Copycat Panera Bread Mac And Cheese

Panera Bread has so many menu items that we absolutely love, and of all the options from bread to soup, salads, and desserts, there is one item that defines comfort food. Panera’s mac and cheese is one of the most crave-worthy items on the entire menu, and we’ve had our fair share of mac and cheese in our time. There’s just something about this one that we go gaga over. It’s so creamy and cheesy, with a great tang and perfectly cooked noodles. We’ve done our best to recreate this recipe in our own kitchen and boy does it sure taste good.

1 (16 oz) package rigati shell pasta
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups milk
6 slices white American cheese, cut into strips
8 oz extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
Cracked black pepper, garnish (optional)

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Set aside.
Melt butter in a large saucepan on low heat. Add flour and whisk until thickened. Bring heat up to medium and slowly add milk, stirring until mixture has thickened and begins to bubble.
Remove saucepan from heat and add American cheese, cheddar cheese, dijon mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Stir until cheese has melted and is smooth. Add pasta to saucepan and stir until pasta is coated with cheese sauce.
Optional garnish of fresh cracked black pepper to serve. Enjoy!