The original Chipotle Chicken Panini Sandwich, like the one Panera Bread, used to grill before it got discontinued. Pull out your panini press and layer your bread with pulled chicken, smoky bacon, tomatoes, cheese, and the best homemade chipotle sauce any sandwich recipe should have when made with bacon! 

sliced chicken panini sandwich on a plate

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Own a panini grill and need more panini ideas? Make our Frontega Chicken Panini Sandwich Copycat with fresh basil and mozzarella! Or try our other hot sandwiches that are Restaurant worthy like this, Popeyes Chicken Sandwich (Copycat Recipe), and Reuben Sandwich Recipe (Little Georges Copycat). Sandwiches are great with a side of salad for lunch or dinner!

Chicken Panini Recipes

America runs on panini sandwiches! It’s no wonder a panini restaurant or cafe like Panera Bread is located near me and across the nation! What’s the panini America is hyped about? Wait until you try this chicken panini-you’ll want to own a panini maker and stock up on bread because panini recipes like these make their way onto a menu (and they’re super easy to make!)

What is a Panini?

The Italian meaning for panini (Panino) is a bread roll ideally used to make a grilled sandwich that is stuffed “Panino Imbottito.” Typically Italian bread like Focaccia or ciabatta is used when grilling or toasting a panini. However, any bread suitable for a grilled sandwich like sourdough bread can be used.

Once you decide which bread suits your sandwich cravings best, you can pile up your toppings with leftover rotisserie chicken, deli meat, turkey breast (low in calories), and mixed greens or tomatoes! You can’t really go wrong with panini food.

sliced chicken panini sandwich on a plate

(Panera Bread) Chipotle Chicken Sandwich:

Back in 2015, the original chipotle chicken panini was made with chicken, tomatoes, bacon, white bread, cheddar cheese, and chipotle sauce. Today, Panera has replaced the menu item with a Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt. 

However, this sandwich was loved by too many fans that petitions were being signed by loyal customers and one fan even launched a website dedicated to the chipotle chicken sandwich in order to bring it back! So, if you’re wondering what’s all this press talk about, I can tell you it’s a sandwich worth buying a panini press for!

To better describe how a true chipotle chicken sandwich tastes, imagine tart sourdough bread slices smeared with a smokey-mustard chipotle sauce, then layered with hickory-smoked bacon slices, tender chicken breast pieces, freshly sliced tomatoes, and a cheddar cheese blend that oozes out once toasted–think divine!

Smokey Chipotle Sauce

The spread for this panini makes any sandwich with bacon taste amazing, I’ve tried buying the ready sauces, but none of them matched up to the smokey sauce that Panera once spread on their signature sandwich.

Panera Bread’s chipotle sauce was once a deep orangey-red shade and had whole grain mustard seeds in their spread. It was smokey, tangy, and so delicious. After buying different sauces I decided to play around with the different combinations until I was convinced it was like the real thing.

The Best Panini Press

I bought my Farberware Panini Press from Walmart. When looking to buy a panini grill for sandwiches, make sure it includes bottom and top plates to press the sandwich down.

Some models come with reversible plates which give you more for the buck since you can cook pancakes on the flat side and grill food like kabobs on the grilled side. Look for grills that reach a high heat temperature of 425°F or higher to get nice grill marks.  


Best Bread For A Panini?

The best sandwich bread for filling a panini is ciabatta bread, French baguette, focaccia bread, sliced sourdough bread, or thick texas toast bread (thickly sliced Italian bread will work too.) Keep in mind the panini maker will press the bread down when toasting so a thick bread roll is ideal. Do try to avoid very thin slices of bread.

Ingredients for Chipotle Chicken Panini:

ingredients for chipotle chicken panini from Panera Bread

  • Chicken- as a shortcut use pre-cooked chicken or pulled chicken meat from a rotisserie chicken. I seasoned and poached my meat in a pressure cooker to make this Shredded Chicken.
  • Bacon- pre-cooked bacon slices will be a huge time saver!
  • Panini Bread- sourdough bread slices work best for this smokey chicken sandwich.  Use white Italian bread slices instead.
  • Tomato- sliced beefsteak or Roma tomatoes.
  • Cheese- cheddar cheese or an orange Monterey Jack and Colby blend work best!
  • Butter- is used on the outside of the bread slices to create nice grill marks. Use mayo instead if short on time.
  • Chipotle Sauce- is made from a blend of mustards, paprika, and chipotle mayonnaise.


