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When it comes to pre-packaged chocolate chip cookie dough (not to be confused with store-bought cookie mixes), there are really only two mainstream options that you’ll find in most grocery stores: Nestle Toll House and Pillsbury. The decadent duo have battled it out to claim top honors in taste, convenience and texture for years, but how they rank ultimately boils down (or bakes up?) to personal preference. But it's a tough choice: How can one possibly choose between two great things? Well, I certainly can. Or so I thought …
After going home for my mom’s 60th birthday and knowing I’d be surrounded by fellow cookie connoisseurs (including my sister, who developed the recipe for my world-famous chocolate chip cookies from my cookbook "Basic Bitchen"), I planned an entire taste test around the two contenders. That is, until a quick trip to Publix revealed that there were two "healthier" alternatives, Annie’s and Sweet Loren’s, that were inching their way into Nestle and Pillsbury’s shelf territory. I obviously had to buy all four.
No matter how the cookie crumbled (and I quite literally made a giant mess), each product was fantastic in its own way. But one made the other three options look like amateur hour in comparison.
Read on to find out which brand would likely send Cookie Monster into a coma.
We appreciated the company’s commitment to "clean" eating with a gluten-free, dairy-free and plant-based cookie dough recipe (that you can also safely consume raw!), but these just didn’t stack up to the competition. The oat flour was extremely overpowering with almost a buckwheat texture and healthy-ish taste that, frankly, wouldn’t satisfy most sudden cravings for chocolate. That said, this departure from the norm wasn’t terrible, just different. And had Sweet Loren’s not been compared to the other three, it would have been a completely acceptable and welcomed addition to store-bought assortments.
There wasn’t a significant difference between Nestle and Pillsbury. Nestle only ranked behind the giggling Dough Boy because his cookie tasted slightly better at room temperature. But if you like a crispy-edged confection that is heavy on butter and a tad lighter on chocolate chip content, Nestle is the one for you. These also pair wonderfully with vanilla ice cream to make a sturdy sandwich that can be dipped in caramel and rolled in rainbow sprinkles. Yeah, we absolutely went there. And no, we have zero regrets.
If you like your cookie a bit sweeter and cakier, Pillsbury is the one for you. We really enjoyed these fresh out of the oven, when the light and fluffy dessert essentially melted in our mouths. They also maintained their softness as they cooled, unlike Nestle which crisped up and lost its gooey interior. One small but noticeable detail was Pillsbury’s decision to line its pull-apart dough into spheres (rather than sloppy cubes). This resulted in more uniform cookies, which appeased my perfectionist brain more than I’d like to admit.
Step aside, cookie classics. There’s a new store-bought dough in town and she goes by the name of Annie. If Nestle and Pillsbury have been the undisputed kings of cookie dough, then Annie’s is the gosh darn country. All six of the taste-testers agreed that this cookie took top honors with its sugary crunch and richer chocolate chips. It also tasted as if it was homemade and not from a package, which is quite an impressive feat considering it is mass-produced. Our only gripe was that no two cookies looked the same. While some may call this artisanal or rustic, we found it to be a bit off-putting when served on an oversized tray. This is us being nit-picky, though, because they didn’t last longer than 24 hours.