Copycat Recipes: Panera's Famous Mac and Cheese

November 7, 2014

Panera's white cheddar macaroni and cheese is one of the bakery's best selling dishes.  The thick and velvety white sauce coats each and every shell in a blanket of pure goodness.  Most of us would love to eat this dish everyday if we could afford it but the truth is eating out can be expensive.  This copycat version of the famed comfort food dish is a winner.  Not only does it only contain six ingredients (excluding the salt and pepper of course) but it is also a one pot meal so you will only have to dirty one dish cooking this mac and cheese.  With that said, you really want to splurge and get the best quality extra white sharp cheddar you can find.  Since it is the main flavoring of the dish, you better make sure it is downright delicious.  You are going to love how quickly this comes together.  Honestly, it will be faster to make your own copycat version of Panera's mac and cheese than visit the bakery yourself.

Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese


1 1 lb. box medium uncooked shell pasta (you can also use whole wheat)
1 cup half and half
1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter, melted 
1 cup grated good quality extra sharp white cheddar 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Step 1: Rinse the uncooked pasta under cold water. Drain and set aside.

Step 2: Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the milk, salt, mustard and butter and stir until well combined.  Add the pasta and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.  

Step 3: Reduce the heat to low. Continue to stir the pasta frequently for 15 to 20 minutes until the pasta is cooked to al dente and the milk has been fully absorbed. Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese and cover for 5 minutes to allow the cheese to fully melt. Serve immediately. 

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