Select Page

The Best Food at Panera, Ranked

By Lana Kisner | December 29, 2023

Panera Bread’s menu offers many delicious dishes that are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner meal. From hearty soups and sandwiches to nutritious salads and warm bowls, there are plenty of options to satisfy every palate. Many of their menu items can also be paired as part of the “Value Duet” or “You Pick Two” deals, so you can mix and match flavors depending on your mood. With such an extensive menu, I know it can be hard to decide what to order, so I’ve rounded up my favorite menu items at Panera and ranked them from good to best.

15. Caesar Salad With Chicken

A classic Caesar salad is always a good option on the go, and Panera’s version combines crisp romaine lettuce with grated parmesan cheese, creamy Caesar dressing, and homemade black pepper focaccia croutons. When you add chicken to it, it becomes a satisfying meal. Their original Caesar Salad without chicken can also be ordered in a Value Duet deal, where a half-portion salad is served with a cup of the Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup.

14. Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Although many Panera sandwiches come loaded with ingredients, this one is simple yet delicious. Their Classic Grilled Cheese sandwich is only made with two ingredients – melted American cheese on white miche bread. Pair it with creamy tomato soup as part of the Value Duet combo, and you’ll have the ultimate comfort meal.

13. Greek Salad

The Greek salad is a vegetarian menu item but is still packed with flavors. It’s made with a base of romaine lettuce topped with grape tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, pepperoncini peppers, and feta cheese crumbles. Everything is tossed in a delicious Greek vinaigrette dressing, which ties all the flavors. It’s part of the Value Duet deal, so I recommend pairing a half-portion salad with a cup of their delicious creamy tomato soup.

12. Asian Sesame Salad With Chicken

This salad from Panera is light but hearty and comes with sweet and savory flavors. It starts with a base of fresh romaine lettuce and grilled chicken. Cilantro is added for an herbal flavor, and toasted almonds, sesame seeds, and wonton strips give the salad its crunchiness. Everything is tossed in an Asian sesame vinaigrette to combine all flavors into one satisfying salad. 

11. Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli Bowl

The Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli Bowl is one of the newer additions to the Panera Bread menu. It uses the same base as the rest of Panera’s warm bowls but tops it with Asian-inspired flavors. The base here is cilantro lime brown rice, and quinoa. Chicken-thigh meat covered in a soy sauce-based teriyaki glaze is added for protein, and broccoli and fresh cilantro bring a green color to the dish. Everything is topped with sesame seeds, which adds a delicious finishing touch.

10. Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup is thick, creamy, and actually quite filling. The base of the soup is cheddar cheese, which is mixed with broccoli florets and shredded carrots for additional flavors. This is one of my favorite soups at Panera, and I always pair it with French baguette on the side. Trust me, the creaminess factor here definitely calls for dipping your bread into it!

9. Fuji Apple Salad With Chicken

This salad is a classic Panera Bread menu item that comes with sweet, savory, and tangy flavors. It starts with a blend of mixed greens topped with chicken, red onions, grape tomatoes, and gorgonzola cheese. Toasted pecan pieces and dried Fuji apple chips are added for a sweet touch, and everything is tossed in a white balsamic apple vinaigrette.

8. Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Flatbread Pizza

This Panera flatbread pizza is packed with flavor and perfect for sharing. It combines smoked, pulled chicken with applewood-smoked bacon, which automatically takes it to the next level. There’s a mozzarella and fontina cheese blend in the mix, which is topped with garlic cream and chipotle aioli sauces. Fresh cilantro is also added for a final herbal touch. Sign me up!

7. Toasted Steak & White Cheddar Sandwich

Steak and cheese sandwich – need I say more? As its name suggests, this sandwich combines strips of sirloin steak with white cheddar cheese and serves them on artisan ciabatta bread. It also comes topped with pickled red onions and a creamy horseradish sauce that brings in more delicious flavors. If you want to eat steak at Panera, this is the way to go!

6. Baja Bowl With Chicken

This is another warm bowl that starts with cilantro lime brown rice, and quinoa. These are topped with grilled chicken, black bean and corn salsa, grape tomatoes, fresh avocado, feta cheese, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. I recommend ordering it with a French baguette on the side to scoop up all the juice from your plate!

5. Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt

This sandwich features Panera’s smoked, pulled chicken. Smoked Gouda and creamy chipotle sauce are also added, and these are topped with fresh avocado, cilantro, and sweet peppadew peppers for a burst of flavors. Everything is served on black pepper focaccia bread, which adds a perfect hint of spice to the sandwich.

4. Bistro French Onion Soup

The French Onion Soup may not be for everyone, but I love Panera’s version because it brings several bold, dynamic flavors into one hearty dish. The broth is flavored with sea salt and a sherry wine vinegar gastrique, which is a type of French sauce that caramelizes sugar to create a sweet and sour flavor. This is then loaded with caramelized onions, melted cheese, and homemade black pepper focaccia croutons. 

3. Mediterranean Bowl With Chicken

Okay, we’re getting to the top three menu items from Panera, so things are getting pretty serious! This one is my favorite of all Panera warm bowls. It features fresh and tangy Mediterranean flavors and combines them with grilled chicken.

The bowl starts with the usual cilantro lime brown rice and quinoa base. Fresh arugula, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumbers, and feta cheese top these warm grains with a dollop of hummus and Greek yogurt. What’s even better? The lemon tahini dressing on top that ties all flavors beautifully. If you’ll try one warm bowl at Panera, let it be this one.

2. Creamy Tomato Soup

You can’t go wrong with a creamy tomato soup, right? I love this Panera soup for a few reasons. For starters, it’s a flavorful comfort meal that hits the spot any time of year. Panera makes theirs with vine-ripened pear tomatoes that are pureed with fresh cream until perfectly smooth. Oregano and red pepper flakes are mixed in for additional flavor, and black pepper focaccia croutons give the soup its crunchiness. But the best part of having tomato soup is pairing it with a grilled cheese sandwich. Panera offers the “You Pick Two” deal so you can combine the two in one hearty meal.

1. The Signature Take Chicken Sandwich

The Signature Take Chicken Sandwich is my favorite menu item at Panera Bread by far. It features a variety of flavorful ingredients that complement each other perfectly. It starts with a seasoned and seared chicken breast patty. This is topped with mixed greens, parmesan crisps, and garlic aioli, and everything is served on their fluffy brioche roll.

It may sound like a simple sandwich, but it hits the mark in the flavor department. I usually order mine as is, but if you want to customize your sandwich, you can add bacon and avocado for an extra charge.

About the Author

Lana Kisner is a writer on the team with more than 15 years of experience in the food service industry. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants, listening to live music, and hiking with her dog.