Grilled cheese, toasted sandwich, croque monsieur or panini: whatever you call it, the humble toastie reigns supreme in the snack stakes.

A quick, easy, cheap and delicious foodstuff of a crisp, grilled shell filled with oozy melted cheese and your favourite fillings, the toasted sandwich is a universally loved hangover lunch, lazy dinner or late-night snack.

A toastie is best made at home, rather than ordered from a cafe, as you are then free to fill your bread-based receptacle with whatever weird and wonderful ingredients that float your boat.

From bolognese to super noodles, via the divisive tuna melt, a DIY toastie allows you to go wild, so we’ve rounded up the best machines and gadgets to help you on your way.

Choose from space-saving sandwich-toasting bags, to microwaveable grill plates or hi-tech deep-fill grilling machines: we’ve tried the best of them.

In testing, we stuck to a well-loved combination of cheese and ham, varying the bread type where necessary to allow for panini or square, white-sliced specials. We were looking for ease of use, speed of cooking, easy storage – and, of course, how delicious the end result was. Here’s our pick of the presses.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Cuisinart GRSM1U sandwich toaster: £43, AO

This high-powered, two-portion sandwich toaster features the classic triangular plates to help lock and seal the edges of your creation, preventing fillings from escaping. It heats quickly and is smartly made with a modern, brushed-steel casing and handles that are cool to touch. Importantly, it makes excellent deep-filled sandwiches: it can also accommodate most bread, from focaccia to homemade loaves, so there is no need to limit yourself to a supermarket's square, white toastie stuff. The plates are removable, meaning it is incredibly easy to clean afterwards – especially as you can put the plates in the dishwasher. This is a great machine.

Buy now

Tefal snack collection multi-function sandwich maker grill: £69.99, Amazon

This is the all-singing, all-dancing sandwich maker, featuring a sizeable grill base with removable plates to help you create triangular toasted sandwiches two at a time, and recipe booklets for the different types of plates you can buy for it. The plates included for standard toasties are not hugely deep-fill accommodating, but they do make perfectly sealed, oozing cheese toasties in minutes.

This machine also comes with waffle plates, and there are ten other varieties you can purchase, from grill press to madeleines and pancakes. All the plates are dishwasher suitable and the grill can be stored vertically – we like the locking clip and cord storage, too, which keep things neat and tidy. The plates can be stored in VHS-style storage boxes supplied.

Buy now

Sage the perfect press SSG600BSS sandwich toaster: £89.95, Amazon

This grill from Sage feels very professional to use. It is well made and the materials are high spec: there’s nothing flimsy about this machine. It features two flat grill plates that easily fit two large toasties inside. Rather than using a locked lever system like many other toasted sandwich makers, here the plates are gently pressed together in what the brand calls a “crush-control counterweight hinge” – this means you can fill away to your heart’s content and the result is a perfectly golden and crisply toasted exterior with a springy, fluffy interior that is still perfectly melted.

At 1500w it’s one of the most powerful machines we tested, but it took the longest to heat up. It’s quite a large bit of kit, so the fact it can be stored vertically for space-saving is handy and, unless you’re going hell for leather with messy fillings, it’s easy to wipe clean with non-stick plates. It’s an investment but one that gourmet sandwich fans will likely enjoy.

Buy now

Lakeland toastabags: £8.99 for two, Amazon

Not every toastie fan is blessed with a spacious kitchen or sensible amounts of cupboard space, and to those people we say: toastabag. These ingenious little non-stick bags fit directly inside your existing toaster to allow you the joy of a melted cheesy sandwich without any of the equipment. Prepare your sandwich as you would normally, pop it in the bag and toast for slightly longer than your usual toast setting (keep checking its progress until you get the hang of it). The edges don’t seal of course, but the end toastie is still very delicious and if any of the filling escapes (ours didn’t) then it’s in the bag anyway. Simply wash up and store; these bags can be reused up to 500 times.

Buy now

Lekue microwave grill: £34.99, Lakeland

This is a new one on us: a mini “grill” that you put in the microwave. They say it’s suitable for all sorts, including meat, fish and veg, but as we were only interested in its sandwich-making credentials, we tested a cheese and ham panini and were pretty impressed. The exterior wasn’t as golden and crunchy as with the traditional machines, but for a multi-purpose product this is a good option. It heats up quickly (in three minutes) then you can add your desired sandwich and place the top plate on top. We found we could not seal it, but this didn’t affect the result. Be careful when handling this as the plates get extremely hot.

Buy now

Breville deep fill VST041 sandwich toaster: £25, AO

This is like a slightly smaller, lighter and less powerful version of the Cuisinart sandwich toaster above. Again, it’s brushed steel and attractive-looking enough to be housed on your kitchen worktop and features two removable deep-fill plates that lock and seal the edges of your sandwich. The machine heats up quickly with a light to alert you when it's ready to cook with. At 850w, your sandwich is bubbling and bronzed after about seven minutes, depending on the size of your toastie; there’s also two temperature options so you can adjust the heat according to your filling requirements. A good value, effective sandwich toaster from the original toastie-making brand.

Buy now

Tower mini panini and grill press: £21.99, Tower

This says it’s mini but it’s not actually vastly different in size to some of the other machines we tried. You can easily get two standard toasties on here, or stick to one large panini. It’s a 700w machine and heats up fairly quickly, then is set to grill when the ready light indicates. Our panini was done from start to finish in eight minutes. You can also use as a grill press, so small cuts of meat or vegetables would grill nicely on here thanks to the non-stick ceramic plates. A quick and compact machine that is versatile and easy to wipe down after use.

Buy now

Russell Hobbs 3 in 1 deep-fill sandwich maker: £44.99, Russell Hobbs

This Russell Hobbs machine looks like a standard run-of-the-mill sandwich maker, but it also doubles up as a waffle maker and a grill. Choose from deep-fill triangular or the lined grill plates depending on your sandwich selection, then your toastie is ready to eat after about four minutes. If you’re doing deep fill – and you may as well – then timings may be a little longer for the ultimate melt. It’s easy to clean thanks to the dishwasher-safe removable plates, which are deep enough to avoid overspills, and while the machine gets very hot, the black parts remain cool with a thermo-insulated handle. It can also be stored vertically, which makes it nice and compact.

Buy now

The verdict: Sandwich toasters

We’ve chosen a classic for our best buy. The Cuisinart machine does everything you want a sandwich toaster to do, it looks nice and it has those all-important removable plates. The Sage toaster, with its non-crush technology, came a close second, but overall we felt that the edges of the toastie really must be sealed to call itself the one. We’ll also be stocking up on the Toastabags, which are brilliant and effective for when you can’t be bothered to get a whole machine out for a toastie.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.