I think we all can agree: Warm chocolate chip cookies right from the oven are the best treats. But every once in a while, even the best baker can flub this classic recipe. Who here among us hasn’t made one of these baking mistakes? For occasions like this, I like to keep a package of premade cookie dough on hand. It might sound like blasphemy to some bakers, but when you’re in a pinch, that package can really be a godsend! But if I’m going to rely on store-bought dough for my backup cookies, that dough better taste close to homemade.
In efforts to find the best almost-homemade cookie dough out there, I grabbed a handful of brands from popular grocers and put them head to head. Along with some serious cookie fanatics, I judged these popular brands: Annies’, Great Value (a Walmart brand), Immaculate Baking Company, Nestlé Tollhouse, Pillsbury, Soozie’s Doozie’s and Trader Joe’s. Check out who took the spots in this test.
Honorable Mention: Immaculate Baking Company
When it comes to chocolate chip cookies, there’s always the great chewy vs. crispy debate. Some folks just prefer crispier, crunchier cookies, and for those people, Immaculate Baking Company’s cookie dough is the brand you should look for. These cookies had that nice crisp texture that’s great for snacking but even better dipped in a tall glass of milk (just like these recipes). Besides that spot-on crunch, all the testers loved the chocolate in the Immaculate Baking Company cookie dough. It was rich and creamy—very much a high-quality chocolate.
As an added bonus, Immaculate Baking Company boasted a lot of benefits: USDA-certified organic, fair trade ingredients, no bleached flour, no artificial flavors, no preservatives and no hydrogenated oils. With all that behind the cookie, we’d feel good serving them if we couldn’t whip up a batch of our own—though if you love crispy cookies and have the time, you should give this technique a try.
Runner-Up: Soozie’s Doozies
For people who like their cookies crisp and chewy, Soozie’s Doozies offered the best of both worlds. These cookies had nice, crisp edges with a soft, chewy center. Testers remarked left and right how great the texture of this cookie was absolutely perfect—slightly cakey but a great bite. Like Immaculate Baking Company, Soozie’s Doozies cookie dough was also GMO-free.
While we did enjoy these cookies immensely, what cost this brand the crown was its lack of brown sugar flavor. A few panelists said that these tasted a bit more like sugar cookies with chocolate than classic chocolate chip cookies. While I agree, I wouldn’t let that stop me from grabbing a second cookie at a party.
Remember—sugar does make a difference! Here’s a handy guide to knowing the difference and when to use each kind.
Best in Show: Great Value
Despite a good show from the specialty brands, in the end, a generic brand took the top spot! That’s right—Walmart’s Great Value cookie dough won our hearts, and can you blame us? They look picture-perfect! I’ll admit, these cookies did score some points for their appearance, but what gave them the win was their taste.
Biting into these cookies, we found that they were perfectly chewy. They had that great soft chocolate chip cookie texture many of us search for (sorry, crunchy cookie-lovers!). As we took seconds, we noticed how these cookies had a nice, subtle vanilla flavor, unlike their counterparts. They also had nice chocolate chips and a hint of brown sugar. Essentially the perfect cookie, or as one tester wrote on the comment card, “easily the best.”
Of course, the biggest takeaway from this test is that no packaged cookie dough can touch your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. In my opinion, though, that’s not really the point! I like to rely on these premade mixes as a good backup plan—something to toss in the oven if I have unexpected company dropping by, a secondary sweet to feed my nephews when they aren’t interested in a tasty fruit pie (these recipes are exceptional, by the way).
This all being said, our favorite brands in this test were still pretty darn tasty. After this test was done, you’d think we’d be sick of chocolate chips, but not at all! Most of us dove in for a few cookies to munch on later in the afternoon. As for the brands themselves, we were shocked that both budget brands and more niche brands took the top spots. There’s no predicting what’s going to please! (Well, I can predict your friends and family will love these homemade cookie recipes.)