What’s the Difference Between a Griddle and a Panini Grill?

Both griddles and panini grills are popular kitchen appliances used to cook a variety of foods. But what’s the difference between them? While they may look slightly similar, there are some key differences when it comes to their features, cooking styles, and results.

The short answer is:

A griddle is an electric or gas-powered appliance with a single large flat heated surface to cook multiple items at once. Some griddles are not powered at all and are used directly on the stovetop. On the other hand, panini grills are usually electric only and feature two non-stick surfaces that cook the food (usually sandwiches) from both sides at once.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into more detail.

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What is a Panini Anyway?

A panini is a type of sandwich made with Italian bread and filled with many different ingredients. Ham, salami, meat, cheese, vegetables; whatever you like can go in a panini.

The idea behind this type of sandwich is that the bread should be grilled to achieve a crispy texture, and the ingredients should be warm and melted. This also allows the flavors of each ingredient to combine, creating a unique and delicious meal.

It is believed to have originated in Italy, first being mentioned in a cookbook from the 16th century. Since the 1970s and 1980s, paninis have become popular all over the world.

The popularity of paninis can be attributed to their versatility; they can be served with a variety of fillings and toppings. They are also easy to make with the right grill and can be enjoyed as a quick snack or meal. With its delicious flavor and convenience, it’s no wonder why the Panini has become so popular!

What Is a Panini Grill?

A panini grill is a kitchen appliance designed specifically for making paninis and other grilled sandwiches. It’s essentially a contact grill with two non-stick surfaces that can be heated to a high temperature.

Unlike a regular outdoor or indoor BBQ, these appliances are smaller and feature bottom and top grill plates to press together the bread or buns with whatever ingredients you choose to put in.

The result is a delicious toasted sandwich with an evenly cooked combination of flavors.

Many home cooks love panini grills because they generate terrific results quickly, and require less counter space than other types of grilling apparatus.

If you’re looking for a quick lunch solution or snack that packs flavor and texture, why not turn to the great idea of a panini maker?

What Is a Griddle?

Pancakes on a griddle

A griddle is an indispensable kitchen accessory for many home cooks as well. Griddles are large, flat cooking surfaces made from steel, cast iron, or other materials. There’s usually a raised lip around the edges of a griddle to keep grease and food juices from spilling off.

They can be powered by electricity, gas, or in some cases even wood or charcoal. Some of them can be used directly on the stovetop. This makes them extremely versatile and capable of a vast range of recipes and dishes.

Griddles are essentially large frying pans and as such are great for cooking eggs, bacon, burgers, pancakes, and more – they’re an incredibly useful tool that can easily become a key component of any chef’s or BBQ master’s arsenal!

What Are the Main Differences Between a Griddle and a Panini Grill?

Both griddles and panini grills serve one main purpose – cooking tasty food, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to figuring out what sets them apart.


When it comes to cooking appliances, a griddle and a panini press offer up two slightly different experiences.

A griddle is equipped with either a non-stick or a steel cooking surface. Electric griddles usually come with a non-stick surface and gas griddles tend to have steel flat tops, which need to be seasoned before use. Sometimes, griddles also feature a grease tray that catches excess fat and juices from the food. Once done grilling, you simply pour the grease out of the tray.

On the other hand, a panini grill uses two non-stick surfaces (some of them contain Teflon) that are connected with a floating hinge. This allows you to press the sandwich or Italian-style bread together when cooking and creates the iconic panini. Unlike griddles, panini grills have ridged plates that imprint a beautiful pattern onto the food. There’s almost no need to use oil and the cooking time is very short.

Both appliances usually come with adjustable temperature control, but unlike griddles, panini grills usually come with a timer. This allows you to only cook the food for as long as you need to achieve the desired results.


A panini press and a griddle are both super handy for whipping up tasty meals.

Indeed, the electric griddle is perhaps slightly easier to use as it just requires that you turn it on, slap some butter or oil on it, and start cooking. A single large cooking area means you can make multiple items at once more easily. Also, the smooth flat surface allows you to cook more varieties of food like pancakes and omelets.

