Panera's Macaroni and Cheese

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In my younger years, I would only eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. With ketchup. There had to be ketchup on it. And I preferred the spirals or other fun shapes (they just tasted better).

But now that I'm all grown up and have expanded my horizons A LOT when it comes to food, I've definitely developed a deep appreciation for a good homemade macaroni and cheese. And I used to be intimidated by making it--the roux sounded complex, people--but now I've come to realize how much I was missing out. Now, I'm on a mission to try lots of different recipes for macaroni and cheese.

So, when I saw this one pop up on Annie's Eats a few weeks back, I put it on the short list of things to try--especially since I hadn't made any mac and cheese in a while. This one also got bonus points for being a stove-top recipe. I like it when I don't have to make it and THEN bake it. What can I say? I'm impatient sometimes. Especially on weeknights after work.

If it means anything to you, I guess this is Panera's mac and cheese recipe. I've only eaten at Panera a handful of times (I'm not a huge fan of it, honestly), and I've never tried their macaroni and cheese, so I can't vouch for how it compares. What I can say, however, is that it's really creamy, really cheesy, and really good. I mixed some peas in with Nora's and she gobbled it up like there was no tomorrow--the leftovers, too--so it definitely got two thumbs up from her.

If you're a Panera lover--and even if you aren't--give this one a try on a rainy (or sunny!) day. I don't think you'll be sorry.

Panera Macaroni and Cheese
(Source: As seen on Annie's Eats, originally from Panera)

- 1 lb. pasta shapes, such as shells
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 & 1/2 cups milk or half-and-half
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1.5-2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. hot sauce
- 4 oz. white American cheese, finely chopped
- 8 oz. white cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well. Return to the stockpot off the heat.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Stir in the flour and cook until light golden brown, whisking constantly, about 1.5 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Stir in the salt, mustard, and hot sauce. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook the sauce, stirring frequently, until it bubbles and thickens, about 6-8 minutes.
Remove the sauce from the heat.

3. Stir in the cheese a handful at a time, mixing until fully melted before adding more. Once all the cheese has been added and the sauce is smooth, pour the sauce over the pasta in the stockpot. Mix well until the pasta is fully coated in the sauce. Serve immediately.


Melanie,  May 24, 2012 at 8:49 AM  

We made this a couple of weeks ago and loved it! Sooo yummy, and definitely the best homemade mac and cheese we've ever tried.

Eric's Mommy May 25, 2012 at 8:16 AM  

I thought I was the only one who put ketchup on their mac and cheese! I only put it on leftover mac and cheese though, my Husband thinks I am crazy.

Erin O. May 29, 2012 at 4:31 PM  

I can't wait to try. Thanks for the recipe. I'm a huge fan of Panaera's mac and cheese because of how creamy it is!

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