Photos by Dan Myers, Composite by Kathleen Collins
Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? Soft or crunchy, fresh-baked or store-bought, they’re among the most beloved treats. There’s no shortage of packaged chocolate chip cookies at the supermarket, but some are definitely superior to others. To prove it, we taste-tested 25 brands.
While the standard recipe for chocolate chip cookies is simple — just mix up a batter with flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs and chocolate chips — the cookies you’ll find in the supermarket tend to be a lot more complicated. They need to be shelf-stable, so you’ll often find stabilizers and preservatives, and many formulas don’t even contain eggs or milk. When it comes to cookies, home-baked is usually better, but there’s something about the packaged kind that brings out the kid in all of us.
Our panel of 15 tasters sampled each one in a blind tasting, and graded each on factors including taste, texture and amount of chocolate chips per cookie. In the end, one brand was a clear champion.
Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie may be marketed as a cookie, but our tasters thought otherwise. It tasted more like protein powder than anything else (the cookie contains 16 grams of protein), with an off-putting texture similar to Play-Doh. This could pass as a protein bar, but not as a cookie.
Goodie Girl cookies are gluten free and made with quinoa, rice, corn starch and tapioca. They were very small and hard as a rock with a button-like shape, and many tasters were put off by their dry texture. Several tasters noticed the addition of cinnamon, but it didn’t do much to salvage this underwhelming cookie.
These gluten-free cookies are made with several peculiar ingredients, including a nut and seed flour blend, tapioca, coconut sugar, arrowroot, konjac root and tiger nut (which is actually a root vegetable). All of those ingredients lent the cookie a strange flavor that didn’t score many points with our tasters. One even went so far as to say that it “doesn’t taste like chocolate or a cookie.” The texture was also slightly stale.
This cookie had an odd pale color and a dusty, chalky texture. As for flavor, it had a strange nuttiness — likely due to the addition of oatmeal and flaxseed — that most of our tasters agreed didn’t belong in a chocolate chip cookie.
These cookies are gluten free, nut free, soy free and milk free, and are made with a flour mix of rice, buckwheat and millet. Our tasters had no issues with the thin and crispy texture, but there was an odd sweetness to these cookies, and our panel nearly universally agreed that the aftertaste was strange as well.
The cookies that made talent agent Wally Amos a legend haven’t held up very well. Most tasters agreed that our batch was dry and rocklike, and that the flavor was bland. They struck many tasters as “classic,” however, and there were plenty of chocolate chips to go around. The general impression was that they were nothing special.
This cookie was crisp, crunchy and buttery, but also tasted burnt. Our tasters also weren’t sold on the overall texture, which was a little bit gritty.
While this cookie was indeed soft and chewy, we didn’t get much in the way of real chocolate and found it to have an artificial chemical flavor. It was also overwhelmingly sweet.
Whole Foods’ $3.99 offering fared surprisingly poorly. Though they're made with organic wheat flour and organic chocolate, our tasters found these cookies to be bland, dull, slightly sandy in texture and sorely lacking in chocolate chips. They were also too crumbly and dry.
These cookies have the fewest ingredients out of any that we tested — just wheat flour, chocolate chips, sugar, oil, brown rice syrup, baking soda and salt — and our tasters were split on whether the slight nuttiness lent by the wheat flour was desirable. The texture had a nice crumble but was slightly too dry, placing these cookies squarely in the middle of the pack.
Linden’s is a classic hard chocolate chip cookie, and it reminded many of our tasters of their childhood. There wasn’t much in the way of chocolate flavor, though, and it was a little bit too hard and brittle.
This cookie had a nice, soft chew, but our tasters weren’t sold on the use of milk chocolate as opposed to semi-sweet chocolate. We were looking for a deep chocolate flavor, but the milk chocolate chips just drew attention to the fact that the rest of the cookie was lacking in flavor.
Like the Montauk, our tasters would have preferred a richer flavor here as opposed to that of milk chocolate. We didn’t mind the soft, cakey texture, but if we had been blindfolded, we probably wouldn’t have guessed that this was a chocolate chip cookie.
This cookie was very soft and chewy, with a nice buttery flavor, but the vanilla flavor overwhelmed that of the chocolate.
Our tasters generally found the tiny cookies inside the big plastic tub from Trader Joe’s pretty enjoyable. They were light and crispy, and the fact that they were bite-size made it easy to eat too many of them. They didn’t have much of a “pop,” however, and were lacking in chocolate chip flavor. They also contain coconut, which a couple tasters picked up on.
We loved the robust dark chocolate flavor of these cookies, as well as the big chocolate chunks. If you like dark chocolate, you’ll love these. Our only (minor) quibble was that they were a little too hard.
This cookie had almost too many chocolate chips. While some enjoyed the crunch, others thought it was too hard and brittle. We all agreed it would pair well with a glass of milk, though.
We liked the softness and the small size of these cookies, as well as the nice chocolatey flavor. There’s a good reason why these addictive little cookies are so popular.
We really liked the texture of these -- right in-between chewy and crunchy -- and we liked the large chocolate chips and big chocolate flavor.
Tate’s was a polarizing cookie, but it still did extraordinarily well. These were thin and crispy and had a distinct homemade flavor, with plenty of butter, brown sugar and vanilla. While high quality, the chocolate chips themselves weren’t as plentiful as in the other cookies, however, and some tasters complained that the cookies were too crunchy and borderline overbaked.
It’s no surprise the cookies in the famous blue package came out close to the top. The cookies had a pronounced vanilla flavor and no shortage of chocolate chips, and they looked great as well. It’s pretty much impossible for any chocolate lover to not like these cookies.
These cookies have everything we look for in a soft cookie: big chocolate chunks, a satisfying texture, lots of vanilla and brown sugar flavor, and an overall home-baked feel. They’re also just the right size to have one and feel satisfied. If you find these in the supermarket, snag ‘em.
And the winner is … Pepperidge Farm’s Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip! We really liked the crisp but not crumbly texture, high-quality ample chocolate and notes of butter, brown sugar and vanilla. While thin, they still retained plenty of body, making for a top-notch, well-balanced cookie that could have been baked at one of the best cookie shops in every state.
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