We love hot panini of any kind, but this homemade version of our favorite Panera Bread panini is extra-special. Smoky shredded chicken, melty mozzarella, and juicy tomatoes are pressed between focaccia to create a sandwich that’s crispy-crunchy on the outside, and soft and warm in the middle. Lunchtime heaven.

Do you need a panini press to make panini? Absolutely not. Placing a heavy pan on top of the sandwich while it’s toasting in another pan will do the trick. We prefer a cast-iron skillet since it’s heavy enough to provide the perfect even pressure to the sandwich without completely flattening it. You won’t have those parallel lines, but you will have an evenly pressed sandwich. And let’s be honest, when you’re biting into that beautiful crunchy focaccia, do you really care what it looks like?

Lunch time can be busy, even if you’re working from home, so do yourself a favor and make the chipotle mayo ahead of time: It’ll keep in the fridge for up to 7 days. You can even shorten your prep time by buying a rotisserie chicken on the weekend, shredding the meat, and storing it in a container in your refrigerator. That way, you’ll be only minutes away from panini bliss.

Made this? Let us know how it went in the comments below.

Yields: 2

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 25 mins


  • 1/2 c.


  • 1

    chipotle chile in adobo, finely chopped, plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce

  • 1/4 tsp.

    kosher salt, plus more

  • 1/8 tsp.

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more

  • 1 1/2 c.

    shredded rotisserie chicken breast

  • 2

    (4 "x4") slices focaccia, halved horizontally

  • 1/4 c.

    fresh basil leaves

  • 4 oz.

    mozzarella, room temperature, sliced 1/4" thick

  • 1

    vine-ripened tomato, sliced 1/4" thick

  • 1/2

    red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 tsp.

    extra-virgin olive oil


  1. In a small bowl, stir mayonnaise, chile, adobo sauce, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
  2. Place chicken in a medium heatproof bowl. Cover and microwave in 15-second increments, stirring between each, until warmed through, about 1 minute total.
  3. Lay focaccia bottoms on a clean surface. Spread about 2 tablespoons chipotle mayo over each slice; top with basil. Arrange 3/4 cup chicken over each slice; season with pepper. Top each with 2 slices mozzarella and 2 slices tomato; generously season with salt and pepper. Top each with 2 slices onion. Spread about 2 tablespoons chipotle mayo onto cut sides of each focaccia top and close sandwiches.
  4. Heat a panini press or a large heavy pan over medium heat. Brush with oil. Working in batches if necessary, add sandwiches to panini press or pan; close press or top sandwich with another heavy pan.
  5. Cook sandwiches until focaccia is crisp and golden brown on both sides and mozzarella is melted, 3 to 4 minutes. If toasting in a pan, cook until golden to brown and toasty on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, then remove top pan, flip sandwiches, and continue to cook until golden brown on top and mozzarella is melted, 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve hot.

2023-01-12T18:16:55Z dg43tfdfdgfd