Copy cat Panera broccoli cheddar mac and cheese is oozing with a delicious cheesy sauce that encases every noodle and broccoli floret. This crave-worthy meal is the perfect combo of mac and cheese and broccoli cheddar cheese soup.
Copy cat Panera broccoli cheddar mac and cheese recipe
Ya’ll.. Fall is officially here! Are you celebrating as hard as I am? I’m pulling out all the stops with these fried apple cider donuts, caramel Dutch apple pie, and my favorite fall pasta dish- pumpkin pasta sauce with chicken.
First, if you are a fan of copy cat Panera recipes, check out my popular copy cat Panera baja mac and cheese recipe! Panera recently unveiled their newest masterpiece- broccoli cheddar mac and cheese. Ya’ll, it’s the perfect marriage between a creamy broccoli cheddar cheese soup and a hearty, sauce mac and cheese. Woooh, child, it is slammin’!
This is a fabulous recipe to make for those picky kids who won’t eat much more than chicken nuggets and french fries. Cheese covered veggies, how could you not fall in love? They are perfectly tender and just sooo good.
The cheddar cheese sauce is not like your typical mac and cheese sauce. It’s thicker and with more liquid, which is every mac and cheese lover’s dream. More cheesy sauce= more delicious.
Be warned, your kids (and you) will absolutely gobble this broccoli cheddar mac and cheese DOWN! It’s everything you’ve been needing for a warm, cozy fall meal. Meatless, packed with cheesy goodness, and so easy to make!
Panera broccoli cheddar mac and cheese ingredients (copy cat recipe)
- Pasta– Grab your favorite shape of pasta for this recipe, I chose elbows because they are easy to find and the way to cheese seeps into the center of the pasta… delicious.
- Shredded cheddar cheese– You have options here. You can buy blocks of cheddar cheese and shred it yourself which expands your options of what kind of cheddar cheese you want to use. The other option is to take a short cut and buy a bag of shredded cheese- super easy!
- Liquids– Heavy cream and water gives this broccoli cheddar mac and cheese the perfect gooey, cheesy sauce!
- Chicken bouillion– You can use chicken stock in place of the water, or you can use water and some chicken bouillon. I prefer to use bouillion because it adds more flavor to the cheese sauce!
- All-purpose flour– Use all-purpose flour to thicken the cheese sauce.
- Broccoli and carrots– Shredded carrots and broccoli florets are traditionally used in broccoli cheddar soup, so naturally, it has to go in the broccoli cheddar mac and cheese!
- Spices– Garlic and nutmeg add the perfect flavor to this mac and cheese!
- Salted butter– Butter makes everything better and it adds an extra layer of flavor and creaminess to the cheddar cheese sauce.
Make it faster
I have a few hacks for you to make this dish in under 15 minutes. Yep, dinner. in 15 minutes. You heard it right. Here are my tips to save time in the kitchen!
- Buy shredded cheese. You can find a blend of shredded cheddar cheese in most well stocked grocery stores. Shredded cheddar cheese means you don’t have to shred a block of cheese yourself- time saver!
- Buy packaged matchstick carrots. Not going to lie- cutting carrots into matchsticks is tedious and time consuming. You can buy a small package of shredded carrots to make life a whole lot easier!
- Buy pasta that has a fast cooking time. Some pasta has a cooking time of 10 minutes, while others have a quicker cooking time of 6/7 minutes. It may not seem like 3 minutes of cook time if a big deal, but when your home from work, tired, and trying to get dinner on the table, it’s 3 minutes regained!
Pastas to use for broccoli cheddar mac and cheese
- Elbows (Macaroni)
- Bow ties (Farfalle)
- Shells (Conchiglie)
- Corkscrews (Cavatappi)
How to make Panera broccoli cheddar mac and cheese (copy cat recipe)
- Cook the pasta to al dente. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a roaring boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water, then cook according to package instructions until the pasta is al dente. In the last three minutes of the pasta cooking time, add the broccoli and carrots. Strain the pasta mixture and set to the side.
- Make the cheese sauce. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium-sized pot. Once the butter is fully melted, stir in the flour and allow it to cook for 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, water, chicken bouillon, cheddar cheese, garlic powder, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Stir the sauce until all the cheese is melted. Pour the cheese over the pasta and stir to combine.
- Serve. Serve this broccoli cheddar mac and cheese with a pinch of shredded cheese on top for extra flavor. Mangia!
Copy Cat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb elbow pasta
- 1 1/2 cup broccoli florets cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 cup carrots shredded or matchstick
- 4 tbsp salted butter
- 4 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp chicken boullion
- 16 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a roaring boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook al dente, according to package instructions. In the last 4 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli and carrots to the pasta. Once it's done cooking, strain the pasta and vegetables and set to the side.
- Make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium-sized pot. Add the flour and stir until it is combined, then allow it to cook for 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, water, chicken boullion, shredded cheese, garlic powder, and nutmeg. Stir and cook the sauce until the cheese is melted.
- Toss everything together. Place the pasta in a large bowl, then pour the cheese over the pasta. Stir to combine and coat everything in the cheese sauce. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese on top. Mangia!
Nutrition values are estimates, for exact values consult a nutritionist.
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