Prepare delicious, healthy paninis with the perfect piece of bread. Here’s a guide to the best bread for paninis. Plus, learn simple and delicious ways to prepare them.
What is a panini sandwich?
A panini sandwich is an Italian sandwich recipe that has become popular all over the world. The word panini means small bread or bread rolls.
This sandwich is made with your choice of bread and whatever sandwich ingredients you choose. It’s then pressed on a grill to help meld all the ingredients together to create a warm and delicious sandwich.
How do you make a panini?
To make a panini, you add the inside ingredients to the bread and press it together on a panini press or some kind of grill with a panini block press.
Typically the panini press will melt all of the ingredients together and will also leave beautiful grill marks on the outside of the sandwich bread from the pressure of being pressed together to melt the ingredients. Your panini should be nice and crispy on the outside and gooey and melted on the inside.
Depending upon your dietary needs and preferences, you can add all sorts of layers of various ingredients to your homemade paninis. There are no right or wrong options to add to your panini sandwiches. Feel free to let your creativity soar and explore new options to add to your sandwiches. Have fun finding new ingredient combinations to fall in love with and don’t forget to swap out your bread choices.
We’ll be focusing on which bread option is the best, and the worst to use to make a homemade panini sandwich recipe.
What is the best bread for panini sandwiches?
While you can use any bread for a panini sandwich, Ciabatta bread is the best choice to make the best-grilled sandwich.
Outside of Italy, Ciabatta is the type of bread that is typically used to make your panini sandwich. You want to use a hearty bread choice that can withstand the pressure of your panini press or panini grill while still being able to melt the sandwich ingredients together.
Ciabatta bread is thick enough to give your gorgeous grill marks on the outer sides of your sandwich while still melting the inner cheese and other ingredients together and it tastes delicious.
Ciabatta bread is made using stronger flour so it gives it a sweeter, delicate taste. It usually has a harder, tougher outer crust and a dense inside bread.
It’s also a great bread choice to make some homemade garlic bread.
Other Types of Bread to Make a Panini
If you aren’t going to use the classic and best option, ciabatta bread, there are a few other types of bread that you can get away with using on your homemade panini. Here are a few ideas you can try:
Focaccia bread is another hearty Italian bread that generally holds up to the pressure of your panini press and the heat from a grill quite well. Once baked, it is more of a flat-looking bread with a dense, holy texture inside. It can be round, square, or even rectangular in shape. You can buy your focaccia at the store, or local farmers’ market, or make your own vegan focaccia with lemon and rosemary to use to build a fantastic panini.
Baguettes are usually long, narrow, and made with a basic dough. Baguettes are a type of French bread that can also be used for paninis since they have a nice crisp outer crust, perfect for grilling and pressing. They can be a thinner type of bread, so try to look for a wider baguette that can hold your ingredients nicely when choosing your baguette at the store.
Did you know pizzas originated from creating different foods on flatbreads? Flatbread is such a versatile form of bread and it’s always great to have some homemade flatbreads, on hand and ready to use in various recipes.
Flatbreads are typically unleavened bread made from flour, salt, water, milk, yogurt, or other liquid. They’re a pretty dense bread and hold up well under grill pressure and heat, making them a wonderful panini choice.
Pita bread is usually a yeast-leavened, round type of flatbread. They’re lower in sodium than most other sources of bread and can sometimes remind people of thicker, denser tortillas. This makes them a great choice for using in a panini sandwich as they’re thicker and can stand up to heat and pressure well and pitas are usually a bit more pliable than a baguette, making them a better choice if you have more ingredients to hold in your sandwich.
Multigrain bread is a healthier bread option to choose for your sandwiches. It’s the best choice health-wise if you’re using whole wheat multigrain bread. Try to choose a thicker cut bread so it can stay intact while being pressed together to form a sandwich.
Rye bread is usually more filling than traditional bread. It’s darker in color and dense in texture, making it a good panini choice. It’s higher in iron, calcium, zinc, and potassium, and has a good amount of soluble fiber than other bread choices. Since it’s a dense bread option, it will grill and press well for panini making.
What bread should you avoid in making a panini?
Usually, you won’t choose a sliced sandwich bread that is too thin for your panini because they aren’t thick enough and don’t hold up well when being pressed or they don’t withstand the heat well either and end up burning or end up crushed.
When thinking of what bread not to use for a panini, white bread slices is the first one that comes to mind. White bread is not an ideal panini bread choice because it’s a thin, sliced choice of bread. It typically doesn’t house a sandwich with many ingredients well and when pressed together the bread burns fast and doesn’t provide you with a nice crisp outer “shell” to hold your sandwich together.
Sourdough bread has a unique taste. Typically, it’s higher in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins than many other forms of bread. However, although sourdough has a crusty outside the inside is light and airy which makes it less than the best for grilling.
A bagel isn’t the best option either when trying to decide what bread to use to make a delicious and hearty panini sandwich for lunch or light dinner.
With the hole in the center, it lets ingredients, especially wet or pliable ingredients like condiments, escape and ooze through the middle. It doesn’t press well even though it is denser than some other panini bread choices.
There are plenty of other more appropriate and suitable sandwich bread choices to pick from, leave your vegan bagels for breakfast sandwiches or just enjoy one alone as a simple bagel.
Brioche is a soft bread made with an enriched dough that has a slightly sweet taste. It has a golden color and a rich flavor. But it isn’t the best bread to use to make paninis because it will lose its texture and unique flavor when pressed with other ingredients.
Similar to brioche bread, challah is also an enriched bread with a slightly sweet flavor and a soft texture. The main difference between brioche and challah is that brioche has butter, while challah uses oil. Its soft texture makes it less than ideal for preparing a panini sandwich.
As I shared earlier, I like to use Ciabatta bread for paninis as it’s thick and dense enough to withstand the heat and pressure from the panini grill press and still allows the ingredients to melt and meld together to craft the perfect panini sandwich. It’s not too thick to where you can’t open your mouth comfortably to eat it either.
Any thin sandwich sliced bread is not ideal for paninis. I don’t recommend using any plain sandwich bread that you can buy pre-sliced to make a panini with, save those for your traditional sandwiches that won’t be undergoing pressure or grilling under high heat.
Brushing the outer parts of the panini bread with butter or brushing the panini grill with butter before adding the sandwich to the grill is a great way to get the maximum crunch and crisp factor for your homemade panini sandwich. Doing this also helps ensure you get nicely browned grill marks on your sandwich.
A panini sandwich can be a healthy lunch or light dinner option. But just like anything else, it is all about the ingredients you choose to use to make your sandwich. You can craft a healthy sandwich using layers of vegetables, leafy greens like spinach, and a simple spread like pesto. These additions are healthy and more enticing! How many calories in a panini will vary vastly depending on what ingredients you add to the sandwich, and don’t forget the condiments and spreads, they can add up quickly too.
No, you don’t need to have a panini press to make a panini. You can use a griddle and a heavy press to allow the ingredients to combine. Or you can try baking your sandwich in the oven with a heavy cast iron press.
Favorite Panini Recipes!
You don’t need cheese to make a panini! These are some of the best vegan panini recipes you should try today!