Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini Press – Full Review
While some panini presses have lots of different functions, the Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press is designed with superb simplicity in mind. It’s just the thing for making gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, hoagies, and other fantastic creations ranging from lightly grilled vegetables such as asparagus or zucchini to grilling up flatbreads or chops.
Like many other panini makers on the market, the Cuisinart GR-1 is simple to operate. Plug it in, watch for the green light that indicates it’s ready to get to work, and add food. Keep an eye on whatever it is you’re cooking, and soon enough, you’ll have a quick, delicious meal. It would be nice if the machine had variable heat settings like some of the larger indoor grills do, but panini presses traditionally have just one heat setting and this one sticks with that tradition.
Cleanup is pretty easy, as long as you don’t make a huge mess by cooking greasy things like bacon or burgers. The unit comes with a special tool for scraping the grill, and it wipes clean with a moist paper towel. It would be fantastic if the plates came off for cleaning the way the ones on much larger models do, but again, Cuisinart has stuck with tradition, making a panini press that needs to be washed without being immersed in water. These machines are traditionally used just for toasting, so keep in mind that anything other than that might entail a bit of creative scrubbing on your part. The food’s worth it, in my opinion!
Granted, this machine is small, making just enough food for one or two people at a time, but it’s also very easy to store. A locking lid mechanism lets you place it in vertical position to use less space. This being said, these are just a few of the many pros and few cons that come with owning the Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press. Keep on reading for more.
Great Value for the Price
If you’re looking for an affordable panini press that works well, this is one to consider. Like other appliances from Cuisinart, the Griddler panini and sandwich press is well-made, and its performance is consistent. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but if all you’re looking for is a standard sandwich maker you can use to make cooking faster and easier, this one is probably going to make you happy.
This panini press doesn’t let you cook for a crowd (unless you warm up the oven and do small batches) but it does have room to make a nice lunch or light dinner for one or two people. The unit is small enough to store in a cupboard alongside other appliances, and as it can be locked and placed on end for storage, it doesn’t take much space at all.
Tasty Food, Less Fat Required
One of the worst things about traditional grilled cheese sandwiches is that you’ve got to use butter to keep the bread from sticking to the inside of the frying pan. The Cuisinart Griddler Panini and Sandwich press lets you make wonderful hot sandwiches without buttering the outside of the bread first, saving you from eating a lot more fat than you probably want to. Of course, if you love the taste of butter on the outside of your sandwich, there’s really nothing to stop you from sticking to the habit.
Well-Built, Attractive Panini Press
Some of the sandwich makers on the market are woefully flimsy. Not so with this one! The Griddler is well-built, and as it comes with a three-year warranty, it’s clear that Cuisinart meant for it to be used long-term. The stainless steel case looks so nice that it’s easy to keep the unit on the countertop if you’re low on cupboard space or if you end up using it daily and don’t want to fuss with putting it away only to pull it out again the next day.
Like many similar panini presses, the Cuisinart GR-1 is designed to be easy to wipe clean with a moist paper towel. Cuisinart includes a special scraping tool for getting debris up out of the grill. This is a very nice extra to have. I’ve read a number of reviews stating that the machine is difficult to clean when a mess has been made; the easy way to get around that is to be careful about the volume of food you place inside so that it doesn’t overflow into the bottom casing where the lower element is housed. If you think you might not like to be limited by size and the fact that there’s no grease trap underneath, consider getting a larger unit that’s designed to deal with a higher volume of food.
“Does the Griddler GR-1 smash the fillings out of sandwiches? It looks like the lid is pretty heavy.”
No, although the lid is weighted to keep it from popping up, it “floats” on top of things, and you can select the height so it barely even touches your sandwiches.
“Can you make quesadillas and wraps with this?”
Yes, you can make all sorts of delightful stuffed sandwiches, no matter what type of bread or wrap you are using.
“What’s the difference between the Cuisinart GR-1 and the bigger GR-150 Griddler Deluxe, other than price?”
The GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press is pretty much designed to make hot toasted sandwiches, although it’s true that people do use it for making all sorts of other things, ranging from chops to grilled vegetables. The GR-150 Griddler deluxe is a multipurpose indoor grill that opens all the way up to be a dual grilling surface. It has a number of features that the smaller machine doesn’t, such as adjustable temperature and removable grilling plates. It also has a grease trap underneath so you can make a wider variety of foods without making a mess.
“Do you have to press very hard to make grill marks on sandwiches?”
You can press slightly if you like, but there’s really no need to as the grill marks will appear as the bread toasts.
“Can I use different kinds of bread to make sandwiches, or just flat sliced bread?”
You can be really creative when it comes to the kind of bread you use with this panini press. Hoagie rolls, flatbreads, French bread, ciabatta, wraps, and tortillas all come out nicely. You can even use a little olive oil on the grill, then put on a wrap made with uncooked pizza dough. This bakes quickly and tastes fantastic.
“Does this sandwich maker come with recipes, etc.?”
Yes, it comes with a user’s manual that includes a recipe booklet to help you get started. You can also find lots of panini recipes online.
What People are Saying
The Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press is a well-built sandwich maker that does exactly what the manufacturer says it will do. The food I’ve made with it has never failed to be well-cooked, plus it has attractive grill marks on both sides, just like fancy sandwiches from my favorite shop. While there are a couple of very minor drawbacks that are in fact universal to all traditional style panini presses, very few kitchen appliances are perfect. If you’re looking for an easy, cost-effective way to make quick meals without all the fat associated with fast foods, you will probably love what this little machine can do. It delivers quality for the price, and as it comes with a three-year warranty, I suspect it will provide you with a good return on your investment.
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