This turkey apple panini is the perfect sandwich for fall. It has everything I love in one place: crispy bread, gooey cheese, juicy apple slices, and earthy sage. Plus it’s packed with protein, so it will help power you through the rest of the day.
A new twist on a classic sandwich!
Turkey sandwiches are a lunchtime staple, but eating the same sandwich day in and day out can get boring really quickly.
This turkey and apple panini puts a new spin on this classic lunch. Apples add a nice crunch and a pop of fresh, tart flavor while swapping more traditional condiments for apple butter adds just enough sweetness to make this sandwich really special. Fresh sage takes things over the top.
Then we’ll grill the whole thing to crisp up the bread and get the cheese nice and ooey-gooey.
Whether you eat it right away while it’s still piping hot or pack it away for lunch at the office, you won’t believe how delicious this sandwich tastes until you try it!
Turkey Panini Ingredients
It only takes a few unexpected ingredients to jazz up this turkey panini. To make it, you’ll need:
- Apple Butter. Tart and sweet, apple butter is a great addition to sandwiches and I especially love the way it pairs with turkey and cheese. A thin smear of each piece of bread will give you lots of rich flavor.
- Turkey. I used thinly sliced deli turkey for these paninis. I usually go with a roasted variety for the best texture. If you aren’t a fan of deli meat, you can also use leftover roast turkey or chicken breast. Trader Joe’s sells delicious cared turkey breast that’s great on this sandwich. Look for it at the end of the produce section, near the hummus!
- Sage Leaves. Fresh sage is one of my favorite spices to use especially during the fall season. It’s a great way to add earthiness and depth of flavor without overpowering the rest of your sandwich ingredients. You can snip them into small pieces with kitchen scissors or just leave them whole. Fresh sage is fairly easy to find at the grocery store throughout the fall and winter but, if you can’t find it, you can use a sprinkle of dried sage instead.
- Apples. As noted above, apples add a really great crunch to this turkey panini. I like to use Honeycrisp or gala apples because they are nice and crisp. If you can find them, Pink Lady apples would also be a great choice for this sandwich. Any apple you enjoy eating will work well here, so go ahead and pick your favorite variety.
- White Cheddar Cheese. The creamy, sharp flavor of white cheddar cheese really pulls this whole sandwich together.
The best bread for a panini
Here in the US, we typically use the word panini to refer to a pressed and grilled sandwich, but in Italy “panini” simply means “sandwiches” and can be found with all kinds of filling and on all types of bread.
When it comes to the best bread to use, there’s really no right or wrong answer!
That said, I recommend a hearty bread with a neutral flavor that will stand up to the sandwich’s fillings without overpowering them.
My personal favorite bread to use is sourdough, but hearty Italian bread also works really nicely.
If you prefer, you could also use a 9-grain bread or even a gluten-free variety for this turkey panini. You really can’t go wrong.
How to make a panini without a panini press.
The easiest way to make a panini is with an electric panini press, Foreman grill, or even a waffle iron. These devices make it easy to press the sandwich while it cooks. Plus it cooks both sides of the sandwich at the same time, so it’s a little quicker.
If you don’t have one, or just don’t feel like pulling it out, you can also make a panini in a pan.
It’s really not much different than making grilled cheese, except that you’ll want to use something to weigh the sandwich down as it cooks. This helps ensure the cheese melts and the fillings are heated through properly.
You can buy a cast iron sandwich press that’s designed for this purpose, or you can use a large, heavy item like the bottom of a cast-iron pan or even a brick wrapped in aluminum foil.
How to keep grilled sandwiches from getting soggy
If you want to make this turkey panini ahead of time and pack it in your lunchbox, there are a few things you can do to prevent the bread from getting soggy.
First, when building the sandwich place the cheese directly on the bread before adding the apple butter. The cheese will melt and form a barrier that helps protect the bread from absorbing moisture from the other fillings.
Once your panini is done cooking, you’ll also want to let it cool completely on a wire cooling rack. This allows air to circulate around the entire sandwich as it cools. If you wrap it while it’s still hot or let it cool on a cutting board, condensation from the steam will get trapped and soak into the bread.
Once the bread is completely cool, wrap it in an absorbent wrapper like parchment or a paper towel, then in foil or plastic wrap.
If you follow these steps, your panini should remain just as crispy as when you first made it!
These paninis are great served at room temperature, but if you have access to a toaster oven at the office you can also reheat it at 350F for 8-10 minutes.
Serve this turkey apple panini with apple slices, baby carrots, or potato chips for lunch or round it out with one of your favorite soup recipes, like this tortellini vegetable soup, for a heartier meal.
Turkey Apple Panini
- ½ pound sliced deli turkey
- 4 oz sharp white cheddar cheese thinly sliced
- 1 apple thinly sliced
- ¼ cup apple butter
- 8 leaves fresh sage
- 2 Tablespoons butter softened
- 4 slices hearty bread
- Heat a grill pan over medium high heat.
- Spread butter evenly on one side of each slice of bread
- Place buttered side of bread down, spread apple butter evenly over the other side of each slice of bread.
- Layer on the cheese, then the apples, turkey, and sage.
- Carefully place the pieces of bread together to make 2 sandwiches. The buttered sides of the bread should be on the outside.
- Place the sandwiches on the hot pan and weigh down with a panini press or other heavy object. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, until the bread is crispy and browned and the cheese is melted.