Cookie Brands With The Highest And Lowest Quality Ingredients

Cookies are cookies, and when it comes to buying a box of your favorites from the grocery store, quality may not always matter. But let's face it — companies are cutting corners these days, and we think it's about time to blow the lid off what we put in our bodies — both good and bad. We're looking to uncover the truth about cookie brands and where they stand in terms of ingredients. Some store-bought cookie add-ins may stray far from the beaten path when compared to homemade cookie recipes, so much so that many pose risks to your health that span far beyond just their fat and sugar content. Allow us to uncover the ingredients lurking in your cookie jar while simultaneously shedding light on the higher-quality brands that have avoided the cheap additives in exchange for wholesome goodness.

Sound interesting? Stay tuned. Join us as we see just how the cookie crumbles when it comes to cookie brands with the highest and lowest quality ingredients.

Low: Keebler

Keebler cookies, long celebrated as an American classic, offer a tempting array of flavors. However, their charm often masks a less appetizing truth: Many varieties are packed with additives, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors. It's a tasty paradox that even the most devoted snack lovers have to navigate.

Take Keebler fudge stripes cookies, for example. When scanning the ingredients list, we're met with artificial flavors and a few other components we won't pretend to know how to pronounce. Sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, sorbitan tristearate are a few, with at least one of these additives having the potential to produce long-term health effects when consumed in large amounts, according to a 2018 study in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology. Still, we aren't seeing high fructose corn syrup here, which is a huge relief, especially considering the number of brands in which the gnarly ingredient makes its appearance. Nevertheless, we cannot recommend this brand, since additives and artificial flavors may pose health risks that we'd rather not face.

High: Pillsbury

This one's a refrigerated grab, but we thought we'd include it nonetheless. We were surprised, quite frankly, to see Pillsbury offering cookies that weren't laden with tons of yucky additives and high fructose corn syrup. When it comes to standard flavors like sugar cookie and chocolate chip, you'll find mostly the same ingredients you'd find in your grandmother's cookie recipe — flour, salt, sugar, eggs, and, in the case of the chocolate chip flavor, molasses. And though we do see "artificial flavor" listed as one ingredient, it is a minor offense given that there aren't any of the usual suspects we typically see incorporated in cookie brand ingredients.

With all of this said, it's important to note that there are Pillsbury flavors in which you'll find a little more than what's in your average homemade chocolate chip cookie recipe, with not only artificial flavoring gracing the batter but artificial coloring as well. Thankfully, we're only seeing this with seasonal or limited-time options like the infamous Pillsbury Ready-to-Bake Lisa Frank Cookies because, well, pink and blue hues that bright don't happen naturally — artificial coloring is typically needed.

Low: Lorna Doone

Yep, we know what you're thinking: Lorna Doone is an old-school classic, so why pick on her? And while we'd agree that Lorna Doone shortbread cookies are simply delicious, we can't ignore the fact that the ingredients aren't as healthy as they could be. Like many of our favorite cookies on the list, Lorna Doone shortbread cookies come with additives, artificial flavoring, and yes, even the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. And though most homemade shortbread cookies come endowed with plenty of butter, these only feature soybean oil, canola oil, and palm oil, which we find sorely disappointing. Yes, we know that store-bought cookies won't necessarily contain the same ingredients as homemade cookies, but there are other brands on this list, like Simple Truth and Back To Nature, that manage to put forth great taste without any additives or artificial flavoring needed.

And that high fructose corn syrup? For goodness' sake, just take it out. We know it's cheaper on the company, but honestly, the cookies would probably taste just as good — if not better — with plain old sugar. It's fine if you're a fan of Lorna Doone cookies as long as you know the quality that you're getting; whether that bothers you is ultimately your own business.

High: Tate's Bake Shop

Tate's Bake Shop cookies are no stranger to grocery store shelves, and thankfully, they're no stranger to high-quality ingredients either. If thin and crispy is your thing, then by all means, pick up a bag, but honestly, this brand has more to offer than just that. Its uniquely delicious cookies come with little to no additives, no high fructose corn syrup, and no artificial ingredients. Instead, expect to see unbleached flour, chocolate chips, salt, cane sugar, butter, eggs, baking soda, and get this ... even natural vanilla flavor. Tate's Bake Shop uses ingredients we often find in classic chocolate chip recipes, and we, for one, think it's quite marvelous.

