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Instant Pot Panera Mac And Cheese Recipe

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Do you crave Panera Macaroni and Cheese? Who doesn’t? The good news? You can easily make it at home in your Instant Pot. Enjoy the taste of

panera macaroni and cheese

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Creamy and Comforting: This panera mac and cheese recipe nails the gooey, rich comfort food experience.
  • Quick and Easy: With the Instant Pot, you’ll have a comforting dinner ready in minutes.
  • Restaurant Quality at Home: You can enjoy copycat panera mac and cheese without leaving your kitchen.

Recipe Ingredients

Here are the Panera bread Mac and Cheese ingredients you will need:

  • Pasta Shells: Provide a satisfying bite and absorb the cheese sauce well, making every mouthful creamy and delicious.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavors of the pasta and cheese, making them more pronounced and savory.
  • Margarine: Adds richness to the dish and helps create a smooth, creamy sauce when melted with the cheeses.
  • White Cheddar Cheese: Brings sharpness and depth to the cheese sauce, giving it a distinctive, robust flavor.
  • White American Cheese: Melts exceptionally well, lending a creamy, mild flavor that balances out the sharpness of the cheddar.
  • Milk: Thins out the cheese sauce to the perfect consistency, making it smooth and pourable. Whole milk makes it creamier, while skim milk is a lighter option.
  • Black Pepper: An optional ingredient, it adds a hint of heat and complexity to the mac and cheese, enhancing its savory qualities.
instant pot mac and cheese

How To Make Instant Pot Panera Mac And Cheese?

Here is a step-by-step guide for Instant Pot Panera mac and cheese.

Step One: Add Pasta To Instant Pot

1. Add your medium shells, butter, and kosher salt to the Instant Pot

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Step Two: Add Water To Instant Pot

Add 4 cups of water, and then give the mixture a good stir making sure each pasta shell has been mixed with the water.

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Step Three: Pressure Cook Pasta Shells

Close the lid on the Instant Pot, and turn the valve to sealed position. Pressure cook on high pressure for 4 minutes.

It will take about 10 minutes for your Instant Pot to come to pressure.

Step Four: Quick Release Pressure

Once the time is up, manually release in the Instant Pot by pulling the valve to you and opening it. Be sure to open using a towel or hot pad.

Step Five: Remove Excess Water From Pasta

Remove some of the water from the pot. No need to make sure all is gone, just a bit.

Step Six: Add Cheese & Milk To Pot

Add the shredded white cheddar cheese, sliced white American cheese, and milk to the cooked pasta. Mix until fully incorporated.

The heat from the pasta will melt the cheese.

Step Seven: Garnish & Serve

Serve your copycat panera mac and cheese bowls with a little black pepper, if desired. Enjoy!

Enjoy your Panera Mac and Cheese made in the Instant Pot! It’s the perfect way to enjoy Panera’s classic mac and cheese without having to leave the house. Plus, it tastes just like Panera Bread’s version – creamy, cheesy, and delicious!

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Variations

  • Garlic Powder: If you want to make this Panera mac and cheese even more flavorful, feel free to add in some cooked bacon or sausage. You could also mix in some garlic powder or onion powder for an extra kick of flavor.
  • Mustard: Some like to add ground mustard or dijon mustard for a mustard flavor. Just add one tablespoon at a time and taste to see if it’s at a level you want.
  • Hot Sauce: If you want to add hot sauce to your Panera mac and cheese to get a spicy dish then add one teaspoon of hot sauce at a time until you get your desired taste.

Substitutions

  • Macaroni: You can you elbow macaroni! I just like to use the shells since that is what they use at Panera. The cheesy goodness gets caught up in that little pocket of noodles and makes such a flavorful bite!
  • Whole Milk: You can use whatever type of milk you like. Whole milk is usually the preferred choice because it makes the Panera mac and cheese creamier. You can also try using skim milk if that’s what you have on hand. Some also use heavy cream, but we prefer milk for our version of this copycat Panera mac and cheese recipe.
  • Oat Milk: You can use oat milk in Panera mac and cheese. Oat milk has a creamy texture that helps give the macaroni and cheese a rich flavor. Be sure to adjust the amount of salt and pepper if needed since oat milk is usually unsalted.

