Panera's Menu Overhaul Increases Portions, Lowers Prices

Say goodbye to Panera's flatbread pizzas and hello to Bacon Mac & Cheese.

Panera Bread has just announced a "new era" for itself, and with that comes a complete overhaul of its menu. By April 4, the bakery cafe chain restaurant with roughly 2,000 locations will be eliminating some of its current offerings, introducing nine new items, and updating 12 classics in the hopes of creating a better customer experience.

This is described as "the company's largest menu transformation ever," and it aims to improve things for both customers and employees. Panera notes that the new menu, which restores focus to core menu items like soup, salad, and sandwiches, will "streamline and simplify operations for Panera's cafe teams, ensuring they can deliver delicious food to guests efficiently, accurately and at a good value."

Panera’s new menu, explained

A number of the new menu items will be offered for under $10 at participating cafe locations, such as the Tomato Basil BLT, the Ranch Cobb Salad, and Mediterranean Greens with Grains (more on those below). Panera says portion sizes are another major upgrade coming with this new menu; salads and sandwiches will have more chicken and steak in them than before.

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The nine new menu items include a range of sandwiches and salads, which Panera emphasizes are part of its core as a brand. Here are the sandwiches arriving April 4:

  • Toasted Italiano – Black Forest ham, soppressata and provolone, romaine, red onion, sliced pepperoncini peppers, garlic aioli, and Greek dressing on Panera's toasted French Baguette
  • Chicken Bacon Rancher – Grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, aged white cheddar, and n ranch dressing on our Black Pepper Focaccia
  • Ciabatta Cheesesteak – Tender marinated sliced steak, provolone, garlic aioli, caramelized onions, and zesty sweet Peppadew™ peppers on Ciabatta
  • Tomato Basil BLT – Applewood smoked bacon, crisp mixed greens, vine-ripened tomatoes, garlic aioli, salt and pepper on Tomato Basil Miche

The new salads coming to the menu in April 2024 include:

  • Mediterranean Chicken Greens with Grains – Romaine and crisp mixed greens tossed in Greek Dressing, topped with hearty whole grain blend of farro & red rice, grilled chicken, hummus, feta, red onions, zesty sweet Peppadew™ peppers, sliced cucumbers, and a sprinkle of Panera's Mediterranean shawarma seasoning
  • Southwest Chicken Ranch – Romaine tossed in ranch dressing, with grilled chicken and drizzled with chipotle aioli, topped with fresh avocado, grape tomatoes, fire-grilled corn, fresh cilantro, and blue corn tortilla strips
  • Balsamic Chicken Greens with Grains – Romaine and crisp mixed greens tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, with hearty whole grain blend of farro & red rice, sliced cucumbers, topped with sliced pepperoncini peppers, fresh avocado, feta, pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of Green Goddess dressing
  • Ranch Cobb Salad - Romaine and crisp mixed greens tossed in ranch dressing, topped with grape tomatoes, pickled red onions, applewood smoked bacon, feta, and a hard-boiled egg

Plus, Panera will add another new entree to its Mac & Cheese lineup:

Bacon Mac & Cheese – Tender shell pasta in a blend of rich cheeses including our tangy aged white cheddar sauce, topped with applewood smoked bacon

In addition to the brand new items, Panera will be updating existing offerings such as the Bravo Club Sandwich, the Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt, the Fuji Apple Chicken salad, and more. Even as Panera chooses to enhance some of its current offerings, customers will still have to say goodbye to other menu items.

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Panera will discontinue its flatbread pizzas

Panera confirmed to The Takeout via email that flatbread pizzas will be eliminated from the new menu. The brand also confirmed to Restaurant Business that its French Onion Soup will remain on the new menu, and a kids menu will still be available.

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The Takeout inquired about whether Panera's controversial Charged Lemonades will remain on the new menu, but Panera declined to comment. The restaurant is currently in the midst of multiple lawsuits regarding its Charged Lemonades; the filings allege that the highly caffeinated beverages are connected to the deaths of two people.

Though it seems like a lot to drop in one announcement, this complete menu revamp is not actually all that sudden, considering Panera began tinkering with its menu last year. In August 2023, the chain tested a more limited version of its menu at select locations with the aim of cutting almost 50 menu items. However, in these pared-down test menus, the French Onion Soup did not make the cut.

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"We've listened to thousands of guests on our path to unveiling more than 20 new or enhanced menu items and are thrilled to bring these products to Panera bakery-cafes nationwide," Alicia Mowder, SVP of product strategy & insights, said in the recent announcement, adding that the new menu is "getting back to Panera at its best."

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