Copycat Panera Bread Mac n Cheese Recipe


This classic cheesy and creamy Panera Bread mac n cheese is coming your way! Grab this opportunity to make yourself a delicious bowl of quality mac and cheese and surprise your loved ones with its earthy rich flavors. Filled with cream and cheese, this recipe will wow you with its smooth and cheesy texture. Mac and cheese lovers! Its time to bring the amazing Panera flavors to your dinner tables and never feel like you’re missing out on anything. You can now serve it at every festive dinner or occasion.  

In this recipe, I will try my best way to break down the whole Panera mac and cheese recipe into a few simple steps so that everyone can easily cook it. Whether, you are young or old, a beginner cook or a homemaker, you can easily bring the following ingredients together to make an irresistible bowl of mac and cheese.  

panera bread mac and cheese

How To Make Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese

The very first step is the pre-cooking preparation; I usually call this step the stage zero. Choosing the right ingredients for the recipe is the most important part of this stage. For this recipe, you will need to find suitable pasta. I always go for something basic like elbow macaroni; however, you can use other shapes as well if you can’t find elbow-shaped macaroni.

The next important ingredient of this recipe is the cheese, by selecting the right cheese you can have exact Panera inspired taste in your mac and cheese.  Here we need white cheddar cheese. This cheese will give the perfect taste, color, and texture to the mac and cheese. Make sure the cheese is finely shredded before adding to the mac and cheese sauce.

Now let’s start with the first step, which is cooking the pasta in the boiling water until it is al dente. The instructions to cook the pasta are usually given on its box, but you can always go for this standard cooking formula that I use. I boil water at least double in amount than the amount of the pasta and add a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of cooking oil to this water. Then I add pasta to this salted water and allow it to cook on a simmer until the pasta is soft and cooked. Then I drain and rinse it until tap water and leave it in the colander until my sauce is ready.

The next big step is to prepare the white cheese sauce for this recipe. To do so, take a large-sized saucepan and place it over medium-high heat. We need to start with the butter, so add it to the pan and let it melt. And just when the butter is melted, slowly add the flour and stir cook for 1 minute. At this point, you can actually smell the aroma of the flour cooking. This is the time when you lower the heat and pour in milk and cream.

Make sure to continuously whisk the mixture to keep the mixture lumps free. When it is smooth and creamy, you can add other ingredients for seasonings like black pepper, dry mustard, and salt. Mix it evenly then add white cheddar to the sauce. Let it cook until the cheese is melted then add the cooked pasta. Mix the pasta well with the sauce then serve with your favorite garnish. Plus if you need to reheat it the next day you can.

Panera Bread Mac and Cheese Recipe

4 from 31 votes
Recipe by Laura Ritterman Course: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





You’re going to enjoy our Panera Bread mac and cheese recipe, which will be ready in 25 minutes. This white mac and cheese dish is an exciting blend of creamy divine.


  • 1/4 cup 1/4 unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup 1 milk

  • 2 cup 2 heavy cream

  • 2 cup 2 shredded white cheddar

  • 1 tsp 1 kosher salt

  • 1 tsp 1 black pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 dry mustard

  • 1 lb 1 , pasta, cooked (cavatappi, shells, or elbow)


  • Start by boiling the pasta. You can take any pasta, preferably the elbow pasta.
  • Take a large cooking pot and fill it with water.
  • Place this pot on the medium-high heat and add a pinch of salt along with a tablespoon of cooking oil.
  • When the water is cooked to a boil, add the pasta and cook until it is al dente.
  • Check the pasta if it is cooked inside out and then drain it in a sieve.
  • Run tap water through the pasta to allow them to cool a bit then keep it aside to drain all the water.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the mac and cheese sauce.
  • Take a large-sized pot and place it over medium-high heat.
  • Place butter in this pot and let it melt on the heat.
  • Gradually stir in flour and continue mixing it with butter for one minute.
  • Then reduce down the heat of the stove and stir in milk and heavy cream.
  • Mix well until the white sauce is lump-free.
  • Stir in dry mustard, black pepper and salt for seasoning then mix well.
  • Continue cooking this mixture with continuous stirring.
  • When the sauce starts to bubble, lower down the heat and add cheddar cheese.
  • Cook the white sauce until the cheese is melted completely then give the sauce a thorough stir.
  • Toss in the cooked pasta and mix until the macaroni and cheese sauce are completely combined.
  • Adjust seasoned with more salt and black pepper if desired.
  • Mix again and leave the mac and cheese for 5 minutes on low heat.
  • You can use red chili flakes, crumbled bacon, dried herbs or fresh herbs as well to garnish the bowl of mac and cheese.
  • Serve warm and devour.


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Nutrition Facts

8 servings per container

Serving Size1 servings

  • Amount Per ServingCalories305
  • % Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 17g 27%
    • Saturated Fat 9g 45%
    • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 47mg 16%
  • Sodium 534mg 23%
  • Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
    • Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
    • Sugars 5g
  • Protein 12g 24%

    * The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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    I am craving Panera macaroni and cheese already! As I go to my kitchen and make myself a creamy, cheesy, and delicious bowl of mac and cheese, you too, go and try it. This quick and simple recipe is one quick way to enjoy the classic Panera flavors at home. Trust me! Once you have a taste of it, there is no going back. I also keep making it at home on all occasions, and everyone in my home just loves it. So, give this recipe a try and let us know in the comments below how it turned out for you.

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