Here’s Every Vegan Option at Panera Bread (2020)

Panera is one of my regular “haunts,” as a vegan. It’s a comfy place to go use the wifi, and there are plenty of vegan menu items, too. And in this post, I’m going to outline all of them for you!

Vegan options at Panera:

  • Ten Vegetable Soup
  • Bread: French Baguette, Sourdough Bread Bowl, Classic Sourdough Loaf, Artisan Ciabatta Loaf, Whole Grain Farmstyle, Country Rustic Sourdough, Black Pepper Focaccia, Sea Salt Focaccia
  • Bagels: Plain, Everything, Blueberry, Cranberry Walnut, Sesame
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries & Pecans
  • Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (Customized)
  • Soba Noodle Broth Bowl with Edamame Blend
  • Potato Chips
  • Salad (Customized)
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Green Passion Smoothie
  • Peach & Blueberry Smoothie with Almondmilk
  • Beverages

Below, I’ll share how to order these items vegan. I’ll also share which items are surprisingly NOT vegan. I’ll end the post with a guide to the healthiest vegan options at Panera (whole-food plant-based ones)!

Panera Vegan Menu

A Panera delivery vehicle in Columbus, Ohio.

The following menu was made using the ingredients lists on the Panera website. Panera actually has a decent page on their site about vegan options… but it left me still wanting more detail. So I set out to create my own guide.

Remember that menu items often change and vary by location. So double-check any important points with staff at your local Panera.

1. Ten Vegetable Soup

This is a totally vegan soup—no customization needed!

The soup contains tomatoes, sprouted brown rice, chickpeas, onions, garlic, corn, carrots, peppers (red, yellow, and poblano), celery, and spinach in vegetable broth with dried Aleppo chili and red fife.

Really one of the gems of the Panera vegan menu.

2. Bread

Here are all the vegan breads at Panera:

  • French Baguette
  • Sourdough Bread Bowl
  • Classic Sourdough Loaf
  • Artisan Ciabatta Loaf
  • Whole Grain Farmstyle
  • Country Rustic Sourdough
  • Black Pepper Focaccia
  • Sea Salt Focaccia

And here’s why the other bread options are not vegan:

  • The Brioche Roll contains egg and milk.
  • The Classic White Miche bread contains milk.
  • The Asiago Cheese Focaccia contains milk.
  • The White Whole Grain bread contains honey.
  • The Tomato Basil Bread contains honey.

3. Bagels

Here’s the list of vegan bagels at Panera:

  • Plain Bagel
  • Everything Bagel
  • Blueberry Bagel
  • Cranberry Walnut Bagel
  • Sesame Bagel

And here’s why the other bagels are not vegan:

  • Sprouted Grain Bagel Flat contains honey.
  • The Chocolate Chip Bagel contains milk.
  • The Cinnamon Swirl Bagel contains milk.
  • The Asiago Bagel contains milk.
  • The Cherry Vanilla Bagel contains milk and honey.
  • The Cinnamon Crunch Bagel contains milk and honey.

In most of those, the milk apparently comes from a type of “confectionery drop” they use for the flavoring.

4. Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries & Pecans

I always appreciate when restaurants have oatmeal as a vegan option—even if it’s much cheaper to eat it at home. It can help me eat healthy while traveling.

Steel-cut oatmeal is a bit healthier than normal oatmeal or quick oats, too. The grain is less processed, and your body digests it slower—so it tends to be a calmer insulin response.

That said, if you want a really healthy oatmeal, you may need to ask for the cinnamon sugar topping to be left off.

They may offer some other toppings for the oatmeal, too. But this is the one they’re really pushing and have full information for on the website. So it’s the one I can definitely confirm is vegan and still available at most locations.

5. Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (Customized)

There are no Panera sandwiches that come fully vegan on the normal menu. But this Mediterranean Veggie sandwich is meatless and can be made vegan.

Simply ask to get it without feta cheese, choose one of the vegan breads (above), and if you want to avoid honey, then also ask to get it without any “crumb topping.”

What’s left after those customizations? You’ve got greens, cucumber, tomato, “Peppadew” piquant peppers, hummus, red onion, salt, and pepper.

6. Soba Noodle Broth Bowl with Edamame Blend

I’m not sure if all Panera locations still have this—but it’s been a vegan staple for years, so I’m going to include it.

It has a delicious miso broth, soba noodles made of buckwheat, napa cabbage, mushroom, spinach, onion, sesame seeds, edamame, and cilantro.

You can’t go wrong with this bowl!

7. Potato Chips

These potato chips are actually made by the Panera brand itself. And they’re pretty good. The full name is “Panera Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips.”

8. Salad (Customized)

None of the salad entrees at Panera come totally vegan. But you can put together a vegan salad with a custom order. Below are some suggestions from the Panera website itself.

