This recipe for Panera Mac and Cheese tastes as creamy and delicious as you’ve come to love and enjoy…only it’s made in your very own kitchen!
Let me show you how fast this creamy, cheesy Panera Mac and Cheese Copycat Recipe comes together. As a matter of fact, this recipe is one of my family’s favorite side dishes. I know you’re going to love this recipe as much as my family does.
Panera Mac and Cheese
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
How to Make Panera Mac and Cheese:
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
- 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.
How to Prepare the Cheese Sauce
To begin with, you need to 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.
How to Prepare 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.
Tips for Preparing and Serving Panera Mac and Cheese
- 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.
Panera Bread may have this mac and cheese recipe on their kid menu, however, I think it's the perfect side dish for the entire family!
Serve Panera Mac and Cheese with these Main Dish Recipes:
These are a few of my family’s favorite recipes to serve alongside 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.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 492 Total Fat: 32g Saturated Fat: 19g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 94mg Sodium: 819mg Carbohydrates: 31g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 3g Protein: 20g