Panera Chicken Panini

by Fresh and Frugal

Thank Hungry Girl — no, not me — for this delicious recipe! Panera is one of those 50-buhzillion calorie treats in which mom and I partake when christmas shopping or running a lot of errands when I’m home. Other than then, I really don’t get the chance to eat there. I must confess, however, that I am loyal to their tuna salad sandwich, and will be to the grave, despite the fact that they changed their bread from delicious and crusty to freakin’ white fluffy junk. It’s something about the dijon mustard and the onion…

But we’re not here to talk about tuna sandwiches. I’m here for the chipotle chicken sandwich. Though I’ve never had the “real thing,” this substitute must be at least as good if not better, and it’s super low on the calorie scale (a measly 256 calories!). You got your protein, your (few) carbs, and even a smattering of veggies. What’s not to love? And the best part is, that short of the grilling step, everything can be prepared the night before, and thrown together in the morning for a delicious brown bag lunch.

Panera Chicken Panini

1 1/2 tsp fat free mayo

1/2 tsp chipotle sauce (either the sauce from canned chipotles or from a bottle of the hot sauce, which is easier to find)

2 dashes onion powder

2 dashes garlic powder

1 skim milk cheese stick (Sliced or pulled into pieces)

3 oz boneless skinless chicken breast (I like it pulled into pieces)

1 100-cal flat sandwich bun

2 slices plum tomato

2 thin slices of red onion

1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil


Cook the chicken well, and prep the other ingredients while you wait: Slice the tomato and onion, pull apart the cheese, chop the basil (or leave it whole, like I did), and mix the sauce.

For the sauce, mix the mayonnaise, chipotle sauce, and onion and garlic powder.

Spread half of the sauce on one open bun face, and save the rest for the chicken.

When the chicken is finished cooking, chop or shred it (or leave it whole, if you like!), and cover it with sauce. Mix it well if you’ve picked apart your chicken.

Pile everything onto your sandwich and plop it onto your panini press thingie, mini george foreman, or your little skillet. If you’re heating it on both sides at once, leave ‘er on there for 3 minutes or so. If you’re not, use a spatula to press down on it for 2 minutes or so, then flip and repeat.