Picture the best chocolate chip cookie you’ve ever tasted.
We’ve searched far and wide over the years to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, with sweet results. But we can’t always grab a warm cookie off the cooling rack, so we wanted to find out which store-bought version would hit the spot the next time a craving hits.
The cookie aisle at most supermarkets and convenience stores is packed with chocolate chip cookies of all sizes, textures and chocolate types. But which one stands out from the brown, buttery crowd?
We collected 14 varieties, including the top-selling brands in the United States and popular grocery store private labels, to determine who makes the best. For consistency, we tried to stick to the flagship version for each brand — you won’t see “soft-baked” styles on this list unless that was the brand’s lone offering. We ranked the cookies in three categories: texture (how crispy are they? do they hold up to chewing, or do they disintegrate easily?), chocolate (is there enough? does it actually taste like real chocolate?) and overall taste, for a combined score of 20 possible points. With nine tasters, a perfect score would have been 180. There were no perfect scores. But there were more than a few failing grades.
As was the case with our tortilla chip taste test in August, the pandemic made our testing process a little more involved. I ordered most of the brands for delivery via Instacart, picked up two private-label brands at their respective grocers, and after a couple of futile attempts to find the final cookie at two local Walgreens that had claimed to stock it, waited a few extra days for another mail-order delivery of the straggler, Mrs. Fields. Then I packaged up 14 numbered tasting bags for each tester and drove them around the city (and close-in suburbs) for no-contact drop-offs with my colleagues. Once they’d sampled each cookie, they submitted their scores and comments via Google form.
Here’s how our competitors stacked up, beginning at the bottom of the heap.
14. Mrs. Fields
Last to arrive and last-place in our rankings. This individually wrapped cookie looked promising, but one bite was enough to reveal its shortcomings. Tasters found it “too sweet,” “underbaked” and “damp tasting.” They picked out “artificial vanilla,” “weird” and “truly terrible chocolate flavor — and lots of other from-the-lab delights.” It was too much for one taster, who “had to hurry up and get the taste out of my mouth.” This cookie was so bad it sent one taster into a logic spiral: “This presents a dichotomy: not dry, but somehow it’s still mealy. How?”
It’s barely bigger than a silver dollar, so there was “something adorable about this cookie. It’s cute. Like Baby Yoda.” “Handsome little guy!” said one taster. But the love affair didn’t last. Multiple tasters found the cookie “stale” and “mushy.” One called the texture “playdough-like.” “Just bad,” said one taster, who correctly identified the brand behind this miniature letdown. “Gag-inducing.” And the unpleasant flavor lingered for another, who wrote: “The aftertaste on this is musty and almost old-book tasting, if that’s even a flavor.” Sure, why not?
The biggest cookie in the contest was another textural train wreck. “Soft, but not in a good way,” one taster remarked. “Unnaturally moist,” said another. “HUGE!” exclaimed one taster, who noted the “deep attractive golden brown” color and “nice cracks on the surface.” But that excitement disintegrated, like this cookie does in the palm of your hand. “Oh no, oh no, oh no, it’s bad.” The way the cookie turns “soft and gooey” when dunked in milk or water did appeal to one taster, who said, “I can dig it.” But tasters simply could not get past the “odd, chemical taste” and that texture. “You might not even need teeth to eat it,” said one taster (unaware that this cookie was “baked” by someone’s “grandma”).
11. Keebler Chips Deluxe
This cookie emerged from its package with a coat of superfine cookie grit dusted across its surface. Tasters found it “crumbly,” “dusty,” “sandy” and “almost like shortbread.” One taster “loved the first bite, but not the flavor,” and others were struck by the “really bad aftertaste.” One plus: There was no shortage of chocolate chips in each cookie, but that wasn’t enough to save it. “I guess the reason it needs a lot of chocolate is the actual cookie is rather dreadful.”
10. Lucy’s Gluten-Free
Marketed as gluten-free, vegan and kosher, Lucy’s stood out from some others thanks to an especially crispy bite. “Love the snap of it,” one taster said. “Very crunchy,” noted another. But this cookie was too crunchy for others, it was light on chocolate chips, and two tasters picked up on a distinct vanilla aroma and taste: “It’s like biting into a rock. A vanilla-flavored rock.”
8. (tie) 365 Organic
Our panel was divided on Whole Foods’ house brand. Some liked the “nice snap” and a crispy texture that made it “very pleasant to eat.” “I’d down a couple bags of these, no sweat,” one taster raved. But others found it bland, like “a little dirt-clod” that tasted “more like a cracker than a cookie.” One taster wrote that it conjured up memories of one particular cracker: “The cookie itself tastes more like an animal cracker than a chocolate chip cookie, but I’m not mad about it.”
