Easy Turkey Paninis with Bacon, Arugula, and Caramelized Onions

Easy Turkey Panini Here’s something outlandish: Prior to today, there were exactly zero panini recipes on this blog.

This is absurd for several reasons (hyperbole alert):
1. Paninis are possibly the world’s greatest food.
2. Paninis are not only versatile, but could be the world’s fastest meal…kind of like a super-speedy chameleon.
And finally…

Easy Turkey Panini

3. We eat paninis like every three days at our house.

A couple years ago, I would make grilled cheese for a fast dinner. And then one night, I thought…why not add some deli meat to make this a little more filling? And then came onions, peppers, spinach, pesto sauces, and of course, bacon.

Easy Turkey Panini

This turkey panini has one of our very favorite combinations. You start with a nice sturdy bread, butter it up right, then top it with a sharp cheddar. I like to crumble my bacon and spread it evenly over the cheese because who likes to wrestle with a strip of bacon in a sandwich? (I mean, everyone knows you inevitably end up with an entire bacon strip in your mouth [wonderful in and of itself] but then have a baconless sandwich [not wonderful].

Easy Turkey Panini

We like to use pepper-crusted deli turkey and balance it with some caramelized onions, but a few raw onions slices do just fine if pressed for time. We then add just a leetle more cheese on top to help glue the sandwich together. We’ve made these in frying pans. And on electric griddles. But my sister-in-law just gave me this panini press, and I wouldn’t be surprised if 2013 ends up being The Year of the Panini.

Easy Turkey Panini

Once done, we throw in something green, usually arugula, sometimes spinach, and voila! Your panini is ready. It is a delicious balance of textures and flavors. And it longs to be eaten with a delicious soup, like this one that we’re currently obsessed with because its souper easy (yep, I went there).  Easy Turkey Panini

The sandwich is for every season…throw in fresh veggies in the summer, frozen or cold-storage in the winter…these would be wonderful with some fresh tomatoes in August, but sun-dried would be fantastic the other eleven months of the year. You get the idea – make this panini your way, but as always, I absolutely insist you don’t skimp on the cheese or the bacon. Enjoy!

Easy Turkey Paninis with Bacon, Arugula, & Caramelized Onions

Easy Turkey Paninis with Bacon, Arugula, & Caramelized Onions

(recipe by me!)

(yields 2 sandwiches)

These easy turkey paninis are a snap to make and full of flavor. Sharp cheddar with salty bacon, peppery arugula and sweet caramelized onions, all on a toasty piece of bread make for a quick and delicious meal.


4 slices sturdy white bread (like sourdough, French, or peasant), sliced

butter (about 2 1/2 tbsp.)

app. 4 oz. sharp cheddar, sliced (enough to cover one slice per sandwich)

4 slices bacon, cooked, chopped

1 onion, caramelized*

just under a 1/2 lb. of sliced deli turkey (pepper-crusted is best!)

4 small handfuls arugula (or spinach)

app. 2 tbsp. ranch dressing, plus more for dipping


(*1 onion makes a little too much, but it freezes well and can be used in soup, pasta, etc.). Here's a great tutorial on caramelizing onions. But, if you're short on time, feel free to use a few slices of fresh onion.


Butter one side of each slice of bread. The buttered sides will be the outside of the sandwich.

Spread ranch on the inside of one slice of bread per sandwich.

Place enough cheddar slices on the bottom piece of bread to cover the surface. (Set aside 1-2 slices per sandwich).

Evenly sprinkle the bacon crumbles over the cheese.

Then place a generous layer of the caramelized onions over the bacon.

Top the onions with a couple slices of turkey.

Now, take the couple cheese slices you had set aside and tear them into little bits. Sprinkle the bits over the top of the turkey (this will help the top piece of bread "stick" to the sandwich."

To Grill:

Option 1: Heat a frying pan over med-low heat. Cook each side of the sandwich until golden brown (flipping about halfway through).

Option 2: Heat an electric griddle to 300*. Cook each side of the sandwich until golden brown (about 3 mins. per side), flipping halfway through.

Option 3: Place sandwich in a panini press and grill for about 3 mins.

(updated: Option 4: grill it until golden brown on your George Foreman grill.)


Remove panini from cooking device of choice. Gently peel back top slice of bread and put two small handfuls of arugula on each sandwich. Cut each sandwich in half.

Serve immediately, with extra ranch for dipping!

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11 thoughts on “Easy Turkey Paninis with Bacon, Arugula, and Caramelized Onions

  1. Finally, someone else in the world understands why crumbled bacon is better than the whole strip stuffed in a sandwich. We have panini a few times a month here too, although they lovingly go by the name “grown-up grilled cheese” (I guess I need every reminder I can get to be more ladylike!!)

  2. I make a mean panini very similar to this one and I swear, both my husband and I could eat them every day! I use sour dough, smoked provolone on one slice, swiss on the other slice, honey smoked turkey, fresh baby spinach, carmelized onions, turkey bacon (it has to be super crispy, so need to worry about pulling a whole slice out), turkey pepperoni, and I slather one slice of bread with pesto and voila- the best panini you’ve ever had! :) I am addicted to these things. I really could eat one every day. In fact, I think we will have them for dinner tonight. :)

    • Wow! That sounds great! I love the smoke provolone & addition of turkey pepperoni – sounds like some great flavors in there!! thanks for sharing!

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