The Parchment Paper Trick For Making Paninis Without A Mess

Toasty, warm, and melty, there's nothing quite like a panini that's fresh off the grill press. Yet, delicious as they may be, a mess is often to be expected. As grill plates squeeze the sandwich together, striving for that perfect sear, chances are that gooey cheese will start to drip out of the sides, followed by sauces, and any other tasty fillings loaded inside. To save yourself the hassle of cleaning the grill plates, there's a way to make the process virtually mess-free — all you need is parchment paper.

While you could get crafty and fashion a parchment pouch for panini, the easiest way to keep fillings contained is by wrapping a fully-loaded panini in a sheet of parchment just before placing it on the grill  — just remember to keep the wrapping fairly loose to avoid any ripping. The parchment acts as a barrier between the grill and your panini and ensures that fillings stay put and won't drip onto the grill. Consequently, this eliminates the risk of your panini sticking to the press' plates and reduces the amount of cleanup.

Foolproof as this hack may seem, it's important to note that there is a limitation. Parchment paper can withstand a fair bit of heat, but the material isn't completely indestructible, which is why parchment should only be used on the grill plates of a panini press rather than traditional grill grates to avoid a major fire hazard.

Taking mess-free panini a step further

Beyond enveloping a panini in parchment, you can also make things less messy by crafting a tidier sandwich. Despite that a good panini is all about keeping things interesting by adding an array of ingredients that vary in flavor and texture, there's no reason to go overboard on fillings. When pressed together, bread should nearly touch, which means that ingredients should be kept to a minimum. Likewise, any wet ingredients should also be limited as this will cause panini to become soggy and fall apart.

Additionally, how you build a panini can also impact its neatness. Always be sure to add sauces and cheeses onto the inside of the bread (and on either slice), enclosing other ingredients like veggies or protein in the middle. Acting like glue, melty cheese holds these ingredients in place so they don't slip and slide. Of course, don't forget to add a brush of oil or swipe of butter to the outside of the panini so that a crisp exterior can develop, creating a sort of protective crust.

Finally, once the panini is hot off the press, slice it in half. Rather than trying to wield the entire sandwich in your hand and fight gravity as gooey cheese and other ingredients try to escape, simply use a serrated knife to cut the panini into two clean portions. Then, bask in the tidiness of it all.