When the Breville Panini Press first arrived, I was skeptical that it would provide us with healthy meals or earn a permanent spot on our already clutter counter of small appliances. We already had a Smoothie Maker, a Quesadilla Maker, an Espresso machine, a Senseo, a multitasking Toaster Oven, a Food Steamer, an Electric Wok, a stand-alone coutertop Convection Oven and several more "Foodie" trends. We used the Panini Press right away and loved it but in the back of my mind, I wondered if our infatuation with it was just another passing fancy. I'm pleased to say that after a year of use, we still turn to our Panini Press at least 4 nights a week for either our main course or to prepare light snacks. Almost all the other small appliances I listed above have been swept OFF the counter and a special place of honor created for the Breville. Why? well, how about we start with the fact that since we've been using it both my wife and I have dropped over 20 Pounds? Yeah, that got your attention eh?
I admit, it took us a few days of experimentation to learn how NOT to overstuff a sandwich as well as which spreads to use in what amounts. Getting it right almost forces you to eat smaller amounts but we didn't mind because of the new variety of sandwiches and grilled wraps we could toast up. Once we got the size and portion issues down, we were making all manner of new, low fat, high nutrition hot sandwiches with smaller amounts of new, sharper cheeses, aged or smoked meats and savory condiments as well as adding in some marinated and/or freshly thin-sliced vegetables. The Floating Hinge is really great and allows you to use artisan breads made from many whole grains without worrying about breaking the machine. There is a limit to how big a meal you can make but our slederized waistlines like that. It's not a negative for us. We view it as "automatic portion control". The machine is very easy to use right out of the box and becomes even easier over time. You don't need to add any fat to the cooking surface which is great! In addition, once the grilling surface is hot enough, a "Ready" light pops on.
A big plus in my eyes is that you can adjust the top grill with the ribs in it that makes the "grill marks" so the floating hinge can handle different thickenesses of bread, or meats if you're using it that way. You can also set the top plate so that it radiates heat downwards like a broiler for wonderful open-faces melts. We like grilling meat on the Press almost as much as making a new Panini flavor! Finally, the bottom grill is flat and perfect for Sunday morning Lemon Ricotta Pancakes or Stuffed French Toast! Honestly, the Breville does so many thing that we rarely turn on a burner or the oven anymore which is a huge convenience for us since we live in a home in Los Angeles without Central Air Conditioning. It heats up quickly and cools down fast -long before the cooking heat from the grills have any time to turn my kitchen into a sweltering nightmare.
We love our Breville so much that we gave one to my parents for a Christmas gift along with a recipe book. They enjoy it as much as we do but more for the convenience of cooking for two people than for the reasons I mentioned. That actually is a big selling point. If you live alone or are a couple without kids, it makes grilling up a steak and serving a great salad about 15 minute affair from start to finish, including the easy cleaning y wiping it down with a paper towel. if you have kids of any age, it makes it easy for you to cook something up for them in minutes or allows older kids to just make what they want.
We are still using ours more than every other night and we haven't gotten bored or tired of the possibilities for it yet. That's saying something since our Quesadilla maker is back in it's box, the Smoothie Maker broke and the Breville and the Toaster Oven are the only two small appliances I still keep out on the counter. Since we got our Panini Press, we've both lost weight and we find we are enjoying a greater variety of entrees than we did before it arrived. It's just so convenient to use that even the fast food franchises close by and the Sandwich shops I used to love the indulge in on weekends no longer seem like viable options when we can plug in the Press and have something better, faster and in our own home without having to get in the car. Our Breville provides us with really fast food , but fast food of the nutritious variety!
We highly recommend this to anyone for themselves or as a gift. It's one of the few small appliances that earns what little counterspace it takes up. It's well-made, easy to use and can be a real help to someone trying to cook in a small kitchen during the heat of summer. If mine ever broke, and it shows no signs of wear & tear yet, I'd immediately buy a new one!
on April 11, 2012
My 14-month update. I STILL use this amazing panini grill nearly every day. Sometimes twice. I use it for so many things that I would find it hard to be without now. It is very easy to keep clean, it still looks new, and I still love it.
