Panera’s Mac & Cheese Recipe

Alright folks, this is **THE** recipe for Panera’s Mac & Cheese. I got it from their website a while back when they posted it for a short time! You MUST try this Panera’s Mac & Cheese Recipe.


As I’ve mentioned to you all recently, I am pregnant and due in September. While I was going through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy there were only two foods that I could stomach: bagels and Panera’s Mac & Cheese. I would have their mac & cheese weekly. Okay, okay, if I’m going to be honest maybe it was more than once a week… For me this is the pinnacle of mac & cheese dishes; its rich, smooth, creamy and chock-full of calcium from all that yummy cheese and milk. Not only is this recipe amazingly delicious, its also quick and easy to make; on the table in 30 minutes or less.

If you love Copycat Recipes like I do, you'l want to check out my entire collection! {Click on the picture to be taken to the collection!}

If you love Copycat Recipes like I do, you’l want to check out my entire collection! {Click on the picture to be taken to the collection!}

Cook’s Note for Panera’s Mac & Cheese Recipe:

*If you’re serving this as a main dish it serves 4-6. If you’re making this as a side dish it serves 8-10.

*Some people find the Dijon mustard in the recipe to be a bit overwhelming, so feel free to cut back on it or omit it all together.

*I find that in order to get optimal results you *must* use extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar and sliced white American cheese from the deli, not the fake stuff you find in the box.

Panera's Mac & Cheese Copycat Recipe

Panera Mac & Cheese
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

This is *THE* recipe for Panera’s rich and creamy Mac & Cheese. Not only is it delicious, it comes together in a snap!
  • 1 16-ounce Package package of rigati pasta
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cup milk
  • 6 Slices white American cheese
  • 8 oz extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
  5. Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated). Serve immediately.

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  1. lisa says

    all I have to say is thanks for sharing the recipe one of my vendors brought in lunch from Panera accompanied with the mac and cheese and it is so delicious. I don’t remember what the vendor was presenting but i do remember the mac and cheese

  2. Shawna says

    The recipe turned out very oily for us. Any ideas why and did this happen for others? There was oil coated at the bottom of the pan. We threw it out :-(

    • says

      Hi Shawna, I’m so sorry this recipe didn’t turn out from you. I’ve made this recipe numerous times and haven’t had the oily problem. Granted I wasn’t there with you when you made the recipe, but it sounds like the cheese might be the problem. Sometimes lower quality cheeses are made with more oil than milk. Use the best-quality white cheddar you can afford and try getting the white American cheese from your deli counter.
      Hope this helps!

  3. MrsALM1987 says

    I ended up ‘mixing’ up my cheese. I know I put in 8 oz and 6 slices of cheese but I wasn’t keeping track of placement so due to user error- mine did NOT taste identical to panera’s BUT it was still pretty tasty! One thing I was curious about was the Dijon mustard- it was quite over-powering & I’m not a mustard fan. When the recipe is made right do other people find the mustard at a 1/2 T is too much? I know I can alter it next time but I’m wondering if it had to do with the cheese mix-up or not?

  4. Amanda says

    Is it crucial to use extra sharp white Vermont cheddar? I used extra sharp white cheddar, since I couldn’t find the Vermont one, and the mac&cheese had a strange after taste.

    • says

      Hi Amanda. From reading your comment I would say yes it is crucial to use Vermont extra sharp white cheddar. I’ve never used anything else and I’ve never had a strange after taste. Hope this helps!

  5. says

    Hello can you please tell me the exact type of dijon mustard you use. We have tried it twice now, and the mustard is overpowering the dish both times. The second time we only /14 tbsp. Please help! We love the Panera Bread Mac & Cheese. Thank you for taking the time to write this recipe out!

  6. cindy says

    As I was eating the Mac & cheese at Paneras I thought there was a sweet taste like maybe cream cheese or half & half was used. So good I made your recipe today & it was very good too but lacked that tinge of sweetness. Any ideas?

  7. Cait says

    It is pretty good but there is way too much Dijon mustard. But that is just my opinion, different people like different tastes, but i don’t think it tasted too much like Panera’s because of the mustard.

  8. Suzanne says

    My husband liked it a lot, I think because it was different than the usual Mac & Cheese we eat. I thought it was just ok, a bit gritty, nowhere near as creamy as Panera, and did not have the same “I can’t get enough of this!” flavor. I know it’s from their website, I’ve seen this recipe posted many places, but I think Panera was hiding something when they shared this 😉 Thanks for sharing and the tips, I’m sure I’ll be making it again for my husband for sure. I might use less sharp cheddar next time though because it was a bit too sharp for me.

  9. Sarah says

    This didn’t taste at all like Paneras mac-n-cheese :( My girls wouldn’t even eat it! I don’t know what I did wrong… I did use yellow american cheese and not white. I used Vermont White Sharp Cheddar (Cracker Barrel brand). I just did one small squirt of the mustard, because I am not a fan of Dijon mustard. I also did just a few shakes of hot sauce, as 1/4 t. seemed like a lot, esp. for my girls. It has a funny aftertaste to it also.

