If you enjoy Panera's broccoli cheddar soup and their mac and cheese, imagine how great they taste together! Our copycat recipe for Panera broccoli cheddar mac and cheese is creamy, cheesy and comforting on a cool day.
The ingredients for this copycat recipe are easy to find in most large grocery stores. The Boar's Head white American cheese is found in the deli section of nicer grocery stores (ex. Publix, Harris Teeter). Ask for one chunk when they slice it.
- Fat: We used salted butter and olive oil to saute the vegetables and make the roux.
- Vegetables: We used yellow onion, match stick carrots, and fresh broccoli.
- Flour: We used all purpose flour, but this can easily be substituted for gluten free flour if needed.
- Spices: We used white pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, Tobasco and coarse sea salt.
- Dairy: We used equal amounts of heavy cream and whole milk for the creamiest sauce. We also used three different cheeses: two white and one yellow.
- Broth: We used vegetable broth to make this vegetarian.
- Pasta: Panera uses a pasta called pipe rigate, but it's hard to find, so use pipette (Barilla brand) instead it looks the same, just smaller. (I found mine at Harris Teeter.) If you want this gluten free, Dakota Growers makes pipette pasta.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Need this gluten free? Use gluten free flour and vegetable broth.
- Need this lower in fat? Use 3 cups of evaporated milk and reduce the two white cheeses by ¼ cup.
- Don't need this vegetarian? Use chicken broth and sprinkle on bacon for a garnish.
- Want Baja mac and cheese? Add diced avocado, fresh pico de gallo, and chopped cilantro.
- Want BBQ mac and cheese? Add pulled chicken, an apple cider vinegar based BBQ sauce, deep fried frizzled onions, and chopped cilantro.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients.
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package in salted water minus one minute. Drain, but don't rinse, then set aside.
Heat up the oil, then saute the onion, carrot, and broccoli until it's softened, roughly 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a bowl. Wipe out the pan with a damp paper towel.
To make the roux, melt the butter over medium high heat until it's foamy, then sprinkle in the flour/spice mixture. Constantly whisk for 2 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. You will want the roux to be a light brown color.
Reduce the heat to medium low and gradually whisk in the heavy cream until the sauce is smooth, then repeat with the whole milk and the vegetable broth. Turn up the heat to medium. Whisk constantly for 7 minutes so the sauce will thicken. Don't let the sauce boil.
Turn the heat to the lowest setting or take the skillet right off the heat and gradually whisk in the grated cheese a handful at a time. This will take some time, but it's worth it.
Whisk in the dry mustard and add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, then taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Also, whisk in two dashes of paprika and 1 dash of turmeric for color.
Gradually add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce, carefully coating each piece.
Reserve some of the broccoli mixture for garnish, then fold in the rest.
Serve while hot and enjoy!
In August 2020, Panera combined their two favorite dishes: broccoli cheddar soup and their mac and cheese. They released it first to select grocery stores under their Panera at Home brand, then one month later they were selling it in their bakery cafes in the United States.
Panera bakeries describe it as "shell pasta in a blend of creamy cheese sauce and tangy white cheddar, simmered with seasoned broccoli and carrots."
Panera at Home describes it as "our best selling Mac and Cheese meets our signature Broccoli Cheddar Soup to cream a creamy blend of cheese enveloping tender shells, broccoli florets, and shredded carrots."
For a one cup serving size, there are 380 calories, 26g carbs, 27g fat, 2g fiber, and 13 g protein.
For our copycat version, there are 678 calories, 43g carbs, 47g fat, 3 g fiber and 22g protein. For more nutritional information, please scroll to the end of the recipe card.
They use pipe regatta, but it's easier to find pipette, and it looks the same, just smaller. The chefs at Panera picked this pasta because the shape allows it to hold more sauce inside.
Pipette, which means little pipe in Italian, is similar to macaroni, but it is has a wider tube and dips down in the middle like a pipe. The curves and grooves hold the sauce inside and out.
Yes, they state clearly that is it vegetarian. They use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, so a broader range of customers can enjoy this entree.
In the fall of 2021, a small, which is one cup, costs roughly $5.99. This comes with your choice of a small bag of kettle chips, French baguette, or an apple.
If you're kids want this weekly, it can quickly add up, so learn how to make your own with our copycat recipe. Save money and enjoy more family bonding over a home cooked meal.
Panera serves this popular entree with a French baguette, a bag of plain kettle chips, or an apple. You can also ask for this to be served in a sourdough bread bowl for an additional fee.
If you are serving this as a ½ cup side, round out your meal with a light crispy green salad, a small slice of crusty sourdough bread and some fresh fruit.
If you're looking for other pasta recipes, you'll want to try our recipes for Panera mac and cheese, Chick-fil-A mac and cheese, creamy bow tie pasta, American goulash, Caprese pesto pasta salad, and alfredo basil sauce.
If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat an individual serving size of ½ cup, microwave for 45 seconds. Stir well, then serve. If you're warming up a larger amount, place the broccoli mac and cheese in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until heated through. Stir in a bit of whole milk to thin the cheese sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings.
I wouldn't recommend freezing this, as it has a lot of dairy in it: butter, three cheeses, whole milk and heavy cream. If you find that 7 cups is too much, cut this recipe in half and make 3 ½ cups that way you won't have many leftovers.
- Use matchstick carrots to save time. Break them in half with your hands for shorter lengths.
- Allow the freshly grated cheese to come up to room temperature to help it melt better.
- Use fresh broccoli for the best color and texture, and don't overcook it.
- If you want this more orange in color, add ½ cup more extra sharp cheddar cheese.
- To make this gluten free, use gluten free pasta, flour and vegetable broth.
Other Panera Bread Recipes
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Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- 3 cups pipette or pipe rigate pasta, dried
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ cup yellow onion, diced
- ½ cup julienned carrots, cut in ¾ inch lengths
- 2 cups small broccoli florets
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup Boar's Head white American cheese, shredded
- ½ cup extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
- 3 ¾ cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
- ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
- Tabasco sauce, to taste
- 2 pinches of paprika, for color
- 1 pinch of turmeric, for color
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water 1 minute less than the package directions. Drain, but don't rinse.
- In a large heavy bottomed skillet, heat up the oil over medium high heat until shimmering, then add the onions, carrots, and broccoli. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for minutes. Set aside.
- Add the spices to the flour and mix together. Melt the butter in the skillet over medium high heat until foamy, then sprinkle in the flour and spice mixture. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. The roux should be a light brown color.
- Turn the heat to medium low and gradually add the heavy cream while whisking constantly so the mixture is smooth. Repeat with the whole milk, then the vegetable broth. Turn the heat back up to medium. Sprinkle in the dry mustard and the Tabasco. Keep whisking for 7 minutes so it will thicken, but don't allow the sauce to boil, if necessary turn the heat back down to medium low.
- Turn the heat to the lowest setting or remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the cheese one handful at a time. Repeat until all the cheese is added. The cheese should be completely melted and the sauce should be smooth and thick. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Add a the paprika and turmeric for color. Allow the cheese sauce to sit for 5 to 7 minutes to thicken.
- Gradually add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce, gently folding it in with a spatula, then mix in the cooked broccoli and carrots.
- Serve hot on its own or with sourdough bread.
- Use matchstick carrots to save time. Break them in half with your hands for shorter lengths.
- Allow the freshly grated cheese to come up to room temperature to help it melt better. (We love this box grater to grate cheese quickly and easily.)
- Use fresh broccoli for the best color and texture.
- To make this gluten free, use gluten free flour, vegetable broth, and pasta (Dakota Growers Pipette).
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.