Sandwiches often get looked over when it comes to picking a killer lunch, but in our humble opinion, they’re one of the greatest lunches you can make — especially when you toast them. I mean, come on, who doesn’t like buttered, crusty bread oozing with delicious lashings of cheese?!
That’s why a sandwich press, aka a sandwich toaster, jaffle maker, sandwich maker, toastie maker — whatever you want to call it — is a super underrated kitchen appliance to have at your disposal. Why? You can take what was once an average sandwich and make it gourmet again (à la Gordon Ramsay) simply by toasting the bread.
Pro tip: they’re also a hundred times less messy than trying to cook an oozing grilled cheese in a frypan – especially if you use a bit of cheeky baking paper to hold it all together.
What is a sandwich press?
If you’ve somehow made it this far in life without using a sandwich press, it’s typically made from two hot die-cast plates that press together to toast/cook different types of foods from sandwiches, paninis and wraps through to quesadillas and even halloumi. Yum!
Surprisingly, there are different types
A small yet heated debate in the Lifehacker Australia office pointed out that there are actually multiple types of sandwich presses, hence a million different names for them. The most common types are a traditional sandwich press, a jaffle maker and a sandwich grill.
A traditional sandwich press has two hot plates that are designed to toast any kind of bread, wrap, panini or sub, no matter what shape or size they are. They can, however, be a little messier than a jaffle maker, as they simply use weight to toast the sandwich, meaning that if you overstuff it, you could be in for some overflow.
Jaffle makers are often designed for conventionally shaped slices of bread and have little grooves to indicate what kind of shape they will take, sealing in all your ingredients to make the perfect toasted sanga. Some even create sealed cut marks where you can slice your sandwich in halves or quarters without spillage. The only downside is that they can’t really toast other lunchtime snacks like buns or wraps in them.
Lastly, you have multi-use grills. These are sandwich presses that double as a small, portable grill. You’re probably familiar with these from your uni or share house days since they can handle cooking a variety of other foods, like grilled meat and veggies.
Depending on your needs, your choice of sandwich press will vary. Ahead, we’ve rounded up a bunch of sandwich presses, jaffle makers and sandwich grills so you can find your new winter lunch-saver.
The Best Sandwich Presses
Whether you’re in the mood for cheese on toast or a cheese toastie, this compact press can do both. Thanks to the floating hinge on the top plate, you can adjust the height setting on your press to allow for open toasting or a full press. This means no matter how thick the sandwich, you’ll always get even, crispy results — or if you want to make an open melt, you can, too.
The Sandwich Press is designed to toast your sandwich just the way you like it. The floating hinge ensures the top plate lies flat on top of whatever vessel (panini, Turkish bread, focaccia, wrap) you like your cheese toasted in.
This Westinghouse sandwich press offers a simple, no-frills approach to grilling. Fitted with non-stick coating, a lockable lid, and a cool touch handle — you’ve got everything you need at the tips of your fingers to make an epic grilled cheese.
Where to buy: eBay ($84 with code ‘HOMSAV’)
The Best Jaffle Makers
If you love a fully loaded jaffle, this Sunbeam Big Fill toastie maker is the perfect addition to your kitchen. It features a fully enclosed plate system to accommodate different bread sizes, while the non-stick plates use a cut and seal system to produce ideally formed toastie triangles while keeping the fillings safe inside. Not just for toasties, this toasted sandwich maker can also be used with sheets of ready-made pastry to create a host of delicious desserts.
Bigger pockets for bigger toasties — if that tagline sounds right up your alley, you’ve found the jaffle maker for you. With deeper pockets and sealing only around the edges, this press fits thicker cheese, extra tomato or a little more of anything really.
If you love a jaffle, you’re going to wanna get around this great deal. You can get the Breville Sandwich Maker (usually $109.54) for just over half the price at the moment on Amazon ($59) and eBay ($54). The Power Toastie features four jumbo-sized scissor cooking plates so you can get that perfect jaffle shape, as well as a countdown timer and a ‘bit more’ button for when you just need that little extra crunch.
If you’re living in a share house and don’t want to invest in anything expensive on the chance it’ll end up broken by the end of your lease, then this Maxim Deep Dish Sandwich Maker is the perfect choice for you. At under $30 a pop, it does the job for less — especially if you like your sandwiches oozing with melted filling.
The Best Multi-Use Grills
If you’re looking for a bit of an all-in-one ‘sandwich press’, the Tefal OptiGrill might be your go-to. Featuring automatic sensor cooking technology, both the cooking time and temperature are automatically adjusted to the thickness and number of items placed on the grill, based on six cooking programs (burger, poultry, sandwich, sausage, red meat, fish) and a frozen food mode.
An indicator light allows direct monitoring: Purple for preheating, blue then green at the start of cooking, yellow when the food is rare, orange for medium and red for well-done. The additional manual mode comes with four adjustable temperature levels that allow you to cook just about anything you want.
From meat and fish to vegetables and even frozen foods, this versatile grill will be your cooking companion for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It grills everything evenly — including ham, cheese, tomato toasties — and is an absolute breeze to clean. Perfect if you love a toastie sandwich but need a more versatile appliance in your kitchen than your traditional jaffle maker or sandwich press.
Looking to upgrade your old sandwich press? Why not try the Breville Adjusta Grill & Press? Thanks to its simple yet effective design, you can cook a variety of different cafe-style meals on the grill. It has both ribbed and flat non-stick cooking plates, which allows you to either drain the excess fat from your food while it cooks or trap the juices for a more flavoursome meal.