Get your spoons ready! This stove top mac and cheese is a copycat recipe of Panera’s mac and cheese and it will knock. your. socks. off. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Panera's Stove Top Mac and Cheese(New Photos Added: June 2019)

Have you ever had Panera’s mac and cheese?  It’s insanely amazing!

Velvety, creamy, cheesy, and worthy of only a spoon since it’s the closest utensil to a shovel. And here is the recipe for you! I got it from Panera’s website many years ago and have tweaked it to be my own after making it many, many times.


Stove Top Mac and Cheese

I know I lamented back in the fall about this being the very best mac and cheese recipe out there but until today, I’ve still yet to post a quick stove top mac and cheese recipe. I’ve tried a couple different stove top recipes in the past year but none of them really had the “wow” factor I was looking for.

Panera Mac and Cheese Recipe (Copycat)

But the Panera mac and cheese recipe? Oh this version is different.

Panera Mac and Cheese Ingredients

Obviously, I don’t know the actual ingredients that Panera uses for their mac and cheese recipe. And that’s fine because I’m always a little skeptical about ingredient labels on quick service food anyway.

So for me, homemade is usually the way to go. After all, where would this blog be without all the homemade recipes?

With that said, the ingredients for this mac and cheese recipe are a little different than you find in other stove top mac and cheese recipes. Also fine, because what I’ve felt about other versions not tasting like they were cooked enough is not an issue with this version.

Panera Mac and Cheese Recipe (Copycat)

And that’s because this recipe has some flavor boost going on! Here are the ingredients for this Panera Bread mac and cheese recipe (Keep scrolling down to the recipe card to view the full Ingredient list and Instructions!):

  • unsalted butter
  • all-purpose flour
  • milk
  • cheddar cheese
  • American cheese
  • salt
  • Dijon mustard
  • hot sauce (just a teeny bit!)
  • small pasta shapes like pipettes or shells

All of the unique flavors blend so beautifully and result in an unforgettable white cheese sauce that nestles itself into the shells and wraps itself around your spoon.

paneras stove top mac and cheese

Kyle and I both love the slight hint of Dijon that peaks out of the cheese sauce mostly because it reminds us of the mac and cheese recipes our moms made for us as kids.

BUT! You can always decrease the Dijon a little. Personally, I wouldn’t cut it completely though, because the sauce tastes like it’s missing “something” without it in there.

However, a bunch of reviewers (see Comments section below the recipe card) have said that they have omitted the Dijon and still loved the recipe.

Panera Mac and Cheese Recipe (Copycat)

So! It’s up to you!

Why Use American Cheese? Why Not Just Cheddar?

Let me tell you: American cheese melts AMAZINGLY. Don’t you remember the first time you made a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar cheese after making them with American cheese for your whole life?

It’s just not the same!

So adding American cheese to this recipe in addition to cheddar cheese helps keep the cheese sauce nice and smooth. Cheddar adds lots of flavor but when it melts, it can be greasy and even grainy.

Use both cheeses here and just trust me.

What Kind of Milk to Use for this Mac and Cheese Recipe

My Panera mac and cheese recipe has made it to our menu SO MANY times over the years since I first made it and I’ve used skim milk and whole milk – depending on what I have in the fridge – great success. Use whatever milk or cream you have on hand.

Heavy cream and half-and-half make for a much more indulgent mac and cheese meal and you can use either in place of the milk or to supplement it if you don’t have enough milk on hand.

Panera Mac and Cheese Recipe (Copycat)

Skim, whole, and 1%, 2% milk all work just great for this recipe too.

How to Make Panera’s Mac and Cheese at Home

This recipe is a super simple one to make! And it only takes 15 minutes to make!! Score! Here’s what you’ll do (Keep scrolling down to the recipe card to view the full Ingredient list and Instructions!):

STEP 1: Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.

STEP 2: While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. Start by melting butter in a saucepan and then whisking in flour. Cook the butter-flour mixture and then whisk in the milk. Simmer until the mixture thickens

STEP 3: Stir the cheese into the milk mixture. After the cheese has melted, stir in the salt, Dijon, and hot sauce.

