Discontinued Panera Items That Need To Make A Comeback

Panera Bread is known for many things. The restaurant, founded in 1987 in St. Louis, Missouri, was a pioneer in the fast-casual restaurant scene. Fans associate Panera Bread with semi-healthful food, from its light and refreshing salads to its hearty and comforting soups. Meanwhile, the brand's baked goods, like its muffins and cookies, show up on the regular in offices around the country. The restaurant's cafe spaces are also known as a good place to go if you need some WiFi and a low-key spot to get some work done while traveling (in fact, Panera was the top provider of free WiFi in the United States for a few years).

However, despite all of these good things that Panera is known for, long-time Panera diners will also know that the restaurant is likewise known for removing some of our favorite items from the menu without any warning, leaving you without your favorite salad, cookies, or sandwiches for the foreseeable future. If this is a pain that you know all too well, you'll likely recognize some of these discontinued Panera items that need to make a comeback, stat.

Power Kale Caesar Salad

The Power Kale Caesar Salad was a clear favorite when it was available. With this menu item, a simple Caesar salad received an upgrade thanks to the addition of Parmesan crisps, plus the use of kale in addition to the more standard romaine lettuce. Sure, Panera still serves a classic Caesar salad but that salad is frankly boring, with plain Jane romaine, parmesan, and chicken, with little else to make it interesting. In March 2023, Panera did launch a more unique southwest Caesar salad, which included avocado, cilantro, and chipotle aioli. Still, for fans of the kale version, it's just not the same.

Thankfully, because this salad is so simple, it's relatively easy to replicate at home. Additionally, not all hope is lost , as Panera did bring another salad back from the dead as a seasonal offering in 2023, the Strawberry Poppyseed Salad. Perhaps the Power Kale Caesar Salad could be next.

Spinach Power Salad

In 2013, Panera introduced its Spinach Power Salad to the world. To make it, eatery workers topped baby spinach with mushrooms, onions, eggs, bacon, and an onion vinaigrette. It made for a delicious combo that customers loved. As they raved on Facebook at the time, the salad became a quick favorite. According to one happy diner who commented on the post, "If something is delicious, it's this type of salad!"

Unfortunately, this salad is no longer available. But, just as is the case with the Power Kale Caesar Salad, this equally simple spinach salad is easy enough to put together at home, as myriad copy-cat recipes reveal. Plus, it's pretty close to what you'll get with a classic warm spinach salad recipe anyway, so a little creativity in the kitchen should garner similar results. You might even find a little tweaking makes the salad even better, whether you add in extra ingredients like bleu cheese or make swaps like trading the bacon for a vegan substitute.

Mediterranean Shrimp Couscous Salad

The Mediterranean Shrimp Couscous Salad was introduced to the Panera menu as part of a push toward Mediterranean-inspired menu items back in 2014. If you're not familiar with the concept, the popular Mediterranean diet, named after the region and the dining habits of those who live there, endorses the consumption of a lot of fresh, simple produce, whole grains, seafood, and healthy fats. This, in turn, is believed to support better heart health and all-around health benefits — and the Mediterranean Shrimp Couscous Salad fits right in.

This particular salad threw together a mixture of spinach and lettuce, with some couscous for texture and heft, topping it all with shrimp, olives (for those healthy fats), feta cheese, tomatoes, and a vinaigrette dressing. As one reviewer at the time noted, the result was a salad that was light and yet perfectly dressed, with shrimp that was pleasantly plump and firm.

Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup is yet another relatively simple menu item that Panera did oh-so-well. Full of flavor and vegan to boot, this soup stood out as an amazing, reliable option on the Panera menu. That is, until 2016. At the time, a Reddit user asked if the discontinued soup was coming back. On the thread, multiple commenters who claimed to be Panera employees said the soup would indeed reappear. 

However, it was a different story on Facebook. When a disappointed black bean soup fan called out Panera for removing the menu item, the brand's formal Facebook account responded. A representative claimed that the chain had "switched up" its menu so that it could include newer seasonal items. There was no indication that the soup would ever return.

The good news is that, if you're still craving this soup, you can likely buy a similar heat-and-eat offering from the Panera brand in your local grocery store. Made with the same spices and vegetarian broth, the soup may not be vegan, but it is both gluten and dairy-free.

Sonoma Chicken Stew

In 2011, Panera introduced the Sonoma Chicken Stew, a hearty and filling chicken soup that felt like a chicken pot pie without the pie crust. It was served with a cheesy biscuit and incorporated a creamy broth, as well as a bevy of veggies that included potatoes, leeks, and carrots, as well as thyme. The stew quickly won diners over. One Panera Facebook post from 2011 has even garnered comments as recently as 2022. Some are all but screaming for Panera to either bring the soup back or at least provide fans with the recipe so they can make it at home.

