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There are few things more delectable than a crisp toastie, piping hot and oozing with cheese. Sure, you could whip one up in the frying pan, but you'll save yourself time and effort by investing in a proper sandwich press or jaffle maker.
Somewhere between an electric grill and a toaster, the best sandwich press has a latch to stop your sammy squishing. It heats quickly and evenly, and is easy to clean. There are broadly two kinds of toastie maker: standard sandwich presses, with flat non-stick surfaces, and electric jaffle irons, which seal in the deliciousness with crispy edges. Lucky for you, we've done the research, so you can spend less time Googling, and more time jaffling.
How we picked
To start, we read up on toasted sandwich maker recommendations from CHOICE, Australia's biggest consumer advocacy group, and Consumer, the Kiwi counterpart. A couple of brands stood out, and we added some picks to our list before heading over to ProductReview.com.au. Reading reviews by real Aussies gave us good insight into what consumers really thought about their sandwich grills.
We added most of the best-rated machines, taking care to lop any double-ups or discontinued items from the list. Lastly, we did some virtual shopping with major retailers to be sure our picks were available. After weighing up quality, price, and availability against Aussies' reckons, we arrived at our list of the 7 best sandwich makers in Australia.
The best sandwich press for most
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The Breville Toast and Melt is one of the best-rated toastie makers in Australia. Its success lies in its even heating and adjustable crush control latch, preventing squished sammies. It's also quick to heat up, with a cord wrap for easy storage.
What we love
Adjustable latch for toasting sandwiches, or grilling open-face melts.
PFOA-free non-stick plates
The Breville's flat plates are coated with a top quality PFOA-free non-stick.
On and ready lights to let you know when it's time to eat.
Comes with a 1-year replacement warranty.
Hidden cord wrap underneath the machine so you can tidily stow it away.
Heats quickly and evenly, so you can cook steak and other items on it.
The not so good bits
There are cheaper sandwich presses out there, but we think $60 is a fair price for this quality.
Gets smudgy quickly
One reviewer complains that the stainless steel outer gets greasy with fingerprints.
No on/off button
There's an indicator light, but no on/off button so you'll have to switch it off at the wall.
The Breville Toast and Melt is the ultimate crowd-pleasing sandwich press. It's well-loved by Aussies, with room for 2 sandwiches at once. We rate it because it heats quickly and evenly to speedily sort those 3pm tummy rumbles. The Breville Toast and Melt is reviewed by CHOICE, and scores nearly 4.5 stars from almost 50 reviews on ProductReview.com.au.
Hassle-free cheese on toast is yours with the Breville Toast and Melt. What sets it apart is its stepped crush control latch, which stops the dreaded squish and allows you to make open-face sandwiches. Aussies also like the high quality PFOA-free non-stick coating and flat grill plates, as well as the handy cord wrap underneath.
One reviewer says the Breville Toast and Melt is quicker than their coffee in the morning. Another complains it doesn't have an on/off button, but at the same time, there are indicator lights to tell you when your toastie's ready. At around $60, it's also not the cheapest sandwich grill, but we think it's a reasonable price to pay for a top-notch press. In the long run it may also be cheaper than buying several cheaper, lower-quality machines.
Related: The Best Kettle
The best jaffle maker
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If you think jaffles are the only way to go, this Breville Original '74 is the sandwich press for you. Its high quality heating and jumbo-sized plates seal in the edges for fully loaded toasties. This classically designed machine takes longer to heat, but jaffles like these are worth the wait.
What we love
Jumbo-sized jaffle iron plates give you heaps of room for fillings.
Twice as nice
Make two at once with double plates.
Easy to store
With a cord wrap and storage clip, you can easily pack this baby up between sammies.
Even heating and quality jaffle plates make for nicely-browned crusts.
With a 3-year warranty and polished stainless steel exterior, this is a solidly-designed machine.
The not so good bits
Using a knife to get your jaffles out is a big no-no, as you can scratch the non-stick surface.
At $120, it’s the priciest toastie maker on our list.
Its jumbo-sized plates take a little longer to heat, and some are frustrated this machine doesn’t fit standard bread slices.
If you can't go past a classic jaffle, the Breville Original '74 is the best sandwich maker for you. The original jaffle iron was invented in Bondi in 1949. Breville was first to sell the electric jaffle maker in 1974, making this a true blue piece of Aussie nostalgia. The Breville Original ‘74 isn’t reviewed by CHOICE, but folks on ProductReview.com.au are fans, giving it nearly 3.5 stars from almost 30 reviews.
The key feature of this machine is its jumbo-sized plates. These take a little longer to heat up, and require bigger slices of bread to seal the edges properly. At the same time, Aussies say the jaffle plates crisp the edges beautifully. It’s one of the priciest machines on our list at around $120, but this old-school design reflects old-school quality. It has a 3-year warranty, and several reviewers say they've had theirs more than 5 years.
