Last updated on November 23rd, 2023
The Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese recipe is a real heart-warmer, sure to bring a touch of comfort to your day. This guide aims to unravel the secret to this dish that combines the charm of home cooking with the professional expertise of the Panera kitchen. This recipe, followed to a T, gets pretty close to the original Panera’s recipe at least that’s what folks say!
It’s a pure joy to whip up this recipe right in your own kitchen. A satisfying mix of creamy cheese, tender broccoli, and perfectly cooked pasta, this dish is a hit with folks young and old. As you prepare the ingredients, you’ll start to smell that familiar Panera aroma wafting through your kitchen. Let’s dive in, shall we?
The Origin of Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese
The Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese is a delightful fusion of two beloved Panera dishes. It combines Panera’s signature Broccoli cheese soup with their mouthwatering white cheddar macaroni. The result is a dish that’s a double whammy of cheesy delight and cozy comfort. A true ode to Panera’s commitment to wholesome, soulful cooking!
Behind the Ingredients
The brilliance of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese lies in the thoughtfully chosen ingredients. The backbone of this dish is the signature Broccoli Cheddar cheese soup, a hit at Panera outlets across the globe. Add to it the melty, cheesy goodness of the white cheddar macaroni and what you get is a match made in culinary heaven. Each ingredient contributes to the unique taste and texture of the dish, making it as delightful as it is flavorful.
Every great dish has a list of stellar ingredients, and the Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese is no exception. Now, to recreate this recipe, you’ll need some key ingredients.
You’ll need uncooked macaroni, butter, yellow onion, carrots, broccoli florets, all-purpose flour, 2% milk, heavy cream, chicken broth, salt, white pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, extra sharp white cheddar cheese, white American cheese, and sharp white cheddar cheese. These are the stars of the show, each vital to the final masterpiece. Snap your apron into place, and let’s get cooking!
Optional Ingredients for Extra Flavors
Now, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous and want to add your own flair to this recipe, there’s room for that. You could consider sprinkling in some smoked paprika for a bit of a kick, or maybe even some crispy fried onions for added crunch. These extras are like the cherry on top, not necessary but could make your dish stand out. But remember, it’s all about balance. Don’t go overboard and lose the essence of the original recipe, alright?
Step-By-Step: How to Prepare Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese at Home
So, you’ve got your ingredients all lined up and you’re ready to get down to business. Preparing this at home can feel like a bit of a dance. There’s a sequence to it, and every step counts. Don’t worry though, we’ll walk you through it. Just stay tuned for the upcoming sections as we break it down step by step. By the end, you’ll be cooking up a storm in no time!
Prepping Your Ingredients
First up, gather all the ingredients. Having everything ready will make the process smoother and there would be no fumbling around involved.
Get your macaroni, your broccoli, your cheeses all ready to go. Measure out that ¼ cup of unsalted butter – real butter, not that margarine stuff. And remember, good prep leads to smoother cooking. So chop your onions and carrots, grate that cheese. Believe me, it’s gonna pay off in the end.
Cook the Pasta and Broccoli
Cooking the pasta and broccoli correctly is crucial for this recipe. Get a big pot of water boiling, add a bit of salt, then tumble in your pasta. Cook it just right – tender, but still have a bit of bite to it. We call that “al dente”. Now, onto the veggie part. You want to melt the butter over medium heat, toss in your onions and carrots, and let them get all soft and sweet. It’s a bit of kitchen alchemy that really boosts the flavor.
Make Your Roux
Making a roux is a fundamental step in creating a creamy and rich cheese sauce. It’s gonna thicken up your sauce and make it all glossy and smooth. Start by melting your pre-measured unsalted butter over medium heat. Stir in some flour to your butter, onions, and carrots. Keep stirring until it’s all blended and you get a smooth mixture.
Add the Cream and Milk
Alright, we’re making progress. Next, you want to slowly pour in 1 cup heavy cream and 2 cups whole milk. Keep stirring while you do this, you don’t want any lumps. Now, as it heats up, your sauce is gonna start thickening. That’s the roux doing its job. If it gets too thick, you can always add a bit more milk. The base of your cheese sauce is now prepared!
