Panera Is Making Major Menu Changes. Here's What We Know

Despite recent signs that Panera might not be around much longer, the bakery cafe chain is showing renewed life. Per info shared with Mashed, Panera is announcing "its biggest menu transformation in brand history with a brand-new menu that refocuses attention on beloved favorites including soups, salads, sandwiches, and mac & cheese."

Along with focusing on the core offerings that initially set Panera apart, this overhaul includes 20 new menu updates. Of these, 12 are reported improvements on recipes like the Bravo Club Sandwich and the customer-favorite Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt. Other new sandwiches include the Toasted Italiano with Black Forest ham, soppressata, provolone cheese, romaine lettuce, red onion, pepperoncini peppers, garlic aioli, and Greek dressing on a French baguette; the Chicken Bacon Rancher, containing grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, aged white cheddar, and ranch dressing on Black Pepper Focaccia; the Ciabatta Cheesesteak with marinated sliced steak, provolone, garlic aioli, caramelized onions, and Peppadew peppers on ciabatta bread; and a Tomato Basil BLT holding applewood smoked bacon, mixed greens, tomatoes, garlic aioli, salt, and pepper on tomato basil miche.

Unfortunately for some fans, Panera has announced that its Flatbread Pizzas, which debuted during the pandemic, are joining its list of discontinued items. The menu transformation will go into effect nationwide beginning April 4, while MyPanera Rewards members will be treated to previews of the upcoming items throughout March.

Bacon Mac & Cheese will become a permanent menu item

Panera's Mac & Cheese has always been a fan favorite, so its new bacon variation is hardly a shock. This version will contain aged white cheddar sauce and applewood smoked bacon on top. Panera has previously tested this item in stores, and since customers have claimed to add their own bacon to the regular Mac & Cheese for years, it's about time it becomes permanent.

While the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad is getting a recipe improvement, Panera is also rolling out four new salads. Two of these are the Southwest Chicken Ranch, which contains romaine, ranch dressing, grilled chicken, chipotle aioli, avocado, grape tomatoes, corn, cilantro, and blue corn tortilla chips; and the Ranch Cobb, featuring romaine, mixed greens, ranch dressing, grape tomatoes, pickled red onions, bacon, feta, and a hard-boiled egg.

The other two new salads will come topped with a blend of farro and red rice. These are the Mediterranean Chicken Greens with Grains, which contains a mix of romaine and mixed greens, Greek dressing, grilled chicken, hummus, feta, red onions, Peppadew peppers, cucumbers, and a dusting of its Mediterranean shawarma seasoning; and the Balsamic Chicken Greens with Grains, which features cucumbers, pepperoncini pepper slices, avocado, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, and Green Goddess dressing placed atop a bed of romaine, mixed greens, and balsamic vinaigrette. Perhaps in response to criticism that Panera is overpriced, the chain is also adding new items that cost less than $10 each.