This copycat recipe of Panera’s new Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese is spot on perfection! They took their two fan favorites: mac & cheese and broccoli cheddar soup and mixed them together to make magic!
Panera’s macaroni and cheese is very rich and thick – and the key to this copycat recipe is to combine white cheddar with yellow cheddar to get that thick consistency and creaminess. I definitely like this version better than the regular mac – I love the little bites of broccoli and carrots!
How do you make Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese?
I started this out by combining the recipes for the mac & cheese and the broccoli cheddar soup that is so popular. It’s a fairly easy recipe – but it takes a little bit of time and a couple of pots.
First up, get your pasta started! Panera uses a Pipe Regatta pasta which is pretty hard to find so I went with extra large macaroni. Next – veggie time! Saute broccoli, carrots and onion in a little butter until softened. This is a key step – you want to chop all the veggies fairly small but still with small pieces. I mainly used the leafy parts of the broccoli and shredded the carrots to stay true to Panera’s soup.
For the cheese sauce – I highly recommend getting all your ingredients set out and measured. The steps go quickly – you don’t want to burn something because you’re measuring! To start, you make a rue by melting butter and then adding flour. You’ll want the measured milk, cream and chicken broth close by with your whisk. Alternate adding them all to the flour/butter mixture and your sauce will form quickly! Let this thicken for about five minutes – whisking the whole time.
Remove from the heat and whisk in your seasonings. Finally back to the stove and whisk in your cheeses and stir until melty and smooth. Then add your cooked veggies and macaroni and serve!
Can you freeze Panera’s Macaroni and Cheese?
Yes – thank goodness! I made a BIG pot of this – it’s sort of hard not too! I had to freeze half of the mac & cheese solely so I wouldn’t be eating it for a week straight! (Single life!) I use these glass containers – they’re BPA free, they seal better and heat up better than the old plastic standbys. To reheat – I’ll let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. If it’s a little dry – add milk or chicken broth to sauce it back up.
Why are you using chicken broth in macaroni & cheese?
Because this dish is basically a combination of their mac & cheese and their broccoli cheddar soup – I wanted to pull from both dishes. To give this a looser sauce, the chicken broth will help vs. adding more cream.
What to serve with Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese?
Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese
- 3/4 lb uncooked macaroni (or Pipe Regatta)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup yellow onion diced
- 1 cup carrots shredded
- 3 cups broccoli florets small dice
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 cup extra sharp WHITE cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup WHITE American cheese shredded
- 1 cup sharp YELLOW cheddar cheese shredded
- Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot with well salted water.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter. Add in onions, carrots and broccoli. Cook to soften about 5 minutes (may be more or less depending on the size vegetables you cut). if mixture gets dry add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Remove veggies from pan and set aside in bowl
- At this point – get all of your liquids out in measuring cups and cheeses grated.
- In veggie pan, melt butter over medium heat. When melted, whisk in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly to cook out the raw flour.
- Begin splashing in milk, cream and broth, alternating and whisking well. Continue pouring milk and cream in small amounts, constantly whisking to ensure smoothness, until the mixture is no longer a paste-like consistency but more like a soupy liquid.
- Turn heat to medium-low, whisking consistently and getting into the corners (to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom or the corners and burns), until the mixture becomes thick, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and whisk in salt, pepper, mustard powder, garlic powder and onion powder.
- Place back on heat on low and add cheeses and stir until melted and smooth.
- Add in broccoli mixture and noodles, stir.
- Panera uses Pipe Regatta pasta which is difficult to find – large elbow works fine
- For the broccoli, use mainly the “leafy” parts of the broccoli crowns and chop fairly fine
- For the carrots, use regular carrots and grate them. NOT baby carrots
- If you want a saucier mac & cheese, reduce cream by 1/2 cup and increase broth by 1/2 cup
- To reheat, add chicken broth or water – 1/4 cup per portion and reheat on stove or in microwave