I usually bake my own cookies — but sometimes a craving hits and you just want to pick some up at the store.
As a professional baker, I’ve probably made thousands of chocolate-chip cookies from scratch.
Chocolate-chip cookies were also one of the first things I learned to make as a kid and I’ve since spent a lot of time refining my own recipes for different versions of the classic, from soft and chewy to crispy and lacy.
So, of course, I have strong opinions on what makes a good chocolate-chip cookie.
I don’t like them overly sweet, which typically happens when there’s not enough bitter-but-balancing chocolate folded into the dough. Soft centers and crispy edges are ideal, but there are certainly a lot of different viewpoints on cookie texture.
Although I usually make big batches of my own dough to store in the freezer for a rainy day, I also understand that when a craving hits, you want a store-bought option that will satisfy.
So, I tried chocolate-chip cookies from the bakery section at four national chains near me in Seattle — Costco, Kroger, Safeway, and Walmart. Here’s how they stacked up.
At Costco, I picked up a 24-pack of cookies for $8.99.
I could tell at first glance the chain’s cookies — from its Kirkland Signature brand — were loaded with 1/2-inch chunks of chocolate.
The cost of each cookie came out to only 37 cents. Notably, though, Costco’s bakery is only accessible to members for in-person shopping. Memberships to the wholesaler start at $60 per year and come with lots of discounts and special perks.
The cookie’s surface was a rippled texture filled with nooks and crannies of chocolate.
Texturally, they were soft in the center with slightly firmer edges — but, overall, they’re ideal for those who like cookies soft and chewy.
The cookies also had a pleasant and prominent vanilla flavor. I also appreciated their golden color, which might be indicative of more brown sugar being in the dough. The other cookies I tried were paler.
It was soft and moist, but the color reminded me of a sugar cookie.
The color led me to guess that Walmart doesn’t use a lot of brown sugar in its cookies. Brown sugar is what gives chocolate-chip cookies deep toffee and molasses notes.
This cookie was also much sweeter than the others, probably a result of a lot of white sugar in the dough, which is sweeter than brown sugar.
There was also very little chocolate — just a few small bits — which left the cookie feeling unbalanced even though it had a great soft center.
Safeway’s cookies were the crispest of the bunch.
The center of the cookie was soft, but the thinner edges had a pleasant snap. That said, the cookie didn’t have a lot of chew.
In terms of chocolate, these fell somewhere in the middle of the bunch. They had a decent amount of chips but were not loaded with them. The chocolate chips in the cookies also fell on the sweeter side.
Overall, the cookie was a little one-note, coming off as just sweet. Not unpleasant, but also not the best cookie on the market, in my opinion.
A pack of 16 cookies from Kroger costs me $3.50 with a store card (or $5.49 without).
The cookies I got at Kroger were labeled with Fred Meyer, a local northwest chain owned by Kroger. Although Fred Meyer and Kroger merged in 1998, some stores and items — like these cookies — still represent the Fred Meyer brand.
At first glance, I could tell they were filled with lots of semisweet chocolate chips.
With my card, each cookie came to only 22 cents. Without it, they were 34 cents each.
Overall, I think you should head to Costco’s bakery section for chocolate-chip cookies.
As a professional baker who makes chocolate-chip cookies daily, I felt Costco’s cookie came the closest to tasting homemade.
The soft texture, vanilla-forward flavor, and ample dark-chocolate chunks set it apart from the others.
The Fred Meyer cookies from my local Kroger were a close second place. Walmart’s version felt a little too much like a sugar cookie to me and Safeway’s fell a bit short. But, really, it’s hard to go wrong with a cookie from any of these chains.