Food

Panera Bread launches a line of Toasted Baguette sandwiches

A classic in Europe, the fast-casual chain says it hopes to fill a perceived market void in the U.S.
Panera Toasted Baguette
The Smoky Buffalo Chicken Melt is one of three new Toasted Baguette sandwiches on Panera's menu./Photo courtesy of Panera Bread.

The classic baguette sandwich can be found all over Europe, but it’s not as common in the U.S. Panera Bread on Friday said it hopes to begin filling that void with the launch of a new line of Toasted Baguette Sandwiches on Jan. 12.

MyPanera members, however, will get early access starting Friday through Jan. 11.

Sandwiches, of course, are the bakery-café chain’s No. 1 menu seller, and Panera said it had a big hit last year with the introduction of the chicken sandwich. That followed a line of other warm and hearty menu offerings, including flatbread pizzas in 2020 and warm grain bowls in 2019.

For 2023, comes three new Toasted Baguette options, all of which utilize the brand’s French-style baguettes and start at $9.99:

  • The Green Goddess Caprese Melt includes peppadew peppers, fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan, basil, arugula, green goddess dressing, garlic aioli and salt and pepper.
  • The Pepperoni Mozzarella Melt uses pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, a fontina/mozzarella blend and market sauce.
  • The Smoky Buffalo Chicken Melt layers smoked chicken, American cheese, red onions and Buffalo sauce.

“Following last year’s extremely successful launch of Chef’s Chicken Sandwich, the launch of Toasted Baguettes is the next phase of our sandwich strategy,” said Eduardo Luz, Panera’s chief brand and concept officer. “Our Toasted Baguettes take inspiration from the best cafes in Europe, with fresh and clean ingredients that define Panera’s food with a heavy emphasis on both abundance and value for our guests.”

Most American sandwich chains rely on a softer submarine roll. Bread that comes closer to a crusty baguette can be found at many independent restaurants or smaller chains, like Le Pain Quotidien, Pret or Au Bon Pain.

At Panera, guests have long asked for the baguette as a side to soups, salads and entrees, added Claes Petersson, Panera’s head chef and chief food innovation officer, in a statement.

“So what better way to deliver a new craveable innovation than by using it for a sandwich filled with bold and fresh flavors?” Petersson said. “Toasting our baguette sandwiches gives the perfect blend of crunchy crust with a pillowy-soft center that makes it easy to take the perfect bite, and we’re excited to offer our guest three delicious flavors to enjoy.”

To promote the warm sandwiches, Panera is celebrating the launch by giving away free sandwiches in some of the coldest cities to rewards members. Between Jan. 17-22, guests in New York City, Boston, Denver, Washington, D.C. or Chicago can get a free Toasted Baguette if temperatures drop below 32 degrees F. A promo code will be posted on local digital billboards—or in Chicago’s case, in the actual snow (watch on social media).

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