West Bend 6113 Grill and Panini Press – Full Review
While some of the most popular panini presses cost well over the $100 mark, the West Bend 6113 Nonstick Countertop Grill and Panini Press is pretty inexpensive. The price led me to believe that I might be dealing with a sub-par appliance, but for the most part, I am pleased with its performance.
Like a lot of similar machines from other manufacturers, this one does not come with an on/off switch, which is something I’d definitely like to see the industry change. It does however have an indicator light that lets me know that the power is on, and it is equipped with a second “ready” light that lets me know it’s hot. These lights are a nice addition and help make up for the lack of the on/off switch.
The West Bend Countertop Grill and Panini Press is compact, making it easy to store. Many smaller panini presses don’t open up all the way; they can be used as contact grills only. This one opens up flat, so you can double the cooking surface and make more food at once. It’s also slightly angled to encourage grease to drain away, which is a nice touch. Burgers, steaks, chicken, veggies, chops, and sandwiches all turn out very well when made with this appliance, and the grill marks are a nice, attractive touch.
This isn’t the prettiest panini press I’ve seen, but it isn’t unattractive, either. This being said, what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in function. It is equipped with some of the same features as higher-end models, including a floating hinge that allows the upper plate to rest on foods for quicker cooking. The plates are removable for easier cleanup, and they are dishwasnher safe, although you do need to be sure they’re cool before removing them and putting them into the dishwasher.
These are just the basics. Read on for a bit more insight into the pros and cons that come with owning the West Bend 6113 Nonstick Countertop Grill and Panini Press.
Not Just an Inexpensive Panini Press
If all you want to do is make paninis, then this isn’t the appliance for you, as it does quite a bit more than toast sandwiches on both sides at once! Even though the West Bend Nonstick Countertop Grill and Panini Press looks a lot like competitor machines that don’t open up into larger cooking surfaces, its ability to open 180 degrees to become a full-fledged countertop grill is pretty impressive. Do keep in mind that this will let you double the amount of food you make, i.e. six chicken breasts at once instead of three, depending on size, but it still will not accommodate a vast amount of food like one of the larger countertop contact grills will. It’s just the right size for a family of two to four, depending on what your plans are for cooking with it.
Useful Floating Hinge
I recently read another reviewer’s complaint about how the slightly slanted plates made all the fillings come out of big, loaded sandwiches. I have not had a problem with this as the floating hinge ensures that the plate presses on the tops of sandwiches rather than the back, and that it does not press so hard that all the fillings come out. Granted, it takes a little practice to get your sandwiches to come out perfect, however it isn’t difficult, especially once you’ve got the hang of it.
This is a very easy appliance to use, and the manual that comes with it does a good job of explaining how it works, plus it includes some basic recipes to help you get into the swing of things. It’s a good idea to play around with all the moving parts before plugging it in, that way you won’t run the risk of burning yourself accidentally.
Low-Fat Cooking Made Simple
If you’re anything like me, you spend at least a little time thinking about what you’re eating and wondering whether you’re making the healthiest choices. Like other countertop grills, contact grills, and panini presses with tilted lower plates, this one helps you make even fattier foods healthier by encouraging grease to flow away from food so it doesn’t end up on your plate and ultimately inside your digestive system. If you’re looking for a diet-friendly grill / panini press combo, this one is definitely an option to consider.
The West Bend Nonstick Countertop Grill and Panini Press measures just a little over 13 inches square when it’s in its folded position, meaning it does not take up a lot of real estate inside the cupboard or on the countertop. This is a plus if you’re looking for a small appliance to make sandwiches and other quick, healthy options, but it’s on the list of negatives if you happen to be cooking for a crowd.
Easy Cleanup, Dishwasher Safe Parts
Like just about every other panini press / contact grill on the market, this one is pretty easy to clean up. It can be wiped with a damp paper towel or cloth if you haven’t made much of a mess, and unlike many competing machines, it does come apart for thorough cleaning in the event you’ve cooked something very messy and want to give it a good wash. The removable nonstick plates can go right into the dishwasher, and so can the grease trap.
“Do both sides of this appliance heat up?”
Yes, both sides heat up at once.
“Is the temperature adjustable?”
No, the temperature isn’t adjustable. This means you’ve got to pay close attention while cooking, at least while you’re learning your way around the machine.
“Can you buy replacement plates?”
Yes, West Bend makes replacement plates and sells them separately.
“Are there other types of cooking plates available for this unit, i.e. waffle maker plates?”
No, only grill plates are available.
“Can I make quesadillas, wraps, etc. with this panini press?”
You can definitely get creative with recipes, whether you use the machine mostly for sandwich-type things or for grilling. Veggies, meats, and a nice variety of other foods turn out well. If you look online for ways to use a panini maker, you’ll find lots of inspiration.
“Do the plates come off for washing?”
Yes, they are removable. Be sure the unit has cooled completely before removal.
What People are Saying
The West Bend 6113 Nonstick Countertop Grill and Panini Press is a good appliance for its price. It does everything the manufacturer promises it will, and because of its versatility, it encourages experimentation. While it’s not a large indoor grill by any stretch of the imagination, it is just the right size to make lunch or dinner for two to four people. The overall design is good, and because it comes apart for cleaning, it requires a bit less hassle than some other models. It looks nice enough to leave on a countertop, but is small enough to fit into a very small space with ease.
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