This quick and easy Turkey Pesto Panini recipe combines layers of fresh pesto, turkey deli meat, cream cheese, provolone cheese and fresh tomato slices. It's pressed between two slices of buttery sourdough bread, and grilled until golden brown.
My all-time favorite sauce, spread, topping, dip... whatever you want to call it, is BASIL PESTO! This is increasingly obvious as you read through my blog, because you'll find that I use fresh pesto a lot!
Adding pesto sauce to a turkey panini was a no brainer for me. A turkey pesto sandwich is something that I would commonly order from a gourmet sandwich shop. When you're a busy mom to little ones though, you don't get to take yourself out to lunch that often. That means that treating myself to a gourmet sandwich at home is an absolute must!
You'll love this recipe for a variety of reasons. My top reasons for loving this sandwich recipe include the fact that it can be made in less than 20 minutes, it's packed with flavor and it's very filling!
Here are the ingredients that you will need to make this pesto turkey panini recipe. A detailed ingredients list and ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Sourdough bread - I used two extra large slices of bread for this sandwich recipe. You can use smaller slices if you'd like. Sourdough bread has a hint of tanginess, or a slightly sour taste from the sourdough starter. If sourdough bread isn't for you, then substitute in your favorite bread instead! I just recommend a good, hearty, homemade style bread so that it holds up well to all of the toppings.
- Turkey - You will need to use about 4 slices of turkey for this recipe. You can purchase turkey breast deli meat from the deli counter at pretty much any grocery store. You should purchase thin-sliced turkey breast for this panini.
- Pesto - I am a huge fan of Delallo Basil Pesto Spread. It is usually sold in the pasta and sauce aisle of the grocery store. It's shelf stable until it's opened, which I love. I always have a few jars stocked up in my pantry.
- Provolone cheese - Any type of thin-sliced provolone cheese will work for this panini recipe.
- Tomato - Sliced tomato adds some fresh vegetables to this panini. You'll want a tomato that is ripe but still slightly firm. A soft tomato will be too juicy and will make the sandwich messy to eat.
- Cream cheese - The cream cheese is used as a base for the pesto and the sundried tomatoes. Choose either a soft cream cheese spread or you can soften your block of cream cheese in the microwave.
- Sundried tomatoes - Sun dried tomatoes have an intense, concentrated flavor. A little bit goes a long way with sundried tomatoes!
- Butter & olive oil - The butter is spread on the outer side of each slice of bread. Olive oil is an optional ingredient and is used to grease the grill pan (if necessary).
- A grill pan, panini press, George Foreman Grill or a heavy skillet, like a cast iron skillet, is needed to grill the turkey pesto panini.
- Cutting board & chopping knife
- Small mixing bowl
- Measuring spoons
Making a turkey pesto panini is very simple! It's just like making any other recipe for grilled, hot sandwiches. If you're making this for your whole family, then just double or triple the recipe.
Step 1: The first thing you will want to do is make the cream cheese spread. Simply combine the tablespoon pesto, tablespoon of sundried tomatoes and the cream cheese in a small mixing bowl. Mix together until fully combined.
Step 2: Now you will start layering on your sandwich ingredients. Open up your bread slices and spread the cream cheese mixture onto the inside of both slices of the bread. After that, layer on your provolone cheese slices, sliced turkey and sliced tomato.
Step 3: Close the sandwich, spread butter on the outside of each slice of bread, and place the sandwich onto a hot, oiled grill pan. Grill the panini until the outsides are golden brown and the provolone cheese is melted. Grill on low to medium heat for about 4 minutes per side.
You don't want to increase your heat to medium-high heat. This will cause the outside of your panini to cook too quickly. The outside of the turkey pesto panini will most likely burn and the inside of the sandwich won't have time to heat through.
Hint: I prefer to use a heavy cast iron skillet. You can use any type of grill pan though or a panini press! While the panini is grilling, you can use a spatula to lightly press the panini down. Just don't press too hard, you don't want your sandwich fillings to fall out the sides.
I think this is a delicious sandwich recipe, exactly how I have written it! You can however make some substitutions if you'd like.
- Bread - Instead of using sourdough bread you could use whole grain bread, Italian bread, ciabatta rolls, focaccia or any kind of crusty, homemade bread.
- Turkey - The best swap for the turkey deli meat would be thin-sliced chicken breast deli meat.
- Cheese - Instead of provolone cheese you could use mozzarella cheese, Monterey jack cheese or gouda.
If you want to get a little creative with this recipe then you could add in roasted red peppers, red onion slices, a few fresh basil leaves or fresh spinach.
You could also make a homemade pesto using your food processor! The basic ingredients for homemade pesto include fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil.
Get creative with your homemade pesto and make a sage pesto or a kale pesto!
Make ahead instructions
I don't suggest fully making paninis ahead of time. You'll want to save the grilling portion of the recipe until you're ready to eat. You can get a few steps done in advance though!
You can make your cream cheese spread in advance and keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
You can also assemble your entire sandwich up to a day in advance. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. Take it out when you're ready to eat and grill it up!
- Typically paninis are gently flattened or pressed as they are cooking. You can achieve this without the use of a panini press, since most of don't have panini presses at home! You can flatten your panini sandwich by pressing on it with the back of a spatula while it's cooking. You could also place a heavy skillet on top of your sandwich while it's cooking.
- Don't skip the butter on the outside of the pieces of bread. Even though you'll be grilling in a lightly oiled pan, the butter adds some flavor and helps with that golden brown crisp on the outside.
- Serve your panini with potato chips, pasta salad, soup, greens, fresh veggies or Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries.
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