Some copycat recipes have attempted to bring the soup back since its disappearance and indicate that the ingredients needed to replicate the Sonoma Chicken Stew are pretty similar to chicken pot pie filling. Perhaps, with a little ingenuity and a simple chicken pot pie recipe, you could act like Dr. Frankenstein and bring your version of the stew back to life at home.


In 2006, Panera gave the world the Crispani, a menu item with a unique name that was basically a flatbread pizza. It was available for dinner service only and came in six unique flavors that you won't likely find in your average pizza shop, like sausage and apple. However, though the Crispani grew a fanbase, Panera removed it from menus in 2008. Despite its popularity, the menu item required a lot of work to make. Panera claimed that removing it was all part of a strategic, business-boosting plan.

When the menu item was removed, though, diners weren't the only ones who got upset. Shareholders actually brought a lawsuit against Panera in 2008, stating that the brand misled them regarding the Crispani's success. In 2011, Panera settled the lawsuit for nearly $6 million, though it did not admit wrongdoing or that, as the shareholders claimed, it increased its stock value by making the Crispani seem more popular than it was.

Sierra Turkey Sandwich

Panera's Sierra Turkey Sandwich gave happy diners a generous helping of sliced turkey topped with chipotle, onions, and greens, all sandwiched together between two slices of asiago focaccia. Unfortunately, the sandwich was technically discontinued several years ago — but only technically. According to those in the know on Reddit, the sandwich is considered an off-menu offering, which means that you can still try to order it. If you're both polite and lucky, a helpful employee might cobble together the sandwich using ingredients that they have on hand. What's more, the sandwich is still available on Panera's catering menu. So, if you want to get your Sierra Turkey Sandwich fix, you might just need to buy lunch for the office.

Of course, there's always the off chance that Panera will bring this sandwich back, especially when you consider that the sandwich isn't that far gone. Last year, Panera brought back another previously discontinued fan-favorite sandwich, the Toasted Frontega Chicken Sandwich, to rave reviews. Why couldn't it happen here, too?

Chipotle Chicken Panini

Though it was discontinued by 2015, the Chipotle Chicken Panini from Panera still boasts a fairly dedicated fanbase. How dedicated? Well, at one point, there was a website devoted to bringing the sandwich back to the menu, telling customers to call the Panera customer support line and voice their complaints. Yet the website has since been shuttered just like the smoky, spicy chicken sandwich that it was trying to save.

At least there's currently a Facebook page dedicated to bringing the sandwich back, though activity appears to have ceased in 2019 after the page moderator asked followers what they thought of Panera's new chipotle panini (the verdict: not good). Multiple petitions are also circulating online, begging Panera to bring the sandwich back. Some assume that the sandwich was removed due to its relatively high calorie count, which didn't quite vibe with Panera's growing focus on healthy menu items.

Coronado Carnitas Panini

Another favorite sandwich that often pops up in conversations surrounding Panera's most-missed discontinued items? The Coronado Carnitas Panini. This sandwich received the axe around the same time as several other paninis.

Thrillist tried to get to the bottom of the Panera panini's disappearances, but the brand refused to comment when asked about the menu items. That led some to guess that perhaps Panera did away with its paninis across the board to focus on non-pressed sandwiches and potentially save some money. 

Others on Reddit said that, several years ago, Panera locations lost access to panini presses altogether. Cooks instead had to use Turbochefs, glorified toaster ovens that bake hot sandwiches without pressing them. Other Reddit users also say that some of the ditched paninis are considered part of Panera's secret menu now, and you can still order them. However, due to the loss of the panini presses, you're still not going to get what's technically a panini. If your secret menu request works, you'll get the same panini ingredients, just on a non-pressed but still hot sandwich.

Fontina Grilled Cheese

The discontinued Fontina Grilled Cheese from Panera was, at one time, the perfect accompaniment to the chain's many soups. After all, what's better than a grilled cheese sandwich paired with a simple yet delicious soup on a blustery day? Originally served as a seasonal winter item, now the grilled cheese sandwich — with its toasty white bread and multiple types of cheese — is nowhere to be found.

In a petition meant to bring the grilled cheese sandwich back, one fan called the discontinuation a "travesty," saying that Panera made a poor decision to simply remove the sandwich from the menu due to its high calorie count and artificial ingredients. Instead, they argue that the brand should've simply adapted the recipe to fit the chain's new standards. Whatever the real reason behind Panera's decision, the brand's website does at least offer a copycat recipe that combines Fontina cheese with Gruyere and cheddar. With tomatoes and bacon, you'll get a similar sandwich experience, though it may not be quite the same.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Once upon a time, Panera's Butternut Squash Ravioli was a fan-favorite fall menu item, competing for status with only the autumn squash soup. Now, customers are left begging Panera to bring the ravioli back. As of 2019, however, commenters on Facebook were complaining that the ravioli was not available. 

