You Don't Need A Panini Press To Make Warm Cuban Sandwiches

Featuring layers of roast pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard stacked inside two slices of fluffy Cuban bread, the classic Cuban sandwich is a savory snack that's sure to leave your taste buds pleased and your belly full. It's no wonder that residents of Miami and Tampa lay claim to the Cubano because it's a sandwich worth fighting for. Nevertheless, you don't need to live in South Florida to enjoy it. Luckily, it's easy to make, even if you don't have access to one of the essential tools needed for an authentic Cuban sandwich — a panini press.

While you may have all the ingredients for making the sandwich, your Cubano is not complete until it's warmed and pressed, allowing the juicy meat, gooey cheese, crunchy pickles, and zesty mustard to meld into each other while perfectly toasting the bread. The result is a delicious symphony of flavors and textures in every bite.

Although a panini press is often used for whipping up a warm, toasty Cuban sandwich, you can achieve the same result (and maybe even those signature grill lines) without an extra appliance. There are a few ways to go about it, using items you likely already have in your kitchen. You just need to get a little creative.

Utilize extra cookware to press down on the sandwich

The secret to the ultimate Cubano is in that perfect press, and as long as you have a source of heat and a weighted object, you can get the result you're after. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is by employing an extra pot or pan, or even a flat pan cover, to help evenly distribute weight on the sandwich while it toasts. After assembling your Cubano, lightly spread the outer crusts of the bread with butter before placing it in a preheated pan. Then, grab another piece of cookware and place the bottom over the sandwich, carefully pressing down until the Swiss cheese melts and the bread turns golden and crispy.

However, if you hope to replicate those hallmark lines, turn to your grill. Since a Cubano is a robust sandwich stacked with fillings, it's difficult to cook and flip it directly on the grill without compromising its structure. Still, you can mimic the effect of a panini press by tightly wrapping the sandwich in aluminum foil, keeping its contents safely packed together, and setting it on the grill, occasionally pressing down with a regular ol' spatula. After grilling it evenly on both sides, unwrap your sandwich, and you'll have a warm, pressed Cubano, complete with grill marks — no panini press required.