This copycat recipe for Panera Mac and Cheese is made in one pot and ready in 30 minutes! It's creamy, delicious and perfect side dish to serve with any of my family favorite chicken recipes. Your family is going to love this recipe as much as mine does.
Raise your hand if you love mac and cheese as much as I do? Now, raise your hand if you love Panera Mac and Cheese as much as I do?
If you raised your hand for both questions, then you're visiting my blog at the right time today. Today's recipe is a copy cat version of the very famous Panera Bread Mac and Cheese recipe.
To make this recipe even better is that it's ready to eat in 30 minutes. You really can't beat that, right?
Helpful Kitchen Tools
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- Wire Whisk- you need a good wire whisk to make this recipe. Not some cheap version that you can purchase at a dollar store.
- Cheese Grater - I really do like the box kind which helps keep the cheese contained while grating a large quantity.
- Measuring Cups
Copycat Mac and Cheese
These are a few of my family's favorite recipes to serve alongside this copycat mac and cheese:
- When my kids were younger, I served Chicken Cutlets Italian Style with this copycat recipe for mac and cheese at least once a week. If we had any leftovers of the mac and cheese, I would heat it up the next day to serve my daughter as an after school snack.
- Hasselback Chicken Stuffed with Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil
- Crock Pot Brisket Recipe - Beth's Brisket Recipe is one of my son's favorite recipes that I make for him. Mac and cheese always tastes great with this delicious brisket recipe.
Main Ingredients Needed
Make sure you print out the recipe below and save it for later!
- Half and Half - you could use whole milk, but you'll miss out on some of the creaminess.
- White Cheddar Cheese
- Monterrey Jack Cheese
- Prepared Mustard - just a teaspoon, but it adds so much flavor! Choose your favorite kind. For this recipe I like to use a brown mustard. I've never tried Dijon mustard though. However, yellow mustard works great too.
- 1 Knorr Chicken Bouillon cube - again, this adds flavor!
- Pasta shells - or your favorite shape.
- Salt and Pepper to taste.
Step 1 | Prepare the Cheese Sauce
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Then add the flour and quickly whisk to incorporate the flour into the melted butter being careful not to let the butter burn.
- Next, cook the flour and butter together for about a minute.
- Add the milk and half and half. Whisk until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken.
- Finally, reduce the heat to low and add the salt, pepper, mustard and chicken bouillon cube followed by the cheese.
Step 2 | repare the Pasta
- Keep the cheese sauce warm. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to boil, cook and drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Then serve immediately.
- It's best to serve this mac and cheese recipe immediately after mixing the pasta with the cheese sauce.
- You can prepare the cheese sauce earlier in the day and then warm it up while the pasta is cooking.
- Before you're ready to use the sauce, it may thicken and you may need to thin it out. Just add a little more milk.
- For instance, I made this recipe to serve for my mother's 80th birthday party years ago. I quadrupled the recipe and made the cheese sauce the day before. The next day, all I had to do was warm the sauce up on the stove and toss with the pasta right before serving the dinner to 50 people!
- By the way, this cheese sauce freezes well. Sometimes I'll make a double recipe of the sauce just to freeze and have on hand for busy nights.
Tried any of my recipes? Let me know in the comments!
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half and half
- ½ cup milk
- 8 ounces white cheddar cheese
- 8 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard; yellow or brown mustard.
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 16 ounce package pasta shells or your favorite shaped pasta
- In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Once the butter is melted add the flour and quickly whisk to incorporate the flour into the melted butter being careful not to let the butter burn.
- Cook the flour and butter together for about a minute.
- Add the milk and half and half.
- Whisk until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the salt, pepper, mustard and chicken bouillon cube.
- Add the cheeses and stir until they are melted.
- Keep the cheese sauce warm while you cook and drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
- Serve immediately.
I like to use either French's mustard or Gulden's brown mustard for this recipe.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 492Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 819mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 20g
The nutrition information is calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you, please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator.