How to Make a Copycat Panera Bread Bowl

Recreate a perfectly cozy at-home version of Panera's famous bread bowl with this copycat recipe.

When the weather gets cold and dreary, nothing hits the spot quite like a bread bowl filled with piping hot soup—especially one from Panera. Those crusty, artisan-style bread bowls are pure magic when filled to the brim with one of the restaurant’s tasty concoctions. Our personal fave is the broccoli cheddar soup.

If you think it’s impossible to make a copycat Panera bread bowl at home, we have good news. It can be done!

Psst: Don’t miss all our Panera Bread-inspired recipes.

How to Make a Copycat Panera Bread Bowl from Scratch


ingredients for Panera bread bowls copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

  • 2 tablespoons instant or active dry yeast
  • 3 cups warm water (110° to 115°F)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 egg, beaten


Step 1: Mix the dough

mixing bread bowl ingredients until soft, sticky dough forms copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast and water. Then, add the sugar, salt and 3 cups of flour. Beat on your mixer’s first speed for 3 minutes, stirring in additional flour until a soft, sticky dough forms.

Step 2: Knead

knead bread bowl dough until smooth and elastic copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Increase your mixer to its second speed and knead the dough for 5 to 7 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can also turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 6 to 8 minutes.

Step 3: Proof

let bread bowl dough rise in a greased bowl copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough proof in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. If you have a proof setting on your oven, that’s a great place to let your dough rise.

Step 4: Shape and rise

punch down bread bowl dough after first rise copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Preheat the oven to 500°. Then, punch the dough down and divide it into six equal-sized balls, about 265 grams each.

divide bread bowl dough into equal balls using a food scale copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Place the balls 3 inches apart on two greased baking sheets. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place again until doubled, about 15 minutes.

Step 5: Score and bake

after a second rise, score the bread bowls, brush with egg wash and spray with water copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Prior to baking, brush the risen dough balls gently with egg wash and then spray with water. Using a sharp knife (or a bread lame), score the dough with shallow cuts in an “X” pattern. Bake for 2 minutes and then lower the oven to 425°. Bake the loaves until they are a deep golden brown and their internal temperature reaches 190° to 200°, about 10 minutes.

bake bread bowls until golden copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Remove promptly from the oven and transfer the loaves immediately to wire racks. Let cool completely.

Test Kitchen tip: Brushing with egg and spraying with water is optional, but worth the extra effort. The egg wash gives the bread bowls a beautiful shine and rich, brown color, while the spritz of water helps the loaves develop a crusty exterior.

Step 6: Hollow

To hollow out the loaves and turn them into bread bowls, use a serrated knife to slice off the top of the bread. For best results, angle the knife and carve around the “X” on the top of each loaf—almost in the same way that you would remove the top from a pumpkin when carving a jack-o-lantern.

Next, hollow out the loaf using your hands. You want to gently pull out the bread, leaving a 1/2-inch shell.

Test Kitchen tip: Don’t throw away the bread you remove. Save it for another use, such as making homemade croutons or breadcrumbs.

cut a small, angled circle from the top of each bread bowl copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

carefully remove the top of the bread bowl copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

remove bread from the inside of the loaf with your hands - option 2 copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

hollow panera copycat bread bowls ready for soup - option 2 copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 7: Fill

Finally, fill each bread bowl with a warm soup, chili or dip of your choice. Serve immediately!

What to Serve in Bread Bowls

finished copycat panera bread bowls filled with cheddar broccoli soup - option 2 copycat panera bread bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home


Broccoli cheddar, French onion, tomato…the options are limitless. You can put just about any soup in your copycat Panera bread bowl. Our personal favorites are those with a cream base like baked potato, cream of chicken with wild rice or New England clam chowder.


Whether you opt for with beans, without beans, loaded with steak or vegetarian, you can’t go wrong filling your copycat bread bowls with a hearty scoop of chili topped with all the fixings. Check out our best chili recipes.

Creamy Dip

Impress your family by filling a homemade bread bowl with dip. We think a warm, cheesy spinach artichoke dip pairs beautifully with these crusty bread bowls!

Tips for Making Panera-Inspired Bread Bowls

Whether this is your first time making bread bowls or your first time baking in general, here are a few tips that will help ensure your bread bowls will turn out perfect every time.

What should I do if my bread doesn’t rise?

If your bread doesn’t rise, there are several factors to consider, like the age of your yeast, the temperature of your water and the temperature of your proofing environment. While some of these bread baking pitfalls are salvageable, others will require you to learn from your mistake and start over. Here’s more about the reasons your bread isn’t rising—and what to do about it.

What should I do if I poke a hole through the bottom of the bread?

Nothing is more tragic than a bread bowl with a gaping hole in the bottom. Don’t fret! Our favorite way to fix a bread bowl is to use a bit of cheese as glue to make any necessary repairs. To begin, grate a few tablespoons of cheese. (If you have it handy, pick a cheese that pairs well with your soup.) Then, sprinkle a little over the rip or hole in the bottom of your bread bowl. Top the cheese with a few small pieces of the bread remnants you removed from the center of your loaves. Place the damaged bread bowl back into your oven at 350° for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Remove and let the cheese “glue” cool completely. Then, fill as desired. It’s like it never happened!

Can I make the bread bowls in advance?

The best part about making bread bowls is that you can easily tailor the recipe to accommodate your schedule. Once hollowed, however, we recommend enjoying bread bowls within 24 hours.

Mix-ahead directions:

After the initial rise in step three of the bread bowl recipe, punch the dough down and divide the dough into balls as directed in step four. However, rather than place them on a baking tray to proof a second time, refrigerate the dough balls in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Then, when you’re ready to bake, remove the dough from the fridge, let it come to room temperature and proceed with step five. One added benefit to this method is the bread bowls will develop a stronger, more robust flavor due to the slow fermentation of the yeast that will occur while the dough rests in the fridge.

Bake-ahead directions:

Bake and prepare the bread bowls as directed through step five. Then, store in an airtight container for up to three days. When ready to serve, hollow out as directed in step six and fill as desired. Next, take a look at these other copycat bread recipes.

Classic Soups to Fill Your Bread Bowls
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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.