STEP 4: Drain the pasta and mix it into the cheese sauce.

STEP 5: Serve in bowls with big spoons for scooping up all that goodness!

Panera's Mac and Cheese Recipe (Copycat)

So the big question for you is: Is this on your menu yet??

. . . . . . . .

Looking for more mac n’ cheese? Try these tried & true recipes!

Martha’s mac and cheese
Martha's Mac and Cheese

bacon and fontina mac and cheese
Bacon & Fontina Mac and Cheese

chipotle mac and cheese
Chipotle Mac and Cheese

shrimp feta fresh herb mac and cheese
Shrimp, Feta, and Fresh Herb Mac and Cheese

fried pimento mac and cheese
Fried Pimiento Mac and Cheese. . . . . . . .

Panera Mac and Cheese Recipe {Copycat}

Panera Mac and Cheese Recipe {Copycat}

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Get your spoons ready! This stove top mac and cheese is a copycat recipe of Panera's mac and cheese and it will knock. your. socks. off.


  • 16 oz pipette pasta or other small pasta shapes
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
  • 4 oz white or yellow American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
  • 8 oz extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
  • 2 tsp - 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp hot sauce (like Frank's) or sriracha sauce


  1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
  2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 ½ minutes whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. Serve hot in bowls with spoons.


After having made this recipe dozens of times since posting it, I have decreased the amount of flour and increased the time needed to cook the flour. Cooking the flour in the butter a little longer will reduce the "floury" taste and will help to thin out the sauce a little.

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Leave a Comment

  • February 15, 2012 at 5:08 AM

    I’ve never had the Panera version but yours looks soooooo good!

  • February 15, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    This sounds so tasty!! Lovely idea. A quick and easy dinner 🙂

  • February 15, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    I remember how much I loved the store bought mac and cheese when I was little – I tried some the other week and was quite disappointed with the flavour (I remember it being so much better!)
    This recipe sounds much better! Adult mac and cheese!

  • February 15, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Oh I love Panera especially their soup and this mac and cheese!

  • February 15, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Sweet Baby Jesus, this looks soooo good! Can never have too many great mac and cheese recipes under your belt.

  • February 16, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    Man, this sounds so good! I can’t wait to try it!

  • February 16, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    I LOVE Panera’s mac and cheese – can’t wait to try this!

  • February 16, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    OMG! I’m OBSESSED with panera’s mac and cheese!!!! It’s seriously the best thing on their menu, I just wish it wasn’t so darn bad for you. Oh well, a little splurge every now and then is totally worth it…I absolutely can’t wait to try this at home!

    • February 16, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Lauren: I agree – a splurge now and then is totally worth it…and this mac and cheese is definitely worth it. I hope you like it!

  • February 16, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    OMG, that looks divine! My husband loves the Panera Mac & Cheese – I will have to make this for him!

  • Lisa
    February 16, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    OMG! When Panera first came out with this macaroni and cheese, I tried it and went searching for a copycat recipe but found none. Thank you so much for creating it!

  • February 16, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    This looks so tasty. It is going on my menu for next week , and my children and husband our going to shower me with kisses when I make it. 🙂 Thank you!

    • February 16, 2012 at 9:55 PM

      Alicia: I love to hear this! Let me know how they like it!

      • February 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        It turned out perfect. I really liked the tang the mustard gave it too, something I would never think to put in mac-n-cheese. I got smiles and kisses all around for making this one. Thanks!

  • nessa
    February 16, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Thanks for posting this! I love their mac and cheese! Can’t wait to try this 🙂

  • February 16, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    This looks absolutely delicious. I love macaroni and cheese from restaurants. I’m always stealing bites off my kids’ plates.

  • February 16, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    This might be the most useful recipe of all time! Mac & Cheese is a staple for moms everywhere! I need to try this version. I sometimes do a baked version, but I really prefer the speed of a stovetop recipe. Is this weird? I like to serve it with fried slices of Spam. The greasy-salty flavor is a good compliment to mac and cheese.

