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Photograph: Courtesy Milk Jar cookies

The best cookies in the US

Attention sweet tooths: Here are the best cookies in the US, from chewy chocolate chip to a homemade Oreo

Scott Snowden
Written by
Patty Lee
Contributor
Scott Snowden
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Let's face facts, the cookie is as critical to American culture as apple pie. They may not be the fanciest of sweets, but a good cookie can easily outshine any dessert du jour. Like other all-American favorites (check out America’s best donuts and best pies), this sumptuous, sweet-tasting biscuit has the power to both comfort and delight.

Luckily for candy junkies in search of the very best cookies in the US, bakeries and coffee shops from coast to coast are answering the call for copious cookie quantities by inventing all manner of new and fanciful flavors. So grab a big glass of milk – the classic complement – and become a cookie connoisseur with our exhaustive guide to all that's available.

Best cookies in the US

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Miracle Mile
  • price 1 of 4

Cookies abound at Milk Jar Cookies, where baking from scratch in small batches is the standard. Favorite standbys (read: the chocolate chip variety) get spiced up alongside seasonal flavors like chocolate-covered banana, birthday cookie or peppermint candy cane. The birthday cookie is enticing enough to replace a whole celebratory cake; a simple sugar cookie doused in an explosion of rainbow sprinkles. One bite and it’ll turn you into a giddy kid again. Pair your treat with a glass of milk from Broguiere’s Dairy or a cup of joe from Handsome Roasters. Cookies are $3 each—and lucky for us, they ship ’em, too.

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  • Bakeries
  • Midtown
  • price 2 of 4

Houston’s 'Sugar Fairy' (also known as Rebecca Masson) has cast a saccharine spell on the Lone Star city with her homemade fluffernutter cookies. Drawing from the flavors of the dessert-like sandwich, she bookends peanut butter cream and sticky marshmallow with gloriously rich peanut butter and oatmeal biscuits. They’re so popular, Fluff Bake Bar goes through crates of the spreadable confection, which Masson, of course, sources directly from its birthplace of Lynn, Massachusetts.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Haig
  • price 2 of 4

It’s hard to go wrong with any of the baked goods at this bustling mini-chain of PDX cafés, but head baker Dan Griffin’s cookies bring a much-needed shot of sugary cheer to the infamously rainy town. Opt for the ginger molasses, a soft, pliant number infused with warm holiday spices, or the chocolate crinkle, which is rolled, then baked in powdered sugar to form a crackly, nearly caramelized crust.

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  • Bakeries
  • Upper West Side
  • price 2 of 4

At this Upper West Side nook in Manhattan, size matters. Seductively gooey on the inside and golden brown on the outside, this Holy Grail of cookies is the size of your head and big enough to feed you and at least some of your friends. Semi-sweet chocolate morsels and chunks of walnuts mix and mingle, making each buttery bite better than the next. The only thing worse than waiting on the long line out the door is the sinking feeling you’ll get when you’re left with nothing but crumbs.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Stevens
  • price 1 of 4

It was the owners of another beloved local institution – Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream – who convinced baker Robin Wehl Martin to start slinging cookies full-time. Since opening in 2014, her Capitol Hill shop has built up a massive, sugar-seeking following craving this sweet-spicy chocolate chip cookie, which rounds out a its habanero kick with notes of orange and vanilla. Pro tip: In the summer months, ask for a scoop of Molly Moon’s to form one of the best ice cream sandwiches in the Pacific Northwest.

Chocolate lovers, rejoice. The decadent, fudgy creation at James Beard-nominated pastry chef Lauren Mitterer’s excellent Charleston bakeshop doesn’t skimp on the good stuff. The double chocolate cookie comes with a crackly, almost meringue-like shell that gives in to a creamy center dotted with Callebaut chips, firmly cementing Mitterer’s position at the top of Charleston’s burgeoning food scene.