Optional Toppings

  • Flavor: You can top Panera Mac and Cheese with various ingredients such as bacon, diced tomatoes, jalapenos, or shredded cheese. Jalapenos will make the dish spicy.
  • Vegetables: You can also mix in some cooked vegetables for a flavorful and nutritious addition.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

  • Prepare: Panera macaroni and cheese can be made ahead of time. Just cook the pasta shells according to the instructions in the recipe, and then add all of the remaining ingredients.
  • Freeze: Panera Mac and Cheese can be frozen. Just make sure to place in a freezer bag or airtight container, and that it is completely cooled before freezing.
  • Thaw: When ready to reheat, thaw overnight in your refrigerator.
  • Reheat: To reheat Panera Mac and Cheese, place in a lightly oiled baking dish. Sprinkle with a little shredded cheese and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until hot and bubbly. Enjoy!

What To Serve With This Recipe?

  • Chicken Breast: Serve a nicely seasoned and grilled chicken breast alongside the creamy mac and cheese for a protein boost.
  • Garlic Bread: A side of garlic bread or french baguette can be a delicious addition, offering a different texture and a hint of garlic flavor..
  • Baked Ham: Sliced baked ham can be a savory and satisfying accompaniment, providing a contrast in flavors.

No matter how you serve it, Panera Mac and Cheese is always a crowd pleaser! Enjoy!

FAQ’S

What Cheese Is Used In Panera Mac and Cheese?

Panera Mac and Cheese is Panera Bread’s version of the classic macaroni and cheese recipe. Panera uses a blend of three cheeses – Cheddar, Gouda, and Parmesan – to make their delicious recipe.

They also use elbow pasta, which gives it that classic macaroni shape we all know and love.

What Does Panera’s Mac and Cheese Taste Like?

Panera Mac and Cheese is creamy, cheesy and full of flavor. The cheese tastes rich while the spices give it that Panera Bread signature flavor.

It’s one of Panera’s most popular dishes for good reason – once you try it, you’ll be hooked! The sharp white cheddar cheese flavor adds a tangy flavor, while the gouda and parmesan give it a smooth texture.

Best Cheddar Cheese for Mac and Cheese?

Extra sharp white cheddar cheese is best for Panera Mac and Cheese. White cheddar will give you a creamy, cheesy dish with plenty of flavor.

You could also substitute these for cabot white cheddar or Vermont cheddar cheese. Just grate the block cheddar before use as this is cheaper than pre shredded cheese.

You can also use other types of cheese such as Colby or Monterey Jack cheese to mix it up. For the American cheese slices, I usually opt for the white variety but yellow works just fine.

Can You Make Macaroni and Cheese Without Milk?

Yes, you can make Panera Mac and Cheese without milk but it will not be as creamy. Instead of using milk, you can add cooked pasta to cream cheese or sour cream. If you prefer mac and cheese without any dairy at all. If that’s the case, try adding more butter and extra cheese.

Panera Macaroni And Cheese Instant Pot Recipe

Panera Mac And Cheese

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This Panera Mac And Cheese Recipe will not only satisfy your Italian cravings however it is one of the easiest and quick pasta you can make.

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Pasta Shells
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Margarine
  • 8 Ounces shredded White Cheddar Cheese
  • 6 Slices White American Cheese
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Add your medium shells, butter, and kosher salt to the Instant Pot
  2. Add 4 cups of water, and then give the mixture a good stir making sure each pasta shell has been mixed with the water.
  3. Close the lid on the Instant Pot, and turn the valve to sealed position. Pressure cook on high pressure for 4 minutes.
  4. It will take about 10 minutes for your Instant Pot to come to pressure.
  5. Once the time is up, manually release in the Instant Pot by pulling the valve to you and opening it. Be sure to open using a towel or hot pad.
  6. Remove some of the water from the pot. No need to make sure all is gone, just a bit.
  7. Add the shredded white cheddar cheese, sliced white American cheese, and milk to the cooked pasta. Mix until fully incorporated.
  8. The heat from the pasta will melt the cheese.
  9. Serve your copycat panera mac and cheese bowls with a little black pepper, if desired. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 424Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 1057mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 18g

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