Pesto Panini (With or Without Chicken)

Pesto Panini  (With or Without Chicken)


This recipe is inspired by the chicken panini that’s served in my workplace’s cafeteria. Right after my very first bite of this super-flavorful sandwich, I had to take a peek between the slices of bread to try and deconstruct it. The pesto obviously takes most of the credit, but the thick slices of fresh mozarella are a big part of it too.


This is my go-to recipe for packed lunches, picnics and as we recently discovered – hungry tummies on a grueling road trip!! The sandwich holds really well, and packs in enough goodies for a satisfying meal. And if you’re like me, you already have sandwich rolls, pesto and cheese frozen and ready to use at short notice. Oh yeah.. they all can be frozen after you buy them fresh and taste about the same. How perfectly convenient 😀


Vegetarian? No problem.. just skip the chicken. Still great and hearty.


Make it your next meal and I promise – you’ll be hooked forever!


Pesto Panini  (With or Without Chicken)

Makes: 4 paninis | Total Time: 20 minutes


  1. 4 Cibatta bread rolls, sliced in halves or 8 slices thick/crusty sandwich bread
  2. 1/2 cup pesto (2 Tbsp per panini)
  3. 2 tomatoes, sliced into circles
  4. 8 slices fresh pre-sliced mozzarella
  5. 8 slices of cooked deli chicken* (optional, can also be substituted with grilled chicken pieces using a simple salt+pepper+lemon marinade)
  6. cooking spray/ olive oil
  7. few slices of dill pickle halves, as a side



  1. Pre-heat the panini press, set to grill at med-high. Alternatively, use a grill pan or griddle and use a heavy pan on top to press down the sandwich while it’s cooking.
  2. Spray or brush some oil on the inside of the bread rolls/slices.
  3. Spread about a tbsp of prepared pesto onto each of the bread slices.
  4. Place 2-3 sliced tomato rounds on the bottom half of the sandwich.
  5. Place 2 slices of fresh sliced mozzarella on top of the tomatoes.
  6. If adding meat, place 2 slices of deli chicken over the tomatoes.
  7. Top the sandwich with the other half of the bread.
  8. Repeat to prepare the other 3 sandwiches the same way.
  9. Brush or spray oil onto both the top and bottom grill plates of the panini press.
  10. Place up to 2 sandwiches side-by-side on the grill pan and press down firmly.
  11. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side (turning it around to evenly press down the sandwich – not flipping – if using the panini press) or until the cheese begins to melt.
  12. Remove onto a plate and cut each sandwich into halves, serve with pickles on the side!

The panini can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days and re-heated in the microwave before serving.



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