Buying the best sandwich toaster will take you from a plain sandwich to a delicious cheesy lunchtime treat in minutes. Sandwich toasters, also known as the best toastie makers or panini press, are ideal for those cooler evenings where you may want to snuggle up with a warm lunch or quick and easy dinner. Some of our top picks from Salter and Sage also come with changeable plates to cook waffles and leave those classic char lines on paninis in one smart machine. Not only can you use the best sandwich toaster for bread, but it can double up as one of the best waffle makers in your home.
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. As essential as one of the best microwaves, you can brunch, lunch and dinner, all with one smart machine.
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 sandwich toasters
Why you can trust Ideal Home
1. Cuisinart GRSM1U
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.
The removable non-stick plates are easy to clean in the sink or dishwasher, and there are variable temperature controls.
With 1000 watts, this is one of the most powerful toasted sandwich makers you can buy. It will turn a plain ham and cheese sandwich into a mean panini in no time.
2. Salter EK2143 Deep Fill 3-in-1 Snack Maker
Three sets of plates are included in the box, for making toasties, paninis and waffles. It's easy to switch them out by pressing the buttons next to the handles, which makes them easy to clean by hand.
The sandwiches took a few minutes to cook in this toasted sandwich maker, but no matter how grilled-on it becomes, the non-stick plates make it easy to remove the toastie.
For pure value-for-money, you can't really go wrong with the Salter EK2143 Deep Fill 3-in-1 Snack Maker. Note that you should clean the plates by hand. The machine is very compact and easy to store, but the cord can be left hanging.
3. Sage SSG600BSS the Perfect Press Sandwich Maker
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 in this climate. The plates are angled and fat runs into a drip tray for healthier breakfasts, brunches and dinners.
4. Cuisinart 2-in-1 Grill and Sandwich Maker
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 210˚C. You can use each side separately, say, if you're cooking for veggies and meat eaters.
You can also use this toastie maker to grill, and even experiment with omelet and waffles.
5. Breville Deep Fill VST041 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
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 Sage. 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 work surfaces 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.
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Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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