Turkey Pesto Paninis

By Polly Conner
November 23, 2020

These Turkey Pesto Paninis have been a fan-favorite for YEARS. They come together quickly, make a great lunch, dinner, or last-minute weeknight meal. You can even make them in bulk and freeze them! The pesto brings a great taste and the sun-dried tomatoes add a punch of flavor that puts them over the top.

Freezer Friendly turkey pesto paninis stacked

Considering the simplicity of this recipe, I cannot believe how fabulous they are. They are one of the few recipes from this site that we chose to go into our cookbook, From Freezer to Table. They have proven to be a favorite among website visitors AND cookbook users.

What Makes a Great Turkey Pesto Panini

Let’s talk about the ingredients, shall we?

TURKEY – I prefer to use deli sliced turkey. It’s fresher, healthier (less preservatives), and just tastes better. Shredded turkey would be a delicious alternative too! This can be a great recipe to use up some from a smoked or fried turkey from Thanksgiving! Another great sub for this panini is shredded chicken. Totally yum!

PESTO – The fresher the better! My first choice would be to use our homemade Pesto recipe. And when I say “first choice”, I mean this choice is FAR ahead of my other choices. My second choice would be refrigerated pesto. I found that I like this kind a bit more than the jarred kind.

SUN-DRIED TOMATOES – I’ve used both dry-packed and the jarred kind in these paninis and both will work. I do prefer the jarred kind a bit more than the dried ones but it really comes down to what you prefer.

BREAD – This can be played with a bit too. I do love a good ciabatta roll–especially a whole grain one, if you can find it–for this type of panini, but I’ve also been known to use sour dough bread.

Hands assembling turkey pesto paninis

Can You Freeze Paninis?

Many don’t think of a panini as a freezer meal. The great news is, they work great to make ahead and freeze! I especially love them because like many of our Freezer Meals for 1-2 People, they can be individually wrapped before freezing. That way you can pull one out at a time!

TO FREEZE: Wrap the (uncooked) sandwiches individually in foil, place in a large freezer bag, seal, and freeze.

TO PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Unwrap and thaw using the microwave defrost setting or in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Cook as directed.

Hands prepping turkey pesto paninis for the freezer

Do I Need a Panini Press to Make these?

Nope! I don’t even own one. I simply use a cast iron skillet to sit on top of them while they are cooking to give that panini-squished-sandwich feel.

What Goes Well with Turkey Pesto Paninis?

Here are some side dish ideas that would go well with this sandwich.

Strawberry Avocado Salad

Tomato Bisque

Chopped Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

Oven Roasted Broccoli


Turkey Pesto Paninis

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 paninis 1x
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian


Did you know that Paninis can make a great freezer meal?! Considering the simplicity of this recipe, I cannot believe how great these freezer friendly Turkey Pesto Paninis are. To make them a freezer meal, simply assemble them and wrap them up before cooking. You can of course eat them fresh too. So simple and so delicious!


  • 6 ciabatta rolls (or 12 slices of sourdough bread)
  • 6 slices Provolone cheese (or 12 slices, if you want to add 2 per panini)
  • ½ cup Pesto
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 pound all-natural deli turkey slices
  • 23 tablespoons softened butter


Make It Now

  1. Build the Paninis: Butter the outside of both pieces of bread. Spread pesto on the inside of both pieces. To the bottom bun, add 1 slice of Provolone cheese, about 2-3 slices of turkey, and 2 teaspoons of chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Place other bun on top. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Cook the Paninis: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the sandwich(es) in the hot pan and press down with a spatula or another heavy-bottomed pan. Once the bread gets toasted on the first side and the cheese starts to melt, flip to the other side. Press the sandwich down again. Remove the sandwich from the pan once it’s golden brown on the second side, after a minute or two.

Freeze For Later:

Follow Step 1. Wrap each sandwich in foil and place in a large freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen:

Thaw. Follow Step 2 to cook the paninis.


You can use a panini press instead of a skillet, if you have one.

A fun idea is to try cooking these in a waffle iron!

Leave a Comment

Your comments make our day. Thank you! If you made the recipe, please choose a star rating, too.

Leave a Reply

Recipe rating

Your email address will not be published.

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 replies