There are some things in life that just can’t be improved. A simple ham sandwich certainly falls into this category. Just think about it: You put Swiss cheese, ham, butter, and mustard between two pieces of bread, and you eat it. Adding any other ingredients would crowd the sublime union of these flavors.
Ah, but as it happens, there is one way to improve a ham sandwich — and that’s by cooking it. A warm ham and melted cheese panini is one of those foods most people could eat three or four times a week each and every week of their lives without growing tired of it. That’s why this sandwich is a Starbucks favorite. But, if you don’t feel like going out, there’s no reason for you to head to the coffee shop and shell out for one, because it’s a treat you can pull together in mere minutes right at home. "This recipe is so simple," says chef and recipe developer Susan Olayinka of The Flexible Fridge.
While this delectable toasted sandwich is a fine meal on its own — especially when you’re eating on-the-go — it can also be the centerpiece of a larger meal. "This panini will pair really well with some fruit or vegetables on the side, and even a packet of [chips] or some tomato soup," says Olayinka.
Gather your ingredients for this copycat Starbucks Ham & Swiss Panini
As noted, making a perfect ham and Swiss panini is all about keeping things simple. Resist the urge to add any extra ingredients here — pair the sandwich with other foods all you want, but don’t dress it up. All you need are a few slices of ham, a couple slices of Swiss cheese, butter, classic yellow mustard, and panini bread.
In fact, even with these basic ingredients, maintain a "less is more" approach as opposed to overdoing it. "The only mistake I would say is to not overload the sandwich," says Olayinka. "If you overload the sandwich, the fillings will spill out and the cheese will go everywhere in your panini maker."
Slice and prep the bread for this copycat Starbucks Ham & Swiss Panini
First things first: Turn the panini maker on, as you want it fully heated when you toss the sandwich into it. Many panini makers — aka panini presses — simply have an on or off setting. But, if yours is heat-adjustable, go for medium or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you haven’t taken the butter out of the fridge to sit and soften, you can do so quickly by running a cup of water in the microwave for 1 minute, then popping the tablespoon of butter into the still-warm microwave and letting it sit there for another minute.
Then, slice your panini bread in half and lay the slices out side-by-side. Mix together the butter and mustard until it is incorporated, then liberally and evenly spread the mustard-butter mixture on both sides of the panini bread.
Load the panini, then let it cook
Place the ham on the panini bread, followed by the cheese, making sure the filling ingredients are tucked inside the sandwich and not hanging out — especially the cheese, as it can lead to one major mess as it melts and then crusts onto your panini press. (Pro tip: If you want to get a bit fancy, layer half the ham, then the cheese, then the rest of the ham.) Close up the sandwich with the other half of the panini bread, then place the assembled panini in the hot panini maker and close it over.
Cook your ham and Swiss panini, then slice and enjoy
Let the panini cook for at least three minutes, then sneak a quick look and see if the cheese has melted and it has those lovely "grill" marks seared in. After three to four minutes at most, take the panini out of the appliance, and place it onto a chopping board. Slice the sandwich in half, and enjoy!
If by some miracle you only eat half of this sandwich or you prepped extra paninis for quick and easy enjoyment later, Olayinka says, "This sandwich can keep well in a sandwich bag, [and] if you want to reheat it, it’s best to put it back into the panini maker, in the toaster oven, or even in the [regular] oven for a couple of minutes."