Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? Soft or crunchy, fresh-baked or store-bought, they’re among the most delicious foods on earth. There’s no shortage of packaged crunchy chocolate chip cookies at the supermarket, but some are definitely superior to others. To prove it, we taste-tested 11 of the most popular brands.
While it may seem like chocolate chip cookie recipes have always been around, their history only dates back to the 1930s, and a woman named Ruth Wakefield, who ran a popular Whitman, Massachusetts, restaurant called the Toll House Inn. One day, Wakefield, an accomplished cook, decided to add broken pieces of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate to her sugar cookie recipe. It’s commonly believed that she expected the chocolate to melt and mix into the batter, but in reality she knew exactly how the cookies would turn out. The result was an instant success with her diners, and Nestlé provided her with a lifetime supply of chocolate in return for the rights to print her Toll House Cookie recipe on every package of chocolate chips.
While the standard recipe for chocolate chip cookies is (more or less) 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 in most of them you’ll find stabilizers and preservatives; many formulas don’t even contain eggs or milk. When it comes to cookies, home-baked is always better, but there’s something about the packaged kind that brings out the kid in all of us.
For our taste test, we tracked down 11 brands of crunchy chocolate chip cookies (no soft-baked like Entenmann's here): Chips Ahoy, Famous Amos, Keebler Chips Deluxe, Pepperidge Farm Nantucket, Trader Joe’s, Tate’s, Goodie Girl, Simple Mills, Enjoy Life, Back to Nature, and Whole Foods 365. Note that several varieties are vegan, gluten-free, or both. Our panel of 13 tasters sampled each one in a blind tasting, grading each on factors including taste, texture, and amount of chocolate chips per cookie. In the end, one brand was a clear champion.
Goodie Girl’s 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 hard, 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 ingredients including a nut and seed flour blend, tapioca, coconut sugar, arrow root, konjac root, and tiger nut (which is actually a root vegetable). All of those ingredients lent it a strange flavor that our tasters weren’t fans of, with one going so far as to say that it “doesn’t taste like chocolate or a cookie.” The texture was also slightly stale.
The cookies that made talent agent Wally Amos a legend haven’t held up very well. They were dry and hard as a rock, most tasters agreed, and their flavor was bland and not what they look for in a chocolate chip cookie. 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.
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 (these are certainly the best gluten-free chocolate chip cookies on the market), but there was an odd sweetness to them, and our panel nearly universally agreed that the aftertaste was strange as well.
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 was ideally crumbly but slightly too dry, placing them squarely in the middle of the pack.
This big plastic tub of tiny cookies comes from Trader Joe’s, and our tasters generally found them to be 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.
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. They tasted more home-baked than any other. While high-quality, the chocolate chips themselves weren’t as plentiful as in the other cookies, however, and some tasters complained that they were too crunchy, and borderline overbaked.
Surprise! The cookies in the famous blue package came out on 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 to not like these cookies, which are definitely up there with the best Girl Scout Cookies.
Read more: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Girl Scout Cookies
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6 Tweaks to Make Your Chocolate Chip Cookies Healthier
Best Coffee Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Secrets to Making Perfect Sugar Cookies