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Make no mistake, when we say the cookies crafted by baker Tina Rexing are big, it’s not an exaggeration: her oversized chocolate chip cookie – studded with bits of caramel and finished with flaky sea salt – comes in at a whopping eight inches wide. But thanks to an overnight stay in the freezer and the magic of a convection oven, each half pound disc possesses the perfect ratio of crispy to chewy. They may be sized to share, but it’s not hard to finish one all by yourself.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • South End
  • price 2 of 4

“Make life sweeter, eat dessert first” beckons the chalkboard menu inside Joanne Chang’s cozy café—the problem, though, isn’t when to start, but what to start with. For the uninitiated, the cookies offer a buttery gateway into the James Beard award-winning chef’s repertoire of comforting, yet sophisticated pastries. Take her gourmet Oreos, for example, two intensely rich chocolate wafers sandwiching a changing rotation of luscious cream fillings.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Mission
  • price 1 of 4

It’s hard to make a cookie taste ethereal, but somehow Anthony’s Cookies has found the magic formula. San Francisco has been going nuts over this small bakery since it opened in 1997, baking fresh cookies daily in iterations of chocolate chip, toffee chip, candied pecan, double dark chocolate and more, both seasonal and constant. If you’re gluten free, they have a couple options for you as well, but the overall winner is Anthony’s cookies and cream: Standard cookie batter blended with crushed up Oreos. We’re kind of in love.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • La Brea
  • price 2 of 4

Pastry chef Karen Hatfield has created a brunch mecca at Sycamore, where crowds flock to the charming eatery for pork belly hash, ricotta and buckwheat blintzes, and pastries galore. The cookies here are worth writing home about, though, particularly the chocolate chip rye version; not too sweet, and with the perfect balance of a chewy interior and crunchy exterior. Three of these guys make for an indulgent brunch, if you’re not in an egg mood.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Upper West Side
  • price 1 of 4

Downtown pastry darling Christina Tosi brings her cultish sweets to the Upper West Side with this fourth location—the largest yet, with 20 seats. Find her signature treats (crack pie, compost cookies, cereal milk shakes), alongside Stumptown coffee. The bakery does its own version of the Momofuku empire’s famed pork buns: Here they’re made with slow-roasted pork shoulder seasoned with hoisin and sriracha. Vegetarians can opt for buns stuffed with braised shiitakes, caramelized onions and smoked red-chili pepper flakes. Get either with a soft-poached, deep-fried local egg.

Located in the heart of Georgetown, this family bakery has been providing the local community with cookie-sized deliciousness since 2001. Everything on sale comes from family recipes and handcrafted coffee from roasters all across the country. Trying to just pick one item from the menu is hard enough, but if you're struggling with the agony of choice, then you absolutely, positively must try the bakedwich: Chocolate cookies and vanilla ice cream rolled in chocolate chips. 

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In May of 2002, Sweet Mandy B’s opened its doors to share its traditional, baked comfort desserts with the public. With its pastel colors and old-fashioned décor, this neighborhood bakeshop evokes a sense of warmth and nostalgia. The Confetti Cookie is a sweet, buttery and totally Instagram-worthy favorite with the Chicago crowd and the best part is that you can buy both mini bite size and an impressive, pizza-sized 12 inch too.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Western Area
  • price 1 of 4

At a time when foods are literally created with Instagram in mind, Sante Fe Cookie Co.’s superior baked goods still gets attention the old-fashioned way—through word of mouth. Helmed by longtime cookie dealer Debbie Kuehn, the 30-year-old business has stayed reliably delicious and cheap (prices haven’t gone up since the bakery debuted in 1985). That means a single dollar still gets cookie seekers three of Kuehn’s fresh-from-the-oven confections, including dense and pliant rounds punctuated by chunks of pecans and crunchy pralines.

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True to its name, the cookie specialists at Rogue don’t play by the rules. Not only do their creations possess tongue-in-cheek names like 'I’m Not a Snickerdoodle' and 'WTF,' but the flavor combinations are just as playful and unconventional. The most surprising is also one of the most popular—a ranch dressing-inspired round that balances the savory punch of garlic and onion with a burst of bright citrus.

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