A panini is a pressed and toasted sandwich, served hot. They are usually made with a panini press, a two-sided grill that you close on top of the sandwich, kind of like a waffle maker. However, you don’t need this special appliance to make a panini. A panini press uses the weight of the lid to press on the sandwich as it toasts, but you can easily create the same end result by placing a heavy cast iron pan or other weight on top of your sandwich as it toasts.

First, gather fillings: chicken, prosciutto or other meat, grilled veggies, basil or other herbs, cheeses, whatever you like. In my panini, I used chicken, Trader Joe’s Genova pesto sauce, sun dried tomato, and shredded mozzarella cheese. When I think of a classic panini, I think of some variation of these Mediterranean ingredients.

Simple Panini Press Cooking with Trader Joe's



Once you’ve assembled the sandwich with the fillings distributed inside, place it on a hot olive-oil-coated pan. Then place a heavy cast iron pan on top. Don’t have a cast iron pan? Grab a pie tin and place it on top, weighing it down with a few cans from your pantry. Out of cans? Go outside, grab a brick, wrap it in foil, and place it on top of your sandwich.



After a few minutes, your sandwich will be golden and toasted on one side. Flip it and repeat the process for the other side. Enjoy your panini!

Chicken Panini Recipe Cooking with Trader Joe's


  • 12 slices of regular or gluten-free bread, or 6 Trader Joe’s par-baked Panini Rustic Rolls
  • 1 (16-oz) container Just Chicken (pre-cooked chicken) or leftover chicken
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated Genova Pesto
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Julienne Sliced Sun Dried Tomatoes plus 2 Tbsp oil from the jar


  1. Mix together chicken and pesto, stirring until the chicken is evenly coated. Stir in cheese and sun dried tomatoes. Drizzle on oil and stir well.
  2. If using panini rolls, cut each roll open. Distribute the filling between bread slices or rolls.
  3. If not using a panini press, use a cast-iron pan. Lightly spray or oil the pan and place over medium heat. Toast the sandwiches 3 at a time. Press them with a second cast-iron pan placed on the sandwiches (or use something heavy like a pie pan weighed down with canned goods, or foil wrapped bricks) and toast for 2-3 minutes until golden and crisp. Flip and toast the other side. Repeat with the next 3 sandwiches.