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I have a basic but serviceable waffle iron I bought at a charity shop for a fiver. If I don't mind a waffle pattern on my sandwich, is there any real need for a Panini press?

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I use my cast iron waffle maker, unhinged, with a brick –  rfusca Jul 13 '12 at 1:10
    
@rfusca Whats the brick for? –  Jay Jul 13 '12 at 1:50
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@Jay: Giving it weight to press with, without having to push down on the top of a hot waffle iron. –  Jefromi Jul 13 '12 at 2:02
    
You mean you guys don't have heat resistant skin? That's too bad. –  Jay Jul 13 '12 at 2:32
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check if your plates switch over to a smooth side: my sister's charity shop iron did. I noticed a sm lever/clip thing and voila –  Pat Sommer Jul 13 '12 at 5:38
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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Maybe! There's one big potential issue: panini presses are hinged differently. There's a bit of variation exactly how, but the effect is that the entire top can lift up, so that it can press down flat on whatever you stick in there. Waffle irons are just designed to be filled, so they hinge at the back. If your sandwich is much smaller than the waffle iron, you can put it in the front part (as far from the hinge as possible), and it won't matter too much, but if it takes up a decent fraction of the area, it'll be squeezed pretty tight at the back compared to the front. This will probably make it cook unevenly, and depending on what you've got in there, might squeeze things out.

Some panini presses also have better temperature controls than waffle irons, but that's probably not as much of a concern.

So I'd give it a shot and see how it works, plan on possibly flipping your sandwich around halfway through, and don't be too upset if it's not pretty!

(rfusca's comment above is also good - if you're able to take off the hinge, you'd avoid the whole problem.)

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I'll try mini-paninis on those round sourdough loaves rather than full-sized sandwich bread :D I could just make twice as many sandwiches at half the size –  Yamikuronue Jul 13 '12 at 12:43
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I have a small waffle maker and I easily made a "waffle" toasted sandwich using two buttered pieces and bread, chopped tomatoes, cilantro and slice of mozzarella cheese. It turned out great. I slowly closed the lid and gently pressed until the bread was toasty and done. Had to wait a couple minutes for the cheese to cool but it was crunchy and yummy. I think this would be great for a quick meal anytime.

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