Related: The Best Waffle Maker
The best value sandwich press
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The Kmart 2 Slice Sandwich Press is a total steal at only $19. It's the perfect size for small households and student flats, scoring well with consumers. This Kmart toastie maker won't last forever, but it does a stellar job for the price.
What we love
Stops your sandwiches from being squashed.
Tidies the power cord away securely.
So you know when your sandwich maker is ready to go.
At $19, this is an absolute steal.
The not so good bits
Some Aussies are upset with the poor quality of the handle on this machine.
Not so hot
Others are frustrated that this sandwich press doesn’t get quite as hot as others.
Ethics and quality
Most sandwich makers cost double or triple, so the price could reflect how ethically this toastie machine is made, or how long it'll last.
Kmart is known for their simple, well-priced basics, and this 2 Slice Sandwich Press is no exception. At only $19, you’ll be hard-pressed finding a cheaper toastie maker elsewhere. This straightforward machine does what it says on the box, with flat plates made from quality non-stick, and a locking latch to guarantee you grilled cheese instead of squashed cheese.
Aussies love a bargain, which may be why this CHOICE-reviewed Kmart press scores over 4 stars from nearly 10 reviews on ProductReview.com.au. Most are pleased with their Kmart presses, as they’re a cheap and simple solution for those on a budget. Even so, some complain the handle is a little dodgy, or that it doesn’t get quite as hot as they’d like. But it still performs its main task well for the wallet-friendly price of $19.
Related: The Best Bread Maker
Others worth considering
Does your household fight over who gets the first toasted sandwich? This Sunbeam Café Press has space for 4 sammies at once, so it could be a diplomatic solution to your toastie troubles. It’s one of the more powerful machines at 2,400 watts, and reviewers rate its heating power. This sandwich maker has a floating latch similar to other machines.
The Sunbeam Café Press scores well with consumers on ProductReview.com.au, with nearly 3.5 stars from just over 20 reviews. Aussies don’t just rate it for toasted sandwiches, either - they also use it to cook eggs, bacon, pizzas and other foods suited to flat grills. But several folks aren’t happy with the quality of this product. A few folks complain it doesn’t last much longer than the warranty, which is surprising for a machine that costs nearly $100.
Breville’s The Big One lives up to its name with jumbo-sized plates for big appetites. It’s reasonably priced at around $50, boasting PFOA-free nonstick plates for 2 jaffles at once. Unlike other jaffle makers, it doesn’t cut your sandwiches in the middle, so you can cram more filling into your toasties. This also means it won’t slice through your yolks when you make egg sammies.
Aussies give the Breville Big One just over 4 stars from nearly 25 reviews. Some aren't fans of the jumbo plate size, which calls for larger slices of bread. These plates take around 3 minutes to heat up according to ProductReview.com.au reviews. The Big One is reasonably priced at around $50, but there’s a common complaint about the non-stick coating peeling before the 1-year warranty period’s up.
If you’re more into café-style paninis and focaccias than classic toasties, the Sunbeam Compact Café Grill could be your new BFF in the kitchen. It boasts a griddle-style surface for a truer grill than other sandwich makers. This grill has warm up and ready lights, fitting 2 toasties at once. Reviewers say it's versatile, as you can also use it to make things like smashed potatoes or kebabs.
While it scores just over 4 stars from more than 50 reviews, several recent purchasers say it doesn’t live up to the expected quality. More than a few Aussies also reckon it doesn’t store standing up despite the manual’s claims, and others complain the heavy griddle makes for flat sandwiches. Nonetheless, it's one of the best-rated sandwich grills you'll find.
The Kmart Anko Sandwich maker is the cheapest sandwich maker in Australia. It’s a simple machine with minimal features, producing smaller jaffles than other machines on this list. You can store this toastie maker upright, and like most other machines, it also has 'on' and 'ready' lights so you know when it's time to tuck into a jaffle or two.
Reviewers on ProductReview.com.au say it's best to fill your jaffles less with this jaffle maker, as it doesn’t get as hot as big-name brands. It also takes a while to brown the edges. It’s baffling that you can buy an entire toastie maker for less than the price of a halal snack pack, which may reflect both the quality and ethics of this Kmart Anko Sandwich Maker.
The bottom line
Whether you're into chicken and camembert melts, or classic egg and cheese jaffles, a toasted sandwich maker is bound to make your life easier. These compact machines are designed to reduce the time between a rumbling tummy and snack o'clock, and double as flat grills to cook or heat other foods.
The Breville Toast and Melt Sandwich Press will suit most Aussie households. It's a quality machine which does a fair dinkum job of toasting bread and melting cheese. Its crush control latch means the top plate hovers at just the right height over your food. It's made with quality PFOA-free non-stick plates and has a handy cord wrap for storage.
The Breville Original '74 brings old-school jaffles into the 21st Century with jumbo-sized plates and sleek stainless steel design. This machine isn't quite as quick as new-fangled toastie makers, but it heats efficiently and comes with a 3 year warranty, so you know you're not paying for the gimmick.