Panini grills are not too difficult to use either. Throw some Ciabatta with ham, cheese, and veggies between the grilling plates, press them down and in a couple of minutes, you are done.

Also, there’s no denying the flexibility of a panini grill. After all, it can be used as a double-sided grill or you can prop the top flat – giving you another cooking surface to work with!


Griddles and panini presses may look similar, but they can have vastly different sizes.

Because of their shape and slim profiles, electric griddles for home use tend to take up a bit less space than panini presses, which makes them a great choice for someone with limited space in their kitchen. If you compare two of these devices with similar-sized cooking surfaces, you’ll often find that the panini press is bulkier than the corresponding griddle due to having two separate cooking surfaces for sandwiches.

Both devices can be placed on tabletops for easy cooking. Bringing them outside to cook on your porch is a great option too.

On the other hand, if you desire a bigger cooking surface, gas griddles are the way to go and these will be much bigger than any panini grill. Some griddles, like the 36-inch Blackstone griddle, are truly huge and are suitable for large families or if you like to throw BBQ parties for a lot of friends.

These are however clearly not designed for indoor use. You are supposed to use them only outside for your BBQ adventures.

Although some people like to use gas griddles in garages as well.


One of the staple uses of a panini press is to make sandwiches, which can be made with various types of bread, meats, and veggies. Apart from sandwiches, a panini press can also be used for other types of food like burgers (even frozen burgers), quesadillas, chicken breasts, and fish fillets. You can even grill a steak on it.

Meanwhile, griddles can be used for a wide variety of food that you don’t need to grill from both sides at once – pancakes, bacon, eggs, and all kinds of meat and veggies. Smash burgers are one of the most popular items that you can cook on a griddle.


You may have noticed that panini presses and griddles come in different price ranges, with basic electric griddles usually being cheaper than the panini press variety.

Indeed, you can buy a basic electric griddle for about the same price as an average takeout lunch – around thirty bucks – whereas a decent panini press will typically start at about forty bucks. Of course, sometimes you can get either of these at a discount if you shop around.

On the flip side, top-of-the-line gas griddles can cost over a thousand dollars.

No matter your budget and preferences, there’s a wide range of appliances to cater to any taste.

So Which One Is Better?

It’s difficult to answer whether a griddle or a panini grill is better because they’re both so different. If you really love sandwiches, a panini grill would be the way to go.

However, if you want something that provides more versatility and is great for an all-around grilling and cooking appliance, then a griddle may be a better choice for you. Besides you can do grilled cheese sandwiches on a griddle as well – just not as easy and pretty-looking as on a panini grill.

Or you can get both! This way you will be able to make the most of your kitchen. A simple electric griddle and a panini grill will cost you less than a hundred bucks combined and will provide you with all the fun!


Can you use a panini grill as a griddle?

Yes, you can use a panini grill as a griddle. By propping the top cooking surface down flat, you can create a large cooking surface similar to a griddle. However, panini grills mostly come with ridged grill plates, so you won’t get the same smooth surface that most griddles provide.

What is a panini grill good for?

A panini grill is great for making sandwiches, burgers, quesadillas, and other items that require cooking from both sides simultaneously. You can even make amazing hashbrowns, grilled cheese, and more! Also, a panini grill can be used as a regular grill for steaks, chicken breasts, etc.

Can you cook pancakes on a griddle?

Yes, you can use a griddle to cook pancakes. A griddle provides a large surface area and even heat distribution, which are ideal for making pancakes.

What is the difference between a panini press and a panini grill?

Panini grills and presses are actually the same things. Sometimes the “press” is used to describe the non-electric versions of these appliances, while the “grill” is often associated with electric versions. In either case, they are designed to do the same thing.



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John Carder

John Carder is the founder of FreshAirChef.com. He loves to cook outdoors, especially over a campfire. John has a lovely wife and two cats who he loves dearly. In his spare time, he likes to play soccer and paint; he's not particularly good at either, but he enjoys the process nonetheless. He also has silly long hair which often gets in his way while cooking!