    • February 17, 2012 at 10:28 AM

      Jen: We used to have pork chops with mac and cheese sometimes so I understand the complimentary flavors. Spam is…different 🙂 but if your family loves it then who’s to judge? 🙂 You’ll love this recipe though, so enjoy!

    • November 18, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      I have to add to this…I grew up with fried spam (and also fried balogna) as part of breakfast. I haven’t had it in SO SO long, because my husband refuses to go anywhere near the stuff, but good memories!

    • January 16, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      Growing up, we always ate Kraft Mac N Cheese with fried SPAM too!

  • February 19, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    I’m so glad I came across your post! I love creamy mac and cheese and I love Panera. Perfect.

  • Christine
    February 20, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    What if you added some buttermilk in place of the mustard for that tang effect? I’m not a big fan of mustard in my Mac n cheese.

  • Nicole G
    February 20, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    This looks heavenly! I love Panera but I can’t believe I haven’t tried their macaroni yet! We are making this tonight with baked fish and a side of roasted broccoli. I can’t wait!!!

  • February 23, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    I’ve been dying to try this recipe… and after seeing your photos i’m going to have to!!! Looks like cheesy goodness! 🙂

  • Alicia Downen
    February 25, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I just made it and it was awesome. My husband and son were very pleased:)

  • February 27, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    I made this tonight with only the sharp white cheddar since we don’t like American cheese and served it with egg noodles. Still tasted good, though I added garlic powder and lemon pepper (just our family’s preference.) Thanks for the recipe.

  • Cassie
    March 8, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Something went horribly wrong. I love Panera’s mac and cheese but this was not edible. It went straight down the garbage disposal! 🙁 Any suggestions of what went wrong? I used half and half. Everything else was the same! It was very sour/tangy and extremely thick. Yes, thick- not creamy! I know this recipe is from Parena’s website, so anyone have a similar experience?? 🙁

    • March 12, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      Cassie: I don’t know what went wrong – I’ve made it a number of times and have never had an issue. Was your half-and-half still good (i.e., not spoiled)?

  • Ellie
    March 8, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    Tried this recipe tonight. My girls eat Panera’s mac and cheese often and they both said it does not taste like Panera. Too much of a flour taste, I started to add just 1/4 cup of flour since the butter was 1/4 cup. Maybe it would have been better that way but I enjoyed trying something different for a change. Its back to my old stand-by, my Mom’s recipe. Thank you for the post!

    • Sara
      July 8, 2012 at 6:10 PM

      I agree with this. In making a roux, you need equal amounts of flour and fat (butter here). 1/3 cup to a 1/4 c of butter is too much flour.

      • July 10, 2012 at 8:31 AM

        Sara: Actually, it isn’t too much flour. I’ve made this recipe at least a dozen times with this ratio of butter to flour and it always works perfectly.

      • Anne
        December 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        I agree. I thought it tasted of the flour and not as good as what I have had at Panera.

  • Jennifer
    March 12, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    I absolutely LOVE Panera’s White Cheddar mac and cheese. Unfortunately this recipe disappointed me. I don’t think it tastes at all like Panera. It tasted like flour and was too thick and the mustard completely overpowered the taste of the white cheddar, which is a pretty strong cheese. Think I’ll just stick to letting Panera do the work here.

    • March 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      Jennifer: I’m sorry you didn’t care for this recipe. As I noted in the post, you can reduce the mustard if you feel that it would be too much for your tastes. Additionally, I’ve just reduced the amount of flour and increased the cooking time of the flour which will make the sauce a little thinner and will reduce the floury taste. I hope this helps other people who plan to make this recipe – it’s really one that we love but the mustard may be a taste-specific flavor.

  • Margaret
    March 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Loved the recipe, thanks for posting! I’ll only have to make half next time…too much indulgence!

  • Kris
    March 31, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Could I use cornstarch instead of flour??? (for a gluten free version…)

    • April 1, 2012 at 6:32 AM

      Kris: I’m sure you could. Add it however you normally would for gluten free mac and cheese.

