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Creamy Stovetop Panera Mac and Cheese

See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.

A homemade recipe for Panera Mac and Cheese, so you can enjoy this ultra creamy and cheesy pasta from the comfort of your own home! This recipe is so easy, you can have it on your table in 30 minutes (or less)!

Panera Mac and Cheese in bowl

This summer flew by, probably because the kids and I were so busy.  Sometimes when the kids and I are out and about, I like to treat us by going out to lunch or for a morning snack. Often we’ll choose to eat at Panera, because it’s kid-friendly and we love the menu of bagels, sandwiches, and salads. If it’s lunchtime, Julia always orders the mac and cheese and (not always willingly) shares some with her little brother.

I was excited to find that Panera’s mac and cheese recipe is available on their website, so that we can enjoy it at home as well. Julia loved the homemade version just as much as the mac and cheese at Panera, and it really does taste like the original.

Creamy Stovetop Panera Mac and Cheese - a homemade version of the restaurant favorite! This copycat recipe makes an ultra creamy and cheesy macaroni and cheese! Ready in 30 minutes!

I like to make this recipe with whole wheat pasta and I love the combination of white American and extra-sharp white cheddar cheeses used in this recipe. (I found white American cheese at my grocery store’s deli counter.) These two cheeses melt incredibly well in the hot cream sauce, so you end up with a smooth and creamy pot of mac and cheese.

It’s good to know that we can enjoy Panera’s deliciously cheesy, creamy macaroni and cheese while relaxing in the comfort of our own home. And since this is a 30 minute meal, you can have this homemade macaroni and cheese on your table in less time than it would take you to head to the restaurant.

You might also enjoy this broccoli mac and cheese or butternut squash mac and cheese. And if you own an Instant Pot, you have to try my Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe. It’s another one pot mac and cheese that is so easy to make!

closeup of mac and cheese in a small bowl

Creamy Stovetop Panera Mac and Cheese

Course 30 Minute Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword panera mac and cheese
Prep Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings 8
Calories 484kcal
A homemade recipe for Panera Mac and Cheese, so you can enjoy this ultra creamy and cheesy pasta from the comfort of your own home! This recipe is so easy, you can have it on your table in 30 minutes (or less)!


  • 16 ounces macaroni ((or our favorite pasta shells))
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups 2% milk
  • 4 ounces white American cheese (chopped into small pieces*)
  • 8 ounces white cheddar cheese (shredded (sharp or extra-sharp preferred))
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • dash of hot sauce (optional)


  • Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, drain and return to the pot; set aside.
  • Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
  • Slowly whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and bubbles, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in cheeses, a little bit at a time, stirring until cheese melts completely. Add mustard, salt, and hot sauce, and stir until well combined and sauce is smooth.
  • Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to combine. Serve immediately.


White American cheese is often available at the grocery store deli counter.
Slightly adapted from Panera Bread.


Serving: 1/8 recipe | Calories: 484kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 604mg | Potassium: 282mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 668IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 455mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
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