No budget is too small for toasted sandwiches with the Kmart 2 Slice Sandwich Press. For $19, you get a compact toasted sandwich maker with non-stick plates and room for 2. This machine won't win competitions for quality or longevity, but it's a reasonable little sandwich press for snacks that'll hit the spot.
Features to consider
You’d be mistaken if you thought all sandwich makers were created equal. Here are some things to look for when buying a toastie machine.
Across our research, adjustable latches stood out as being key to a quality sandwich grill. Some machines have one setting to stop your toasties squashing, while others have stepped latches. The latter give you different options for open-face sandwiches as well as classic toasties.
Jaffle iron plates
Specialized jaffle iron plates are the main difference between a sandwich maker and a jaffle maker. While sandwich presses and grills also have two non-stick heating elements, jaffle makers have dedicated moulds to produce diagonally-sliced sandwich pockets. Jaffle moulds can make lifting sandwiches out a little more fiddly, and the plates can take longer to heat. At the same time, it's the only way to get an authentic, crispy-edged jaffle.
Most of the sandwich makers we reviewed were fairly quick to heat up, but machines with larger-sized plates or jaffle moulding tended to be slower to come to temperature. If you're buying a sandwich maker to save yourself time, your best bet is a mid-to-upper range sandwich press with flat non-stick plates.
Only some of the sandwich makers we reviewed had cord storage underneath the machine, although most can be stored upright. If you're going to be taking your toastie maker in and out of storage frequently, it's worth checking to see if it has a storage latch, too.
What you get if you spend more
There are some big differences between a $7.50 jaffle maker and a $120 jaffle maker. Here are a few of the major ones.
Across our research, the cheapest sandwich makers tend to lose oomph, fall apart, or stop working altogether after a year or so. If you can afford to invest in a higher-quality product, it could save you a few trips to the store in the long run.
As a general rule, the bigger the sandwich maker, the pricier the machine. If you want to make jumbo-sized toasties, or more than 2 sandwiches at once, you'll need to spend upwards of $50.
Most of the cheapest toasted sandwich makers are less powerful, with lower wattages than more expensive models. The reviews for lower-cost machines show they don't generally heat up as quick as pricier machines, and they don't toast as evenly either. This was especially the case for jaffles, which require high, sustained heat for golden-brown edges.
What's the difference between a toasted sandwich press and a jaffle maker?
A toasted sandwich press or grill has 2 plates to gently press and heat food between. These machines have either flat press plates or ribbed grill plates. Quality sandwich makers also have latches to prevent the weight of the top plate crushing your food, and some have several latches to give you options for open-faced melts too.
Electric jaffle machines were pioneered by Melbourne-founded company Breville in the 1970s. They were so popular that 10% of Aussie households bought one in the first year. A jaffle maker has a mould for sandwiches, with space for fillings. They seal shut tightly, creating crispy sandwich pockets with piping-hot filling. The mould-style plates are the key difference between jaffle makers and sandwich makers.
What else can you cook with a sandwich press?
Given that sandwich presses and waffle irons are essentially heated grill plates, you can cook nearly anything you'd usually put on a grill. Grilled cheese goes without saying, but it's also easy to cook breakfast foods like bacon, eggs, hash browns, omelettes, or mushrooms, as well as French toast.
A sandwich press can be used to grill meats, too. Burger patties, steak, and chicken cook quickly between hot plates, and some reviewers have success using jaffle makers for desserts, making apple turnovers and more. These machines are useful for smashed potatoes, pizza, or grilled veggies, and you can also experiment with different kinds of bread - for example croissants or brioche.
Is a sandwich press different from a sandwich grill?
Yes. Technically speaking, a 'press' has flat plates, whereas a grill has ribbed plates. The ribbed plates of the sandwich grill are supposed to make contact with the surface of your sandwich. This makes for faster cooking, and leaves the distinctive grill marks found on takeout sandwiches. Commercial-style sandwich presses and grills tend to use heavy cast-iron grill plates that take a long time to heat up, but retain this heat over time.
Most home-style sandwich presses and grills are made to be much lighter, heating up quickly for home use with a lightweight non-stick coating. If you want flat plates on your sandwich maker, go for a 'press,' which should also have a latch to prevent squishing. Most home-style sandwich 'grills' are made in a similar way, but with ribbed grill edges. Confusingly, this type of grill is sometimes called a 'panini press.'
Is non-stick sandwich press coating safe?
Most home appliance makers have designed their sandwich makers with non-stick coating to reduce both the weight of the machine and the heating time. Non-stick coating is safe as long as it isn't overheated.
Non-stick coating can begin to break down at temperatures of over 260 degrees Celsius, which is around the upper limit of conventional ovens. To reduce the chances of your sandwich press non-stick overheating, avoid pre-heating your machine too long, and replace it if the coating begins to peel. It also pays to avoid using oil sprays, which can create build-up over time. Try to stick to wooden utensils to minimize scratching, too.
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