  • April 1, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    I made this and it was fantastic! I shared it on my blog today at . Thanks so much for a great recipe!

  • April 4, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    I “heart” Panera and this recipe was oh-so-perfect. I added some cheddar cheese on top and set it in the oven (on broil) for like 10 mins. I got a almost-burnt cheesy crust and it was amazing.
    Oh by the way, skipped the hot sauce and chopped up a jalapeno and added it to the sauce before tossing in the pasta…loved the spicy punch. Cleared all my sinuses!
    Love it and thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • April 6, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    I just made this for us to have for lunch and even my picky 21-month-old chowed down on it!!! It was delicious, even made with regular sharp cheddar instead of white since that’s what I had in the fridge. Thank you for posting! 🙂

  • Connie
    April 26, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    I was so excited to see this on your blog – and to see that it is an original recipe from the Panera Website. When I read the recipe and your notes, I thought that the butter/flour ratio was off too. I think it needs to either be 1/2 cup of each of 1/4 cup of each, I tried it with 1/2 cup and it turned out great, but next time I will try it with 1/4 cup and see if it is just as good. I cooked the flour and butter for about 2 minutes before stiring in a combination of half and half and 1% milk, which actually turned out pretty thick. For all of those who had trouble with the sauce getting too thick, the way to fix that is to add some of your pasta water to the sauce. I have seen this done on cooking shows a lot and it really does work – it makes the sauce a perfect smooth consistency and I added about 1/2 cup of water. It was great!

  • Dianne
    April 30, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Just wondering if you would be able to make ahead and then freeze for another time?

  • Kathleen
    May 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    We had this for dinner last night and it’s completely gone today! GREAT recipe and so quick and easy!

  • Des
    May 12, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    For those wondering about the sauce being too thick, I would suggest just using the milk option. The trick to a really creamy bechamel (which is what it is before you add the cheese) is to make sure the milk is room temperature or even warm. Just makes it easier, I find. Thanks for posting this!

  • June 1, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    yum! I love homemade mac n’ cheese 🙂

  • Stephanie
    June 27, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    I’m usually not one to comment on a blog but hot damn! This is the best mac & cheese I’ve ever made in my life and the homemade factor makes it far superior to the one at Panera (which I love by the way) I have been browsing your other recipes since trying this one out and I can’t wait to try out some of the others! Thank you thank you thank you!

  • July 2, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    I made this over the weekend for company as a side for a cookout and it was a big hit! I loved this recipe- so easy and makes such a delicious and creamy mac and cheese. I know I’ll be making this one a lot! Thanks so much for posting!

  • vicky
    July 11, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    made this today.. yummy but a little too dry. not sure what i did wrong!

    • TJ MAC
      October 28, 2013 at 11:12 PM

      Did you boil the pasta in water? Lol

  • Matt
    July 24, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Im a big fan of Panera mac and cheese and this is a pretty good homemade alternative. Only hint would be too go extra light on the mustard if you are not a big fan of the flavor in your mac and cheese. I put in 2 teaspoons and I still feel like it is overwhelming.

    • July 25, 2012 at 8:51 AM

      Matt: Yes, I agree – the mustard can be a little overpowering so it does need to be adjusted to one’s/a family’s tastes.

  • Stephanie
    August 3, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    I’m getting the ingredients and making this tonight for dinner. I love Panera’s Mac n Cheese.

  • August 16, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    I’ve been staring at this picture for about a week now since seeing it again on Pinterest. It’s rainy and gloomy here today in Milwaukee, and I am stopping at the grocery store on my way home tonight. Sounds like a perfect combination to finally try this recipe. I cannot wait…………………….

  • PetiteMama
    August 24, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    Will make this tonight for my 3 yr old and friends. Does the Dijon and hot sauce make the dish spicy at all? I’m thinking of cutting out for the young taste buds.

    • August 24, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      PetiteMama: No, neither ingredient adds any heat – just the right amount of flavor the mac and cheese needs. However, the Dijon is a strong flavor (not hot) so start with a small amount, taste the sauce, and add more if you want. Hope that helps!

