Chicken Bacon Cheddar Ranch Paninis

This is a perfected version of the cafe classic. Peppered bacon cooked chewy, a chicken breast pounded, brined, and pan fried to juicy perfection, topped with sharp cheddar, salt and peppered heirloom tomatoes, and thin sliced onion, toasted between two slices of soft rye. You’ll be hard pressed to find a way to improve, but if you do, please let me know.

Use pounded brined chicken and homemade Ranch.

Chicken Bacon Cheddar Ranch Panini

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • 1 cast iron skillet
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 kitchen knife
  • 1 panini press


  • 4 slices peppered bacon I use Burger's Smokehouse peppered bacon.
  • 1 chicken breast Use the "pounded brined chicken" recipe.
  • 4 tomato slices
  • 4-8 thin slices of onion
  • 1-2 slices of sharp cheddar cheese Swiss, provolone, pepper jack, and muenster are acceptable alternatives, but sharp cheddar rules the day.
  • 2 spreads ranch One per slice of bread.
  • 2 slices soft rye


  • I split 1 lb of bacon in half so that I have 32 slices, it's easier to work in the pan and use on sandwiches that way.
  • Gently pan fry the bacon on medium/med-low. You want it red-brown, shiny, and chewy, not dark brown, dried out, and crispy.
  • Remove 2/3 to 3/4 of the bacon grease, but leave some in the pan.
  • Raise the temp to 6-8 of 10, where the grease starts to smoke a bit.
  • Remove a pounded, brined chicken breast from the brine. Use paper towels to pat it dry, you don't want it dripping anywhere.
  • Fry the breast in the bacon grease with a lid on the pan for 2-3 minutes, then flip, and fry another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the breast from the pan and put it on a paper towel to rest and drain.
  • Some people prefer to slice the chicken into strips here so that the cheese runs between the strips when you press it on the panini. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
  • Heat the panini grill to medium-high.
  • Slice the tomato and onion, if not already sliced.
  • Spread ranch on the bread slices.
  • Layer the sandwich from bottom up with 4 (half) slices of bacon, onion, chicken, cheese, tomatoes. This order, in my experience, maximizes juiciness while minimizing runoff and mess.
  • Stop here, salt & pepper your tomatoes.
  • Add the final 4 (half) slices of bacon on top of the tomatoes, then add the top piece of bread that's been spread with ranch.
  • Use a steel spatula to place the sandwich on the hot panini grill.
  • Carefully set the lid down and press the grill on the sandwich. Watch to be sure the top layers don't slide around and the whole thing stays together.
  • Grill for 3-5 mins until the bread gets toasted and the cheese is melting out the sides.
  • Remove from the grill, slice in half, and serve. It may need to rest a few minutes to cool down and consolidate before eating so that it doesn't burn your mouth or fall apart.


If you pounded the chicken correctly, this sandwich will be pretty much the same height all the way through, so it will stay together pretty well. If it’s lumpy, fix that by pounding the chicken more consistently, or by slicing the tomatoes and onions thinner so they can layer better.