in , ,

11 Best Panera Bread Menu Items

Savor the delicious selection of Panera Bread, where a wide range of mouthwatering treats are waiting to be enjoyed. This piece takes us on a gourmet tour of Panera’s menu, revealing the best-of-the-best selection of delicious items. Known for its high standards of freshness and quality, Panera Bread offers a menu that accommodates a wide range of dietary requirements and tastes. Panera’s menu radiates a dedication to quality and taste, from robust soups served in bread bowls to colorful salads full of flavorful ingredients and handcrafted sandwiches made with premium ingredients. We’ll explore the menu items that are truly exceptional at Panera Bread, savoring their flavors, inventiveness, and healthful goodness. Come along as we work our way through the Panera Bread menu, pointing you in the direction of the best and most delectable options that ensure a delightful meal at this well-liked chain of bakeries and cafés.


Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese
Source: Instagram

This new wave of “gourmet grilled cheese” is fun and all, but it can never beat the classic, melty deliciousness of the OG.  Panera’s Grilled Cheese stands out as a paradigm of everything this sandwich is supposed to be: fluffy white bread, toasted to a golden crisp on both sides, and gooey melted American cheese. That’s it. No peppered bacon. No gouda and brie. No fig jam. And certainly no five-grain artisan multi wheat ciabatta.  Just buttery, cheesy indulgence and a couple of pieces of bread. It’s simple, it’s timeless, and it’s tasty. 


Bacon Turkey Bravo Sandwich

Bacon Turkey Bravo Sandwich
Source: Instagram

Bravo, indeed. The Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich will always get a standing ovation from me because it’s just so easy to love.  Panera upgrades the quintessential turkey sandwich by adding smokey bacon, savory smoked Gouda, emerald greens, ripe tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of their signature sauce between two pieces of piquant Tomato Basil Bread.  I’ll pause for a moment to let you daydream about sinking your teeth into that combination of top-tier sandwich toppings. Even the bread is something you will dream about, the savory softness lingering long after you’ve sneakily licked the last crumb off of your plate. 


Asian Sesame Salad

Asian Sesame Salad
Source: Instagram

There are approximately a bajillion copycat recipes online for Panera’s Asian Sesame Salad, which is a solid indicator that people are big fans.  “Why,” you ask? Perhaps it’s the fact that this salad comes dressed to the nines with tender, white-meat chicken, fresh cilantro, toasted almonds, sesame seeds, crispy wonton strips, and Asian sesame vinaigrette all tucked into a bed of crisp romaine lettuce.  Yeah, that’s definitely got to be the reason. This salad is refreshing, filling, and light enough to save room for that Vanilla Cinnamon Roll you’ve been eyeing since you walked in the door. 

See also  Panera Bread Introduces New Sourdough Melts

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese
Source: Instagram

If Shakespeare were around today, he’d be writing sonnets singing the praises of Panera’s Mac & Cheese: When noodles join with cheeses, creamy, The angels cry out with delight, Panera’s cooked up something dreamy, That occupies my mind at night. This is not your typical box of fluorescent orange elbow noodles, my friends. On my personal list of Panera food ranked by which menu items make my stomach growl just thinking about them, this is the reigning champion.  The restaurant nixes the elbows and goes for shells, which is always the prime choice for mac & cheese. They also leave out the powdery, processed stuff and instead let those al dente shells mingle in tangy white cheddar cheese sauce that puts any other macaroni we’ve been eating to shame. 


Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup
Source: Instagram

Panera’s Chicken Noodle Soup is the ultimate comfort food.  It’s one of Panera’s best menu items because it’s uncomplicated. It’s everything we know and love about a steamy bowl of chicken noodles, done well with the ingredients it was meant to have and nothing extra.  Their recipe is a timeless one: bone broth, white meat chicken, egg noodles, carrots, celery, and a just-right amount of seasonings. Pair it with a Grilled Cheese for that “stayed home sick from school, so now I’m watching soap operas with my grandma” vibe. 