8 (tie) Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk
“Craggy” was the popular adjective for this plant-based cookie, and it was applied as both pro and con. “Really ugly, craggy milk chocolate chunks,” wrote one taster, who admitted an aversion to milk chocolate in general. While another taster was swayed at first sight: “Had me at the look — nice and craggy, looks homemade. Tastes nice and clean, too.” But others found the texture to be stale and bread-like, with “no flavor at all.”
7. Famous Amos
Another cookie that falls into the smaller category, Famous Amos leans into its quarter-size circumference: “The perfect munchable cookie,” the package proudly proclaims. “This is like a chocolate chip cookie popper: tiny, dry but with decent chocolate flavor,” one taster wrote. And while the dry texture was a common critique, the sweetness of the chocolate and subtle saltiness had one taster admitting: “I keep eating it. The chocolate itself is actually really nice.”
6. Chips Ahoy! Chunky
Our first representative from one of the most recognizable top sellers on supermarket shelves received praise for its general chocolate distribution. “Now THAT is chocolate. Love how much is packed in, and it leaves a lovely chocolate taste.” But the flavor didn’t match the volume for most: “It has an impressive number of chips, and yet, no flavor.” It was “artificial” and “not particularly chocolaty,” said another taster. “Milk could do a lot to wash it away, and my tears,” wrote one exasperated taster. But Chips Ahoy! Chunky was the pick of the litter for one taster: “This cookie has a soft crunch, which I like. I’m feeling it.”
5. Enjoy Life
An unfamiliar offering for most of the panel, this box was labeled “crunchy cookies,” and its contents lived up to the description. “Pleasantly crispy and I don’t mind eating it,” one taster wrote. Points were awarded for this cookie’s “nicely browned color” and “buttery flavor,” and one taster said it looked homemade. Two tasters mentioned a minty flavor that tasted “weirdly like a Thin Mint.” But for one panelist, it was “all bite and no bark — that is, all texture and very little flavor.” And the texture was just too crunchy for another taster, who said it “shattered into a million pieces when I tried to break it in half.”
4. Trader Joe’s
These button-sized cookies are piled into a plastic bucket so they can be devoured by the handful. They were “fun and light,” “so tiny and pale and thin.” “Ah, we’ve reached the toy group of the competition,” one taster remarked. Coconut was the prevailing flavor, which worked for and against this cookie. “It’s a coconut cookie with chocolate chips. Just a matter of marketing.” And while it reminded two tasters of Cookie Crisp cereal, the majority of the panel was pleasantly surprised: “I like it! I’m actually very happy you packed three of these,” one taster wrote. “Like medicine,” another concluded. “Take two of these cough-drop cookies and call me in the morning.”
3. Chips Ahoy! Original
The flagship of Nabisco’s cookie fleet got high marks for texture and chocolate. A “nice, crunchy, buttery cookie,” with a pleasant level of salt. It had an “airy crunch with a classic appeal,” that “would hold up to milk, which is nice.” The chocolate chips were evenly dispersed, so much so that one taster said they “look photoshopped.” It was reminiscent of “school lunch box” cookies. “It definitely tastes cheap,” wrote one taster, “but not in a bad way — in a nostalgic way, like ’90s kid-snack-vibe.”
2. Pepperidge Farm Thin and Crispy
The bag says “thin & crispy,” which is exactly how tasters found this number from cookie powerhouse Pepperidge Farm. It had “excellent caramelization” and “toasty butterscotch flavors,” with a “pleasant saltiness on the finish.” And while a few tasters said the milk chocolate chips ruined its potential, the “irregular” shape, “homemade” look and “light, milk-chocolate flavor and something that smacks of real butter” were appealing. Even our milk chocolate hater was on board: “I like this a lot.”
1. Tate’s Bake Shop
With its dark brown color and thin, crispy texture, this cookie immediately stood out from the field. “A wafer-style cookie whose crunch I like,” one taster wrote. It was “lovely,” “buttery, crispy, flavorful,” and “crispy-chewy” with “nice and rich chocolate.” But there wasn’t enough of that chocolate for several tasters. “It actually tastes like chocolate,” wrote one taster, “I just wish there were more of those chips.” “Half the cookie is a barren wasteland, devoid of chocolate,” said another. While one taster suggested knocking off a couple minutes of oven time to give it a bit more chew, several tasters were smitten with a cookie that “could almost pass for homemade.” “It tastes like a chocolate chip cookie! Can we just eat these in lieu of the others and call it a night?”
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