Want to know all about the best bread for paninis? There are 9 types of bread, including artisan, rye, and sourdough, that work well.
Paninis are tough to beat. They effortlessly transform a humble sandwich into a masterpiece.
Unlocking the secret to mouthwatering paninis starts with the right bread. And with an array of options, choosing the ideal loaf may seem overwhelming.
I’ve curated a list of the best bread for paninis to guide you through. I’ve also packed in panini-making tips and top panini recipes to satisfy your cravings.
Read on to learn how to make the best paninis on earth!
What Is a Panini?
Meaning ‘small bread,’ a panini is a lot more than its humble name suggests. It’s to die for! A panini is a grilled or pressed Italian sandwich.
It’s made using bread slices of your choice filled with various ingredients. These can range from meats and cheeses to veggies. The sandwich is then heated and pressed, giving it a crisp and toasty exterior.
Fun fact: Traditionally in Italy, a panino (singular for panini) just means sandwich. It’s not always toasted!
Tools used to make a panini include panini presses, grills, or skillets.
How to Make a Panini
Here’s a simple step-by-step:
1. Choose your bread and the fillings. For this guide, let’s assume you’re adding a spread, meat, veggies, and cheese to your panini.
2. Assemble the sandwich. Smother two bread slices with spread. Pile cheese on one, followed by meats and veggies. Top it with another cheese slice. Cover it with the second slice.
3. Press the sandwich. Use a panini press or grill with a block press. Set it to the hottest setting for a quick cook.
The press does two things. First, it melts the ingredients together. Second, it leaves gorgeous grill marks on your sandwich.
Tip: Brush the outside of the top bread with melted butter to make it extra crisp.
Expect your panini to be nice and crispy on the outside and warm inside.
Best Bread for Paninis
The bread you pick can make or break your panini experience. It’s not just about taste, but also how well it supports your chosen fillings.
I generally steer clear of soft white and brioche bread for paninis. But it’s ultimately about personal preference.
It helps to know what you want your bread to contribute to your sandwich. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do the fillings need a sturdy base like a baguette, or would sliced bread suffice?
- Do I want the bread to add flavor, or is it playing a neutral role?
- Should the bread reflect the sandwich’s cultural origin, like ciabatta for Italian-inspired fillings?
Also, remember this rule of thumb: denser is better. Why? When you’re grilling a panini, you need bread that can take the heat, literally.
Sandwich bread will lose shape when pressed between the grates of a panini press. However, dense bread, the kind you find in the bakery section, can handle the pressure. It maintains its form, delivering that perfect, crunchy, and satisfying bite every time.
Here are a few bread suggestions to elevate your panini experience.
Ciabatta is the quintessential Italian bread enriched with olive oil. It’s my favorite bread to use in paninis.
Its structure withstands a panini press or grill. It handles the pressure like a champ! It retains its shape without compromising the integrity of the sandwich. Regardless of your filling, ciabatta holds its ground.
Its flavor profile is also outstanding. Made with stronger flour, it has a delicate, slightly sweet taste.
Plus, its crusty exterior and soft interior add another layer of delight to your panini.
In essence, ciabatta is more than just a slice of bread. It’s a panini game-changer, turning your sandwiches into culinary masterpieces.
The classic French baguette is an excellent pick for your paninis. Its distinct crisp outer crust makes it perfect for grilling and pressing.
Baguettes are particularly great with “wet ingredients.” Their firmness ensures they hold their shape, even when stacked with moist or fatty ingredients.
They provide the perfect foundation, creating paninis that are crispy on the outside, and moist and flavorful on the inside.
The only thing is they tend to be slim and narrow. Go for wider variants at the store to comfortably accommodate your fillings.
Focaccia is another Italian flatbread that stands tall under panini press pressure and grill heat. Unlike typical bread, focaccia is flat and dense. It comes in various shapes: round, square, even rectangular. Regardless of its form, it’s excellent for paninis.
Tip: If the focaccia is thick, slice it in half, fill it up, and grill it. If it’s thin, double it up.
4. Multigrain Bread
Multigrain bread takes the health-conscious route for paninis. It’s a wholesome choice, perfect for “dry paninis” filled with lean meats and thick cheeses.
Being more nutrient-rich, multigrain offers a heartier, flavorful twist to your sandwich.
For paninis, opt for a thicker cut of multigrain so it stands firm under the press. It’ll also infuse your sandwich with a mosaic of seeds and nuts.
