Italian BLT Paninis

This delicious lunch or dinner recipe incorporates a multi-ethnic twist. It takes the traditional BLT sandwich but adds an Italian flair with pancetta instead of bacon, and then adds cheese and wraps it all up in a tortilla for a south-of-the-border influence. Is it a panini, a quesadilla, a BLT? You decide.

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This recipe for Italian BLT Paninis was sponsored by Mission Foods® and uses Mission Foods® Gluten-Free Spinach Herb Tortillas making this recipe a perfect gluten-free lunch.


Ingredients for an Italian BLT panini on a cutting board - tortillas, spinach, cheese, tomato.It’s fun to take a favorite food, or in this case a sandwich, and put a few twists on it to make it your own. I love a good BLT, but when you’re looking for a gluten-free option, most breads fall out of the picture. Enter the gluten-free tortilla. Mission Foods® has always made great flour tortillas, so it’s no surprise that they are now making delicious gluten-free tortillas. For this BLT twist, I grabbed spinach and herb tortillas which prompted me to use spinach inside instead of lettuce. Then, instead of using bacon, I went with Italian pancetta (similar to bacon except that it is not smoked and is rolled before being sliced so it comes in nice circles). I kept the tomato the same, but added Fontina cheese to the mix to glue all the ingredients together as I grilled it. It comes together as a fusion of different lunch favorites – part BLT (or should we now say “PST”!), part panini, part quesadilla – and is so very tasty.

Two paninis on a panini maker with a package of tortillas near by.

If you have a panini maker, this is quick and easy. Since the panini maker will grill from bottom up, as well as top down, you don’t even need to flip the sandwich over as it toasts. Rest assured, however, that you can make this with a grill pan on the stovetop very easily as well. Just remember that you will need to flip the panini to grill the other side. A weighted bacon press will also speed up the process and make sure you get nice even grill marks.


Two grilled paninis on a cutting board with another panini on a panini maker in the background.This is not the sort of sandwich that you can make ahead and take with you for lunch, although you can assemble the sandwiches, keep them in the fridge and then grill them just before you are ready to eat. Brush a little oil on the outside of the tortilla for added flavor and toasted color.


Italian BLT Panini cut on a cutting board with a yellow napkin in the background.Then, just slice them in half, grab a napkin and enjoy. Whether you call it a BLT, a panini or a quesadilla, you won’t even remember that you’re enjoying a sandwich that happens to be gluten-free thanks to Mission Foods® Gluten-Free Tortillas.

This recipe was written as part of a partnership with Mission Foods®. 

Italian BLT Paninis

  • Prep Time: 10 m
  • Cook Time: 10 m
  • Total Time: 20 m
  • Servings:


  • 8 ounces sliced pancetta
  • cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 10-inch Mission Foods® Gluten Free Spinach Herb Tortillas
  • 8 ounces Fontina Cheese grated
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 to matoes sliced


  1. Pre-heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pancetta slices until they are light brown on both sides - about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked pancetta to a paper towel lined plate – it will get crispy as it cools.
  2. Using a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, basil and lemon juice, processing until smooth. Drizzle in a little olive oil (about 1 to 2 teaspoonand season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Pre-heat a panini maker or stovetop grill pan.
  4. Spread some of the basil mayonnaise on one side of the spinach tortillas. Top with the Fontina cheese, covering the entire tortilla. Place some spinach on one half of each tortilla and then top with 2 or 3 slices of tomato. (If the tomatoes are large, cut the slices in half.) Place 4 slices of the cooked pancetta on top of the tomato and then fold the other side of the tortilla over the pancetta.
  5. Brush the panini maker or grill pan lightly with some olive oil. Place the stuffed tortilla on the grill and brush the top with a little more olive oil. Cook until the paninis are lightly browned and the cheese has melted. If you are using a grill pan, place a weighted press or frying pan on top of the tortilla and flip the tortilla once the bottom has browned.
  6. Cut the Italian “BLT” Paninis in half and serve immediately.
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