Is Panera Mac And Cheese Vegetarian? A Detailed Look

Mac and cheese is a comfort food favorite for many, with its creamy, cheesy goodness. If you’re a vegetarian who loves mac and cheese, you may be wondering if you can order it at Panera Bread. Panera has a variety of mac and cheese options on their menu, but are they vegetarian friendly?

Let’s take a detailed look at the ingredients of Panera’s mac and cheese to find out.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Most of Panera’s mac and cheese offerings do contain animal products and are therefore not vegetarian or vegan.

An Overview of Panera’s Mac and Cheese Options

Panera Bread is known for its delicious and comforting mac and cheese dishes. Whether you are a vegetarian or simply looking for a tasty meal, Panera offers a variety of options to satisfy your craving. Let’s take a closer look at some of their popular mac and cheese choices.

The Classic Mac and Cheese

The Classic Mac and Cheese at Panera is a fan favorite. Made with a blend of creamy cheeses, this dish is the perfect comfort food. It is important to note that the Classic Mac and Cheese at Panera is vegetarian-friendly.

The ingredients used in this dish do not contain any meat or meat by-products, making it a suitable choice for vegetarians.

Bacon Mac and Cheese

For those who are not vegetarian and enjoy the savory goodness of bacon, Panera also offers a Bacon Mac and Cheese option. This dish combines the delicious flavors of crispy bacon with the creamy mac and cheese.

However, it is important to mention that the Bacon Mac and Cheese is not suitable for vegetarians, as it contains meat.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

If you are looking for a luxurious mac and cheese experience, Panera’s Lobster Mac and Cheese is a must-try. This decadent dish features chunks of tender lobster mixed with creamy cheese sauce and pasta.

However, it is important to note that the Lobster Mac and Cheese is not vegetarian-friendly, as it contains seafood.

Ingredients in Panera’s Classic Mac and Cheese


The base of Panera’s Classic Mac and Cheese is the pasta. The pasta used in this dish is elbow macaroni, which is a small curved tube-shaped pasta. Elbow macaroni is made from durum wheat, which gives it a firm and chewy texture.

It is important to note that the pasta used in Panera’s Mac and Cheese does not contain any animal products, making it suitable for vegetarians.

Cheese Sauce

The cheese sauce is what gives Panera’s Mac and Cheese its creamy and flavorful taste. The cheese sauce is made from a combination of different cheeses, including white cheddar and American cheese. These cheeses are melted together with milk and seasoned with spices to create a rich and creamy sauce.

The cheese sauce does not contain any meat or gelatin, making it vegetarian-friendly.


While Panera’s Classic Mac and Cheese is delicious on its own, you can also choose to add toppings to enhance the flavor. Some popular toppings include breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and parsley. These toppings add a crunchy texture and an extra burst of flavor to the dish.

It is worth noting that these toppings are also vegetarian-friendly and do not contain any animal products.

Which Menu Items Are Vegetarian-Friendly

When it comes to finding vegetarian options at restaurants, Panera Bread is known for its variety of plant-based choices. Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply looking to incorporate more meatless meals into your diet, Panera has several menu items to satisfy your cravings.

Here are some of the vegetarian-friendly options you can find at Panera Bread.

Soups and Salads

Panera offers a range of soups and salads that are suitable for vegetarians. Their Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup is a customer favorite, made with butternut squash and pumpkin blended with spices and vegetable broth.

The Greek Salad and Strawberry Poppyseed Salad are also great choices, packed with fresh veggies and flavorful dressings. Just make sure to request no meat or bacon toppings.

Sandwiches and Wraps

Panera has a variety of vegetarian sandwiches and wraps that are both delicious and satisfying. The Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich is a popular choice, filled with feta cheese, cucumbers, hummus, and other tasty ingredients.

The Fuji Apple Chicken Salad can be easily modified by removing the chicken, leaving you with a refreshing mix of greens, apples, and gorgonzola.

