Panera Mac and Cheese — truly the best out there! Learn how to make this copycat Panera Bread Mac and Cheese in your own kitchen.
The BEST At-Home Panera Bread Mac and Cheese Recipe
Mac and cheese lovers unite! Today we’re bringing you a fan favorite –> Panera Mac and Cheese! Panera’s mac and cheese is truly one of the best things on their menu. It’s creamy, cheesy, and so tasty.
We are obviously huge mac and cheese snobs here at the Cheese Knees and when we say Panera’s mac is some of the best mac out there, we mean it!
The white cheddar creamy sauce is just perfect and we’re big fans of the noodle choice. Plus, it’s kid-friendly. In this post, we’re going to teach you how to replicate this bowl of goodness. Enjoy!
Why you’ll love it!
- 7 simple ingredients
- 30-minute meal
- Tastes EXACTLY like Panera Mac and Cheese!
Noodles: ever heard of conchiglie? It’s the famous noodle that Panera uses in their mac and cheese. You can really use whatever noodle you wish including shells or macaroni noodles.
Roux: a roux is made from equal parts flour and fat and it helps thicken the cheese sauce. You’ll need butter and all-purpose flour.
Milk: whole milk is used in the mac and cheese sauce. We recommend sticking with whole milk, but you could always swap for 2%
Cheese: the cheese used in Panera Mac and Cheese is extra-shart white cheddar cheese. Make sure to buy extra sharp as this flavor profile is spot on with Panera’s.
Spices: you only need salt and a little bit of ground mustard.
So what’s the secret?
Panera’s Mac and Cheese is actually rather simple to replicate. What makes it a dupe is the following:
- Conchiglie pasta: Panera uses a very unique noodle called conchiglie. If you want it to look identical, then use conchiglie!
- White cheddar mac and cheese sauce: instead of using yellow cheddar, make sure to use white cheddar so that the sauce looks the same too!
How to Make Panera Mac and Cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cool until al dente. Strain and set aside.
Melt butter in a skillet with sides or pot. Then, add flour and whisk until a paste or crumble has formed.
Slowly add the milk. Constantly whisk for 3-4 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. Be patient!
Add Cheese and Spices
Add in the shredded white cheddar cheese, salt, and mustard powder and mix until the cheese melts.
Finally, add the noodles and toss everything together. Serve immediately.
Mac and Cheese Sauce
No matter if you’re making stovetop mac and cheese or baked mac and cheese, this is the best mac and cheese sauce on the internet!
What is Panera mac and cheese made of?
Panera mac and cheese is made up of a béchamel cheese sauce made with butter, flour, milk, and white cheddar cheese. Then, it’s tossed with conchiglie noodles.
Is the mac and cheese at Panera good?
Panera Bread mac and cheese is top-rated and so delicious!
How do you make mac and cheese sauce thinner?
In order to thin out your mac and cheese sauce, add more milk by the tablespoon and stir until it reaches the desired consistency.
Transfer cooled mac and cheese into an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To reheat- we recommend reheating the same way it was cooked. Transfer the mac and cheese back into a pot and heat over low/medium. Add a little milk and stir constantly until creamy and hot.
How to Thicken Pasta Sauce
No matter how closely you follow a recipe, sometimes you end up with a watery pasta sauce. Have no fear, it is very easy to thicken pasta sauce one of these 3 ways!
Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese
- 8 oz. dried elbow macaroni or conchiglie the noodle Panera uses, or noodle of choice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk
- 8 oz. shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese ~2 cups
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cook the noodles until al dente and then strain noodles. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute or until a paste forms.
- Slowly add the milk into the roux, whisking continuously for 3-4 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. You want a smooth sauce with no lumps.
- Next, fold in the shredded cheese, mustard, and salt. Mix until all of the cheese has melted.
- Finally, add the cooked noodles and mix to combine. Serve immediately.
Tips & Notes
- If the mac and cheese sauce is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of extra milk at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
- This recipe can easily be doubled.