Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese

Creamy white cheddar macaroni and cheese just like Panera. Give this copycat version a try. Oh and it’s quick and easy on the stove top too!!

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Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese: easy stove top recipe, so creamy and thick just like the real thing!

My kids are so predictable sometimes when it comes to ordering from restaurants. I like to order something different every time I go out, it’s fun to try new things.

But at Panera, we all seem to be creatures of habit. We all get the same soup, sandwich or salad..EVERY TIME. 

And of course, the macaroni and cheese. Obsessed.

It’s creamy. Wait…I should say it’s THICK and CREAMY. Capital letters help emphasize, right?

I thought it would be fun to try to recreate this recipe at home. I’m good at making the main dish for dinner, but it’s the side dishes that always get forgotten.

We usually end up having a fruit salad and a steamed veggie because I can’t seem to wrap my head around making side dishes.

Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese: easy stove top recipe, so creamy and thick just like the real thing!

But with today’s recipe, it’s the side dish that takes the show! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this photo. A side of sloppy joes with our Mac and Cheese.

I used Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar for this recipe. But a good quality white cheddar would work if you can’t find the Cabot. One of the many perks of my job (besides working in my pajamas and eating all day) is trying products from some of my favorite brands. I’m fortunate to be on the Cabot Cheese Board. Which basically means I get to try new products, delicious cheese, and let you all know what’s good. If you haven’t tried Cabot cheese, check out their website and find a store near you that sells their cheese. It gets devoured in our house!!

Anyways, I made this Copycat Panera recipe on the stove top. So easy! It makes a bunch too. When we went to reheat it, I added about 1/2 cup milk and cooked it on low on the stove top. Worked perfectly. Two days worth of mac and cheese for us!! YUMMY!

Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese: easy stove top recipe, so creamy and thick just like the real thing!

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Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: serves 8

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cup shredded white cheddar (I used Cabot seriously sharp cheddar)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1lb, pasta, cooked (cavatapppi, shells, or elbow)


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions while making the sauce. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
  2. In a large pot on medium high heat, add butter until melted. Whisk in the flour and cook for about one minute. Reduce heat to medium and add milk, heavy cream, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Continue whisking until it begins to bubble. Reduce to low and add white cheddar. Stir until melted.
  3. Add cooked pasta, stirring until combined. Remove from heat and allow to sit about 5 minutes to thicken. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. ENJOY.

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Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese: easy stove top recipe, so creamy and thick just like the real thing!

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**I am part of the Cabot Cheese Board community. I received free product, but no other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own**