Pasta and Mac and Cheese

One of the most beloved items on Panera’s menu is their Mac and Cheese. But is it vegetarian? The answer is yes! Panera’s Mac and Cheese is made with vegetarian-friendly ingredients, including pasta, milk, and a blend of cheeses.

It’s a creamy and comforting option that will surely satisfy your cravings. Don’t forget to pair it with a side of Panera’s freshly baked bread for the ultimate indulgence.

Bakery Items and Sides

Vegetarians can also enjoy a variety of bakery items and sides at Panera. Their freshly baked bagels, breads, and pastries are all vegetarian-friendly. Additionally, sides like the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, the Apple with Chips, and the Baked Potato Soup are all great options for a quick and tasty meal.

It’s important to note that while Panera Bread strives to provide accurate information and options for vegetarians, cross-contamination can occur in the kitchen. If you have strict dietary restrictions or allergies, it’s always a good idea to inform the staff about your specific needs to ensure your meal is prepared accordingly.

For more information about Panera’s vegetarian options, you can visit their official website: They have a detailed nutrition guide available, which can help you make informed choices based on your dietary preferences.

Vegetarian and Vegan Mac and Cheese Options at Panera

Modify the Classic Mac and Cheese

If you’re a vegetarian looking for a delicious mac and cheese option at Panera, you’ll be happy to know that the Classic Mac and Cheese can be easily modified to fit your dietary preferences. By simply requesting that the bacon be removed, you can enjoy a vegetarian-friendly version of this popular dish.

The creamy cheese sauce and perfectly cooked pasta will still satisfy your cravings, without compromising your vegetarian lifestyle.

Try the Vegetarian Black Bean Soup and Half Mac

For a more substantial vegetarian meal at Panera, consider ordering the Vegetarian Black Bean Soup and Half Mac combo. This option allows you to enjoy a bowl of hearty black bean soup, which is packed with flavor and protein, alongside a smaller portion of the Classic Mac and Cheese.

It’s a perfect combination for those looking for a vegetarian-friendly meal that is both filling and delicious.

Order Off-Menu Vegan Mac

If you follow a vegan diet, you may be wondering if there are any options for you at Panera. While there isn’t a specifically labeled vegan mac and cheese on the menu, you can still enjoy a vegan version by customizing your order.

Start with the Classic Mac and Cheese and request that it be made without cheese and butter. Instead, ask for extra vegetables or a vegan cheese substitute to be added. The staff at Panera will be happy to accommodate your dietary needs and create a vegan mac and cheese dish just for you.

It’s important to note that while Panera does offer vegetarian and vegan options, cross-contamination with meat and dairy products may occur. If you have strict dietary restrictions or severe allergies, it’s always a good idea to speak with the staff at your local Panera to ensure that your meal is prepared to your specifications.

Other Things to Keep in Mind


While Panera does take precautions to prevent cross-contamination, it is important to note that their kitchens handle a variety of ingredients. For individuals with severe allergies or dietary restrictions, it is always best to exercise caution.

If you have concerns about cross-contamination, it is recommended to speak with a Panera employee or manager to discuss your specific needs. They will be able to provide you with more information and guidance.

Regional and Seasonal Differences

It’s worth mentioning that Panera’s menu can vary slightly depending on the region and season. While the core menu items like the Mac and Cheese are usually consistent across all locations, there may be some regional or seasonal variations.

Panera often introduces limited-time offerings that cater to local tastes or highlight seasonal ingredients. So, if you’re visiting a Panera in a different city or during a specific time of the year, you might come across unique menu options that may not be available elsewhere.

Did you know? Panera is committed to using fresh, high-quality ingredients in their dishes. They prioritize sourcing from local and sustainable suppliers whenever possible. This dedication to quality and sustainability sets them apart from many other fast-food chains.


While Panera’s traditional mac and cheese contains animal products like milk and cheese, those seeking a vegetarian or vegan option can modify the classic mac, pair it with vegetarian soup, or order an off-menu vegan version.

When ordering, be aware of potential cross-contamination with meat products and regional or seasonal differences. With a few tweaks, vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy tasty mac and cheese from Panera.

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