Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese (Panera Copycat)
Updated: Feb 18
I think we can all agree that Mac and cheese is one of the top comfort foods in America. Something about a cheesy sauce with pasta is just pure love. It's a staple side to have on Thanksgiving, served on a BBQ plate, in a burger, on the side with a sandwich, or even served as a main dish. Heck, I'll just take a bowl of macaroni and cheese please!
I also know that Panera Mac and Cheese is one of the best out there! I always try not to order it, because I'm always trying to be mindful about what I eat. You know... low calorie eating... When it comes to macaroni and cheese, you have to just throw that out the window!
I cave in. All. The. Time.
So, I decided to re create that same macaroni and cheese for my nephews and nieces... who am I kidding, my entire family, of course! Yes, even the grown ups.
This mac is very much kid friendly. It's simply cheesy with no crazy ingredients.
I hope you love it as much as my family did!
1 lb. Macaroni pasta
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
4 oz diced cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 cups shredded sharp White Cheddar
1 cup grated Parmesan
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
Bring a large pot to boil. Season the water with a good amount of salt, once it comes to a boil. Cook the pasta and boil for about 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat a large pot to medium low, add the butter and let it melt. Add the flour to make a roux (thickener for the sauce). Stir the butter and flour for about 3 minutes, until the flour turns a light brown color.
Keeping the heat on low. Start adding the milk and heavy cream in batches slowly. Stir continuously with a whisk. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cream cheese and stir. Let it simmer on low heat for about 5-7 minutes, until cream cheese is melted and incorporated. The sauce should thicken slightly.
Start adding the cheese in batches, and whisk continuously as you are adding it into the sauce.
Once the cheese is all melted, add the cooked pasta, and mix until all combined. Turn heat off. Serve immediately.
-Allow the macaroni to settle into the sauce, it will thicken and stiffen up as it sits and cools on the stovetop.
-Avoid pre shredded cheese, fresh shredded cheese melts better and the quality of the taste is much better.