Smoked Turkey, Pepper Jack Cheese, and Basil Panini Sandwich

Home » Smoked Turkey, Pepper Jack Cheese, and Basil Panini Sandwich

Preview: This Smoked Turkey, Pepper Jack Cheese, and Basil Panini Sandwich is a crispy panini stuffed with flavor–inspired by Oprah’s Love Sandwich.

Have you ever heard of the 5-second rule about dropping food on the floor?  It’s possible I made it up.

As a teenage girl, I spent many summer days driving a tractor by myself in the fields of our Indiana farm.  Either Mom would bring me lunch or send it with me. It was almost always a cold-cut sandwich, more often than not, bologna.

Sometimes, I would accidentally drop my sandwich on the ground.  Since it was all there was to eat, I wasn’t about to throw it away.  If I could rescue it and brush the dirt off faster than the germs could hop on (less than 5 seconds), then all was good. Right?


As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

logo for saladinajar
Join our community of adventurous cooks, and start creating homemade food worth sharing.

If you want inspiration and exclusive tips, add your email and press the button. (Don't worry. I won't sell your email.)

A hot lunch is so much better, when possible…

While I never got sick from this immunity-building exercise, I did get tired of bologna sandwiches.  In fact, I pretty much avoid cold sandwiches altogether, especially now that I can make a warm and crusty panini instead.

Discovering the “Love Sandwich”

A few years ago, Oprah published the recipe for her “Love Sandwich” which is the basis for this recipe.  I use smoked turkey instead of plain, roasted turkey as Oprah suggested. Add tomato slices (dried by pressing between paper towels) for more color and flavor.

Ingredients and substitutions:

Basil is the unique calling card of this sandwich.  Substitute spinach or another green if you prefer.

Instead of smoked turkey, use roast turkey or ham.

Pepper Jack cheese adds spicy interest but a milder cheese like Muenster or mild Cheddar sounds good, too.

Looking for more ideas and information about panini?

I’m not an expert but I know someone who is. Check out Panini Happy. Kathy’s blog is full of creative recipes and helpful hints about making a panini.  She also gives advice for buying a panini maker, or you can read about making one using two skillets.

What post would you like to read next?

Pin this post for later:

Pinterest Image of Panini

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at Hope to see you again soon! Paula

smoked turkey panini cut in half

Smoked Turkey, Pepper Jack Cheese, and Basil Panini

A simple panini stuffed with smoked turkey, cheese, basil and tomatoes — good for beginners.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Chicken
Servings 1 sandwich


  • 2 slices of sourdough bread
  • 4 squirts of olive oil spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil mayo
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey - or rotisserie chicken
  • 1 small tomato - thinly sliced and patted dry
  • Basil leaves - whole


  • Brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil.
  • Spread a light coating of mayo on reverse side of the bread.
  • Stack slices of cheese, turkey, tomato, basil and more cheese on top of mayo-covered side of bread. Cover with remaining slice of bread–mayonnaise side to the top layer of cheese.
  • Cook on a panini grill preheated to HIGH or use a heavy skillet with another skillet placed on top of the sandwich–in which case you will need to flip the sandwich after a couple of minutes. Allow the sandwich to grill until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown and toasty.


If you prefer, add basil or spinach to sandwich after cooking.


Nutrition Facts
Smoked Turkey, Pepper Jack Cheese, and Basil Panini
Serving Size
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Author: Paula Rhodes
Course: Chicken
Cuisine: American
Keywords: panini recipessmoked turkeyturkey sandwiches
Like this recipe? Thanks for leaving a 5-star rating inside the recipe at the top! 🤩

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating


  1. Kathy - Panini Happy says:

    Love the Love Sandwich! I’ve tried it before, it’s a great one – I’m sure smoked turkey makes it even better. And thanks for the kind words about my blog (Panini Happy, actually :-))!

  2. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Looks awesome! I’m grabbing my basil while I still can!

    1. As a matter of fact, I moved the publication of this post up because of your last post about your basil and the impending frost. I need to make some serious pesto myself.

  3. My Thanksgiving turkey was roasted but some of the leftovers are still going to make it into this awesome looking sandwich.

  4. Love all of this…panini’s are a favorite! Basil in a panini is a must too. The fall favorites on your side bar look amazing especially those pumpkin pancakes, I need to give those try.

  5. Wow, looks good. I believe Chris was talking about this only today – something about photo-op before eating??? :+)

  6. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit says:

    Yay! I still have basil! 🙂 This sandwich looks scrumptious. I don’t have a panini press, but I do have iron skillets in all shapes and sizes. I agree that a nice warm toasted sandwich is better than a cold one any day!

  7. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says:

    I still follow that 5 second rule sometimes, lol. I know, I know it doesn’t really work but it makes me feel better to think it does.

  8. Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious says:

    I am with you! I eat cold sandwiches pretty much when I have no time to eat lunch at work, but I LOVE paninis. Yours look fantastic 🙂

  9. I wish you would come make this for me right now. Smoked Turkey, pepper jack (maybe habanero jack?) with tomatoes- – -perfect for a panini.

    How’d your quinoa experimenting turn out?

  10. Kiran @ says:

    I am fine with the 5 second rule – so long, it’s on MY kitchen floor 😀

    That panini looks droolicious and dare i say, better than the ones served in Panera Bread? 😀