Our copycat Panera broccoli cheddar mac and cheese is the perfect weeknight vegetarian meal to serve your family. It's creamy, cheesy, and so comforting! The broccoli and carrots add color and texture and the blend of three cheeses make this sauce an absolute delight. Gluten free friendly.
- 3 cups pipette or pipe rigate pasta, dried (295g)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (15 ml)
- 3/4 cup yellow onion, diced (88g)
- 1/2 cup julienned carrots, cut in 3/4 inch lengths (60g)
- 2 cups small broccoli florets (142g)
- 4 tablespoons salted butter (57g)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (20g)
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk (356 ml)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (356 ml)
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (354 ml)
- 1 cup Boar's Head white American cheese, shredded (90g)
- 1/2 cup extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded (32g)
- 3 3/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese (279g)
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- few dashes of Tabasco sauce, to taste
- 2 pinches of paprika, for color
- 1 pinch of turmeric, for color
- Cook Pasta: Cook the pasta in boiling salted water 1 minute less than the package directions. Drain, but don't rinse.
- Cook Vegetables: 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.
- Make Roux: 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.
- Liquids: 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.
- Cheese: 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.
- Assembly: 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: 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).
- Prep Time: 35 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese recipe, nutrition