5 Ways to Make a Hot, Crispy Sandwich Without a Panini Press

I used to have a little countertop grill, the jawed sort with removable plates (always thought of them as dentures) for waffles, sandwiches, and grilling. But it took up too much space, and I used it precisely never, finally purging it during a move. I still love hot sandwiches, though, and I've found that a panini press is fairly unnecessary. Here are 5 ways to get the sandwich without the gadget.

  1. Pan on the stove, with a lid for a press. - Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and cook your sandwich for a couple minutes on each side, pressing it down to make full contact with the hot pan using a big lid. (Pictured: South African Cheese, Grilled Onion & Tomato Panini (Braaibroodjie).
  2. Pan on the stove, with another pan for a press. - Similar to the method above, but using a heavy pan. This is good for sandwiches with a lot of cheese inside. You can even preheat the top pan on a burner or in the oven to help the top layer of the sandwich heat faster. (Just be careful and use a good oven mitt!) (Pictured: Tomato Mozzarella Sandwich.
  3. A wide-slot toaster. - Use a Toastabag or Jamie Oliver's clever hack to melt and toast a sandwich in the toaster.
  4. The oven broiler. - The broiler is a great way to make a toasty sandwich, especially when you are making sandwiches for a crowd. You can just flip the sandwiches to get them evenly toasted on both sides. Or, if they need weight on them to help melt and meld the cheese inside, (Pictured: Hot Baked Nutella & Cream Cheese Sandwich.)
  5. The grill itself. - And don't forget the grill itself! Fire up the gas grill for truly toasty, truly grilled cheese. (More here on grilling sandwiches.)

What's your favorite way to make a hot sandwich? Do you love your panini press? Or maybe you're devoted to the toaster oven?

Related: Quick Sandwich Tip: Make Hot Panini Sandwiches Without the Mess

(Images: Anjali Prasertong; Faith Durand; Emma Christensen)