Update October, 2012: I know, it is hard to believe. I still use this nearly every day, and often, twice a day. Some of the further uses I have found: quickly re-heat pancakes or waffles...just pre-heat, put the lid right down on them, set the timer for a minute or two, and they are done. I make instant French toast by dunking a thick slice of home-made raisin bread into fork-whipped egg, soak both sides, put the bread on the pre-heated surface, pour any leftover egg over the top, put the lid down...and one minute later...PERFECT. I have also been using it to "bake" frozen fish filets (you know....Gorton or whatever....) I do put foil on the bottom, spray some PAM on it, spray PAM on another piece of foil, lay that ON the frozen fish, then put the lid all the way down. I give it about four minutes. The fish is a bit oily (the guts get a little squished out of the "crust,") but it is hot clear through and totally delicious...and saves you about 40 minutes of oven time too!
Update end of June, 2012: I am still using my Panini Duo nearly every day. This morning I tried pancakes. I wasn't sure how that would work, only doing two pancakes at a time. Still, there are only two of us, so I gave it a try. Check out the pictures and you can see the result. I made blueberry/coconut pancakes (kind of an improvised recipe). I found that 1/3 cup of batter, lid put down but not touching the pancakes, and 4 minutes per side, worked perfectly. Unlike my stove-top griddle, the Breville surface heats up uniformly. That is the best thing about making them on the Panini maker. I am pretty sure I couldn't have burned these if I tried. They are probably too light for some, but so incredibly perfectly cooked inside...you should try it.
Most Recent Update: I am still using this appliance nearly every day. It is so easy to use, and I keep it right on my counter (locked and standing on end - takes up virtually no space.) It still preheats in 3-4 minutes, and then cooks whatever I am cooking quickly. I just put up a picture of French toast....truly divine.
I have had my Breville Panini Duo for a few weeks now. I think I have used it every day. There is always something different to try. So here are some of the many uses I have found for it, most of which have saved me 30-45 minutes of the oven being on (especially nice now that it is summer-like weather.) Reheated leftover home-made pizza; heated the chips for bean dip (pre-heated the machine, laid a piece of foil on the surface, put on the pizza (or chips), put the lid down so it was not touching the food...and presto. Two minutes for chips, about 10 minutes for the pizza. I have made garlic bread, oven-fried potato slices, potato pancakes, tuna patties, turkey patties, French toast, grilled bagels, and of course, panini sandwiches. I LOVE this machine, and no, I do not work for Breville! I am a self-employed composer (among other things) who really loves kitchen "gadgets."
There seems to be a concern among reviewers about the "plug" "unplug" versus an on/off button. You should know, if you are letting this issue stop you from purchasing, that it is not a "toaster plug." It is a large, very insulated plug with a "handle" on it....incredibly safe, solid and very easy to plug and unplug.
I researched for days and days, reading hundreds of comments, and then finally decided on the Breville Panini Duo. When I purchased it at Amazon, it was $57.99....and with Prime shipping it was an extra bargain. It came today...and I won't have any bread in my house until Sunday! But I was eager to try it out, so I decided to see what else I might use it for. We love oven fries. Oven fries involve 15 minutes of pre-heating the oven to 425. Then baking the fresh-cut potatoes for a half an hour, turning once. We do not do this at all in the summer, for obvious (heat) reasons.
After wiping down my Breville, I plugged it in, then got out one large potato. I sliced it in approximately quarter inch wide slices, plunked them into cold water, and by the time I had done that, the grill was saying it had pre-heated. So I quick drained and patted dry the potato slices, poured a little olive oil in the bowl and stirred it around, then carefully put all of the potatoe slices on the grill and closed the lid. 12 minutes later (after approximately two minutes of pre-heating time) I had the most delicious potatoes ever. Crispy on the outside, nice and done on the inside....machine already unplugged. Fabulous. Probably wouldn't have needed the olive oil, but I am not used to cooking without it. Maybe next time I will try without.
I have never had a panini sandwich, so I am looking forward to MANY of those, even if we never get fancier than smoked turkey and swiss cheese on whole wheat bread. But I am thinking I will be using this machine for many, many other things as well. Cooking for two...it is a perfect size.
