11 Sweet and Savory Panini Ideas

Don’t miss out on the sweet and savory twists that make this Italian specialty one of our favorite pressed sandwiches
Strawberry Brie Grilled Cheese

Put a fruity twist on your grilled cheese with strawberries

Shutterstock / RoJo Images

This turkey pesto Asiago panini with cranberry served with pan-fried stuffing is perfect as a Thanksgiving-style treat that will satisfy stuffing-lovers all year round.

The crunchy exterior and the warm molten center are what make panini so appealing. We have the Italians to thank for these warm pressed sandwiches. The popularity of panini first hit its stride in 1970s Milan, when specialty restaurants dedicated to these pressed sandwiches first started opening. Soon, the panino (the singular of panini in Italian) trend traveled to cities in the United States.

Click here for the 11 sweet and savory panini recipes slideshow.

While the traditional form of a panino uses Italian bread stuffed with meats, cheeses, and vegetables, we have come to associate any sandwich that has the characteristic grill marks with this popular Italian sandwich. Even better, panini don’t have to adhere to savory restrictions. Just as delicious are the dessert variety, which replace gooey cheese with melty chocolate, a drizzle of warm honey, or caramelized fruit.

For some clever twists on this Italian favorite, try these creative takes on the pressed sandwich, which include both savory and sweet iterations, as well as experimentation with different style breads and Americanized toppings.

Cuban Panini

Shutterstock / Jesse Kunerth

A Cuban-style panini is an easy way to change up that ham and cheese sandwich you’ve been eating since third grade. By adding a couple ingredients that are probably already in your fridge, you can make a jealousy-inducing packed lunch that looks more like restaurant take-out. 

For the Cuban Panini recipe, click here.

Focaccia Panini with Prosciutto alla Caprese

Shutterstock / bonchan

This panini is unique because it features focaccia, a dense, “quilty” Italian bread whose spongy texture soaks up flavor. I also like the fact that focaccia doesn’t have an overly chewy crust — it’s perfect for your picnic enjoyment!

For the Focaccia Panini with Prosciutto alla Caprese recipe, click here.


Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.