10 Best Panini Recipes

When pressing a panini on your stovetop and eagerly awaiting your meal, you get to thinking about how just a little bit of heat can go such a long way. Sandwiches are such a fundamental meal, the bedrock of quick lunches and on-the-go eating, that they can feel a little rote sometimes. A quick ham and cheese on some sliced bread is plenty tasty, but not something you write home about. But toss the bread in a skillet with some butter, press that sandwich together until the cheese melts and the bread gets extra crispy, and suddenly you have something special and craveable. It's only an extra minute or two, but that heat has the power to unlock flavors, change texture, and meld everything in your sandwich into a more coherent whole. That's why we love paninis.

The other great thing about paninis? There are so many to choose from. Paninis are an invitation to creativity since they are all about mixing and matching great condiments and sandwich spreads, toppings, cheeses, meats, veggies, and more. There isn't a category of food that doesn't taste good wedged between two slices of bread, so anybody can find an easy meal that they'll love to make. And to show you the full range of possibilities you have, we have compiled 10 of our best panini recipes right here. They range from twists on takeout favorites to unique vegetarian creations, perfect for all your sandwich-loving needs.

Tuna Melt Panini

Tuna salad is basically a lunch 101 meal, and also case number one for how much a little cooking can transform something. The tuna mixture is simple and creamy, but gets a nice tangy kick from capers and a sweet boost from chopped roasted red peppers. The real trick here is elevating the bread, which swaps your standard sliced sandwich bread for a split baguette. Topped with cheddar slices and browned in olive oil, the panini will get that perfect crispy, chewy baguette contrast, filled with gooey cheese and meaty tuna.

Our recipe developer suggests weighing the thick baguette down with a heavy pan while it's toasting in the skillet, so that it gets fully toasted and the insides meld together properly.

Recipe: Tuna Melt Panini

Ratatouille-Ish Eggplant Panini With Herb Aioli

This panini is proof that a vegetarian sandwich can be just as filling and satisfying as any with meat. The core component is a ratatouille-type mixture of hearty roasted vegetables: Eggplant, zucchini, and bell pepper. That rustic base gets zhuzhed up with an herb aioli that combines lemon, garlic, chives, basil, and parsley for a Mediterranean condiment that's both bright and rich. Finally everything is layered between sourdough slices with fresh tomato and creamy mozzarella to hold everything together. It's a rainbow of fresh summer flavors condensed into bite-sized form for a comforting lunch or easy dinner.

Recipe: Ratatouille-Ish Eggplant Panini With Herb Aioli

Walnut, Pear, And Prosciutto Panini

An apple and brie sandwich may be a classic, but may we suggest pear and burrata instead? That combination of milky cheese and tart sweetness is great on its own, but it's only the beginning in this panini, which adds layers of flavor with a few key ingredients. The first is prosciutto, and all the buttery, salty, umami notes that entails, and the second is a unique walnut pesto made with the nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. You get crunch, you get melt, you get sweet, and you get savory, while toasted sourdough does the rest.

Recipe: Walnut, Pear, And Prosciutto Panini

Chicken And Pear Panini

Chicken and apple is also a popular flavor combo, especially in salads, but we think the milder taste of pear is the perfect partner for chicken in a panini. To up the complete flavor, both the pears and the chicken breast are oven-roasted first in a marinade of olive oil, lemon, and thyme. This step browns the meat and caramelizes the pears while adding deep herbal notes to the whole sandwich. White cheddar is another classic pairing with fruit, and fig jam brings a sweeter fruitiness to contrast the meaty fillings. And despite the roasting (which only takes around 15 minutes), this is a relatively quick and easy panini that really delivers.

Recipe: Chicken And Pear Panini

Turkey Panini With Chipotle Cranberry Spread

There is no reason the pairing of cranberry and turkey needs to be saved for Thanksgiving. This panini can use either roasted turkey or sliced deli turkey, making it perfect for using up leftovers or just giving a tasty twist to your standard turkey sandwich. The two big flavors come from the spread and the cheese. The spread is a sweet and smoky combo of cranberry sauce and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, with a little mayo for richness. And the cheese is gouda, which mixes a perfectly balanced flavor with great melting capabilities. And finally some arugula provides the perfect panini green with a peppery crunch.

Recipe: Turkey Panini With Chipotle Cranberry Spread

Cumin-Roasted Squash And Feta Panini

If you are sleeping on butternut squash as a sandwich base, you won't be after this. Brushed with olive oil and cumin and roasted, the squash becomes a hearty base for toppings like spinach, roasted red peppers, and the salty flavor of crumbled feta cheese. The sauce is just as good as the fillings too. It's a briny mayo mixture with olives and capers, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Spread it liberally over the Italian bread, press, and enjoy this riot of sweet and salty flavors.

Recipe: Cumin-Roasted Squash And Feta Panini

Cajun Turkey Po'boy-Ish Panini

We all know turkey can be a little bland by itself, but nothing cures bland food like the word Cajun. This panini is filled with big-hitting Louisiana flavors, turning the turkey into a canvas for spices, veggies, and a delicious remoulade sauce. The veggies are two of the classic Cajun holy trinity, peppers and onions, along with garlic, while the spices, including cayenne, paprika, onion and garlic powder, get mixed into mayo for the easy remoulade. The real secret weapon is topping meat with meat, in this case a few slices of spicy andouille sausage. You never realized how much flavor you could squeeze in a turkey sandwich until you try this.

Recipe: Cajun Turkey Po'boy-Ish Panini

Pepperoni Pizza Panini

Sandwiches work a lot like meals in general: When all else fails, make it pizza. This panini gives you the folded-pizza flavor of a pepperoni calzone, but with way less time and hassle. Going between the bread is of course pepperoni and marinara sauce, but the cheese layer doesn't stop at the standard mozzarella. You also get some sliced provolone for a flavor boost to the normally mild melting cheese. And you don't really need anything more than that to make a great meal. If you want big pizza flavor in front of you in less than 10 minutes, this is the way to do it.

Recipe: Pepperoni Pizza Panini

Chicken Pesto Panini

Paninis really are a great place to get creative, but sometimes you don't want to mess with success. This panini is built around the ever-popular flavors of two Italian classics: Pesto and caprese. The pesto is spread on both pan-fried chicken breast and directly onto the bread for maximum herby deliciousness, and the chicken gets topped with the timeless combo of mozzarella and basil, giving you the best of two great sandwiches. Sun-dried tomatoes take the place of your standard sliced tomatoes for a little extra sweetness, and spinach finishes it off with a nice hearty, earthiness.

Recipe: Chicken Pesto Panini

Broccoli, Cheddar, And Roasted Garlic Panini

This is basically broccoli cheddar soup in sandwich form. Need we say more? Well it also happens that this panini is as easy-to-make as they come. Using the microwave to steam broccoli makes cooking quick, and the chopped up green vegetable and shredded cheese are the only two fillings you need to make this panini delicious. The one surprise comes from the roasted garlic, which is mixed into mayo and spread on the outside of the sandwich before being pressed, which gives the panini a perfectly browned crust and tons of extra rich flavor.

Recipe: Broccoli, Cheddar, And Roasted Garlic Panini