Add the Spices and Mustard
It’s time to spice things up. Add in your spices – your salt, your pepper, your garlic and onion powder. Additionally, this is the stage to add the optional mustard seeds if you’re using them. Stir it all in and let the flavors mingle.
Mix in the Cheese
Next, gradually add the three types of cheese: extra sharp white cheddar, white American, and sharp yellow cheddar. Stir the sauce continuously as you add the cheese to ensure it melts evenly and creates a smooth, creamy sauce. Keep the heat low to prevent the cheese from burning. The cheesy goodness is gonna make your sauce all velvety and rich. And honestly, who can resist that?
Combining it All
Okay, final stretch! Now it’s time to bring everything together. Now, you take your cooked macaroni and broccoli, pour that beautiful cheese sauce all over it, then give it a good toss till everything’s coated. Next, spoon in your onion and carrot mixture, followed by the mustard seeds. Allow it to cook for a few minutes more so that the flavors meld together, creating the comforting, delicious casserole dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese be vegetarian?
The standard recipe for Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese involves using chicken broth. But if you’re aiming for a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth instead. Problem solved! Just replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth, and you’re good to go. Rest of the recipe remains the same. Easy enough, right?
Is it possible to Freeze this Macaroni and Cheese?
The answer is a big yes! Bet you’re pleased to hear that. The beauty of this dish is that it can be prepared ahead and frozen. Now, if there’s a night where cooking feels like climbing Mount Everest, just take out your pre-made Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese, wrap it in aluminum foil, and reheat in the microwave. Trust me, it tastes just as wonderful. Just add a bit of milk or broth if it seems a bit dry, and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal with minimal effort.
How healthy is Panera Mac and Cheese?
The Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese is a rich and creamy dish, which means it does contain a significant amount of calories and fat. Just because it’s mac and cheese, don’t go expecting Caesar salad levels of healthiness. This dish is everything you love about comfort food – creamy, cheesy, and utterly delightful. With ingredients like cheese, milk, butter, and pasta, it has its fair share of calories. However, it also has broccoli, which is a powerhouse of nutrients. So, it’s not all indulgence and no nutrition. It’s all about balance, ain’t it? But, remember, moderation is key. Enjoy this dish as a treat and not as an everyday meal, and you’re on the right track.
Recreating your favorite dishes like the this at home can be a fun and rewarding endeavor. It is not just about cooking. It’s a dance where ingredients and utensils twirl to the rhythm of a recipe card. To master this copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac, one needs to know the ins and outs of the ingredients.
It’s a testament of patience, of care, of the love for creating meals that not only taste good but also make folks feel good. And with each bite of the well-cooked veggies and the creamy pasta, you’ll know you’ve mastered the delightful journey of creating a delicious Panera broccoli cheddar mac & cheese.
Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups uncooked macaroni
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup carrots, chopped
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup white American cheese, shredded
- 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
- Smoked paprika (optional, for extra flavor)
- Crispy fried onions (optional, for added crunch)
Prepping Your Ingredients:
- Gather and measure out all ingredients.
- Cook macaroni according to package instructions.
- In a pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and carrots, cook until soft.
Cook the Pasta and Broccoli:
- Boil water, add salt, and cook macaroni until al dente.
- In a separate pan, melt butter, sauté broccoli until tender.
Make Your Roux:
- In a saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour until smooth.
Add the Cream and Milk:
- Slowly pour in 1 cup heavy cream and 2 cups whole milk, stirring continuously.
- Allow the sauce to thicken. Adjust consistency with more milk if needed.
Add the Spices and Mustard:
- Add salt, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and optional dry mustard.
- Stir to combine.
Mix in the Cheese:
- Gradually add extra sharp white cheddar, white American, and sharp white cheddar.
- Stir until melted and smooth. Add smoked paprika if desired.
Combining it All:
- Mix the cooked macaroni and broccoli.
- Pour the cheese sauce over and toss until coated.
- Add sautéed onions and carrots, and optional crispy fried onions.
- Allow flavors to meld for a few minutes.
- Experiment with smoked paprika for a spicy kick or crispy fried onions for added texture.