So today, (2nd day,) still having no bread, I decided to further experiment. I made tuna patties (simple....a can of good tuna, some chopped onions, oat bran (I had no bread crumbs either), a spritz of lemmon juice and some chopped up cabbage (I often use broccoli instead, and normally stir in an egg, which I did not do this time.) Anyway....less than 5 minutes to heat the grill, and 6 minutes to cook the tuna patties. While they were cooking, I whipped up the "potato cakes" I make with leftover mashed potatoes and egg. Took out the tuna, put on the "lumps" of potato....they were done in 4 minutes, thoroughly cooked, crispy on the outside, lovely on the inside. If you miss the buttery taste (normally I would fry each of these items in skillets or griddle with olive oil and a little butter) you can spread some butter on after. I am not sure yet how to use olive oil when I want to. I am afraid it will get too hot while the thing is heating up...and I am afraid to put it on WHILE the griddle is hot.....so I guess I will do some experimenting about that.
I love this machine so much, thought I would do another update. For my third use....I did another version, using the leftover tuna patties, stirred them into mashed potatos with an egg and cheddar cheese, all together. This time when the grill was preheated I did pour a bit of olive oil on the flat plate and spread it with a spatula, there was no sizzling or popping or anything dangerous, although I tend to wear an oven mitt because I am not used to the machine yet and am afraid of getting burned bumping into the top grid. Anyway, I spooned my concoction on, closed the lid, set the timer for 5 minutes, and that was all it took. Delicious. And by the way....there is no reason on earth to have removable plates...this is SO easy to wipe down when it is cool.
on May 10, 2014
When I first started researching panini presses, I started visiting every department store and comparing the models in person. Not ONE department store model met my standard for durability. And no one stocked the Breville Panini Duo. The private store brands like Bella were so light weight and so poorly constructed that I couldn't even take them seriously. But the Breville didn't have the coveted "removable plates," and I wanted the very best press with the most valuable features.
I took a chance and ordered the Breville since no department store stocked the Breville Panini Duo. Prior to ordering the Breville, the Cuisinart Griddler and been the front-runner. The Cuisinart Griddler and the removable plates, but it just didn't have a very rich fit or finish. Furthermore, the Cuisinart Griddler (even the deluxe model) had plates that seemed "grainy," for lack of a better description. How awful that would be to clean.
I got the Breville, and the quality matched that of my Breville Smart Toaster and my Breville Die-cast Hemispher Blender. Now, mind you, I'm not in love with all things Breville. I looked at their stand mixer and determined that it wasn't functional enough to meet the demanding tasks for which it was designed. But the team at Breville got this panini press right! The fit and finish are impeccable. The brushed stainless is premium and does not show fingerprints. The black handle is cool to the touch.
Let me address a criticism expressed by one reviewer:
"It doesn't have an on/off switch." This press is so simply designed that an on/off switch would simply be unnecessary and redundant. When you plug the machine in, it reaches top temperature and the green ready light flicks on quickly. I couldn't believe it. The top plate is flexes and adjusts perfectly to press your sandwich without destroying it. Set your timer for about four minutes and you'll have a beautiful, delicious panini. The temperature adjusts as the sandwich is cooking.
If you have something juicy in your sandwich like a tomato, position it in between two other ingredients, such as two pieces of cheese. Do this as opposed to layering several pieces of cheese one on top of the other and putting the tomato on top or on the bottom of the sandwich.
Butter the outer top piece of bread on the sandwich. This will give you a crisp panini. Do not butter the bottom piece of bread. I don't know why it works this way, but it does.
When the chipper Aussie in Breville's video showed that "all you need to do is wipe down the Panini Duo with a wet paper towel after it cools," I thought it was a ridiculous claim. My thought was, "yeah right, and I'm Mary Queen of Scotts." Well, crown me and call me Mary, because Breville's claim is legit. The press is a snap to clean up. The non-stick coating is like none other. It is not like the cheap teflon coating that chips off and poisons its victims. It is a quality coating, that has some thickness to it. Also, this press has a nice, deep lip all the way around it so that you don't end up with food or ingredients on your countertop.
I would recommend this press to anyone considering a panini press. It is the most durable I found, and it has proven to be a stellar performer as well. By the way, it locks which makes it easy to store. It takes up much less space than its competitors, but offers one of the largest (if not the largest) cooking surface. You can buy this one with confidence. I paid $65 with free shipping directly from Breville. Note: Breville limits you to two of these presses per household, so I'm guessing the $65 is a promo price of some kind.