Toasted sandwiches or “toasties” are delicious and easily prepared comfort food, similar to their more upmarket high street cousin, the Panini. The toasted sandwich maker closes on the bread, sealing it around the crusts, and creating a neat pocket for the filling, while toasting the bread on both sides. In minutes, a toasted sandwich maker can produce a delicious hot cheese sandwich, tuna melt, or – with ham – a variation on the Parisian croque-monsieur.
Unlike the waffle iron, which comes a variety of forms, pretty much all toasted sandwich makers on the market take the classic 1970s design of Breville’s “Snack ‘n’ Sandwich toaster”, with its two electrically-heated plates joined by a hinge, with a clip to hold it together during cooking on the opposite side. The simple design makes it delightfully easy to clean, meaning that a toasted sandwich really is a quick and easy lunch. As with all cooking appliances, however, there is a range of quality on the market, and you should bear this in mind while shopping for your toasted sandwich maker.
Breville make a very competitive sandwich toaster in their VST025. This machine can be used with a greater variety of sizes of bread than most conventional sandwich toasters. It is great for muffins, paninis, and for heating up speciality breads for before a meal: this can be easier than heating them in the oven. The machine has a ‘ready to cook’ indicator light, so there’s no risk of putting the bread in too early, so helping to avoid uneven cooking.
The Waring Pro WOSM2U comes with removable plates, which make for very easy cleaning. No more the notorious greasy remnants on the sandwich toaster in the student flats of old! Waring also make a lot of the fact that their sandwich toaster is also suitable for making omelettes. Customer reviews of this item online tend to emphasize that these omelettes are very good.
The problem with toasted sandwiches is that as soon as someone sees you eating one… they want one too! Russell Hobbs’s 4 Portion Sandwich Maker gets around the difficulty of a household impatiently queuing to use it by cooking up four toasted sandwiches simultaneously. The machine is easy to clean and looks reasonably stylish. So if you are part of a family that often lunches together, or living with housemates, the Russell Hobbs 4 Portion may be something to think about.
Everyone knows that toasted sandwiches are delicious, but toasted sandwich makers themselves have a jokey reputation for tending to moulder in cupboards unused for years on end. With the popularity of the Italian panini, you might think about whether you are more likely to use a panini press more frequently than the old traditional toasted sandwich maker. Most manufacturers of toasted sandwich makers today also make a home panini press, for a classier hot lunch.