New, Must-Try Panera Menu Items


Holy crazy-day, batman!

That is to say, it’s been a nutty one around here for me and what seems like half the city. Everyone’s been out stocking up on the essentials before the big blizzard hits later this afternoon!

After a visit with my accountant this morning (2012 taxes projections = blerg and a half) I fought the crowds to pick up a few essentials of my own at the grocery store, and Bed, Bath & Beyond…and Archivers. Like I said – the essentials.

Afterwards I stopped by this cozy little spot to pick up a late lunch. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Panera, I believe it’s called? ;)

Since it’s been a grip and half since I last visited my local Panera, and I knew I’d be giving away some gift cards this week, I emailed my friend Panera John, the blessed saint who took me to get smooched by Curtis Stone, last night to see what the latest and greatest was on their menu. He immediately responded with two recommendations.

First, their new, Big Kid Grilled Cheese with gruyere, Vermont white cheddar, organic sliced American cheese, and applewood-smoked bacon grilled on their all-natural white bread. YES!

This sandwich is seriously just as delicious as it looks! The gooey-cheese factor is off the charts, and the smoky bacon studding the sandwich is ridiculous. The sandwich also has this great parmesan cheese crust (at least I think it was parm) on one side that’s inspired. I’m glad I got just half the sandwich as part of a You-Pick-2, ’cause this baby was decadent! 

My second “pick” was a cup of Panera’s Chicken Noodle Soup, a perennial favorite.

So much win on such a little plate!

But wait, there’s more! John’s second recomendation was that I pick up a Red Velvet Crinkle Cookie for dessert. Well twist my arm…

First of all these cookies are kept in a WARMER, so they’re served, well, warm, and second of all, the centers are perfectly gooey and chewy, with pieces of melty white chocolate all throughout.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is one of the best cookies I’ve ever had. It’s going to be very difficult saving half for my beloved Ben to enjoy when he gets home from work. Crinkle Cookies are his favorite, but, Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies are now mine! ;)

Month of Holiday Giveaways

To spread lots of holiday cheer, and fill some hungry bellies, Panera is giving away five, $15 gift cards to try something new off the menu, or enjoy a classic favorite at any of their locations.


*** PLEASE NOTE: the widget may take up to a minute to load and may not work in Internet Explorer. Winners are chosen randomly via and will be contacted directly via email. ***

Enter to win one, $15 Panera Gift Card by clicking on the “+1″ button then clicking “Enter” by 11:59pm central time on Thursday, December 20. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. Amy M 12.19.2012

    The crust on the panini looks amazing… I want to know how to do that at home!

  2. Barbara 12.19.2012

    I’ve been hearing about Panera’s grilled cheese…looked amazingg!! I always get the chicken noodle soup too :)

  3. Love Panera! That grilled cheese looks delicious and so does that cookie. Now I have an excuse to go there soon. :)

  4. Nancy 12.19.2012

    Went there 2 days ago with my husband…Had the big kid grilled cheese with chicken noodle soup too…Loved it!! My husband had the cookie and I love the brownie!

  5. Lisa G 12.19.2012

    We have Paradise Bakery here (pretty much the same thing altough our old Paradise Bakery before Panera bought them was way better) and I have had this sandwich 4 times in the last week lol. It is amazing. And their steak chili is also amazing and I don’t even like chili!

  6. Natasha 12.19.2012

    I got the big kid grilled cheese yesterday! It was so yummy, a definite winner :)

  7. Love Panera! It is definitely one of my favorite “fast food” restaurants and I always associate it with “healthier” comfort food. So delicious!

    That cookie…wow! It looks amazing! :)

  8. Joann 12.19.2012

    Love Panera! That looks soo good!

  9. Cindy 12.19.2012

    We love Panera Bread! I’ve had the Big Kid grilled cheese and a bowl of tomato soup. It was awesome!!!

    The cookie looks awesome..actually made something similar over the weekend, looks the same but without the white chocolate (had cream cheese instead) I think I’ll try the white chocolate that next time :)

  10. Kathleen Welch 12.19.2012

    That sandwich looks so good !

  11. Renee 12.19.2012

    YUM! I know what I want for dinner tonight!

  12. Kristen Stevens 12.19.2012

    I have tried the sandwich & the cookie, both divine ;) My favorite place to eat!

  13. omg YES PLEASE.
    have you tried the chicken stew? i’m in love! it comes with a jack cheese biscuit that pairs with it PERFECTLY.

  14. Urban Wife 12.19.2012

    OMG. I must visit Panera stat. This grilled cheese looks like it could very well change my life.

  15. I have had the cookie and it was AMAZING!

  16. Lauren 12.19.2012

    I had Panera last night too! The Turkey Cranberry Panini was delightful. My first time trying it and I’m hooked!