  • Kaylin
    August 31, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    I just made this! Its great, but after it sat for like ten minutes the sauce almost truned into the consistancy of develed eggs.. Has anyone else had this problem? What did I do wrong?

    • September 4, 2012 at 11:44 AM

      Kaylin: The sauce for just about all homemade mac and cheese recipes end up like this when it cools, especially because this recipe isn’t baked. It’s best eaten when hot.

  • Danielle
    September 1, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Tried this recipe the other night and it is absolutely fantastic. Will definitely keep it on hand for future use. I didn’t have dijon on hand or hot sauce so I used Weber’s hot mustard (has horseradish) and couple teaspoons of sirracha sauce. Delicious! Reheating this stuff isn’t so great though … it gets really oily. I tried stirring in a splash of milk and it’s marginally better, not great. Anyone have any suggestions?

    • September 4, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      Danielle: I’ve never eaten reheated mac and cheese that was nearly as good as when it was first made and this recipe is no exception. The recipe is best eaten the day you make it, served hot.

  • Anacam
    September 2, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    This was DELICIOUS!! I added French’s fried onions on top and baked it for about 10 minutes.

    September 7, 2012 at 7:16 AM

    Can’t wait to try this…I love Panera mac and cheese and I have a mac and cheese I made that is very similar – only difference, I put cream cheese and sharp cheddar… I might add ham to it…maybe bread crumbs on top?

  • Debbie
    September 19, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    I was hesitant to try after I saw some negative reviews, but this was awesome!!! Just like Panera! For the liquids I used: a cup of heavy cream, a cup of light cream, and a 1/2 cup of milk. My son, a huge Panera Mac n cheese fan, loved it! Thanks for posting!

  • PJ
    September 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    I made this & it was fantastic my family loved it better thsn my Mac cheese that I bake in the oven. The only thing i did different was added more butter and I added minced garlic. I can’t wait to pass this onto other family members & co workers. Another quick note I made this in less than a 1/2 hour which was great because I get home late from work & I am always looking for something quick & easy & something t
    The whole family will eat.

  • mara
    November 29, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    I made this tonight and enjoyed it!
    I added garlic salt to my pasta water and used 2 cups 1% milk + 1/2 cup of heavy cream. The sauce was delicious and the mac and cheese was perfect right out of the pot but it thickened up extremely quickly. I hope when I go to reheat it tomorrow adding a little water will help thin it back out to a nice sauce.
    Thanks for posting.

  • Nicole M
    December 11, 2012 at 3:58 PM


    Thank you for the recipe. I would like to make this for an upcoming Christmas party for 15-20 people. Should I make 2 dishes?

    Also, how much flour and bake time do you now recommend? Are your changes reflected in the recipe above?

    Finally, how do I avoid the mac ‘n’ cheese becoming “bad” from sitting out? If I am cooking for such a large group, people may not all arrive at the same time? Can I keep it in the oven on low heat until everyone arrives and is ready to eat?


  • Amy Smart
    December 23, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    I made this recipe today, and put in only 2 tsp of mustard and that was the only thing that you could taste. I was really disappointed to have made such a large pot of it for it to be completely inedible. My 1 year old daughter loves panera’s mac n cheese and she refused to touch it. I followed exactly what the recipe called for.

    • TJ MAC
      October 28, 2013 at 11:10 PM

      Then clearly you are an idiot – because I made it using this exact recipe and it came out perfect. Identical to Panera’s Mac & Cheese. And seriously – your 1 year old daughter can distinguish Panera Mac & Cheese from this recipe? Really??? Ya that’s really believable. Give me a break.

      • Anyhoo
        March 23, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        “TJMAC”, there is no reason to be rude.

        Actually, 2Tbl of dijon >IS< a bit overkill in this recipe. I only put in less than half that much and our child, who happens to also love Panera's mac and cheese, refused to eat it. A full 2Tbl would have been too mustardy for ME, and I like mustard. The recipe is tasty with 1Tbl, but it definitely differs from Panera's by just a wee bit. Not sure what, but I'm determined to find out.

