Find the Best Contact Grill For Making Your Favorite Panini Recipes
Imagine making delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, hot paninis perfectly pressed, thick 8oz burger patties seared and sizzling - and no smoke! A contact grill, also known as a panini press, is the perfect kitchen appliance for anyone who loves true Italian-stule paninis.
Our cooking ware experts at Fire Food Chef researched dozens of options to find the best contact grill for indoor grilling, paninis and more. Top brands like George Foreman, Cuisinart, DeLonghi and Breville are included in our detailed buying guide, including our top 10 picks.
Read the best contact grill reviews for more information, or find the right one for your kitchen in the chart below now!
Cuisinart GR-4NP1 GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
Why is it better?
Last Updated: April 21, 2020
By William Clay: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding contact grills available for those who want to BBQ indoors. The best 10 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best contact grills currently available on the market.
Burgers, omelettes, fried bacon, pancakes or gourmet paninis - a contact grill is the ideal appliance for BBQ meals and brunch fare. But what should you be looking for in a quality grill besides the best price?
Different brands go by different names - smart grill, panini press, electric griddle - but they all do the same thing. Many of the top brands are in fact multi-purpose, which means you get two appliances in one for the same price. Less space in your kitchen, more cooking options for you!
The contact grills chosen for our review where chosen based on the following criteria:
When it comes to indoor grilling options, It really doesn’t get much better than the Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddle. Competitively priced, durable, compact, and attractive, this heavy duty multipurpose contact grill is another great example of why Cuisinart is such a popular brand with grill lovers.
Featuring a brushed stainless steel housing, the Cuisinart 5-in-1 works as either a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, or half grill/half griddle. Simply plug it in, set the temperature using the control knobs on the front, and apply your favorite recipe to the rapid heating, nonstick cooking pates.
With the Cuisinart 5-in-1 you don’t have to choose between burgers or paninis, you can do both - at the same time! There are 2 reversible, food-grade grill plates provided, and separate controls for adjusting the temperature of either the grill or griddle. Since the grill plates are reversible, you can double the cooking surface you need, allowing for more serving options and convenience.
The Cuisinart 5-in-1 lets you enjoy BBQ recipes indoors without the smoke, the harmful carcinogens, and all the cleanup! When you’re finished, you only need to remove the grill plates and wash them by hand, or load them into your dishwasher. Wipe the exterior with a damp lint-free cloth, and it’s as good as new!
A catch tray for removing grease is also included, along with a scraper tool to make up cleanup easier. Overall, the Cuisinart 5-in-1 is thoughtfully engineered, highly durable, and easy to operate. With proper use, it should serve you well for several years to come.
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George Foreman may be retired, but his line of economically priced indoor grills and portable grills is still knocking out the competition! If you love convenience, quality and a great low price, George Foreman grills are definitely worth considering.
Priced lower than the Cuisinart 5-in-1 top pick, the George Foreman GRP360R Grill is a 60 square inch contact grill and panini press in one, with enough cooking surface for 4 large burger patties or 4 homemade paninis at one time.
Equipped with 2 removable grill plates, the GRP360R Grill is designed for convenient indoor grilling without all the unhealthy effects of smoke, char, soot and ash. The grill plates include grill grooves like your gas or charcoal grill, and the advanced nonstick coating is 3x more durable.
A floating lid provides headroom for large thick steaks, pork loins, spicy Italian sausages, and more. To clean, simply remove the grill plates and load them into your dishwasher, or wash and dry by hand.
Available in red, platinum or black, the George Foreman GRP360R Grill is the perfect gift for anyone who loves gourmet paninis and BBQ all year round!
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Breville, a leading Australian manufacturer of household appliances, has steadily built a reputation among North American consumers for smart design, modern decor, and impressive performance.
Integrated with smart technology, the BGR820XL eliminates the need for monitoring the grill closely to adjust for temperature swings. Wind, fuel type, and ventilation have no impact on the Breville Smart Grill, allowing for a painless, hassle-free BBQ experience anytime of the year.
The Breville BGR820XL Smart Grill is essentially a contact grill on steroids. Unlike other brands, the heating element is built into the grill plate, not located under it. This reduces heat loss significantly and reduces preheating time significantly.