How To Make Chipotle Chicken Panini:

  1. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste. Poach the chicken in a saucepan half-filled with water and simmer over medium heat for 20 min. Remove, and slice (can also make my Instant Pot Shredded Chicken or use ready and cooked chicken from the grocery store.)
  2. Combine the chipotle sauce ingredients and set the mixture aside.

chipotle sauce spread 3. Assemble the panini sandwiches by spreading, 1 teaspoon of the chipotle sauce over each slice of bread. Top with the bacon, chicken breast pieces, sliced tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. how to make Chipotle Chicken Panini Sandwich like Panera Bread 4. Spread 1/2 a tbsp of softened butter over the outside of each piece of bread and cook in the panini press over the highest setting until cheese melts. panini press 5. Remove the sandwich and slice it in half. Serve on an oval plate with chips or an apple.

What To Serve A Chicken Panini With?

Panini sandwiches are best with a side of chips or French Fries. For fewer calories pair with a fresh salad or apple. Adding a handful of mixed greens or spinach is a healthy alternative. For complete nutrition facts go to the recipe box.

How To Store A Panini Sandwich:

Once you make this panini recipe, store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. If making ahead omit the tomatoes and add them later as they can make the sandwich soggy. To reheat: bake in a toaster oven until hot (about 7 minutes.) Or toast in a skillet to revive and make the sandwich crispy again. A microwave is the quickest way to reheat any sandwich! Just microwave every 30 seconds until hot.    



  1. Pick up ready and cooked chicken meat from the grocery store for a quick sandwich! Rotisserie, grilled, or roasted chicken pieces are great options.
  2. If you have frozen chicken breasts just throw them into the instant pot with water and seasonings then pressure cook over high until fork tender.
  3. Use thinly sliced Proscuitto (Italian ham) for the bacon.
  4. To cut down on the fat and calories make this chipotle sauce!

How To Make A Chipotle Chicken Panini Sandwich:

Chipotle Chicken Panini Sandwich {Panera Bread Copycat}

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 whole sandwiches
Author: Alyona Demyanchuk
The original Chipotle Chicken Panini Sandwich, like the one Panera Bread, used to grill before it got discontinued. Pull out your panini press and layer your bread with pulled chicken, smoky bacon, tomatoes, cheese, and the best homemade chipotle sauce any sandwich recipe should have when made with bacon! 


  • Panini press


  • 12 oz cooked chicken meat
  • 4 slices cooked bacon (halved)
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 tomato (sliced)
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese (or Monterey Jack and Colby slices)
  • 4 tbsp butter (softened)

Chipotle Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp stone-ground dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Sweet Hot Mustard with Honey (Inglehoffer brand)
  • 2 tsp chipotle mayo (kraft brand)
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika


  • how to make a homemade chipotle sauce for a panini sandwich
    Combine the chipotle sauce ingredients and set the mixture aside.
  • Spread 1 teaspoon of the chipotle sauce over each slice of bread. Top with 1 slice bacon, chicken breast pieces, sliced tomatoes, and cheese.
  • how to prepare a panini sandwich for a grill
    Spread 1/2 tbsp of butter over the outside of each piece of bread and cook in the panini press over the highest grill setting until the cheese melts.


  • Chipotle Mayo Substitute- stir together 1/4 cup regular mayonnaise with 1 Tbsp of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers.  
  • Use 4 oz of bacon bits for bacon slices. 
  • 12 oz of chicken meat is equivalent to 1 chicken breast that is poached and shredded. To make on the stovetop season and simmer the chicken in a saucepan half full of water for 20 minutes. 
  • Can use 6 oz shredded cheese. 
  • Spread a thin layer of mayo instead of butter for the bread crust. 

Nutrition per serving

Serving: 1whole sandwichCalories: 730kcalCarbohydrates: 75gProtein: 34gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 1298mgPotassium: 560mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 713IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 77mgIron: 5mg

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    • cecelia

    made it with1 substitution had gouda cheese only love it will make again

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Oh wonderful!

    • Donna

    I used to work at Panera ☺️ If you really want the cheddar that was used back then it was Hoffman’s super sharp

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Even better thank you, Donna!

    • Sam

    How could I make the chicken and sauce in a crock pot? My friend did this, so it made all day, and when she came home it was finished, but tasted amazing.

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Sounds easy! I haven’t tested out the slow cooker for this Sam, but let me how it works out for you.

    • Alex

    Great recipe! One of my favorite sandwiches.

    • Adry

    Love this so hungry keep up your great work

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