Panera Bread is known for its delicious bakery items, sandwiches, salads, and soups. One of the most popular menu items in recent years was the hazelnut cream cheese spread that could be added to bagels and pastries for an extra charge. However, fans of the nutty, sweet spread were disappointed when it suddenly disappeared from menus in late 2022.
When did Panera stop offering hazelnut cream cheese?
The exact date that hazelnut cream cheese was removed from Panera’s offerings is unclear, but customers started noticing its absence in late September and early October of 2022. Many took to social media to inquire about the missing menu item. Panera did not make any formal announcement about discontinuing the hazelnut spread, which led to confusion among loyal patrons.
Why did Panera discontinue the hazelnut cream cheese?
While Panera has not provided an official explanation, there are a few likely reasons that the hazelnut cream cheese is no longer available:
- Supply chain issues – Like many businesses, Panera has been impacted by disruptions in the supply chain and shortages of certain ingredients since 2020. Hazelnuts may have been difficult to source reliably.
- Low sales – The hazelnut cream cheese was one of the more premium offerings at Panera and cost extra when added to a bagel or pastry. In tough economic times, customers may have been cutting back on optional add-ons.
- Seasonal offering – Some customers speculate that the hazelnut cream cheese may have been a seasonal menu item that Panera only offered for a limited time in the fall around the holidays. The company has not confirmed if this is the case.
Without an official statement from the restaurant chain, the definitive reason remains uncertain. But Panera likely faced some challenges keeping the product available and profitable.
What options replace hazelnut cream cheese at Panera?
While disappointed hazelnut fans have no direct substitute, Panera continues to offer a variety of cream cheese spreads and nut butters. Options include:
- Plain cream cheese
- Chive and onion cream cheese
- Honey walnut cream cheese
- Cinnamon raisin swirl cream cheese
- Reduced-fat blueberry cream cheese
- Sunflower butter
- Almond butter
In place of the hazelnut cream cheese, customers may enjoy the honey walnut or cinnamon raisin swirl varieties for a sweet cream cheese flavor. The sunflower or almond butters can also add nutty tastes and creamy textures to a bakery order.
Will hazelnut cream cheese ever return to Panera?
It’s unclear if the hazelnut cream cheese will make a comeback at Panera. Some fans are hopeful it was just a seasonal item that may return for fall and winter months. Panera has also brought back other discontinued menu items by popular demand in the past, like the broccoli cheddar soup. But the company has not hinted at any plans to revive the hazelnut spread at this time.
Patrons who want Panera to know they miss this menu item can provide feedback on the company’s website or social media pages. If enough people request the return of the hazelnut cream cheese, Panera may consider bringing it back in the future.
Where else can you find hazelnut cream cheese?
For those who fell in love with hazelnut cream cheese at Panera, a few other restaurants and retailers offer similar spreads:
- Einstein Bros. Bagels
- Peet’s Coffee
- Starbucks (seasonally)
- Tim Hortons
- Koffee Kult (in stores)
- Alouette cheeses (in stores)
The flavor profile may vary slightly depending on brand. But these provide a comparable hazelnut cream cheese option. Some grocery stores like Whole Foods or Safeway may even sell tubs of name brand hazelnut cream cheese for spreading at home.
Can you make your own hazelnut cream cheese?
For the most ambitious hazelnut cream cheese fans, it is possible to recreate the spread at home. There are a few recipes available online using common ingredients:
|Cream cheese, softened
To make it, beat together the cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Then mix in the hazelnut extract, chopped hazelnuts, and a pinch of salt. Refrigerate for at least an hour before spreading it on bagels, toast, or muffins.
The homemade version allows control over the hazelnut flavor intensity. But it still requires some work compared to the ready-made spread previously available at Panera.
How can you recreate the Panera hazelnut cream cheese bagel?
One of the most popular ways to enjoy the now discontinued hazelnut cream cheese was on an Everything Bagel from Panera. To recreate it at home, follow these steps:
- Warm or toast an Everything Bagel from your grocery store’s bakery section.
- Spread 2-3 tablespoons of homemade or store-bought hazelnut cream cheese over each bagel half.
- If desired, add slices of tomato, red onion, cucumber, and smoked salmon for a classic lox-style bagel.
- Enjoy this sweet and savory treat for breakfast, brunch, or a snack!
While it takes a little effort, this recipe lets hazelnut fans satisfy their craving even without being able to visit a Panera location. The nutty cream cheese pairs perfectly with an Everything Bagel seasoned with sesame seeds, dried garlic and onion, poppy seeds, and salt.
Panera’s removal of hazelnut cream cheese from menus in late 2022 disappointed many loyal customers. The exact reason remains uncertain, whether due to supply issues, low sales, or seasonal status. For now, hazelnut aficionados will need to visit other restaurants or make their own versions at home. But Panera could consider bringing back this popular spread due to consumer demand. In the meantime, foodies have a few workable alternatives to get their hazelnut cream cheese fix from other sources.