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One Panini, Two Panini, Three Panini, More!

panini 31

This week’s Frugal Homemade feature is an homage to one of my favorite counter top kitchen appliances: The Panini Press. If you don’t have one, you’re missing out. Panini presses can be basic and inexpensive, like this Hamilton Beach model for around $25.00, or they can have more bells & whistles, like this Cuisinart 5-in-1 beauty for around $80.00. Mine is basic. I just plug it in and let it heat up while I prep the sandwiches, and it works just fine.

In addition to the crusty, toasted goodness the panini press provides to all sandwiches, I love that I can make different sandwiches for different people without it turning into a huge ordeal. If my husband and I are having ham & cheese and my daughter wants grilled PB&J — no problem! It’s easy to accommodate everyone’s individual dinner needs, which (as people with children know) can be a constant pain in the… err… it can be a challenge. 😉

I use Turano sandwich bread for all of our panini sandwiches. The slices in the round loaf are perfect sizes to accommodate all my family members, from the largest slices for my husband to smaller for my daughter. I lightly butter the outside of the top & bottom half of each sandwich in order to achieve a “grilled bread” taste for every sandwich. A panini is done when the outside is nicely grilled and the inside is heated through — approximately 5 minutes per sandwich, depending on the thickness. On the side, have something easy: a deli salad, chips, fries, fruit, etc. This is a quick and simple meal for a busy day!

These ingredient lists are just suggestions to help get you started, and ingredient amounts will vary depending on the number of sandwiches you are making.

Go To Panini Recipes

Here are a few of our favorite “go to” easy-yet-delicious panini sandwich recipes.

ham apple panini

Ham with Sharp Cheddar & Tart Apple


  • Ham off the Bone from the deli, sliced thin
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese, sliced thin
  • Tart apples — Suncrisp or Jonagold are nice, firm, tart apples — sliced very thin

Layer cheese-apples-ham-cheese, and grill on your panini press. The apples with the sharp cheddar are a fantastic flavor combo! Additional apple slices and some zucchini fries complete this dinner.

Panini collage

Roast Beef with Italian Cheese & Caramelized Onion


  • Italian Roast Beef, shaved
  • Land O’Lakes 4 Cheese Italian Blend, sliced thin
  • Mayo
  • Caramelized onions
  • Salt to taste

Layer mayo-cheese-caramelized onion-beef and grill on your panini press. The caramelized onions add a sweetness to the beef, which complements the sharpness of the Italian cheese blend. Onion rings and a cold veggie salad rounded out this easy dinner.

Chicken Peso Panins

Chicken with Homemade Pesto


  • Thin sliced chicken breasts, seasoned with Morton’s Nature Seasons and baked at 350 for about 20 minutes (until cooked)
  • Pesto sauce (recipe below)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh leaf spinach
  • Red onion
  • Tomato

Layer pesto-chicken-spinach-onion-tomato-cheese-pesto and grill on your panini press. The pesto adds nice flavor to the chicken and the red onion adds a little crunch. Homemade zucchini fries (that didn’t work out so well, lol!) and potato salad made this a pretty quick dinner!

Pesto ing

Pesto recipe

  • In a blender or food processor, puree 3 cups fresh basil, one 2.25 oz package of walnuts*, 1 tablespoon of crushed garlic and 3/4 cup of olive oil. Add salt to taste, about 1 teaspoon. Blend, adding more olive oil if necessary.
    *you can substitute pine puts


I’d love to hear some of your favorite panini combinations!