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Panera Now Has A Make-Your-Own Mac And Cheese Bar

Delish logo Delish 9/13/2018 Madison Flager
a bowl of food sitting on top of a wooden table: Yes, you can get it in the double bread bowl. © Panera Bread Yes, you can get it in the double bread bowl.

Panera Bread's mac and cheese is one of its most popular items-so much so that it's been a staple on the menu for a full decade. To celebrate the side's 10th anniversary, Panera created a make-your-own mac and cheese bar, and you have store employees to thank for the new menu option.

"A lot of this was born organically out of our associates at the café level," Tom Sadler, Panera's VP of product development told Delish. "On their breaks they would put a little bacon on there, a little pico de gallo, a little cilantro and they'd build their own experience."

a plate of food on a table: panera bowls.JPG © Madison Flager panera bowls.JPG

After seeing this during café visits, Panera chefs went back to the kitchen and developed three curated mac and cheese dishes, available now on menus nationwide. There's a classic-Bacon Mac and Cheese-plus two more loaded spins. The Baja Mac and Cheese comes with avocado, pico de gallo, and cilantro, while the BBQ Mac and Cheese has pulled chicken, apple cider vinegar-based BBQ sauce, frizzled onions and fresh cilantro.

If you want to mix and match toppings, that's where the make-your-own option comes in. It won't be a physical buffet-style bar, but the option to DIY your mac will be featured on the Panera Bread app and online ordering systems. A customized order can be requested in-restaurant, too.

a bowl of food sitting on a table: Panera Now Offers A Build Your Own Mac & Cheese © Panera Bread Panera Now Offers A Build Your Own Mac & Cheese

Can't decide on one flavor combo? Panera Bread anticipated that, and yep, you can get two orders in a double bread bowl, should you so desire. Or, you can get mac and cheese and soup. Whatever floats your carb-loving boat. Pass this on to your boss: The DIY bar is also available on the catering menu!

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