BBQ Chicken Salad

BBQ Chicken Salad
Source: Instagram

For those brave souls who can walk into Panera and order a salad while shelf upon shelf of flakey Danishes stare back at you, I salute your steadfastness. But, if there is one salad that can convince me to skip over the bear claws and eat something green, it’s the BBQ Chicken Salad. You just can’t go wrong with tender chicken on a bed of romaine lettuce, black bean and corn salsa, apple cider vinegar BBQ sauce, and crispy frizzled onions.  This salad is truly a testament to the fact that the best food at Panera is the stuff that you’d never think of putting in a salad, but it somehow just works. It’s no chocolate croissant, but it is a savory, light lunch with plenty of backyard barbecue flavor. 


Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast Sandwich
Source: Nation’s Restaurant News

It’s really hard to get a breakfast sandwich wrong. You need some egg, some kind of meat, maybe a slice of cheese, and there you have it.  Being the bread company it is, Panera saw the opportunity to optimize in their field of expertise. They knew that they could somehow improve on something that most people would be happy to eat between a couple of slices of store-brand white bread, and boy did they ever.  There are no fancy fillings here, folks. They offer the classic bacon or sausage along with scrambled eggs and cheese. Instead, you’ll spend your time choosing between toothsome Artisan ciabatta with its delightful chewy crust or yeasty, slightly sweet brioche

See also  Panera Introduces New Roman Empire Menu

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Source: Instagram

If Panera’s soup menu had a loveable mascot, their Broccoli Cheddar Soup would be a strong frontrunner.  Maybe it’s the hearty helping of tender broccoli pieces or the fondue-like foundation of thick cheddar cheese soup, but this is one of the best Panera menu items, hands down. Like a metaphorical plush blanket in a bowl, a steamy bowl of Broccoli Cheddar is always ready to warm you up on a chilly winter evening, enveloping you in nostalgic comfort.  And then, as if that weren’t enough to convince you to dive into a bowl ASAP, it comes with a pillowy baguette for dipping. Pure. Bliss. 


Margherita Flatbread

Margherita Flatbread
Source: Instagram

Pizza purists might argue that flatbreads are not a proper pie. Still, I challenge them to find a Margherita pizza at a fast-food restaurant that meets the same rigorous standards Panera has for their Margherita Flatbread.  This one ticks all the boxes: flaky flatbread, tomato bell pepper marinara, fontina mozzarella blend, grape tomatoes, even more fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil baked to crispy perfection. Sure, it’s no trip to Italy, but it’ll hit the spot when you’re looking for a bit of taste of the old country during your lunch break.  


Toasted Frontega Chicken Sandwich

Toasted Frontega Chicken Sandwich
Source: Instagram

Another popular selection in the copycat recipe world is the Toasted Frontega Chicken Sandwich.  While I still support the simplicity of the Grilled Cheese, the Frontega has earned my patronage almost as often. It’s toasty and tempting, piled high with smoked, pulled chicken, creamy mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, chipotle sauce, and a slight bite from red onions.  The bread choice– Black Pepper Focaccia– is an excellent choice to house all of that deliciousness, adding a savory kick that cuts through the richness of the chicken and mozzarella. 


Kitchen Sink Cookie

Kitchen Sink Cookie

Source: Instagram

Disclaimer: There are no actual kitchen sinks in this recipe. Instead, it’s loaded with semi-sweet chocolate, caramel pieces, pretzels, and flake salt for a savory-sweet experience that delights the senses. Panera claims that it’s big enough to share, but I’m inclined to disagree.  The Kitchen Sink Cookie is precisely the right size for me to enjoy all by myself, without any interlopers trying to move in on my dessert. Dessert decadence of this caliber deserves to be enjoyed in its entirety.  This mish-mash of salty and sugary tops the charts of Panera food ranked from best to worst, altogether transcending categories and standing supreme over pretty much anything else available on the menu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

Follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Quora, Google Guide and Facebook.