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!!

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

Click HERE to save recipe to Pinterest!

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!!

How to make Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese:

  • Use a good cheddar. Don’t use the packaged shredded cheese, as it usually has cornstarch or some other thickeners already on it. Buy a block of cheddar and shred it yourself. Trust me, it’s going to melt so much creamier!
  • While your noodles are cooking, you can whip up the roux (flour and butter mixture). Then add remaining ingredients. By the time your noodles are done, your sauce should be ready. Easy!
  • When ready to reheat your leftovers, you may need to add about 1/2 cup milk. Warm it up on low on the stovetop. This recipe is about two meals for us as a side dish, for our family of 4.
  • Use the video tutorial to follow along!

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

I’m a little obsessed with Macaroni and Cheese….


Gouda and Bacon Mac and Cheese….it’s so goood-a (cheesy right?, hehehehe)


Classic, best ever, Macaroni and Cheese


Beef Enchilada Mac and Cheese...a delicious, hearty meal!

A few favorite Macaroni and Cheese recipes from my favorite blogs: 

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Copycat Panera Bread Macaroni and Cheese recipe and video:

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.

MAKING THIS RECIPE? Share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #ShugarySweets so I can see what you're cooking up in the kitchen!

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

*This Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese recipe was originally published on Shugary Sweets on March 21, 2014. A new video and text was added and republished April 2018.

**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**

**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

181 comments on “Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. Sirvermont

    Wondering if I could make this ahead? Or would it not be as good?

  2. Devon Atkins

    I’ve never had PB Mac n cheese, nor made homemade M n C other than the blue box; however I had to search for Cabot’s white cheddar (I’m a cheese LOVER and you sold that, girl!) went to the website and saw it was at a nearby store I never shop at. Days later I was at Costco and stopped by a sample table and low and behold it was THE cheese!! It was the Vintage White and I just about lost my mind!! I felt that was the sign!! Lol
    This M n C was delicious!! I should have 1/2 the recipe as its just two of us but being the first time I didn’t know ????, but it reheated beautifully…with a smidgen of milk it was just as good the 1st and second time; altho I added a lil grating of cheese. One note: when making the roux, next time I will cut down on the flour (or add more butter????) but I just bought more heavy cream and macaroni to make this again!! Didn’t even add the dry mustard and it was fantastic. Thank you.

  3. Angelina

    Made this tonight and we absolutely loved it. I did add extra cheese because I can’t help myself! ???? Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  4. I’ve tried this mac cheese recipe. My son love it..Thanks for share this recipe aimee

  5. Jeanna Brown

    Loved this recipe! Even my oldest, pickiest child loved it. Thanks so much!

  6. Billie

    Oh my goodness! I live in Cabot VT (and happen have an obsession with mac n’ cheese) so it’s so cool to see Cabot cheddar used in a recipe! 😀

  7. Jen D

    Simple and delicious!  We seasoned ours with Old Bay and wow!! Thanks for a nice easy recipe that the family loved. 

  8. Lori G

    This was amazing! So yummy. I’ve had so many problems in the past finding a good homemade mac and cheese recipe and this was perfect. Will now be used all the time for my family! Thanks for sharing it. 

  9. Parker

    This is pretty good but I will never understand how to make a roux that doesn’t have a flour-y taste to it.  I am not sure I’ll make this again.  I wanted to love it.  

  10. This looks awesome, Aimee! My daughter loves Panera’s Mac and cheese, and she will be so happy for me to recreate it!

  11. So easy and cheesy:-):-) I am sure my kids will love this. thanks for sharing this Aimee.

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  13. Emily Braun

    This is absolutely, hands down the best Mac and cheese I’ve ever tasted!!!!  This will definitely be a staple in our house!!!  Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!!  It’s sinply fantastic!!

  14. Anonymous

    If I dont have heavy cream can I use 3 cups of 2% milk?

  15. Kelly

    I just made this. I couldn’t find cabot’s so I used helava good sharp cheddar. It came out grainy & the flavor is meh like there’s not enough cheese. 

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