How to Make Panera Bread White Cheddar Mac and Cheese at Home (Copycat + Instant Pot Recipe)

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If you’re craving Panera mac and cheese, but you’re also trying to stick to your budget, this easy copycat Panera bread white cheddar mac and cheese is the perfect solution to enjoy your favorite fast food dish at home.

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I think we can all agree that macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Many popular fast food chains seem to agree as well so it’s no wonder they’ve added the popular staple to their menu. 

One of the ways that we stick to our frugal food budget of $100/week for our family of 5 is because we avoid going out to eat, and eat at home (almost) every night.

But sometimes, those fast food cravings really get to you, and you’re extra tempted to bust the budget and grab your favorite quick and easy food from Panera Bread, like the delicious white cheddar mac and cheese.

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Don’t worry though…I’ve got you! Now you can make your own Copycat Panera Bread White Cheddar Mac and Cheese at home! You have got to try this recipe – it’s delicious! 

You can make this Copycat Panera White Cheddar Mac on the stove top, or even better…make it easier and faster in the Instant Pot.

You might also want to try my recipe for Chick-fil-A Mac and Cheese too!

Instant Pot Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese

  • 1 lb large shell pasta
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ stick of salted butter
  • 2 cups of white cheddar cheese, cut into chunks
  • 6 to 8 white american cheese, quartered
  • 1 c milk
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • Black Pepper
  • 4 ½  cups of water
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Add water, salt, butter and pasta to the instant pot.

Seal the lid and select manual pressure. 

Set the timer for 4 minutes.

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It takes 7-10 minutes before the timer begins to countdown.

After the beep of the timer, use the quick release valve to release pressure.

Open the instant pot and drain almost all of the remaining water from the noodles. You can leave a little.

Place the pot back in the pressure cooker,add mustard powder, pepper, milk and both cheeses. 

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Stir the cheeses into the noodles and replace the lid. 

Allow everything to melt for about 5 minutes and stir again.

Serve immediately.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

This recipe makes 8 servings, and is perfect to store in containers to have an easy lunch or dinner idea for the kids all week.

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Here’s another version, if you don’t have an instant pot (the ingredients are slightly different so make sure to take note!)

Yield: 8 servings

Instant Pot Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese

An easy copycat Panera mac and cheese recipe, perfect when you're craving fast food but it's not in the budget!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb large shell pasta
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ stick of salted butter
  • 2 cups of white cheddar cheese, cut into chunks
  • 6 to 8 white american cheese, quartered
  • 1 c milk
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • Black Pepper
  • 4 ½ cups of water

Instructions

  1. Add water, salt, butter and pasta to the instant pot.
  2. Seal the lid and select manual pressure. 
  3. Set the timer for 4 minutes.
  4. It takes 7-10 minutes before the timer begins to countdown.
  5. After the beep of the timer, use the quick release valve to release pressure.
  6. Open the instant pot and drain almost all of the remaining water from the noodles. You can leave a little.
  7. Place the pot back in the pressure cooker,add mustard powder, pepper, milk and both cheeses. 
  8. Stir the cheeses into the noodles and replace the lid. 
  9. Allow everything to melt for about 5 minutes and stir again.
  10. Serve immediately.
  11. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

How to make Copycat Panera Bread White Cheddar Mac and Cheese (Stove Top Instructions) 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried pasta shells
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup white American cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions 

Cook pasta shells according to package directions; drain well.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large pot and slowly stir in the flour to form a thick paste. Whisk in milk, heavy cream, and Dijon mustard – combine well.

Add in the cheeses and salt and stir until melted and combined thoroughly. Stir in cooked pasta shells.

If you like this recipe for Copycat Panera Bread White Cheddar Mac and Cheese then leave a comment below!

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hi! I'm shannon

I’m a wife, mom of three, doctor, and blogger! In 2018, I decided to turn my mom blog, into a personal finance blog so others could follow along on our journey to pay off over HALF a MILLION dollars in student loan and practice start up debt. I hope you enjoy following along, and maybe even find some inspiration along the way.