De’Longhi CGH800 Panini Press – Full Review

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While some panini presses are equipped with just a single function, the De’Longhi CGH800 Contact Grill and Panini Press offers quite a bit of versatility. True, it is ideal for making delicious sandwiches ranging from simple grilled cheeses to overstuffed hoagies, but it’s also suitable for making a variety of dinner standbys such as burgers, steaks, chicken, and even grilled vegetables.

Like many other grill / panini maker combo machines on the market, the De’Longhi Contact Grill and Panini Press is very easy to operate. Simply plug it in and preheat itt. When the unit is hot, the “Ready” indicator light will come on. Place food directly onto the grill plates, put the drainage cup in place, and allow your food to cook. Unplug when you’re finished, and enjoy the results.

As with other grills, griddles, and panini makers, this one does produce a bit of an odor the first time it’s turned on. Unpleasant as it is, there’s really no way to get around it other than to open a window or turn on a fan and allow the unit to get rid of its “new appliance smell” for about five minutes. After this, you shouldn’t notice an odor other than the aroma of whatever it is that you are cooking.

Only a few panini makers have timers or other mechanisms to indicate that food is ready; this is not one of them. You will need to monitor your food closely during the cooking process to ensure that it cooks the way you want it to. With practice, you’ll discover that you can guesstimate the amount of time certain things will take to heat through.

Cleanup is fairly easy, even though this machine does not come with a special spatula. Because the ridges on the grill are spaced further apart than on some other contact grill / panini maker combo machines, it’s fairly easy to wipe up with a damp cloth as long as you haven’t overloaded the grill or burnt anything. Because the grill plates are not detachable and the unit cannot be submerged in water, it is very important that you read the owner’s manual to avoid messy mistakes. It would be very nice if the plates on this machine did come off as some others do, however the lower price and the great-tasting food that comes off this grill make up for the traditional design.

While the De’Longhi makes just enough food for two people at once, its’ space saving profile makes it simple to put away.  A locking lid mechanism allows for vertical storage, meaning you take up less real estate inside the cupboard. These are just a few of the many pros and few cons that come with owning and using the De’Longhi CGH800 Contact Grill and Panini Press. Keep on reading for more.

 

Excellent Value for the Price

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If you’ve been searching high and low for an affordable panini press, this one should be among those that you consider. De’Longhi has a great reputation for building reliable kitchen appliances, and this panini press / grill combo is no exception. It is well made and feels heavy for its size. Although its design is one some reviewers find overly simple, I like the fact that it functions reliably without breaking the bank.

 

Easy to Use

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I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen, but this appliance really is easy to use. I do wish that it came with an on/off switch, however few panini presses do, so this seems to be part and parcel of this kind of grill. A user’s manual is included, making trial and error unnecessary.

 

Slanted Design Means Less Fat

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Many contact grill / panini press combination appliances have flat surfaces, meaning it’s more difficult for excess fat to drain away from food. The De’Longhi Contact Grill and Panini Press has a slanted design that encourages excess fat and oil to drain away into a cup that can be detached for easy emptying. It’s fairly exciting to make delicious food while watching the extra fat drain away. If you’re looking for a panini press that’s fairly diet friendly, this one definitely fits the bill.

 

Compact Size, Robust Design

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If you’re hoping to cook for a crowd, this is not the grill for you. This unit makes two nice-size sandwiches at once, and you can get quite a bit of bacon on it, but don’t expect miracles. I personally appreciate the compact size, and I also appreciate the fact that this unit does not feel at all flimsy. The locking lid is a nice touch.

 

Attractive Looks

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Some of the sandwich makers on the market are ugly plastic things. Not so with this one! The De’Longhi Contact Grill and Panini Press has a nice-looking stainless steel exterior. I think it would have been nice to have the grease tray positioned on the back of the unit rather than on the front, however that would prevent upright storage and it would make it tough to see the grease leaving the food you’re about to eat, some pretty good tradeoffs if you ask me. If you end up keeping this unit on the countertop, you’ll find it’s easy to polish the exterior with a bit of glass cleaner so it keeps on looking fantastic.

 

Quick and Easy Cleanup

Like many similar appliances, the De’Longhi Contact Grill and Panini Press is designed to remain intact and be wiped clean with a moist cloth or paper towel. It would be really nice if De’Longhi included a special grooved scraper with this unit to make cleanup even easier, but I’ve discovered that the wider spacing between the grill grooves makes for fairly easy cleaning with a natural sponge in the event I’ve burnt a bit of cheese. Even when you have to scrub, you don’t have to use much elbow grease at all, just wipe a little more and use a little more water and the mess comes right off. Do be careful to allow grease in the cup to cool a bit before pouring it in the trash so that you don’t inadvertently melt the garbage bag. This little issue was definitely user error and not the manufacturer’s fault in any way.

 

FAQs

qm   “Does this panini maker heat up on both sides?”

Yes, both sides of the contact grill heat up at once.

qm   “Can you make other things such as quesadillas and wraps with this?”

Yes, you can make all kinds of stuffed sandwiches, no matter what type of bread or wrap you are using. I would recommend that you put the folded side of the tortilla toward the front of the panini press if you start having an issue with fillings sliding out.

qm   “About how long does the De’Longhi Contact Grill and Panini Press take to heat up?”

It takes about three minutes to heat. It’s usually ready by the time I have my sandwiches ready to be grilled.

qm   “What are the dimensions of the cooking area?”

The cooking area is 11 inches wide by 9 inches across.

qm   “What kind of bread is best for use with this panini press?”

You can feel free to get creative with the bread you use. Flatbreads, hoagie rolls, French bread, wraps, ciabatta, and tortillas all come out well. You can spritz a little nonstick spray onto the grill, then put on a sandwich or wrap made with raw dough. It bakes in just a few minutes and tastes amazing.

qm   “Do the plates come off for washing?”

No, the plates are not removable. Cleaning is done with a moist cloth or wet paper towel.

 

What People are Saying

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Conclusion

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The De’Longhi CGH800 Contact Grill and Panini Press is a well-built appliance that provides plenty of value for the money and that does just what the manufacturer promises it will do. The sandwiches and other foods I’ve made with this grill have turned out well, and although it isn’t the largest one I’ve tried, it makes enough for a substantial meal for two. If you’re watching your waistline, you are likely to appreciate the slanted position of the grill plates, particularly if you take advantage of the unit’s ability to grill things like chicken, chops, and burgers. Cleanup is not difficult, and the appliance’s small size makes it very easy to store in a cupboard. Because it looks nice, it’s fine to leave on the countertop if you like.

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