Chain Chocolate Chip Cookies Ranked Worst To Best

It's hard to imagine a world without chocolate chip cookies, but in fact, they were invented less than 100 years ago by Ruth Wakefield, the owner of the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts. Wakefield had a degree in household arts and experimented with cookies by chopping up a Nestle chocolate bar and mixing it into cookie dough. The result changed the course of history. The cookies took off in popularity, and eventually, Wakefield sold the recipe to Nestle, who printed it on the back of their new product, Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips.

This classic recipe has since become a staple in bake sales and home kitchens. With its popularity and relative simplicity, it is no surprise that many popular chains now offer their own versions of the cookie. But while it is easy to make a good chocolate chip cookie, it is hard to make an exceptional one. For us, an exceptional chocolate chip cookie must hit the right flavor notes in both chocolate and dough. There must be rich deep chocolate that is not too sweet and dough with a hint of molasses. The baked cookie must be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. And above all, it must leave us wanting more. We tried the cookies from 10 different popular chains and put them to the test to find out which cookie comes out on top.

10. Burger King

The best thing we can say about these cookies is that they're cheap. If that's your main objective, fantastic, but if you were hoping for a good cookie, this is not it. First things first: they may be cheap, but they are also tied for the smallest cookies next to McDonald's (we weighed them to verify). But the size is not the real problem here. It's pretty much everything else.

This cookie is soft. Really soft. So soft, we double-checked to make sure it was baked and we had not just been given a pile of raw dough. There was a faint browning on one end that indicated it had indeed been put in an oven at some point. However, the problems do not stop there. The dough itself is wildly vanilla flavored. We love vanilla, but this was simply overpowering, especially when tried in comparison to the other cookies. Finally, in comparison to the strong vanilla-flavored dough, the chocolate chips just don't pack a punch. This is supposed to be a chocolate chip cookie, so chocolate should be the star. Instead, we get a sweet floral dough and not much else.

9. Wendy's

This may look like a good chocolate chunk cookie and smell like a good chocolate chunk cookie, but don't be fooled. This is not a good chocolate chunk cookie. The visuals of this cookie were enticing, which is what made the taste such a betrayal. The Wendy's chocolate chip cookie is big and thick, and it looks like it should be decadent and perfect, but as soon as you break into it, you learn the truth.

Despite a beautiful golden brown on the outside, this cookie is not crispy. It is soft the whole way through. We could put this aside if it had not also been for the flavor. The dough tastes like a butter cookie made by someone who's never tried butter. It simply tastes artificial and off-putting. The semi-sweet chocolate chunks were not enough to save this cookie. We will not be ordering it again.

8. Crumbl Cookies

We know people have strong opinions on Crumbl Cookies, but hear us out on this one. There are better chocolate chip cookies out there. Crumbl Cookies' Milk Chocolate Chip is one of its standard flavors, which means even as the others rotate, this one generally sticks around. But we are not entirely sure why.

The mantra of Crumbl Cookies is basically, "Go big or go home," which we can appreciate, and definitely lends itself to some good cookie recipes. That being said, we still expected the chocolate chips to be well, chip-sized. Instead, the chocolate chips in this cookie are big honking pieces that more closely resemble Hershey's Kisses. We love a Hershey's Kiss, but it was simply too much. Coupled with the fact the milk chocolate functionally had no chocolate flavor, we were left feeling overwhelmed by milky sweetness. Then there's the dough. It's no secret that Crumbl cookies are soft-baked, but really, the inside looks undercooked. It literally looks and tastes like dough. This was easily the biggest and most expensive cookie we tried, and yet we will likely not be coming back to it.

7. Mrs. Fields

We aren't going to lie, we thought Mrs. Fields would do better on this list. The cookie chain has been a mall staple since soon after its inception in 1977. This may be a good option if you are simply walking around and have a hankering for a cookie, but honestly, the Mrs. Fields cookie was forgettable.

Mrs. Fields' chocolate chip cookie lacks any variance in texture. It is soft and somewhat chewy. The dough is incredibly pale, which should have been our first tip-off, but we hoped for more variance. The dough also lacked any distinguishing flavor — it was simply there, acting as a vessel for mediocre chocolate chips. The cookies may be freshly baked, as the sign claims, but they are served cold, and honestly, it just seemed a little sad. The whole experience was of eating something mild and sweet. There was no depth to these cookies. It may not have been the worst cookie we tried, but it definitely was not one of the better ones.

6. Chick-fil-A

There were a lot of things we liked about the Chick-fil-A chocolate chunk cookie. First, as always, the ordering process was a pleasure. The cookie itself is thick and noticeably heavier than the other fast-food cookie options. Despite its girth, it manages to maintain a crispy exterior and a soft interior. We also appreciate this cookie utilizes both dark and milk chocolate chunks; this gives it a lovely sweet and chocolatey mixture.

