Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese

  • PrepTime: 10 Mins
  • CookTime: 20 Mins
  • TotalTime: 30 Mins


  1. 1 pound pipette pasta (or other short pasta)
  2. 1/4 cup salted butter
  3. 2 tablespoons flour
  4. 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  5. 1 cup heavy cream
  6. 1 cup white cheddar cheese spread
  7. 2 tablespoons white cheddar cheese powder
  8. 1 cup freshly shredded white cheddar
  9. Salt (to taste)
  10. Pepper (to taste)


  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water to barely al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes under the recommended time. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and reserve.
  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the butter over medium heat, stirring to melt. Add the flour and stir to incorporate into the butter to make the roux. Cook for 1 minute, or until golden brown, to cook off the flour taste.
  4. Whisk in the evaporated milk and the heavy cream. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat or until the mixture has warmed through. Add the cheddar cheese spread and cheese powder to the milk. Slowly, add the shredded cheddar cheese, continuously whisking. Stir until you have a homogeneous sauce. Do not let the sauce boil.
  5. Add the cooked pasta into the sauce and mix well. If the sauce is too thick, add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
  6. Enjoy!


  1. Allow the mac and cheese to cool off completely.
  2. Portion it into plastic food storage bags. Flatten the bags and freeze the bags horizontally on a baking sheet. Once frozen you can place them upright to save space in your freezer.
  3. Heat a pan on medium-high heat and add 1/4 cup of water.
  4. Peel the freezer bag off away from the frozen mac and cheese and add the brick to the pan of warm water. Cover and heat for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and cook uncovered until the mac and cheese is heated through and creamy. Add more water if needed.
  6. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne to give the dish some heat. Alternatively add 1 teaspoon of hot sauce when finishing up the sauce.
  7. Add 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg to give the sauce a nutty tone.
  8. Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard when finishing up the sauce to add some tang and balance out the richness of the sauce.