  17. christine hempel 12.19.2012

    Love love love Panera! My fav is the asiago cheese bagel toasted with hazelnut cream cheese…mmmmm!

  18. Bonnie 12.19.2012

    Just had the Big Kid Grilled Cheese with their tomato soup the other day! A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

  19. Kristen 12.19.2012

    I’d just like a vat of the broccoli cheese soup! :)

  20. Amanda 12.19.2012

    That sandwich looks absolutely heavenly…think I may have to pay Panera a visit soon.

  21. Lori Finch 12.19.2012

    I love Panera! The closest one is an hour away…ugh! I eat there everytime I get a chance. Looking forward to trying the
    Big Kid Grilled Cheese ! Thanks for the review…looks amazing!

  22. Margene 12.19.2012

    I absolutely LOVE Panera!!

  23. Jean 12.19.2012

    Went to Panera last week and my son got the Big Kid Grilled Cheese – he wouldn’t even give me a bite!!! I knew then and there that I would be getting it on my next visit!

  24. Oh yum!! If I were you I would have had to run out and buy a second cookie to have extra to share ;) I love Paneras treats!

  25. Julia 12.19.2012

    I have not seen that sandwich at Panera yet but boy do I have to try that! To die for!!

  26. Whitney 12.19.2012

    I’m a manager at a Panera in the Des Moines area, and this sandwich has been a HIT since we released it not too long ago! I love seeing it here on your blog!

    I did want to let you know that the lovely crust of cheese on the outside of the sandwich is actually gruyere as well. Have to use that delicious cheese EVERYWHERE we can! Glad you enjoyed your visit!

  27. Grilled cheese is my favorite. Love that place!! You HAVE to try their orange scone sometime. I’m addicted!

  28. Carolyn D. 12.19.2012

    I put a Panera gift card on my Christmas list this year. Ate there last week with my sister and the red velvet cookie looked so inviting, but she is is on a gluten free diet so didn’t tempt her. That will be a treat for myself this week.

  29. Lesley 12.19.2012

    That cookie seriously looks so amazing!

  30. Jen 12.19.2012

    We went there for lunch today too, albeit several states away :) That grilled cheese looked amazing but I got the turkey BLT with avocado. It was delicious! This is my 8 year olds favorite place to eat. :)

  31. Carmen 12.19.2012

    I love that crust. Must try one!

  32. Janel Gradowski 12.19.2012

    We just got the first Panera in our area this past spring. Before the closest one was over an hour away! The French Toast Bagel is my favorite thing, along with a caramel latte.

  33. Bet 12.19.2012

    I seem to always get the black bean soup… sooo good.

  34. Alyce Anne 12.19.2012

    The big kid grilled cheese is fabulous! I go for the cheese overload and get it with the also-marvelous macaroni and cheese.

  35. Kelly 12.19.2012

    Wow. Looks AMAZING!

  36. laurie 12.20.2012

    The broccoli cheese soup is a favorite of mine!

  37. kristin 12.20.2012

    My goodness, I love everything about Panera. I never grow sick of it…is that sad?!

  38. tammigirl 12.20.2012

    That cookie made my mouth water!

  39. Celeste B. 12.20.2012

    That grilled cheese looks amazing.

  40. Emily T. 12.20.2012

    I love going to Panera (or Bread Co, as us STL people know it) ;) My favorite thing is studying there on a cold day next to the fireplace with a big bowl of soup!

  41. Amy 12.20.2012

    Can’t wait to try their new grilled cheese! looks amazing.

  42. Beth W. 12.20.2012

    YUM! I’m a little scared to try one of these! I’m afraid I’d crave it everyday for lunch and I work across the street from a Panera!

  43. Ann J 12.20.2012

    The big kid grilled cheese sounds amazing with the ooey, gooey cheese. And the red velvet crinkle cookie is to die for.

  44. Paige 12.20.2012

    Panera John is THEE best! I couldn’t resist re-reading your post about Curtis Stone. I still get butterflies and turn into a little schoolgirl everytime I think back to that event :)

  45. Rach 12.20.2012

    omg. red. velvet. krinkle. done.

    xo Rach

  46. Lois 12.20.2012

    I don’t know that I have had Panera bread. I LOVE bread and this looks wonderful. I love grilled cheese sandwiches and this one looks amazing. I’ll try it at home. Thank you!

  47. charlotte A pardue sparks 12.20.2012

    Great prize….. I have never ate at Panera before! :)

  48. Andrea F 12.20.2012

    I had that exact meal for dinner last night!

  49. marie holan 12.20.2012

    Love Panera! One just opened in my city.

  50. Kathy miller 12.20.2012

    I had the exact same thing but tomato soup instead of chicken noodle. Everything was great topping it off with the red velvet crinkle cookie

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