press-free panini using cast-iron skillets. The trick is to use two of them, preferably one slightly larger than the other (a 10-inch and 12-inch skillet would be ideal). If one or both skillets have ridges, even better, since that way you can still get those distinctive panini markings. 

Preheat both skillets over medium-high as you assemble your panini using whatever delicious combo of meats, cheeses, and/or veggies you can dream up. Add a little oil to the bottom of the larger skillet, then use a paper towel to rub a little oil on the bottom of the second skillet. Place the sandwich in the skillet you poured the oil into, then put the other skillet on top of the panini to weigh it down. As a final step in the sandwich-squashing process, place a water-filled teakettle or saucepan in the top skillet. Let the panini cook for about four minutes until it's golden-brown and toasty, then remove it from the skillet, slice it in half, and eat it while it's hot.

There you go, cast iron to the rescue! Standing in for a panini press, this is just one more reason a good cast iron skillet may be one of your kitchen's most versatile tools.