How the cookie crumbles

Last reviewed: December 2011
Cookies
Chip chip hooray
Tasty choices include, clockwise from bottom left, Subway, McDonald's, Starbucks, and Tate's.

If you're going to indulge in a sweet treat, you want it to be tasty. But most of the 18 store-bought and fast-food chocolate-chip cookies our trained tasters tried, including top seller Nabisco Chips Ahoy, were just OK, and many were dry and gritty.

A clear exception was Tate's Bake Shop, with big butter and chocolate flavors and smooth chocolate chips. Tasters rated it Excellent—like a really good homemade cookie. It's sold at Whole Foods, Balducci's, Bristol Farms, and Central Market. It's also online at www.tatesbakeshop.com. (Shipping costs at least $8.95.) Three of the fast-food cookies we tested, from Starbucks, McDonald's, and Subway, were Very Good—soft, chewy, and buttery. Dunkin' Donuts Triple was rated a bit lower because it was slightly tough, had gritty chips, and was often overbaked.

Per cookie, Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts have far more calories than the rest, but their cookies are about three times as big. Weight Watchers, the cookie with the least fat and fewest calories, was lowest-rated of all. It was soft and chewy but felt chalky in the mouth and had small, gritty chips and a strange, nonfood off-taste.

Bottom line

When it comes to chocolate-chip cookies, Tate's takes the cake but is sold in limited stores and is pricey if ordered online. Target's Market Pantry Crispy is decent and cheapest of all. Among fast-food cookies, McDonald's is very good and costs less than Starbucks.

A chocolate-chip alternative

Nabisco Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey Chocofudge

Tasters also tried Nabisco Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey Chocofudge and found it chewy, as promised, but far from homemade. The cookie is sweet, with a slight taste of dried fruit, and the fudge filling is a lot like frosting and has little chocolate flavor.