Southwestern Chicken Panini

Sometimes the original dinner plan just doesn't happen.

Sometimes I'm trying a new recipe and it turns out to be a total bomb. I usually try my hardest to salvage it into something edible, but sometimes you have to listen to the words of the immortal Kenny Rogers and know when to fold'em.

Sometimes I just don't prepare well enough. Key ingredients are still frozen or sitting at the grocery store waiting for me to buy them.

Sometimes I'm just tired.

Sometimes I question why I would have ever planned such an elaborate dinner for a worknight anyway.

Whatever the reason, sometimes you need a back up dinner plan. Or an easy meal for when you are tired. Or an easy meal so you won't be tired. Or a Something-Other-Than-Pasta dinner plan.

This Southwestern chicken panini is the latest to join the Dinners-To-Make-When-Super-Hungry, Meals-For-When-The-Original-Plan-Fails and 30-Minute-Or-Less sections of my recipe binder. It uses ingredients that I often have on hand, and is even a good way to use up leftover Italian bread that may or may not have been bought in a moment of weakness at the grocery store because it was still warm and smelled a little like heaven. It combines cooked chicken with a quick from-scratch enchilada sauce and melted cheese in a warm toasty sandwich. It's like a chicken enchilada met a grilled cheese sandwich and decided to become a quick dinner. If you don't have a panini pan, you could always toast this like a grilled cheese sandwich or even apply pressure with a spatula to get some of that panini flavor fusion going on. As the recipe is written it has a little bit of a kick, but if you like your sandwiches more spicy you can include more chipotle chilis (or chipotle chili powder) or use Pepperjack cheese instead of Moneterey Jack.

Feel free to eat it every night this week. That's the plan at our house.

Southwestern Chicken Panini


  • 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breasts
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (can substitute 1 canned chipotle chile, minced, or 1 tsp regular chili powder)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 12 1/2 inch slices Italian bread
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Colby or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic on low until soft, about 3 minutes. Add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, water and tomato sauce, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with more salt and stir in lime juice.
  2. Preheat panini press or cast iron skillet. Brush one side of 6 bread slices with olive oil. Turn over; place about 1/2 cup filling on each. Top with 1/4 cup cheese, 2 tsp chopped cilantro and bread slices; brush top slice of bread with oil.
  3. Place sandwich(es) in panini press and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until bread is golden and cheese is melted. If using a skillet, toast both sides until golden. Serve.
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 10 min Ready in: 25 min Yield: 6 Servings

Recipe Source:  heatovento350

26 Click For Comments:

You know I love a quick go-to meal! Unfortunately, I don't always have all these ingredients on hand, but I'll be stocking up :) Sounds delicious!

Mmm, I think putting anything in a panini makes it ten times more delicious, but this combination sounds especially good!  Can't wait to try this:)

These look yummy! I love all the spices you added to it. :)

This looks delicious! Looks like a great go-to meal that doesn't even seem last minute

You had me at panini!  I'm looking forward to making more sandwiches with my press now that the weather is turning cooler.  Can't wait to try this!

Now that's what I call a panini! Looks fantastic.

Oh yum Nicole love this idea!  Your backup dinner plan puts mine to shame - here's it's usually macaroni and cheese (from a box) or a burger on the grill.

I love paninis. This recipe looks fantastic. Grat pictures.

Looks great! I have been on a panini kick lately!

Oooh this looks Amazing! My hubby and I just love paninis! Cannot wait to try this! : )

Yum yum yum yum!!! I love this for a quick dinner and all of your ingredients are everyday kitchen basics which I love (even if you had bread in the freezer it would work well). Cant wait to try it

What a yummy and cheezy panini. I love the ingredients used...keeping the recipe!

This looks so good, and I know it will taste just as great... so nice to just throw some leftover ingredients and get something this wonderful.

This is mouth-watering! I love anything chipotle. And pepper jack!

Yum. I love anything involving chipotle. Or, paninis for that matter too. Will be trying this soon!

YUM!  reminds me of that panera bread sandwich I love!  I can't remember what they call it.  I have a serious addiction to anything chipotle! 

I think I make my backup plans so elaborate so my husband doesn't start hating the blog. :) Of course, mac and cheese from a box would make him happier than just about anything I can cook. 

I know, I think paninis are a cool weather food, too. Maybe it's because they're warm and cheesy.

You have no idea how often I just put off cooking for so long that I just "have" to order sushi.  usually I still end up cooking, but it's after I've eaten dinner and mainly just so that I'll have something to eat the next day.  But these sandwiches look like a fabulous sushi replacement!  Love.

WHOA this looks great! I love how cheesy and melty and toasty it looks. I'm making this!

I'm behind on reading blogs! This looks so good. The picture is FABULOUS. I know Michael and I would LOVE this. 

You know that moment when you realize dinner is only about 30 minutes away and you don't have anything prepared? Yup. Those are the moments I am so thankful that you are in my Google reader. This recipe will be on my table tonight. Thanks for saving dinner. 

I hope you like it! I love having you in my reader for all your inspirational posts. Looks like a win-win situation to me. :)

I just stumbled across this looking for a chicken panini and I'm makint it tonight! Hopefully I have all the stuff at home.

Oooooh! Yummy! I can see why this would be a favorite go-to meal! It looks delicious! 

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