This creamy white cheddar macaroni and cheese is the closest copycat recipe to Panera's Mac and Cheese! So easy to make so delicious!
Panera's Mac and Cheese is essentially their most popular menu item! It's funny it's actually classified as a soup, but we know this mac and cheese is a delicious side or meal. It's a favorite of adults and kids alike, and everyone always begs me for this recipe. It's incredibly easy to make at home, and way more cost effective. This Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese will be your go-to recipe from now on!
The best part about this mac and cheese is that it is super creamy and delicious! I have already shared with you how to make Mac & Cheese in the Instant pot and also Spicy Mac and Cheese! You are going to LOVE this Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese! I love serving it alongside Air Fryer Hot Dogs or Crispy Chicken Strips for a delicious meal!
How to make Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese:
**scroll down for full ingredients list and printable directions**
- Get all the ingredients together.
- Boil a pot of water, and add macaroni noodles or desired pasta shape and cook al dente according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Freshly grate extra sharp white cheddar cheese. DO NOT use pre-shredded cheese as this type of cheese has additives to prevent melting together.
- Using a medium sauce pot or skillet, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add flour and whisk into the butter until combined. Slowly add in the milk and heavy cream while whisking to combine. Add the dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and hot sauce and whisk to combine.
- Increase the heat to medium high, and bring the mixture to a quick boil. Add in the freshly grated cheese, and whisk to combine. Once it's mixed into the liquid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking here and there to prevent burning.
- Add the drained pasta back into the pot, then pour the cheese sauce over the top. Fold the pasta into the cheese sauce until completely coated.
- Serve and top with parsley, parmesan, and black pepper if desired.
Can I freeze this Mac and Cheese?
I don't recommend it. Creamy mac and cheese tends to get grainy after freezing, and it can be difficult to get the right consistency back after freezing.
What to serve alongside this mac and cheese:
- Air Fryer Asparagus Fries (easy recipe)
- Air Fryer Roasted Asparagus (2 ingredients)
- Air Fryer Roasted Broccoli (low calorie, low carb)
- Sautéed Kale (easy healthy recipe)
- Air Fryer Hot Dogs
- Air Fryer Hamburgers
- Instant Pot Corn on the Cob (in husk with peeling hack)
- Honey Mustard Chicken Strips (Air Fried or Baked)
This creamy white cheddar macaroni and cheese is the closest copycat recipe to Panera’s Mac and Cheese! So easy to make so delicious!
- 1 lb macaroni pasta (or whatever pasta shape you want)
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 ½ cups milk ( I used 1%)
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 8 ounce block extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (freshly)
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Using a medium sauce pot or skillet over medium heat, add butter and melt. Add flour, whisk until combined. Slowly add milk and heavy cream while whisking to combine. Add dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and hot sauce and whisk to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a quick boil. Add cheese and whisk to melt into mixture. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes, whisking every 30 seconds.
Add the drained pasta back into the pot, then pour cheese sauce over the top. Fold the pasta into the cheese sauce until completely coated.
Serve topped with parsley, ground black pepper, and parmesan cheese if desired.
I had been buying those little pre-made containers of panera mac and cheese for my kids for a while. They love it, but it gets SO expensive! I made this and they couldn't tell the difference at all! This will be the recipe I use from now on, thank you!
My kids love those too and I would always buy at Costco even though it was so expensive! They are obsessed with this recipe and I am so happy because those things add up in cost and in waste (so much plastic)!
what kind of hot sauce did you use?
We live an hour away from the closest Panera but I love their mac and cheese. I decided to try this recipe and it is SO GOOD! Tastes just like Panera!
My son is OBSESSED with Panera! How exciting to be able to make this recipe from home!
This is dangerous now that I can make it whenever I want, haha! So perfectly creamy and cheesy. Love it!
Grating your own cheese is the ultimate tip with this recipe. You'll be licking your bowl clean and not wasting any of this cheesy goodness.
Mac and cheese is a favorite around my house, and they love this! I love the white cheddar gooey goodness!
Get in my belly! This cheddar macaroni and cheese is looks so good.
Oh my, this Mac and Cheese is SO creamy and delicious!! I was so excited to try this recipe and it was SO good!!!
This Mac and Cheese is incredibly delicious! My family loved it!
How creamy are these mac and cheese! I am drooling over them!
Typically I make this for family gatherings a day before and then put it in the crockpot to keep warm and serve.May need to add some milk to it so that it is creamy… but not much. The kids love it and it is so easy t o make.
What hot siace do yoy reommend?
Frank's is alway my #1!