Vegan Guide to Panera Bread: The Best Menu Options and Swaps

Plant-based offerings are on the rise at Panera Bread.

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Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Panera Bread

Panera Bread, the popular bakery-cafe chain that got its start in 1987, did not officially unveil a full-on, plant-based menu item until 2019. That item, the Ten Vegetable Soup, proved to be a market-expanding game-changer for Panera Bread, bursting with fresh vegetables, sprouted brown rice, red fife, and dried Aleppo chili.

Factor in the use of a handy “V” symbol, numerous vegan bakery items, and easily adaptable items on the general menu, and it adds up to a fast-casual dining option that, though not prolific in totally vegan selections, is plenty reliable.

Our Top Picks

The Ten Vegetable Soup was just the beginning of Panera's relatively rapid evolution into a solid choice for vegan customers in the two-plus years since its launch. While there is plenty of room for growth, the best of what's here will please the palate.

Green Passion Smoothie

This delectable smoothie delivers an extra dollop of nutrition through its inclusion of spinach, which is wrapped in a luscious, dairy-free blend of peach and mango purees, passionfruit juice, and white grape concentrates. It is substantial and satisfying, making it an ideal breakfast or mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

The Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich

If you only can offer one vegan sandwich, make it something with style like Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich. This sandwich is close to perfect when it's ordered without cheese and the Tomato Basil bread is swapped for one of the vegan breads from the bakery, such as the sourdough bread or roll. 

Between the slices, emerald greens, piquant peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and hummus fuse together nicely, and avocado can stand in for the cheese if desired. To make it a well-rounded lunch, add a side salad with vegan salad dressing.

Baja Bowl

When you withhold the feta and Greek yogurt, the Baja Bowl satisfies a craving for Tex-Mex flavor. Black bean and corn salsa, salsa verde, red grape tomatoes, and avocado rest on top of a foundation of cilantro lime brown rice and quinoa. 

Treehugger Tip

Keep an eye out for seasonal specials or limited-time menu items that are vegan, like the Summer Corn Chowder, Vegan Lentil Quinoa Broth Bowl, and the Soba Noodle Broth Bowl with Edamame Blend.

Vegan Bakery Items

With the fairly large and diverse selections of plant-based, aromatic bread, one can enjoy something different on every visit. It's good to buy a few extra to enjoy at home or later in the day on the go.

  • Plain Bagel
  • Everything Bagel
  • Blueberry Bagel
  • Sesame Bagel
  • White Whole Grain Loaf 
  • Artisan Ciabatta 
  • Black Pepper Focaccia
  • Whole Grain Sourdough Loaf 
  • Classic Sourdough Loaf 
  • Whole Grain Lahvash Wrap 
  • Country Rustic Sourdough XL Loaf
  • French Baguette
  • Sourdough Bread Bowl

Vegan Breakfast Items

The selection of breakfast items beyond bread is small but solid, with comforting items that deliver energy and nutrition, while also being a good stand-in for dessert for those who want a little something sweet.

  • Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries, Pecans & Cinnamon Crunch Topping
  • Fresh Fruit Cup
  • Peach & Blueberry Smoothie (Order with almond milk.)
  • Green Passion Smoothie
  • Vegan Bagels

Did you know?

In 2022 Panera partnered with the World Resources Institute to make it easier for customers to understand the carbon footprint of their orders by introducing Cool Food Meals, a new menu label on low-carbon entrees.

Vegan Lunch and Dinner Items

Panera's savory, meal-sized items expand when you take care to leave off chicken and dairy products when ordering. With a few exceptions, the offerings fit right in with the Mediterranean Diet, with earthy, herbaceous flavors and an abundance of green vegetables.

To ensure a selection is vegan, leave off the chicken, cheese, and other dairy products when ordering.

  • Baja Bowl (Order without feta or Greek yogurt.)
  • Mediterranean Grain Bowl (Order without feta or Greek yogurt.)
  • Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad
  • Citrus Asian Crunch Salad with Chicken (Order without chicken.)
  • Fuji Apple with Chicken (Order without chicken and Gorgonzola.)
  • Seasonal Greens Salad
  • Greek Salad (Order without feta.)
  • Asian Sesame Salad (Order without the chicken and wontons.)
  • Strawberry Poppyseed Salad
  • Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (Order without the feta.)
  • Ten Vegetable Soup, on its own or in a sourdough bread bowl
  • Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup, on its own or in a sourdough bread bowl

Treehugger Tip

Bulk up the Seasonal Greens Salad by adding quinoa and avocado.

​Vegan Sides

A few simple additions that can transform a breakfast or lunch menu item into a full meal, or bring more vegetables and fruit into one's daily food intake.

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • French Baguette
  • Kettle Chips
  • Pickle Spear
  • Side Salad

Vegan Beverages

While not a coffee bar per se, Panera still offers an impressive selection of coffee and tea drinks that run the gamut from thirst-quenching to fruity, earthy, sweet, and caffeinated.

  • Iced 100% Colombian Dark Roast
  • 100% Colombian Dark Roast Coffee
  • Hazelnut Coffee
  • Cafe Blend Light Roast
  • Decaf Coffee
  • Hot Tea
  • Cold Brew
  • Madagascar Vanilla Almond Cold Brew
  • Hazelnut Coffee Tote
  • Cafe Blend Light Roast Tote
  • 100% Colombian Dark Roast Coffee Tote
  • Decaf Coffee Tote
  • Iced Tea
  • Plum Ginger Hibiscus Tea
  • Prickly Pear Hibiscus Fresca
  • Soda (customize to choose flavor)
  • Bottled Passion Fruit Papaya Green Tea
  • Americano
  • Espresso
  • Orange Juice
  • Organic Apple Juice
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Does Panera have plant-based chicken or beef?

    No, there are no plant-based meat options at Panera. While the chain plans to expand its plant-based selections by late 2021, the official word is that vegan meats will not be test-marketed or brought to the menu anytime soon.

  • Are the bagels at Panera vegan?

    Many of Panera's bagels, including Plain, Blueberry, Sesame, and Everything, are vegan. There are no vegan spreads for the bagels at this time.

  • Does Panera have vegan baked goods?

    Panera does not offer any dairy-free pastries. However, in addition to their bagels, the chain offers a variety of vegan bread, including the beloved sourdough bread bowl.