Grilled Caprese Panini takes a simple grilled cheese sandwich and elevates it to a whole other level!
Made with summer-ripe, thick-sliced tomatoes, fresh creamy mozzarella, and flavorful fresh basil, all of the elements on a classic caprese salad are present in a delicious, toasted grilled caprese panini!
Grilled caprese panini is one of my go-to meals to make for lunch or dinner on a summer day because it’s so light and simple and fresh and the ingredients are plentiful and in season. Right now a large bunch of fresh basil is super cheap at the farmer’s market and the tomatoes are just starting to come on and are so juicy and wonderful!
But these toasty Italian-inspired sandwiches are delicious in other seasons too, especially if you can get nice hothouse tomatoes. And when fresh basil is ridiculously expensive, you can always sub jarred pesto instead and just spread it on the inside of the bread or roll you are using before adding the mozzarella and tomatoes.
A little olive oil brushed on the outside of a ciabatta roll or sliced sourdough bread helps the grilled caprese panini gets nice and crispy on the outside. And even though it’s not traditional, I also like to drizzle balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes & mozzarella before grilling the panini.
Apparently I have a trend going on where I post sandwich or wrap recipes on the blog that are inspired by some of my favorite flavors from other regions or cultures like the Grilled Chicken Shawarma Wraps or Grilled Cajun Chicken Sandwiches I posted earlier this summer or the Baked Greek Feta Meatball Gyros from last year that continues to be one of the most popular recipes on House of Nash Eats.
My main squeeze and I love Italy and have been lucky enough to visit there a couple of times, admiring the art and architecture in Florence & Milan, hiking along the coast through all five villages of Cinque Terra, exploring the lake region and villages around Lake Como, climbing the leaning tower of Pisa, and sightseeing in Rome. And since we were starving law students at the time and panini were inexpensive, quick, and delicious, we ate a lot of them on our travels. Followed up with copious amounts of gelato.
These grilled caprese panini remind me of those adventures.
Equipment Needed to Make a Grilled Caprese Panini
While it’s super helpful to have a panini press like this one to make these grilled caprese panini, you can pretty much the same effect using a grill pan. Just heat your grill pan well, then place the panini in the pan and press down on the top of the sandwich for 20 seconds with another heavy pot or pan. Leave the pot or pan sitting on top of the sandwich while the bottom cooks and gets grill marks, then flip and repeat on the other side.
And if you don’t have a panini press or a grill pan, you can always just prepare this like a normal grilled cheese. Just be careful when flipping the sandwich to grill the second side that you don’t let all the insides of the panini slip out!
If you are looking for more sandwich inspiration, be sure to check out my Sandwich Recipes board on Pinterest which is full of some of the best-looking sandwiches I have found!
- 1 ciabatta roll or 2 slices sourdough bread
- Sliced fresh mozzarella
- 1/2 sliced tomato
- Handful of basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
Slice the ciabatta roll in half. Brush the outside of the bottom roll with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place on a hot panini press or grill pan.
Layer the sliced fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato, and basil leaves, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and season with just a little salt & pepper, to taste.
Brush the top of the ciabatta roll with remaining olive oil and place over sandwich, then lower the panini press lid or place a heavy pan on top of the sandwich in the grill pan over medium heat and press down for 20 seconds, then leave the pan sitting on the sandwich as it cooks. You will need to flip the sandwich if using the grill press once the bottom is toasted in order to grill the other side. Grill until toasted to a golden brown and the mozzarella starts to get a little melted around the sides but is not melted completely through.
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