  • EP
    January 3, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    Ok, I’ve never ever commented on a blog before, but I have to tell you that this was so amazing! I am *NOT* a cook- I truly hate cooking. But my new year’s resolution was to start learning. This was totally simple and not overwhelming enough for a true beginner (I am the microwave QUEEN!). I am not a huge mustard fan, so I definitely didn’t put much at all into it..more like a pea sized amount. My husband was shocked that I made something that was not microwaved or from a box…and delish!

    • January 3, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      EP, your comment just totally made my day! Congrats on a great job! I hope you stick around to learn some more this year. 🙂

  • January 8, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    I have made your recipe several times and it’s a favorite in our house! It’s always creamy and cheesy. I’ve tried a few different shapes of pasta and they all come out great. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    • January 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      So great to hear!

  • January 10, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    I just made a batch of this for the high school’s swim team’s after meet meal….OMG! It is delicious!!! I omitted hot sauce(don’t know the taste of the crowd) and lightened up on the mustard, I used all cheddar and whole milk rather then my usual skim.
    Others have complained about the grainy-ness. The trick to making good cheese sauce is to perfect you bechamel sauce. It is helpful to heat the milk before whisking into the butter and flour. Google bechamel if you don’t have a handy dandy all purpose cook book. It is a great base for all sorts of dishes and you will wonder why you ever cracked open a can of creamed soup base.
    I usually bake my mac-n-cheese, but next time I will use the stove-top method and add broccoli. YUM! I just hope what I made for this evening will hold up on the warm setting in the crock-pot for a few hours. It seems creamy enough and I warmed the pot with the dampish pasta first. I dumped the finished sauce into the crock-pot and mixed it in from there.


  • TM
    January 24, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    FYI- just a pro tip from a Panera employee, add a spoonful of bacon bits and a spoonful of chipotle mayo (the sauce on the Sierra Turkey sandwich) and stir it into your mac. It is unbelievably amazing.

  • Leslie
    February 3, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    The BEST homemade recipe ever.

    • February 3, 2013 at 7:33 PM


  • Tara N.
    May 6, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    This was SO GOOD!!! I made it with milk, and found it plenty rich enough. I couldn’t find white American, so I used monterrey jack and the hubby RAVED about it, even though he’s usually not a big mac n cheese fan.

  • Ashley
    July 1, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    What’s the nutrition for this recipe?

  • Ashley
    July 1, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Like the calories?

    • taraliptak
      July 6, 2013 at 6:29 PM

      I don’t calculate nutrition values for my recipes, sorry.

  • Stomach sadness
    July 24, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    This was by far the grossest thing I have ever cooked. My sisters agree with me…

    • Victoria Smith
      September 9, 2013 at 6:20 AM

      I suspect you are used to kraft m & c, not old fashioned, made with real cheese

  • July 28, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    […] Seriously, I could eat Mac n Cheese all day long & NEVER get sick of it. My arteries would not thank me, so someone needs to invent a calorie & fat free version that tastes like the real deal! 2. What’s your guilty pleasure/comfort food? […]

  • Jessica
    August 11, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    I just made this recipe, and it looked great, and it probably would have tasted great had it not been for the cheese. I could only find “Seriously Sharp Cheddar” by Cabot which gave the macaroni a very sour (almost rotten) taste. I’m sure it’s due to the sharpness of the cheese, but we did not care for it at all. Given the right cheese, I’m sure this would have been spot on with Panera. I’m glad I only made a half batch. I will definitely try making this again with a different style cheese (if I can find one).

  • Diana Cardenas
    September 14, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    This was absolutely delicious. a little thick but i think its because i used 2 cups of half and half and a splash of milk. hint: buy a good quality cheddar cheese before you make this. i bought kerrygold 100% RESERVE cheddar cheese and seriously its aged for 2 years so its amazingly good. i used that instead of both cheeses like the recipe called for and it was oh-so amazing!!!