Since the temperature is controlled by Smart Element IQ technology, heat is more evenly distributed across the grill plates than in other brands. The 1800W heating element has a built-in sensor as well that monitors the cooking surface to maintain the optimal cooking temperature.
You can switch from grill to panini mode, set the desired grilling temperature, and program the timer using the control knobs and LCD screen located visibly along the front. The grill plates (ribbed and flat) removes easily for cleaning, and the stainless steel exterior wipes down easily with a damp, lint-free cloth.
The Breville BGR820XL is priced significantly higher than the previous top picks, but it is without doubt the best contact grill with smart features you can find for the price.
Available in 2 sizes, the T-fal GC70 Optigrill is an indoor contact grill for making delicious BBQ meals any time of the year. Enjoy seared steaks, grilled chicken breast, spicy sausages, hearty salmon fillets and so many other barbecue recipes with all the ease of an electric grill.
Cased in die-cast aluminum, the exterior is modern-looking and easy to clean. The 236 square inches of cooking surface is enough for serving four adults, but there is an even larger 8-size option available. The grill cover works like a panini press, with a built-in control panel right on the handle bar.
Touchbutton controls on the handle allow you to select the cooking mode (frozen food or manual), as well as icons for selecting the type of grilling you want to do (panini, burger, sausage, seafood, steak or chicken.
While you can’t adjust the temperature based on fahrenheit, there is a dial for selecting the level of doneness, ranging from preheating stage to well done. The T-fal GC70 easily reaches searing temperatures in minutes, thanks to the removable nonstick grill plates that distribute heat fairly evenly across the surface.
With its adjustable lid, angled seating for draining grease, 6 programmable grilling options, and removable grill plates, the T-fal GC70 delivers all the great features you’d expect from the best brands, but more expensive. The extra price you pay, though, is totally worth it because of the superior quality of the design and parts overall.
Once again Cuisinart earns a worthy place in our reviews of the best contact grill. Designed with many of the same features as the top pick, the GR-5BP1 enhances the overall performance while keeping the same multi-purpose capabilities.
Even though it is advertised as an electric griddle, the Cuisinart GR-5BP1 also works seamlessly as a contact grill, a panini press and a griddle. To operate, you simply plug it in, and operate the knob on the front to adjust the temperature, or select the cooking function.
With its removable floating cover, removable nonstick grill plates, and stainless steel cover, cleaning the Cuisinart GR-5BP1 is less of a hassle. The parts are all dishwasher safe, although the nonstick surface tends to wear off more rapidly in the dishwasher.
Sleek, durable, and easy to clean, the Cuisinart GR5BP1 gives you greater control of your results than other brands with all the convenience of a multipurpose kitchen appliance. With the GR-5BP1 in your kitchen, you can save space and enjoy a wide range of meals for years to come with just one device.
Hamilton Beach designs a wide range of household appliances, but the quality of their manufacturing is not always the most reliable. The Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Grill
is modestly priced for a more limited budget. Lacking in some of the key distinguishing features of other top brands, this contact grill still manages to deliver quality relative to the low price.
While advertised as a large electric indoor grill, the Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Grill is not ideally suited for serving 6 people. The lid features a ribbed surface for making gourmet paninis or burgers with perfectly seared grill marks, but the 90 square inch cooking surface is just enough to serve 3 large burgers realistically.
For low fat grilling, the drip tray is removable and dishwasher safe. A preheat indicator lets you know the perfect time to add your burgers, sausages, or other BBQ meat, and the grill plate heats rapidly. You can easily grill 4 large 8oz burgers in ten minutes or less with less hassle than an ordinary charcoal or gas grill.
Overall, the Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Grill is an affordable alternative to a quality panini press. It works great as a contact grill, but doesn’t quite offer the cooking area you need to serve a large family of six people.
For over 100 years, DeLonghi America has been a leading Italian manufacturer of premium small appliances. Designed for use as either a contact grill or open barbecue, the Livenza All Day Contact Grill is a sophisticated, sleek appliance that makes all your favorite BBQ recipes easier and more enjoyable to grill.
Whether you want to broil tender chicken breasts, sear thick burgers, or press a delicious gourmet panini dripping with cheese, the DeLonghi Livenza is indeed an all-day grill. Its compact design fits easily on any flat surface, with enough cooking area to fit three large burger patties at once.
