If you are wondering what the best bread for a panini is, let me share some of my thoughts. Our family has long been lovers of paninis, so you can imagine, I have opinions on this!
Maybe you are looking for a side to go with your paninis, how about considering these side dishes? How about this healthy ancient grain salad? Cajun mashed potatoes are also a really good option for a side dish. If potatoes are your thing, how about these twice-baked broccoli potatoes?
What is a panini sandwich?
A panini or panino (an Italian word that means sandwich, usually toasted) is an Italian sandwich. While we now think of them as pressed or grilled sandwiches, they don't have to be.
It is a loaf of bread stuffed with filling or a slice of bread stuffed with meats, cheeses, vegetables, etc.
I make all our paninis on this Cuisinart panini maker, but you can also grill them or cook them in a skillet. I know the panini press is an extra expense, but I feel is worth it if you plan to use it often, which we do.
What bread is best for paninis
I like to use a little sturdier bread for making my paninis, this means I generally avoid soft white bread and brioche bread. I just don't think the white bread holds up well, and the brioche is just too sweet. The type of bread you use will determine how your panini will turn out. Let me give you a few other suggestions I feel are best for creating a delicious panini.
- Italian Bread (s)- This is a general term, so let me clarify. Ciabatta bread is a delicious crispy crust and tender inside bread. It also happens to be my very favorite bread for paninis. It is sturdy but soft enough to easily eat. Focaccia is another Italian bread that works well. If it is thick, slice it in half then fill it. If it is thin, simply use it on both sides. I am a sucker for that olive oil-soaked bread.
- Sourdough Bread- This is another really good bread, and second on my list of bread choices. It is chewy and comes with so many flavors! My personal favorite is jalapeno cheddar. The spicier the better.
- Artisan bread- No knead bread, like this one from Gimme Some Oven is perfect. Crusty outside and chewy inside, just as most artisan breads are. I consider this the perfect bread for the best panini.
- Whole wheat bread- If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know whole grain bread is a standard in my house. Whole wheat is a hearty bread that can hold up to any meat or cheese. It is a healthy bread and one that can hold up to pressing, grilling, etc. Rye bread is a form of wheat bread as well, and if I am making a panini with corned beef or roast beef, this is my go-to.
- Multigrain Bread- while this is generally whole wheat bread, sometimes it is white bread with grains added in. This can also make a great panini, depending on how well the bread will hold up. I love these breads as they are not only full of multigrain but also seeds and nuts too. Look at this recipe, it is one of my favorite multigrain bread recipes.
- Gluten-free bread- Depending on dietary needs, gluten-free bread might be your safest option.
Constructing a perfect panini
There are so many meat options for crafting a great panini, let me share a few we love. Please note I usually use a combination of meat for my sandwiches.
Deli meats- my boys both like a combination of roasted turkey and black forest ham. Pastrami, roast beef and corned beef are also really great additions.
Salami- There are many kinds of salumi to choose from. Just know they are typically pretty salty, so I only add a few slices to my sandwiches.
Chicken- Grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, or baked chicken all make great meat for a panini.
These are optional, but really add delicious flavor to your sandwiches. Roasted red peppers are among my favorite, as are juicy tomatoes. Spinach always finds its way to my sandwich, as do onions, grilled veggies, etc.
Sun-dried tomatoes add a great unique flavor to sandwiches.
Cheese for paninis
In my mind, cheese is a must. It is what will bind the sandwich together when it is heated and pressed. If not, the sandwich just comes apart!
Swiss cheese is a classic cheese that melts well but is not my favorite. Pepper Jack cheese is my husband's love language and I always have it on hand. It is another cheese that melts well but also has a little kick!
Gruyere is another perfect melting cheese as is goat cheese or the more common cheddar cheese.
Spreads and herbs
When it comes to spreads, the list is endless! Mayo or aioli is always so good. Of course, there are also a wide variety of mustards as well- Dijon, stone ground, honey mustard, yellow, etc.
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction adds so much flavor to any sandwich.
You can also add fresh herbs to the panini such as fresh basil.
There is also pesto, which goes so well with chicken or turkey panini. It happens to be one of my favorite ingredients to add to my paninis.
How to make a panini
- Start by spreading your spread on the bread slices.
- Layer the bread with the cheese.
- Next, add the meats and vegetables if you are using them.
- Top with the cheese and the top slice of bread.
- You can brush the outside of the bread with melted butter, but I actually don't prefer doing this.
- Add it to the panini grill. I set mine on the hottest settings. I like to cook it quickly and hot. This gives a crispy crust and melts the cheese.
Can you make a panini without a panini press?
If you aren't wanting to make the investment into a panini press, no problem! There are other, more cost-effective ways to create paninis.
I like to use my cast iron skillet, but if you don't have one, use your favorite skillet.
Craft your sandwich as you like. Wrap in tinfoil and place in the heated pan. Find something heavy to sit on top of the sandwich. Toast for a few minutes on each side. You can open the tinfoil to check as needed.
Panini recipe recommendations
If you are looking for panini sandwich recipes, let me suggest a few that I know you will love.
Check out this chicken avocado panini recipe. Isn't there something about chicken and avocados together?? I just love them!
Looking for an authentic Italian panini recipe, here are several recipes for you to choose from.
If I had to choose one favorite sandwich, and I have a few, a Cuban sandwich is right up there at the top.
Here is an interesting recipe, how about a dessert panini? This dulce de leche looks so tempting!
If you are looking for other panini recipes, this Pure Wow post has them all!