Quick-to-order options:

  • Seasonal Greens with Avocado and Quinoa
  • Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

Customized Salads:

  • “Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken” (Without Chicken and Gorgonzola)
  • “Greek Salad” (Without Feta)
  • “Modern Greek Salad” (Without Feta)
  • “Asian Sesame Salad with Chicken” (Without Chicken and Wontons)
  • “Spicy Thai Salad with Chicken” (Without Chicken and Wontons)

Those all come with vegan salad dressings already. But if you want the full list of dressings, here are the vegan ones:

  • Greek Dressing
  • White Balsamic With Apple Flavored Vinaigrette
  • Thai Chili Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Asian Sesame Vinaigrette Dressing

Note: The Green Goddess Dressing is not vegan, as it contains milk ingredients.

9. Fresh Fruit

Typically you have a few fresh fruit options. These are common:

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Fresh Fruit Cup

There’s also a Pickle Spear available. (I didn’t want to make a separate menu item just for that—so here, I’ll put it with the fruit!)

10. Smoothies

These two smoothies are fully vegan—even without needing to customize the order:

  • Green Passion Smoothie
  • Peach & Blueberry Smoothie with Almondmilk

The other smoothies at Panera come with Greek yogurt or other animal ingredients. But you may be able to custom order those as vegan, too, if you prefer. Just ask staff at your location.

11. More Beverages

Whether you want coffee, juice, or soft drinks, there are plenty of options at Panera:

  • Light Roast Coffee
  • Hazelnut Coffee
  • Dark Roast Coffee
  • Decaf Coffee
  • Hot Tea
  • Iced Coffee
  • Cold Brew
  • Madagascar Vanilla Almond Cold Brew
  • Espresso
  • Agave Lemonade
  • Passion Papaya Green Tea
  • Blood Orange Lemonade
  • Iced Tea
  • Plum Ginger Hibiscus Tea
  • Prickly Pear Hibiscus Fresca
  • Pepsi
  • Mist Twist
  • Bottled Water
  • Orange Juice
  • Organic Apple Juice

But What About…

Here are some of the menu items that you’d hope might be vegan, based on their names—but they’re not:

  • The Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup is not vegan, as it contains milk.
  • The Creamy Tomato Soup is not vegan, as it contains milk.
  • The Blueberry Scone and Orange Scone are not vegan, as they both contain milk.
  • The Bistro French Onion Soup contains chicken and milk.

Now let’s answer some common questions about how to eat vegan at Panera.

Is Panera Mac and Cheese Vegan?

Panera Mac and Cheese is not vegan. It is made with dairy cheese from cow’s milk, not vegan cheese.

Do Panera Bagels Have Dairy?

The following Panera Bagels do have dairy: Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Swirl, Asiago, Cherry Vanilla, Cinnamon Crunch. The Panera bagels without dairy are Plain, Everything, Blueberry, Cranberry Walnut, Sesame, and Sprouted Grain Flat.

Is the Sourdough Bread at Panera Vegan?

The Sourdough Bread at Panera is confirmed vegan. This includes the Classic Sourdough Loaf, the Country Rustic Sourdough, and the Sourdough bread bowl.

Is Panera Tomato Basil Bread Vegan?

Panera Tomato Basil Bread is generally not considered vegan. This is because it contains honey, which is an animal product. However, it’s unclear what level of consciousness or sentience bees have, so many vegans are okay with eating honey.

Therefore, whether Panera’s Tomato Basil Bread is vegan is part of a much larger debate about whether honey is vegan!

Whole-Food Plant-Based Options

What if you’re trying to eat a vegan diet without any processed food? Can you get a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) meal at Panera Bread? Let’s see which options are free of animal products, refined oil, refined sugar, and refined flour.

Well, for starters, the fresh fruit is clearly WFPB:

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Fresh Fruit Cup

Next, let’s talk about the smoothies. I’d personally count the following two smoothies as being WFPB. The only concern I see is that they both contain fruit “purees” and “juice concentrates,” and those may act pretty similarly to processed sugar in the body:

  • Green Passion Smoothie
  • Peach & Blueberry Smoothie with Almondmilk

The standard preparation for the “Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries & Pecans” is not 100% WFPB, as it contains a “cinnamon sugar topping” and the pecans are oil-roasted. But you should be able to custom order a WFPB version without those ingredients if you like.

The Ten Vegetable Soup is not 100% WFPB, but it’s pretty close. It just contains some corn oil in the vegetable stock, and a small amount of sugar in the soy sauce that’s included.

The Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (customized as shown above) is not 100% WFPB—the hummus has canola oil, the “Peppadew” peppers have some added sugar, and all the breads have processed flour. But it’s still a pretty healthy option.

You can also put together a very healthy salad, obviously! The only difficulty is that all the salad dressings contain oil and/or sugar. So there’s no fully WFPB salad dressing.

Overall, Panera Bread is low on fully WFPB options… but they have more options that are “pretty close” than most restaurants do.

Two More Recommendations for Your Vegan Journey

1. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in 13 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).

2. This is the best vegan starter kit I know of. It’s a bundle of 9 beautiful e-books that help you transition to a healthy plant-based diet—the right way. The advice is spot-on, and it has print-outs and checklists that make it easy to implement. Read my full review of Nutriciously here.

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