The ravioli isn't the only pasta from the Panera menu that has been discontinued, either. Other fallen menu items have included the Chicken Tortellini Alfredo Pasta, as well as the Pesto Sacchettini Pasta. Not all of these have received quite the same level of love as the Butternut Squash Ravioli, however. Some of the pasta meals had received their fair share of bad reviews and even made the list of menu items that you should absolutely never order at Panera. That was largely because Panera's pasta dishes are typically made off-site, frozen, and then reheated in the store.

French Toast Bagel

In 2020, many restaurants reduced the scope of their menus as a cost-savings measure in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. At Panera, one of the menu items that were cut was the French Toast Bagel. On Reddit, one user said the bagel would return once restaurants fully re-opened. Yet, months later, customers said they still weren't finding the bagels in their local stores. Another Reddit thread noted that the French Toast Bagel is currently considered "gone for good."

Panera does still offer a Cinnamon Crunch Bagel, which is not the same but at least somewhat similar. Redditors note that the two taste moderately alike, with the biggest differences being the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel's namesake crunchy texture and its sugary topping. For a true French Toast Bagel, you may now need to visit Einstein Bros. Bagels, which offers a French toast bagel made with a cinnamon streusel topping, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Peanut Butter Banana Bagel

Panera's Peanut Butter Banana Bagel has been called one of the best bagels ever eaten. Too bad it was very quickly discontinued after its debut, with no plans in sight to bring it back. Why the swift axing? According to some fans who pondered the question on Facebook, Panera was hesitant to keep the item on its menus due to the peanut butter content, fearing cross-contamination for customers with peanut allergies. Other fans guessed that the bagels might have been tricky to keep in stock, too, especially if they were made with fresh bananas.

Whatever the reason, fans have taken up the challenge of creating a copycat Peanut Butter Banana Bagel recipe, blending ingredients like powdered peanut butter and fresh bananas, then adding them to traditional bagel recipes. If you're not interested in making your own bagels, for now, you might just have to settle for a smear of peanut butter and some banana slices on your daily bagel.

Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Cheese

It may seem inconsequential; just a cream cheese flavor, after all. However, to some Panera customers, the Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Cheese was everything. When Panera discontinued the spread, the move convinced some customers to stop going to the restaurant altogether. As of 2013, when a customer asked about the cream cheese on Facebook, Panera noted that there was no info regarding whether or not the cream cheese flavor would return. When the customer pressed for more info, Panera did not respond.

Rather than waiting on Panera to bring this long-gone cream cheese back into its rotation, some fans have taken matters into their own hands. Some TikTok hacks combine cream cheese with sun-dried tomatoes and oil for a similar option. It's also worth noting that Panera once offered a now-discontinued similar sun-dried tomato spread, called tomato sofrito, minus the cream cheese. For those interested in trying their hand at making that particular spread, one Panera employee was helpful enough to provide the ingredients list on Reddit.

Frosted Brownie

What's better than a regular brownie? What about one that's covered in a delicious layer of fudgy frosting? That was exactly what you got when you ordered one of Panera's Frosted Brownies. Unfortunately, these treats are no more. Panera's current brownie option is a plain variety with just a dusting of powdered sugar. The new brownie recipe premiered in 2021. On a petition to bring the Frosted Brownie back, one customer noted that the latest brownies are "underwhelming" and "hardly satisfying to chocolate lovers."

If you count yourself among the hardly-satisfied camp when faced with Panera's latest attempt at a brownie, check if your local Panera is one of the select restaurants offering new bakery shakes. If so, you can order a Fudge Brownie Swirl Bakery Shake that offers a little more to love, with brownie chunks blended into ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookie

In 2012, Panera introduced the Red Velvet Crinkle Cookie, a brownie-esque cookie with red velvet flavors and cream cheese blended into the cookie batter. Reviewers found the holiday cookie to be very sweet, but still near-perfect. Now, the cookie finds its spot on lists of most-missed discontinued Panera menu items.

The Red Velvet Crinkle Cookie is a divisive topic because another Panera crinkle cookie came first: the Mint Crinkle Cookie. With a chocolate base, peppermint notes, and powdered sugar, this particular treat was introduced in 2010. To some, this OG crinkle cookie was the real winner, and they were upset when the Red Velvet Crinkle Cookie took its place. 

Whatever side you find yourself on in the great crinkle cookie debate doesn't matter right now, as you won't find either of these in the Panera bakery. They've joined the ranks of other favorite Panera discontinued cookies, such as the chocolate duet and pumpkin cookies.