Restaurant food made easy for the average student

by Aliyah Armstrong | staff writer

If you’re tired of spending the majority of your paycheck on fast food, or you just want to save money on gas, here is a recipe for Panera Mac and Cheese that is spot-on, right down to the homemade bread bowl.

Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese Recipe


  • 1 16-ounce package of small shells pasta 

    I used penne because that's all we had but use small shells for authenticity.
    I used penne because that’s all we had but use small shells for authenticity.
  • 14 cup butter
  • 14 cup all-purpose flour
  • 212 cup milk
  • 6 Slices white American cheese
  • 8 oz extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar (I recommend chopping it into cubes for easy melting)
  • 14 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 18 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 circular loaf of sourdough bread

    The ingredients for this recipe cost under ten dollars.
    The ingredients for this recipe cost under ten dollars.


  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
  5. Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated). Transfer into bread bowl and serve immediately.

Note: To make the bread bowl, simply cut a circle out of the top and scoop out the bread inside.

** recipe adapted and modified from

This recipe takes only 20 minutes to make and is simple enough for a high schooler to make. It won’t hurt your wallet like constantly going out to eat as all the ingredients cost under ten dollars and the recipe makes 4-6 servings. Once you make this recipe you’ll never want to go out to eat at Panera ever again, and you’ll have more money to spend on things like going to the movies or your favorite artist’s new album.

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