Panera Bread-Inspired Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Inspired by the beloved Panera Bread broccoli cheddar mac and cheese, we’ve created a homemade version that’s sure to become a new favorite in your household.

When it comes to comfort food, few dishes hit the mark like a warm, cheesy bowl of mac and cheese. And when you add the goodness of broccoli and the unmistakable flavor of cheddar cheese, you have a dish that’s not just delicious but also packs a nutritional punch. Inspired by the beloved Panera Bread broccoli cheddar mac and cheese, we’ve created a homemade version that’s sure to become a new favorite in your household.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz (about 2 cups) medium shell pasta
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, blanched and chopped
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp all purpose seasoning

Instructions:

1. Cook the pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the shell pasta and cook until al dente according to the package instructions.
  • Drain and set aside.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water to loosen cheese sauce if needed

2. Blanch and Chop the Broccoli:

  • Add the broccoli florets to pasta water and cook for about 2 minutes, until they turn bright green.
  • Quickly transfer the broccoli to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
  • Drain and chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

3. Make the Cheese Sauce:

  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, stirring constantly.
  • Gradually add the milk and cream, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
  • Reduce the heat and slowly add in the shredded cheddar cheese, stirring until smooth and creamy.

4. Season the Sauce:

  • Stir in the seasoning blend and adjust seasoning to taste.

5. Combine Everything:

  • Add the cooked macaroni and chopped broccoli to the cheese sauce, stirring until well coated.
  • Use pasta water if needed to loosen consistency of sauce

6. Serve and Enjoy:

  • Scoop generous portions of the broccoli cheddar mac and cheese into bowls.
  • For an extra indulgent touch, sprinkle a little extra shredded cheddar on top before serving.

Tips and Variations:

  • Customize with Toppings: Consider adding crispy breadcrumbs or a sprinkle of grated Parmesan for added texture and flavor.
  • Make It Gluten-Free: Swap out regular macaroni for gluten-free pasta and use a gluten-free flour substitute in the sauce.
  • Add Protein: For a heartier meal, add crispy chicken and serve
Yield: 6 servings

Panera Bread-Inspired Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Panera Bread-Inspired Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Inspired by the beloved Panera Bread broccoli cheddar mac and cheese, we've created a homemade version that's sure to become a new favorite in your household.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz (about 2 cups) medium shell pasta
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, blanched and chopped
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp all purpose seasoning

Instructions

1. Cook the pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the shell pasta and cook until al dente according to the package instructions.
  • Drain and set aside.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water to loosen cheese sauce if needed

2. Blanch and Chop the Broccoli:

  • Add the broccoli florets to pasta water and cook for about 2 minutes, until they turn bright green.
  • Quickly transfer the broccoli to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
  • Drain and chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

3. Make the Cheese Sauce:

  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, stirring constantly.
  • Gradually add the milk and cream, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
  • Reduce the heat and slowly add in the shredded cheddar cheese, stirring until smooth and creamy.

4. Season the Sauce:

  • Stir in the seasoning blend and adjust seasoning to taste.

5. Combine Everything:

  • Add the cooked macaroni and chopped broccoli to the cheese sauce, stirring until well coated.
  • Use pasta water if needed to loosen consistency of sauce

6. Serve and Enjoy:

  • Scoop generous portions of the broccoli cheddar mac and cheese into bowls.
  • For an extra indulgent touch, sprinkle a little extra shredded cheddar on top before serving.

Notes

Tips and Variations:

  • Customize with Toppings: Consider adding crispy breadcrumbs or a sprinkle of grated Parmesan for added texture and flavor.
  • Make It Gluten-Free: Swap out regular macaroni for gluten-free pasta and use a gluten-free flour substitute in the sauce.
  • Add Protein: For a heartier meal, add crispy chicken and serve

There you have it — a homemade version of Panera Bread’s famous broccoli cheddar mac and cheese that’s sure to satisfy your comfort food cravings. Whether it’s a weeknight dinner or a special occasion, this dish is bound to be a hit with your family and friends. Enjoy!

Note: This recipe is an inspired recreation and not an official Panera Bread recipe.

Check out my last recipe here.

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