  • October 8, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    I want to try this recipe. Looks so delicious. I’m obsessed with Panera Bread’s mac’n cheese.

  • November 11, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    […] this on Pinterest and I had to try it, despite the approximately 1,000 fat grams per serving.   Heres’ my finished dinner.  I’ve never had mac and cheese at Panera-so I […]

  • taraliptak
    November 29, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Great tip!!

  • […] White Mac and Cheese barely adapted from Smells Like Home […]

  • […] Annie’s Eats, via Smells Like Home and Panera […]

  • alyssal316
    February 14, 2014 at 5:49 AM

    I wonder if any one has done this in the crockpot

    • taraliptak
      February 14, 2014 at 6:32 PM

      It only takes 15 minutes to make this mac and cheese on the stove top and with the sauce you need to make in a saucepan, I wouldn’t suggest making it in the crock pot. However, I think it would keep warm in a crock pot just fine after being made on the stove. Hope that helps!

  • […] I have already made this mac ‘n cheese recipe twice, since I discovered it. It is so creamy.Source: Panera Bread, via Smells like Home […]

  • […] daughter is the pickiest person I know when it comes to food and she could eat the Panera Mac & Cheese every day of the week.  I have to admit it is […]

  • taraliptak
    May 23, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    I’ve tried it with 1/4 cup of flour and am not a fan of how loose the sauce is. To each their own though!

  • Kathleen
    September 4, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    I’ve been making your mac & cheese recipe for well over a year now having never ordered it at Panera (I’m a HUGE fan of their chicken salad). On a whim I ordered it and was so disappointed! Your homemade version is 1000X better!!!! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe!

    • September 4, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      Thanks so much for coming back to comment, Kathleen! I agree – this version is SO much better than what Panera serves…food warmed and served from a plastic bag will never compare to something homemade! We’ve also added all kinds of stuff to this recipe over the years – spinach, chicken sausage, roasted tomatoes, broccoli, and it’s always outstanding.

  • Susan B.
    September 18, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    This is the absolute best Creamy Mac and cheese recipe I have ever tried! My Search is FINALLY OVER. Btw, I was forced to leave out the mustard. I thought I had some but I didn’t and it was still great.

    • September 19, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      That’s exactly how I felt! NO MORE SEARCHING! 🙂 Thanks so much for coming back here to let me know.

  • October 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Well doesn’t that sound amazing! Perhaps basil pesto and some crumbled bacon too? Just sayin’…

  • Kimmer
    December 14, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    I am sooo bummed. I had been looking forward to this recipe all weekend. I just made it, following the recipe ExACTLY, with 2% milk. It came out so thick and pasty, so I added another half cup milk at the end. The floury taste is stronger than the Vermont cheddar. After reading all the raving reviews, I may try it another day with half the amount of flour.

    • December 15, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      Sorry this didn’t work out for you. I’m willing to bet that you didn’t cook the butter-flour mixture long enough. That’s the only reason why this recipe would turn out too thick and tasting of flour. I’ve made this recipe more times than I can count with the same amount of flour and even different types of milk and it always turns out well.

  • […] Mountain Mac – Home made knock off Panera Mac & Cheese recipe can be found over at Smells Like Home blog. (roughly $6)Kristoff Krusts – Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches (roughly $5)Sven Snacks […]

  • […] Via: […]

  • […] Click here for original recipe […]

  • […] yet to find a stove top recipe that tastes as good. Then I saw Tara rave about this recipe for Panera’s Stove Top Mac and Cheese and I figured I’d give it a […]

  • October 5, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    […] Panera Stove Top Mac and Cheese […]

  • Jillian
    November 9, 2017 at 12:56 PM

    I am making this for a side on Thanksgiving (it’ll be my first time making it) and want to make sure you don’t have any special tips on making this perfectly? I see the negative comments and get a little nervous. I will need to double the recipe, I saw your note on cooking the flour and butter longer together – noted – anything else?
    I have come to realization that the perfect mac and cheese cheeses are american and cheddar. All of the other fancy over-the-top ones with added cheeses like provolone just don’t make sense to me! And I love all cheeses, I do not discriminate!