    • says

      I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. I’ve made this recipe at least 7 times now and it’s always turned out. I’m not sure what happened with yours. :(

  10. Kelly OM says

    This looks amazing. I love macaroni and cheese, but the recipe I have calls for Velveeta, which is not on my current “organic” diet. Thanks for an alternative. Also love the hot sauce addition.

  11. gummy bear says

    i think the secret is to replace the milk with cream and it’s ok to use sharp vermont not extra sharp right??

      • Jenn says

        My daughter loves Panera’s, so I thought I would give this a try. But the finished product didn’t have much taste. I think it may have still tasted like flour. Should I taste the flour/butter mixture before adding in everything else to make sure that it cooked enough and that it doesn’t taste like flour? I used Tobasco sauce, French’s Dijon mustard, 2% milk, New Zealand grass fed sharp cheddar, and deli white American cheese. I also used salted butter, so I omitted the teaspoon of salt.

        • says

          I’m sorry this didn’t work for you. Try cooking the butter/flour mixture until it reaches a toasted almond color. You can even reduce the amount of flour if you’d like. The recipe that’s posted is Panera’s recipe that they put up on their website. Maybe try extra sharp white cheddar?

  12. Jay says

    I followed the recipe to the tee, and all I can say is that it tasted far to much of flour. Maybe our Panera’s differ, but this didn’t taste anything like it to me. As a lover of mac n cheese I made up a large batch so I could eat little bits through the week. Neither hubby or I could eat this. I’d say a 1/4 to an 1/8 cup of flour would suffice and get rid of that flour taste that I have never tasted in Panera’s mac n cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not downing you or your recipe… some seem quite happy with it. And I thank you for posting this so I could try it. I, too, think there is most likely a heavy cream to this recipe. I’d say probably half heavy cream and half milk. I also see flecks of black pepper in Panera’s mac n cheese. I’d say the hot sauce is fine, but also some black pepper. I’ll have to go back to Panera’s tomorrow and grab another order and come home and work to recreate it completely. So far, this wasn’t close to me. But with far less flour it might be tasty enough?

    • says

      I’m not sure exactly what happened, I can only guess. With that said, it sounds like maybe the butter/flour mixture wasn’t cooked? Try cooking it until it reaches a toasted almond color, and even reduce the amount of flour if you’d like. The recipe that’s posted is Panera’s recipe that they put up on their website. Best of luck! :)

  13. Patti l says

    Its close but my daughter who is the worlds biggest fan of Paneras mac n cheese says its not quit smooth or cheesy enough. Next time less flour n more cheese. Bt it is yummy!

  14. says

    OK folks I think i’ve discovered the missing ingredient for the Panera Mac and Cheese; I used 11/2 cup of Evaporated milk (12 oz) and 1 cup reg milk to equal the 21/2 cups. I also used Morton salt instead of Kosher salt and used just a SQUiRTof the Dijon mustard. Try this and see what you think!

  15. Mimi says

    I was wondering if I could make it and put it in a crockpot to keep it warm for a picnic we’re going to, or do you think that it would get gummy? Mimi

  16. Emmie says

    I haven’t tried this yet and I’m excited to see what I think considering Panera mac and cheese is my favorite thing ever. That being said..there’s no way this came off their website at one time and if it was a lie! They get their mac and cheese in bags and it’s full of preservatives and all kinds of stuff. The ingredients are now on the website under the nutritional information. I’m just putting that out there. They do use vermont white cheddar though. I know that.

  17. Carma says

    If you let the milk sit out to get to room temperature before adding it to the recipe, it will create a sweeter product.

    • says

      Hi Adrienne,
      Unfortunately, this recipe will not freeze well because of the nature of the cheese sauce. It will turn grainy once frozen and then thawed/re-heated.

      • adrienne says

        Thanks, and rats! Think I could get away with making a couple days before thanksgiving and reheating from refrigerated? And thanks for posting this!

        • says

          This one I’m not sure about. Every time I make it I serve it right away and never have leftovers. My gut is telling me probably not because of the way the cheese sets up, sorry. This recipe is a little different from other Mac & Cheese recipes, it’s best served right away.

  18. Bec says

    Just tried making this (am in Australia so needed to substitute a few things) but i found the cheddar to be WAY to overpowering… my dad liked it but i couldn’t finish… probably going to have to throw most of it out

  19. Maggie says

    For people complaining its not creamy enough & has a flour taste the crucial element is a good Roux. To prepare sauce, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. People may be making the Roux to quickly making the macaroni runny & flour tasting. It also helps give it a toasted flavor when you spend the extra time. Thanks for this recipe my son thanks you!

  20. Lisa says

    I love, love, love this recipe. I have made it many times for my family. We used to call it “The Panera Mac and Cheese” but now they just call it “Mom’s Mac and Cheese”. I’ve started to 1 + 1/2 the recipe since my boys are now 15 and 18 and along with my husband, they can eat this is up quickly! Thank you for sharing it.

  21. Mary Ann Kenny says

    This is delicious. We did not eat it all at one sitting and it tasted equally as good the next day. Grandkids love it.

    • says

      Hmm, I’m sure what’s happening. I checked the post on multiple web browsers and on my iPhone and the whole recipe was indeed there.
      In any event, here are the directions:
      Prepare pasta according to package directions.
      Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
      Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
      Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
      Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated). Serve immediately.

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