Panera Bread employees share their 11 favourite menu items — and a few secret hacks you have to try for yourself

Frank Pierson / FlickrSome Panera employees like to mix up the menu items.
  • Panera Bread’s menu looks like a lot at first glance.
  • The chain boasts everything from soups to salads to sandwiches. And then there’s the bread, too.
  • A number of current and former employees have posted about their favourite orders on social media.
  • Business Insider also spoke with a number of current and former employees about their favourite menu options.
  • Here are their recommendations for your next Panera Bread run.

Panera Bread’s menu has a ton of options for everyone.

But, given that Panera Bread employees spend so much time preparing these meals, they’re natural experts in what’s worth buying at the casual dining chain.

Panera Bread employees also receive a discount of anywhere from 50% to 75% off meals up to $US10, so many of them opt to eat at the restaurant while they’re on break.

Business Insider recently spoke to a number of current and former Panera Bread employees about their favourite meals. We also scoured the web to find more recommendations from employees on Quora and Reddit.

Here’s what the employees had to say:


The steak and arugula sandwich

One Panera Bread associate of one year told Business Insider that they prefer this meaty offering.

“It’s super unique and has so many flavours,” the employee told Business Insider, adding that they’d award the meal ten out of ten stars.


The squash soup

Associate Dorian Bach wrote in a 2016 Quora post that this particular option is the best soup in Panera Bread.

But, alas, fans of this autumnal-gourd-based dish will have to wait until fall to partake once more. It’s a seasonal item at Panera Bread.


The chipotle chicken avocado melt

A former Panera Bread associate trainer told Business Insider that they “used to always get the chipotle chicken avocado melt.”


The pecan braid

A Reddit poster who said they were a baker at Panera Bread rhapsodized the celestial qualities of one of the chain’s twistier products.

They wrote that a fresh pecan braid is “heaven in your mouth.”


The broccoli cheddar soup

One Panera Bread associate told Business Insider that they “actually do still like the food,” even after working for the chain for three years.

“The broccoli cheddar soup is one of my favourites,” the associate added.

At the moment, you can order the broccoli cheddar soup every day of the week at Panera Bread.


Mac and cheese mixed in with turkey chilli

Some employees like to mix things up at Panera Bread.

“Pro tip: Get a you-pick-two in the fall with macaroni and cheese and turkey chilli,” former Panera Bread catering coordinator Laura Biermann wrote on Quora. “Ask for a salad bowl, and mix them together. It’s pretty amazing chilli-mac.”


The modern caprese sandwich

One Panera Bread employee who has worked at the chain for a year and a half told Business Insider that their favourite menu item is the modern caprese.

“It doesn’t have any meat on it, but it has pesto and really good tomato confit,” the employee told Business Insider. “I recommend it to every customer who’s looking for a good panini.”


The summer corn chowder

Summer soups make one Panera Bread employee feel fine.

An associate who has worked at the chain for a year and a half told Business Insider that they ate at the restaurant “all the time,” due to their 65% employee discount.

“The summer corn chowder is so good – the corn is sweet and juicy, and it’s easy and quick on a summer day,” the employee told Business Insider.


A modified strawberry poppyseed salad

Former Panera Bread employee Josh Benner took to Quora to share some tips on hacking the chain’s menu and described his go-to order.

Benner favoured going for the you-pick-two option and grabbing a strawberry poppyseed salad with a bacon turkey bravo.

His ideal salad also featured a sprinkling of granola. The bravo sandwich, in the meantime, would be on asiago focaccia, with “cheddar cheese instead of gouda,” minus the traditional tomato, and heated up “on the press.”

Panera Bread associate Derek Bedell also praised the strawberry poppyseed salad on Quora, noting that it was “easily our bestseller.”

“It’s also really good – I love it,” he added.


The Mediterranean vegetable sandwich

“One of my personal favourites to eat at Panera would be the Mediterranean vegetable sandwich on white miche,” Panera Bread employee Paul Royse wrote on Quora.

Royse added that he would swap out the cilantro hummus for the black bean hummus, and opt for an Asian sesame salad instead of the wonton broth bowl.


Heated tomato basil bread

In a 2017 Reddit AMA, a Panera Bread associate recommended requesting heated-up tomato basil bread.

“It will change your life,” the employee wrote. “Next time you order it, ask them to put it on the panini press.”

Are you a current or former Panera Bread employee with a story to share? Email [email protected]

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