    • Tara
      November 9, 2017 at 2:43 PM

      Hi Jillian! So excited you’re making this for Thanksgiving! What a great side dish! I still don’t understand the negative comments for this recipe – I’ve made it so many times and each time I do, it’s always excellent. To each their own I guess! If you’re making this for the first time for guests on a major holiday, I would strongly suggest that you make a test batch before the big day. Although I stand by this recipe, it would be terrible if it didn’t work out for you when you’re serving it to guests or if you didn’t like it at all. I don’t have any other notes on the recipe and I think it should work out well if you double it. If you’re still on the fence about it, Martha Stewart’s mac and cheese recipe is also absolutely incredible – definitely my favorite baked mac and cheese recipe of all time and the reviews across the internet are similar. Here’s my post about it:

      Let me know what you decide and how it goes for you! And Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  • Megan
    December 20, 2017 at 6:37 PM

    I’ve had this recipe pinned for quite awhile now and finally made it for dinner tonight. My husband and I both thought it was delicious!!! I used whole milk. Next time, I’ll probably only add one tsp of Dijon instead of two but other than that it was perfection! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    • Tara
      December 30, 2017 at 9:43 AM

      Oh yay! Always so happy to hear when others love this mac and cheese as much as we do! Thanks for coming back to let me know!

  • Sandy
    April 12, 2020 at 1:53 PM

    I have been making your recipe for years. It is my go-to Mac and cheese recipe- especially for holidays and special occasions. It is my family’s favorite bc it has a little bit of a kick from the spicy mustard. Thanks so much for sharing. It is by far my most favorite Mac and cheese recipe!

    • Tara
      April 19, 2020 at 2:28 PM

      Hi Sandy! You have no idea how much seeing this made my week! So happy to hear how much you and your family love this mac and cheese! Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review!

  • Brittany
    May 23, 2020 at 11:34 PM

    Do yourself a favor, make this recipe. So good

    • Tara
      May 23, 2020 at 11:50 PM

      Yay! So great to hear! Thanks so much for coming back to leave a review, Brittany!

  • Candace Vincent
    February 1, 2021 at 6:02 PM

    I converted to instant pot- fantastic.

    2 cups chicken broth
    2 tbsp butter
    Pressure cook 4 min- QR- turn off

    Stir in 2 tablespoons butter
    Half and half
    Turn on sauté

    Add in seasonings

    Slowly melt American in small batches turn off sauté if it starts “bubbling”
    Then cheddar – by small amounts blend well between batches-

    Adjust seasonings.

    So stinking good.

    • Tara
      February 3, 2021 at 10:58 AM

      Ummm…I’m totally making this tonight!! Thanks so much for your instructions! Can’t wait to try this recipe in the IP!

  • Sam
    March 8, 2021 at 1:28 PM

    Made this last night for dinner and it was amazing! I doubled the hot sauce and the dijon because we like the flavor. Easy to make and tasted great.

    • Tara
      March 10, 2021 at 7:56 AM

      YES! Such a great recipe, right? Love that you added extra so much extra flavor! Thanks so much for coming back to leave a review, Sam!!

  • Robin
    November 25, 2021 at 7:09 PM

    Mac & cheese snobs here, & LOVED this with our Thanksgiving meal! Thank you!

    • Tara
      November 26, 2021 at 9:20 AM

      Yay!! So great to hear this, Robin! We’re mac and cheese snobs here too!

  • Jill
    January 20, 2022 at 4:52 PM

    SO good! Thank you!! I, too, am a mac and cheese snob. I love Panera’s and this is definitely close!! I had heavy cream and half and half I wanted to use up so did about 1/2 c cream and 2 c half and half. I’m not a mustard fan so I added it 1t at a time, mixed, tasted and added more…..ended up with 1T total. I omitted the salt because I put a garlic habanero seasoning on my mac and cheese and it contains a little salt.

    • Tara
      February 6, 2022 at 12:56 PM

      So great to hear, Jill! Mac and cheese snobs unite!! Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review!