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There are times when the craving for a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie is too strong to resist, but the effort involved in making them from scratch is too much to bear. Luckily, when hungry and lazy collide, we can find salvation in the supermarket.
Perusing the refrigerator case at several different grocery stores yielded no fewer than 10 brands of pre-prepped chocolate chip cookie dough. Clearly the endless quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe has spilled out of home kitchens and into big food manufacturing too. Which packages are worth buying, though? I got them all! You know, in order to find out.
How I Tested the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
About half of the options I found were regular cookie dough, the other half were gluten-free (and, in many cases, vegan). I avoided tubs where possible, opting for the “place and bake” format of already-portioned dough balls if available. Most of the doughs came packaged this way, ensuring the cookies would be sized the way the manufacturer intended.
I baked and tasted the regular cookies separate from the gluten-free options because those categories are so different. In every case, I followed the manufacturer’s instructions for temperature and times. I also cooled all cookies completely (willpower!), in order to taste them side-by-side at the same temperature. The cookies were evaluated for flavor, texture, and size. I also made sure to distinguish which brands had good-tasting dough (some are advertised as safe to eat raw), and which brands used better chocolate.
As much as my testers and I thoroughly enjoyed eating all of the regular cookies throughout the week, we noticed that while tasting them blind side-by-side, one stood out from the pack for its classic, homemade flavor. As for the gluten-free options, only one of them had us coming back for more.
Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Lovers Cookie Dough
To be honest, I was hoping one of the other brands would prevail, because picking the OG chocolate chip cookie as the winner is just so dang predictable. But this was the one that all tasters loved, and that tasted “right.” Truly, the cookies tasted just like a homemade batch, perfectly crispy outside, soft inside, with lots of caramelized brown sugar notes. This “Chip Lovers” variety is made with a trio of chocolates — semisweet and milk chocolate chips and semisweet chunks, which really made them taste more like fancy homemade treats.
Mrs. Fields was a very close second to the classic. Trader Joe’s had great bittersweet chocolate chips, but the cookies tasted of essence of eggnog once baked. Annie’s baked up with a snickerdoodle-esque aftertaste. Not bad! Just observations. Again, Nestle Toll House is the way to go in the classic category.
The Best Gluten-Free Store-Bought Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: Sweet Loren’s Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough
The cookies in the gluten-free category were all over the map. Some baked up super thin and flat, others were hard as rocks, and some never firmed up and were gooey and molten. Flavor- and texture-wise, the cookies ranged from crumbly to sticky, and coconut-y to sugary sweet. At the end of the day, there really was no competition. All of my tasters immediately picked Sweet Loren’s as the closest-tasting to classic chocolate chip cookies in every way (even though they’re vegan as well as gluten-free).
Sweet Loren’s cookies were crispy outside, chewy inside, with a great brown sugar flavor and deeply chocolatey chips. The flour blend of oats, tapioca, and potato starch does make the texture and flavor a little different than Toll House, but even those who do eat gluten, dairy, and eggs won’t be disappointed by these cookies.
Buy: Sweet Loren’s Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough, $4.99 for 12 cookies at Target
What’s your go-to store-bought cookie dough?