What’s the best bread for panini? This guide will discuss the best types of bread to make a delicious panini.
A panini is a sandwich usually served hot by grilling or toasting, and made using different types of bread and fillings such as cheese, tomatoes, ham, and chicken.
The first thing to consider in order to make a good panini is selecting the right bread.
Choosing the Best Bread for Panini
There are so many bread options available. How do you decide on what bread to use for panini? It ultimately boils down to the ingredients you are using, what sort of panini you are going to make, and the flavor and texture you want to achieve.
The main factors to consider are as follows.
What texture do you want your panini to have?
Some people prefer their panini crispier; some don’t mind moistness. In order to make a crispier sandwich, the bread needs to be sturdier. This type of bread can hold in the ingredients better and prevent the sandwich from becoming too moist when pressed.
What fillings are you going to use?
If you are using only meat and salad leaves, you can use thinner bread. However, if you are adding in moister ingredients, such as spreads, you need to use bread that won’t quickly become messy when pressed.
When using meats that contain fat that melt when heated, like salami, you should use thicker bread which can hold in the moist ingredients.
Does the bread complement the ingredients?
It is worth to consider whether the bread goes well with the ingredients chosen. For example, if you’re already adding very crunchy ingredients into your panini, you might not want to choose a bread with a lot of seeds.
Does the panini have a cultural significance or theme?
It is a good idea to consider this if you are looking to emphasize the cultural heritage of the panini. For example, if I am using mostly Italian meats, in keeping with the theme, ciabatta would be a good bread option. If you are preparing panini for a traditional Italian café, it is also worth considering your bread options in this context.
Do you want the bread to add flavor to the sandwich or play a neutral role?
If you want the bread to add interesting flavor to the sandwich, you might want to use more flavorful bread such as focaccia. If the bread is to play a neutral role in the sandwich, and you want the focus to be on the filling, it is better to use bread such as baguette which has a more neutral taste.
Best Bread for Panini with Mostly Dry Ingredients
If you are using mostly dry ingredients such as lean meats and thicker cheeses, you have a wide range of panini bread options to choose from.
These are the best bread for panini with minimal wet ingredients:
Flatbread is made from flour, water, and salt, and rolled into flattened dough. It is one of the best bread for panini sandwiches because it does not fall apart easily under pressure from the panini press.
Pita refers to yeast-leavened round flatbreads. Similar to flatbread, this bread is suitable because it can withstand pressure.
Next up on the list is multigrain bread, which is prepared with multiple types of grain such as millet, oats, wheat, and whole-wheat flour. Some multigrain bread use seeds such as flaxseed and sunflower seeds. Multigrain bread is a popular choice for panini nowadays.
Rye bread is made with flour from rye grain. As rye bread is usually denser than bread made from wheat flour, rye bread is one of the best options for panini.
Last but not least is sourdough, which is a type of naturally leavened bread. It does not depend on commercial yeast, but instead uses fermented flour and water (which contains wild yeast and good bacteria) to rise. This results in its chewy texture.
Best Bread for Panini with Wet Ingredients
When using wetter ingredients like fatty and/or moisture-packed meats, or juicy ingredients like tomatoes, you need a sturdier bread that can hold all the moisture in without ending up a soggy mess. For this kind of panini, rolls are better.
These are the best bread for panini with wet ingredients:
- Thick-cut sourdough
A baguette is a thin and long bread of French origin, usually made from basic lean dough. This type of bread is sturdy and hence one of the best bread for panini sandwiches with wet ingredients.
The next recommended option is ciabatta. Olive oil, water, wheat flour, salt, and yeast are its key components. Ciabatta is the most popular panini bread option nowadays.
Next up is focaccia, an Italian bread baked in flat sheet pans, usually flavored with olive oil and topped with herbs. It is suitable for sandwiches with wet ingredients, because this type of bread is sturdy enough to hold the moisture in.
Sourdough is a suitable option for both dry and wet panini. The only difference is that thick-cut sourdough is more suitable for panini with wet ingredients. When working with wetter ingredients such as tomatoes, it is better to use thick-cut rather than thinly sliced bread, in order to avoid a messy and soggy sandwich.
Characteristics of the Best Bread for Panini
The golden rule of panini making is: Denser is better.
When grilled or put in a panini press, dense bread will hold its shape better than soft, pre-sliced bread.
Freeform loaves, rather than pre-sliced bread from the bakery, are suitable for building a good foundation for your panini.
Furthermore, the weight of panini press plates is too heavy for softer breads.
When it comes to making panini, denser bread is always the way to go.
What Bread to Avoid?
Making a sandwich from scratch offers you ultimate freedom in experimenting with different flavors, textures, and combinations, to see which type of bread works the best. In case you’re wondering whether there is any bread that should typically be avoided for panini, read on!
It is better to avoid using processed, pre-sliced white bread. This type of bread is light and airy, and not suited for a panini or sandwich press. The press removes the airiness from the bread, resulting in bread that does not crisp well.
Another bad option is the bagel. The tough crust that surrounds a bagel can prevent heat from fully penetrating the bread. If you try to get the bagel warm in the center, that might result in unpleasant overheating of the panini.
Basically, the best bread for panini sandwiches is dense, but not covered with a tough crust like a bagel.
The versatility, convenience, and delectable taste of panini makes it widely loved. Creating a panini also allows you to unleash your creativity and whip up a unique sandwich. By using the best bread for panini, you can look forward to enjoying delicious panini. One of the best things about making sandwiches from scratch is being able to customize it to your liking—from choosing the type of bread to the filling that go into it.