Grab a toastie maker, a hunk of cheese and a couple of slices of bread, and you’ll be on the way to hot sandwich heaven
A sandwich toaster is probably the first appliance you ever bought, and may since have become car boot fodder, so why get a new one?
Because, oozing with cheese, with perhaps a couple of slice of juicy tomato and a crispy buttery coating, a tasty toastie is about as resistible as un-popped bubble wrap.
It’s the ultimate kids’ teatime treat, student hangover cure and soup side order. Even celebrity chefs aren’t immune to its charms. Pick up a copy of Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals, and you’ll find filling suggestions like honey mashed with dark chocolate and banana.
Scroll down, and you’ll find more great reasons for buying a toastie maker. But first check out our best sandwich toasters.
Best for doorstop sandwiches
Lakeland fold-out grill
One of our toasties bugbears is when the bread is squished so hard that all the filling leaks out. You’ll have no such issues with this grill, however. Whether you want slim panini or a chunky doorstop, this cleverly hinged model’s five height settings lets you adjust it to the thickness of your sandwiches, cooking evenly and without ever squashing them. You could also use it open to grill cheese on toast. Yum.
Fold it out and you have yourself an indoor barbecue – sadly, something all too useful this summer. The plates are angled and fat runs into a drip tray for healthier breakfasts, brunches and dinners.
Dimensions H165mm x W365mm x D370mm Plates Removable, non-stick, dishwasher safe Features Variable temperature control (90 to 230ᵒC), drip tray, storage lock, power-on and indicator lights
Best for making different snacks
Tefal Snack Collection sandwich toaster
Two sets of plates are included in the box, for making toasties and waffles. Once you’re getting regular use out of those, you can buy extra plates and create your own donuts, bagels, pies and more. There are 16 sets to collect in total.
All the plates are non-stick, can be cleaned in the dishwasher and come with little boxes that keep the sets together when they are not been used. A recipe book is also thrown in, to give you a bit more ‘snack-spiration’.
Dimensions H115mm x W225 x D280mm Plates Removable, non-stick, dishwasher safe Features Vertical storage, cord storage, indicator light
Best for upgrading your toaster
Take a Dualit toaster, from £70, splash out £15.35 on a sandwich cage, and voilà, a gooey grilled cheese is just two minutes away.
You could try this recipe – take two slices of sourdough bread, and drizzle with olive oil on both sides. Top one slice with cooked chicken breast, a couple of basil leaves and slices of mozzarella. Sprinkle with paprika, add the second slice of sourdough and toast for a few minutes.
Best for melting toppings
Grill & Melt Advanced 22160, George Foreman
This has the floating hinge you’d expect from a panini press, plus the top plate can be locked in place for elevated grilling. So you can cook four paninis or toasties with the lid down. Or lock it open with a 4cm gap to melt toppings on mini pizzas, garlic bread or cheese on toast.
It can cook meat, fish and veggies, too, with a sloped bottom grill and drip tray to collect grease.
Dimensions H140mm x W385mm x D385mm Plates Removable, non-stick, dishwasher safe Features Variable temperature control, drip tray, indicator lights
Best for professionals
Dualit panini contact grill
As seen in a cafe near you, this catering-standard machine has ribbed and sprung top plates so it will handle any thickness of bread or roll.
The bottom plate is flat so it can also be used for griddling, and the temperature can be adjusted anywhere between 50 and 300 degrees C. There are two switches, so you can use each side separately, say, if you’re cooking for veggies and meat eaters.
Dimensions H210 x W640 x D430mm Plates Cast-iron plates Features Variable temperature control (50-300°C), drip tray, indicator light
Best for deep fillings
Cuisinart Overstuffed toastie maker
Extra-large plates with deep pockets mean you can use really thick bread or focaccia, and cram in more ingredients, to boot. Cuisinart even recommends experimenting with omelettes, calzones and fruit-filled turnovers.
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The removable non-stick plates are easy to clean in the sink or dishwasher, and there are variable temperature controls.
Dimensions H240mm x W280mm x D120mm Plates Removable, non-stick, dishwasher safe Features Variable temperature control, storage lock, indicator light
Best for sealing your sarnies
Breville DuraCeramic 2-slice sandwich toaster
Breville invented the sandwich toaster, so you should be in safe hands with this model. It’s a modern uptake on a classic design and has the brand’s famous cut-and-seal technology – a scissor action that shapes the bread and filling into neatly moulded triangles.
Lights indicate when the power is on and it’s ready to cook, the non-stick plates are removable for easy cleaning and have a new non-stick coating that’s four times more durable against scratching and peeling
Plates Non stick Features Vertical storage, cord storage, power on and indicator lights
Sandwich toasters – a buyer’s guide
Toastie makers have come a long way in recent years. For one, they’ve got non-stick and, in some cases, removable dishwasher-safe plates, so you won’t have to spend hours scouring away at incrusted ingredients. They are also much better at sealing in your ingredients so they won’t leak onto the worktop.
Because we’re greedy, our favourites are the deep-fill models from Cuisinart and Waring. Their plates have deeper wells that can be filled with pastry and fruit for yummy turnovers, or eggy batter, cheese and vegetables, resulting in enviable omelettes.
Sandwich toasters versus grills
If you want more versatility, a grill may suit you better. Traditional panini grills fold down, but unlike sandwich toasters don’t shut tight as they don’t seal the bread, so they’re able to accommodate thick speciality loaves.
Some also open out 180 degrees, creating a double-size cooking area that you can use to grill a mountain of meat and vegetables.
Always check the plates sit at a slight tilt so any excess fat can run easily into a drip tray for healthier meals, and if you’d like to be able to cook pancakes or eggs, buy a model with flat griddle plates as well as ridged ones.
Sandwich makers and grills – features to look for
Removable plates Make for easier cleaning as you can pop them in a washing up bowl. If they’re dishwasher safe you shouldn’t have to do any scrubbing.
Non-stick coating Will prevent food welding to the plates but may lose its effectiveness over time.
Power on and indicator lights Most toasters and grills have power-on lights, and some form of indicator that tells you when the plates are hot enough for you to cook on. For example, a green LED will light up or a screen will flash.
Variable temperature controls Allow you to be more precise with your cooking. Temperatures can reach anything up to 300°C, so you can sear and chargrill quickly, or go as low as 50°C, allowing you to grill delicate vegetables over a longer period.
Drip tray Keeps worksurfaces free of grease and fat by collecting it within the machine, ready to be removed and poured away. It also makes your food healthier.
Opens 180 degrees Doubles your cooking surface, although you’ll have to turn your food, and it won’t cook as quickly as it would by contact grilling.
Vertical storage The plates can be locked together so the press or toaster can be stored upright should space be tight.
Cord storage Usually consists of hooks that you can wind the plug cable around, to make putting away your toaster or grill that much easier.
Timer Keeps you up to date on the progress of your cooking without you having to lift the lid. You might also find approximate cooking times for different foods printed on the lid of a grill.