Similar in appearance to the Cuisinart GR5BP1, the stainless steel exterior is a great compliment to any modern kitchen decor. Two embedded grill plates are included, each of them being removable and nonstick. Since the heating element is integrated into the grill plate, heat loss is greatly reduced, resulting in more even heat distribution than brands without embedded plates
The control panel is beautifully laid out on the front with a bright LCD screen for viewing your selections. In addition to the programmable timer, there are 2 dials for adjusting the temperature of each grill plate separately. You can grill two different meals at once!
The self adjustable lid is a key feature of the DeLonghi Livenza. You can lock the lid in position at the ideal height for pressing paninis, searing a large 12oz steak or pressing a burger between toasted buns.
With its large, family size cooking surface, 3 different grill plates (waffle, flat, and grill), and embedded heating technology, the DeLonghi Livenza is worth every penny.
Made by a company called Maxi-matic, the Maxi-Matic Elite Cuisine EPN-2976 Electric Panini Press & Contact Grill is a compact indoor grill for countertops. Equipped with a floating hinge cover and slide out grease tray, the EPN-2976 also has adjustable legs for tilting the grill. You can open the press to a full 180 degrees, increasing your cooking surface to double the size!
And, unlike other models, both sides of the grill rest level and flat when opened to the full grill position, allowing for a more efficient use of the space. You can easily switch from pressing hot, delicious gourmet paninis to searing homemade burgers, sizzling bratwurst sausages or frying bacon strips.
Although there aren’t any temperature controls, the straightforward operation requires little guesswork. There’s a power light to let you know it’s working, and a green light to let you know when the cooking surface has reached optimal grilling or searing temperature.
Priced economically lower than the top brands, the Maxi-matic Elite is a no-frills contact grill that gets the job nonetheless. Despite its limited functions, you can still enjoy a wide range of homemade paninis, burgers, steaks and more without the mess of a BBQ grill.
For those who appreciate a more sophisticated indoor grilling experience, the Kalorik Pro Digital 6-in-1 Contact Grill combines digital technology and quality, food-grade components for the ultimate in convenience and gourmet grilling at home!
Sleek and durable, the stainless steel exterior is easy on the eyes and a great addition to any modern or Smart kitchen. The floating hinge allows you to easily adjust the grill top for broiling food at the perfect temperature.
There are 6 cooking modes to choose from, include contact grill, panini press, full griddle, full BBQ grill, half grill/half griddle, and top melt for broiling cheese on your burgers, quiche, pizza and more.
The Kalorik Pro can be opened a full 180 degrees to maximize the cooking surface. The 2 grill plates are reversible and nonstick, so you can easily scrape food off. Embedded heating elements in each grill plate mean less time preheating and better heat distribution for food that’s always cooked thoroughly to the desired readiness.
With its dual zone temperature control, dishwasher safe plates, and embedded heating, the Kalorik Pro Digital 6-in-1 offers all the convenience of an indoor grill, integrated with digital features for enhanced control of your grilling results every time!
If this is your first encounter with All-Clad, prepare to be impressed. The All-Clad Electric Contact Grill integrates digital features and quality grill design to create the ultimate multi-purpose kitchen appliance.
Made in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, the All-Clad Electric Contact Grill is an indoor grill and panini press in one, housed in a durable stainless steel casing. The nonstick grill plate is removable and dishwasher safe, as well as the grease tray.
You can choose from six different cooking modes (burger, fish, chicken, sandwich, pork, read meat) and two cooking modes (frozen or custom) for a wide range of meals. Whether you want a BBQ burger in the middle of winter or a gourmet panini pressed right in your own kitchen, this contact grill can adjust to suit your preference.
Built in autosense technology immediately adjusts the cooking temperature to suit the type of food so your vegetables don’t burn and your paninis are perfectly toasted. You can also customize the temperature settings using the push buttons along the front.
For quick and delicious gourmet grilling without all the mess and fuss, the All-Clad Electric Contact Grill is just the right size for serving 2 people. It is more costly than a Foreman Grill, but offers more programmable functions and a more durable metal design.
This post was last updated on April 24th, 2020 at 08:13 am
William Clay is a BBQ enthusiast dedicated to sharing his grilling (and overall cooking) expertise with FireFoodChef's readers.