5. Rye Bread
Rye bread is another fantastic panini bread. It’s dark, dense, tasty, and brings robust flavor to any sandwich.
Thanks to its hearty nature, rye withstands grilling and pressing like a pro, making it ideal for paninis.
It’s richer in iron, calcium, zinc, and potassium. So it’s not just taste, but a nutritional edge too. Plus, it’s fiber-packed, keeping you satiated longer. It’s a whole meal tucked between two slices.
Rye complements the savory richness of beef like no other. So when it comes to roast beef and corned beef paninis, rye bread is my go-to.
6. Artisan Bread
For “wet” panini fillings such as saucy roasted beef with juicy tomatoes, go for sturdy bread. Again, it has to be strong enough to hold its shape.
Artisan bread, sometimes called specialist bread, makes a great candidate. Just be sure to get thickly sliced loaves. The only disadvantage is artisan bread is more expensive than regular sandwich bread.
For a cheaper option, go for a day-old basket, which is often sold at a discounted price. And once you toast it, you won’t even taste the difference.
You can also get a par-baked loaf and finish baking it at home. It’ll have the same aroma, texture, and flavor as pricey artisan bread.
Sourdough bread is ideal for dry paninis. It’s thin but sturdy, which is perfect for paninis with minimal wet ingredients.
This bread’s distinct tangy flavor enhances the taste of your panini. Whether it’s ham and cheese or a veggie-filled delight, sourdough is perfect.
Not only is it tasty, but it’s also nutrient-rich. It’s higher in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins compared to other breads. So it’s a healthier choice.
It’s also versatile. For a twist, opt for flavor-infused sourdoughs like jalapeno cheddar. Its spiciness can level up your panini game.
From pizzas to sandwiches, flatbread suits many recipes. This includes your next panini. It can handle grilling and pressing well. It won’t fall apart or get soggy, which is key for a well-structured panini.
It’s made from simple ingredients, including flour, salt, and water. Some versions add yogurt or milk. The result is a dense, flavorful bread that enhances your panini.
If you haven’t tried a flatbread panini yet, now’s the time.
Pita bread is like a thicker, denser tortilla. This makes it perfect for handling the panini-making process. It can withstand heat and pressure, and it won’t let you down.
Pita bread is also pliable, accommodating more ingredients. If you like your paninis mega-loaded, pita is your go-to choice.
Tips for Making the Best Paninis
- Brush your panini bread with melted butter before grilling. This will maximize crunch and create those gorgeous grill marks.
- Avoid thin, pre-sliced sandwich bread for paninis. They aren’t fit for high heat and pressure.
- Avoid fillings that are too wet. If you’re adding too many roasted veggies, counteract it with dry ingredients like cheese.
- A panini press isn’t a must! You can use a griddle and a heavy press or an oven with a cast-iron skillet.
- Cheese is key. I never make paninis without cheese! It binds the sandwich under heat. Swiss, Pepper Jack, Gruyere, goat cheese, or cheddar all make great options.
- Meat filling suggestions: Try turkey, ham, roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, salami, and chicken.
- Vegetable filling suggestions: Use tomatoes, roasted red peppers, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and onions.
- Spread suggestions: Try mayo, aioli, honey mustard, balsamic reduction, marinara, and pesto.
Panini Recipes You’ll Love
Cuban Sandwich – Cuban bread stuffed with Swiss cheese, smoked ham, pulled pork, dill pickle, mayonnaise, mustard, and cayenne.
Pesto Panini with Mozzarella and Tomato – Fresh basil pesto, tomatoes, and melted mozzarella on toasted sourdough. A divine veggie delight.
Italian Grilled Caprese Panini – A fan of Caprese salad? This panini with tomatoes, cheese, basil, and balsamic will be your new favorite.
Bacon and Eggs Breakfast Panini – The classic breakfast items are pressed into one savory and hearty panini.
Vegetarian Apple Cheddar Panini Sandwich – This simple panini combines cheese, apple, honey mustard, and bread. Sometimes, basic is truly the best.
Chocolate and Brie Panini – An ooey-gooey, sweet and salty treat for dessert!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Panini – Packed with dark chocolate, peanut butter, and banana, it’s decadent yet healthy.
Apple Pie Panini – It’s a unique delight with honey-whipped mascarpone, juicy apple slices, and raisin bread. Is it pie? Is it a panini? Who cares? Just enjoy it.
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