The humble cookie has been a palm-sized treat and baking basic for decades, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be elevated to greater heights. We have searched the U.S. for the best cookies, from classic chocolate chip in all shapes and sizes to inventive creations like the alcohol-infused Tipsy Velvet at The Cookie Bar in Las Vegas and caramel, toffee, and chocolate Caramel by the Sea at Moonshine Mountain Cookie Company in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The ubiquitous cookie, a combination of flour, butter, and sugar, is seemingly everywhere — at bakeries and school bake sales, on grocery store shelves, in home cupboards, and in pop culture (Cookie Monster has an insatiable appetite for cookies and Jerry Seinfeld famously ate a black and white cookie during a classic “Seinfeld” episode). Cookies are often even used to increase affinity for brands. Delta Air Lines serves Biscoff cookies in flight and DoubleTree by Hilton staff greet guests with warm walnut and chocolate chip cookies upon arrival.
U.S. retail sales of cookies and sweet biscuits totaled $6.2 billion in 2010, with Americans consuming an average of 39.5 cookies per year, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s American Eating Trends Report.
The way the cookies crumble
Choosing the best cookies in the U.S. is a challenge. Drawing upon The Daily Meal’s editorial team, contributors, and food bloggers, as well as social media, we created a list of 255 bakeries and cookie shops, with each state having a handful of finalists.
After spending months eating cookies by the fistful (some of us dunking them in cold glasses of milk and others Instagramming the ooey gooey-ness) and forging through sugar rushes, we whittled down the list to one establishment per state plus the District of Columbia. While we would have liked to keep every exemplary cookie maker on the list, it’s just how the cookie crumbles.
Crazy for cookies, we considered bakeries, cookie shops, and cookie trucks. Cookie companies did not have to have a brick-and-mortar storefront to be considered. Small cafes with limited food menus and companies that sell cookies online and ship nationwide were considered, but supermarket bakeries, hotel bakeries, restaurants and bars that sell cookies, and large-scale, nationwide cookie chains were not.
We judged the establishments and their cookies on these criteria:
Essentials: We evaluated the cookies for freshness, flavor, texture, and mouthfeel.
Creativity: From innovative cookies and traditional offerings to regional and signature specialties, we evaluated each establishment's cookies according to presentation, noteworthy or unique ingredients, innovative flavor combinations, and fidelity to tradition and/or innovative excellence.
Our list contains the best cookies in every state, many of which ship nationwide. There are 30-plus distinct cookie flavors on our list. It’s no surprise the most popular cookie on the list is chocolate chip, with seven bakeries baking the best version in their states (the US celebrates National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day on August 4 in addition to National Cookie Day on Dec. 4). It's time to brush off the cookie crumbs and reveal the very best cookie in each state.