However, this cookie is far from perfect. Our first complaint is that this cookie tastes noticeably dryer on the inside than many of the others. We suspect this has to do with the addition of rolled oats in the recipe. This brings us to our second issue: what are oats doing in this cookie? This is pitched as a chocolate chunk cookie, not an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Had Chick-fil-A been honest with its branding, we would be less disappointed. Additionally, remove the oats, and it may have been rated higher on our list. As it is, this cookie does not offer the classic chocolate chip cookie experience we crave.

5. Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies certainly knows its audience. They are a company that started out of a college dorm room, delivering cookies to the hungry masses well into the night and the early morning. That is still very much the company model, with shops popping up in college towns and serving well after other bakeries are closed. When you are the only option, you don't need to be the best. So while we certainly would not turn away an Insomnia Cookies chocolate chunk cookie if it should be up at our doorstep at midnight, it would not be our first choice.

The cookie does nail the crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside texture. However, this particular cookie uses milk chocolate chips, which are very sweet and lack a distinctive chocolatey flavor. Additionally, while this is not your standard sugar cookie dough, the flavor does not distinguish itself from a sugar cookie and lacks any punch on its own. We do appreciate that the cookies are served warm, but we also found that after just a few hours of cooling down, the cookies became crunchy the whole way through.

4. McDonald's

McDonald's has a whole line of bakery items for when you need a sweet treat. Among these are chocolate chip cookies. No one goes to McDonald's expecting world-class baked goods, but it's certainly a solid option for a quick cookie.

They get the crispy-to-chewy ratio just about right. The semi-sweet chocolate chips have a distinct chocolatey taste, and the dough offers a note of brown sugar that is lacking from other cookies. You also get two cookies in an order, which helps to make up for the cookie's small size. That being said, there was an odd taste to the dough we could not quite place. It was similar to that of take-and-bake cookies and may just be from being around other foods until served, but it was noticeable. Still, even though our cookies said to eat them by 9:45 AM, and we did not consume them until 1:25 PM, they held up in texture and did not go stale.

3. Subway

Honestly, we are tempted to go to Subway just for these cookies. These are classic chocolate chip cookies that give off an almost homemade feel. They are not the biggest and not the smallest of the cookies we tried, finding a balance right in the middle. The dough has a noticeable rounded flavor that distinguishes it from a sugar cookie but is not overwhelming. The texture is also spot on, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

We do wish these cookies were a little thicker; they are very thin, especially when compared with the other cookies. Additionally, while these cookies hit the right notes, they don't sing. They're a decent choice if you're just searching for a simple chocolate chip cookie, but they are not any better than making your own. Our feeling is if we are going out of the way to purchase a cookie, it should be better than one you can make at home. Still, if you do add a cookie to your sandwich order, you won't regret it. 

2. Panera

Panera provided a quality baked good and very nearly made it to the top. In fact, there was nothing intrinsically wrong with this cookie. The only reason the Panera cookie didn't make the number one slot is that there was one better. Panera's chocolate chip cookie does a lot right. It is crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, it offers two different kinds of chocolate, and the dough has a notable brown sugar taste to hold it all together. It is also, frankly, a very large cookie, something we are not mad about.

This cookie is jammed with chocolate chips. However, they are not evenly distributed. We had some patches where a whole bite was just chocolate, while other bites had an average amount. This cookie makes you wonder if it is indeed possible to have too much chocolate in a cookie. Still, the cookie is solid, and if asked about adding a bakery item to our order, we probably won't say no. 

1. Starbucks

Starbucks chocolate chip cookies just hit differently. Ranking the top few cookies was difficult, but once we bit into the Starbucks cookie, we knew it was the winner. These cookies are large but are still somehow perfectly cooked. They manage not only to be crispy on the edges but also crispy on the bottom while still being chewy in the center.

Logically, we know Starbucks is not baking these cookies fresh in the stores every day, but it sure tastes good enough to be bakery quality. The dough is a rich dark golden color, likely courtesy of brown sugar, which is one of the main ingredients. This also gives the dough a nuanced rich taste we did not find as much in any of the other cookies.

They also use two different kinds of chips, both semi-sweet and milk, the combination of which creates a sweet chocolate heaven. The chips are perfectly evenly distributed, with a bit of chocolate in each bite. Not only that, but the good people at Starbucks will warm your cookie up for you if requested, making the chips melty and the cookie even chewier. Even when eaten cold, Starbucks chocolate chip cookie swept the competition.