This Panera Copy Cat Recipe for Mac n Cheese is so DELICIOUS and EASY that you will never make it any other way. The secret ingredient makes it super yum. Learn how to make the best MAC & CHEESE in the town with least effort and big flavors. Do not forget to watch the Video for a quick overview.
Mac n Cheese – Panera Bread Copy Cat Recipe
Weather Gods have either lost it or gone completely hormonal in Pittsburgh. After 4 glorious days of Sun and bright warm days of 76F, we are back to cold, grey and dreadful winter days of 40F and a possibility of snow anytime. Ugh!
Hot & Cold together in the same week is the norm here. Can you believe that the quarter of the year is over and we are still struggling with brutal cold days? Ok, I am done complaining about now.
Well on a cold day like such, a big pot of Mac n Cheese does not hurt at all. Don’t you agree? That is what was our lunch on a cold Sunday Afternoon accompanied with Boiled Corn. A perfect Southern style Simple and Comforting meal.
My girls always order mac n cheese whenever we go to Panera Bread, which BTW is our family favorite Cafe to go to. We just love their soups, salads, sandwiches and Mac n Cheese along with their Bakery items.
It makes a perfect after school snack for my girls and I always make extra of this yumminess. I am actually very surprised that I have not yet posted this recipe yet. Well, better late than never. Here I am with the Simple, Easy and Delish Recipe which is loved by people of all the ages equally.
What is Mac and Cheese?
Macaroni and Cheese as it is officially known, is a dish of English Origin. Who knew, right? One would think that it is either American or Italian. NO! It is very ENGLISH.
This dish consists of cooked macaroni that is later coated with a Cheesy Bechamel Sauce. It is commonly baked in the oven but can be served after stovetop cooking.
Made with durum wheat, macaroni is commonly cut in short lengths; curved macaroni may be referred to as elbow macaroni. We have used Pasta Shells here in the recipe.Many times pasta like shells, penne, cavatappi, and fusilli are also used in place of macaroni.
Some Important Information to make Macaroni and Cheese perfectly
- This Recipe has 3 important components – Boiled Pasta, Bechamel Sauce and Cheese.
- The boiled pasta should be Al-Dante. It means do not boil it mushy. Keep a bite to it.
- Bechamel Sauce is the famous WHITE SAUCE which makes an important part of this recipe. Making this sauce is pretty easy.
- Do not go less on butter in this recipe to keep the rue going.
- You have to keep whisking or mixing the sauce continuously with a wire whisk while cooking to avoid the lumps. You can control the consistency of this sauce by adding less or more milk than recommended.
- The original recipe requires Mild Cheddar Cheese. You can actually use any cheese that has good melting quality. I have made this recipe with Gruyere and Gouda cheese also and they have worked very well in the recipe.
- This basic recipe can be adapted and personalized. You can add vegetables of your choice to it. This can be baked with some bread crumbs on top.
- Reheating the leftovers is pretty simple. Heat some milk and add the refrigerated mac n cheese to it. Adjust salt and pepper. Add more milk if desired and cook until warm.
The Kitchen Equipment and Ingredients required for this Recipe can be bought from Amazon.
This will not add any extra cost to you but will keep this blog running.
Some Popular Pasta Recipes from my Blog are
Watch this small video showing the process of making Mac n’ Cheese. Find the Recipe Below the Video.
This is how you will make Panera Bread Copy Cat Mac n’ Cheese.
Mac n Cheese - Panera Bread Copy Cat Recipe
- 1 pound/ 16 ounce Pasta Shells or Elbow Macaroni
- 1/4 Cup Butter
- 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 3 Cups Milk Use full fat for creamier texture
- 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese crumbled or shredded
- 1/2 tsp or to taste Black pepper powder freshly crushed preferred
- To Taste Salt I used about 1 tsp salt
- 1&1/2 tsp Mustard Sauce this is the secret ingredient
- Gather all the ingredients before starting the cooking.
- Boil pasta as per the package instructions. Do not overboil it. Make it al-dante. Drain and set aside. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish to boil the pasta including the time to boil water. When the pasta is boiling, you can work on Cheesy Bechamel Sauce.
Cheesy Bechamel Sauce
- Take the heavy bottom steel cooking pan. Melt butter in it over medium heat.
- Once the butter is melted, add all purpose flour to the pan and mix it well using a wire whisk. Cook it on medium heat for 3 minutes while mixing it continuously. Refer to the video above.
- Now add milk to the pan, 1 cup at a time and keep stirring. Stir quickly so that no lumps are formed. Refer to the video above. Keep the heat on the stove at medium the whole time. Cook the sauce till it thickens slightly.
- Add salt, black pepper powder and mustard sauce to the pan and give a good mix to it. Now add cheese to the sauce, little bit at a time. Keep mixing with the wire whisk to mix well.
- Keep the heat at medium-low until cheese is melted well. Switch off the heat.
- Now add boiled and drained pasta to the cheesy bechamel sauce. Mix pasta and sauce well.
- Your Panera Bread Style Mac n Cheese is ready. Serve it warm. You can add dried parsley or basil or any other seasoning of your choice for more flavor. But you can not beat the classic Mac n cheese.
Yes, the mustard sauce is the secret ingredient in the recipe. The manager of the local Panera Bread mentioned it to me, himself. So it is coming out of the Horse’s Mouth..errr..I mean the Panera’s mouth.
If you try this recipe of ours, then do give a shout back. We would love to hear how it worked for you.
Can’t make it now? PIN IT FOR LATER!
In my Kitchen, you will always EAT HAPPY & STAY HAPPY!!