This fennel chicken cheddar panini is savory, crunchy and refreshing all at once.

Fennel chicken cheddar panini
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I hate licorice. Actually, hate is a very mellow way of putting it. Despise would be better. Doesn’t matter if it’s red, black, purple, yellow or neon green, (and now the scene in Wizard of Oz with the horses changing color is stuck in my head) it’s all the same kind of disgusting.

So you might be wondering why the heck I’m throwing a fennel panini in your face when most would say fennel tastes like licorice.

Me too.

Chicken cheddar panini with fennel

Here’s the thing, I love fennel.

First of all, how can you not love something as crazy-ass looking as that? I look at it and see a Mickey Mouse head crossed with a furry little alien. It’s freaky and cute at the same time.

I have no good explanation for why the candy can repulse me and yet this bulb, vegetable, whatever it is can taste so delicious while imparting the same flavor.

Maybe it’s my general aversion to candy (just to be clear candy does not include chocolate) or maybe I’m just weird.

Most likely both.

Fennel and chicken cheddar panini

After munching on half the bulb while putting together a random panini for lunch, I decided to throw in some of the fennel for the heck of it.

For a last minute decision, it definitely stole the show flavor wise with it’s bold licorice-y taste. Next time, I’ll try pickled fennel in this panini for some zip. I think it would complement the savory and sweet flavors perfectly.

Things I would suggest doing while making a fennel panini:

1. Definitely add apple + cheddar. The added crunch is fun and the cheese helps mellow out the fennel a bit.

2. Butter your toast. Always. It makes all the difference in “paninifying”

3. Don’t wipe off the crumbs from the 15 inch serrated bread knife with your fingers and expect not to slice half way through one of them.

Just some basics, you know?

Panini with cheddar, chicken and fennel

But even if #3 does happen, the result is still worth it and better for you than the candy.

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Fennel Chicken Cheddar Panini

Servings: 1 serving
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Panini with cheddar, chicken and fennel
Use fennel in this fennel chicken cheddar panini to mellow the flavor a bit but still have a fun crunchy licorice taste.


  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1/2 a small apple, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fennel, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cooked shredded chicken
  • 4 slices sharp cheddar
  • 3-4 basil leaves
  • butter


  • Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
  • Layer all the other ingredients on the reverse side of the bread and form a sandwich.
  • Press in a panini maker or in a skillet using something heavy to press down on the top of the sandwich until the cheese starts melting and the bread is toasted and brown.
  • Enjoy warm.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 746kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 39gFat: 47gSaturated Fat: 26gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 146mgSodium: 1004mgFiber: 7gSugar: 13g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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  1. Yay, I found someone else like me! I hate licorice! Strangely enough though, my hubby makes homemade licorice that I actually don’t mind in small doses. But I do like fennel too, and fennel seeds. I’m not sure how I feel about this panini. It sounds delicious, but I’m kind of scared of the apple, I don’t do the apple and cheese thing. I think I’m the weird one out on that, but anyways… Also, I can’t get the word “paninifying” out of my head now. Thanks. Haha.

  2. Funny I feel the exact same way on the whole licorice/fennel thing – HATE licorice and love fennel. Will definitely try this sandwich, but I might do mine on the grill

  3. I love licorice! I wonder if that means I would hate fennel? I wipe knives like that all the time and have sliced my finger more than once. I never learn.

  4. I LOVE FENNEL!! You know what I think it looks like? Wilson from Cast Away. Whenever I use it I go “WILSON!! WILLSOON!!!” it’s really strange. My husband judges me.

    This panini looks AHHH-MAZING. I have to make it!