In addition to Tate's Bake Shop original chocolate chip cookies comes Tate's Bake Shop gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Of course, being gluten-free aficionados ourselves, we did expect this to come with an assortment of starches, gums, and the like to make up for the lack of gluten, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the ingredients were almost identical except for the use of gluten-free flour instead of unbleached flour found in the original recipe.

All in all, we highly recommend Tate's Bake Shop cookie brand based on its high quality and very simplistic ingredients.

Low: Grandma's

We aren't necessarily ranking cookies here, but when it comes to ingredients, Grandma's cookies are at the bottom of the barrel. We find it ironic (and a little hilarious) that the cookies are called "Grandma's" cookies in the first place, given that the ingredients are nowhere near what a grandma would actually use in the kitchen. Instead, these cookies feature several additives, along with high fructose corn syrup, and, you guessed it, artificial flavors.

So, what's so bad about additives? Sadly, the more additives that are in processed foods and the more you eat them, the more of a risk they might be to your health, according to the American Medical Association. With so many ingredients listed, it's almost impossible for you to know which are safe and which aren't. Not only that, but many additives prove bad for your health when they're eaten in large amounts and over long periods of time. With Grandma's cookies, you'll find add-ins like polydextrose, propylene glycol, mono- and diglycerides, caramel coloring, soy lecithin, and TBHQ, which stands for tertiary butylhydroquinone. We don't know about your grandma, but ours never used ingredients like these when making cookies. So, when it comes to ingredient quality, Grandma's cookies are a hard pass for us.

High: Simple Truth

Simple Truth cookies don't carry that name for nothing; when compared to other cookie brands, this one contains ingredients that are simple and true. Just a quick look at the ingredients list for a few of Kroger's natural branded cookies is enough to make us feel more confident about our snack choices. In the Simple Truth chocolate sandwich cookies, we're seeing ingredients like plain sugar, canola oil, salt, baking soda, and enriched wheat flour. When compared with the original Oreo brand, these ingredients are a breath of fresh air. The trend continues with Simple Truth Organic chocolate chip cookies, as these boxed snacks come with little to no additives and a majority of organic ingredients.

Though we love the clean ingredients found in most Simple Truth cookies, you should be sure to watch out for gluten-free varieties. Though still not nearly as bad as some brand-name competitors additive-wise, Simple Truth gluten-free cookies may include ingredients like carrageenan, xanthan gum, and soy lecithin, which, depending on preferences and sensitivities, may not float everyone's boat.

Low: Smart Way

Dozens of sandwich cookies for only $2? Uh-oh. Makes us wonder what ingredients were used to cut costs here. Sure enough, Smart Way, the budget-conscious private label offered by Kroger, has cookies that contain ingredients far beyond the typical eggs, butter, and sugar lineup we'd use at home. Expect to find traditionally cost-cutting substitutes for sugar, like high fructose corn syrup in these cookies, along with artificial flavorings. We've also spotted caramel coloring, dextrose, and soybean oil, which isn't exactly giving us high-quality vibes, if you know what we mean.

From iced oatmeal cookies to knock-off Oreo-styled ones, most of the cookies contain the same junk that (likely) makes the price point so low. At least these cookies have fairly decent reviews on their side, likely because ingredients like high fructose corn syrup can be rather tasty even if they aren't the best for our bods. All in all, we think this is a brand you ought to steer clear of, especially if high-quality ingredients are a priority.

High: Back to Nature

Back To Nature is another high-quality cookie option we found at our local Kroger. This brand offers several delicious picks, with its chocolate chunk cookies featuring unbleached flour, no high fructose corn syrup, and little to no additives in each cookie. As its name would suggest, Back to Nature cookies seem like an ode to natural simplicity, and we're digging it. Comparatively, these cookies feature fairly simple ingredients, with cane sugar, unbleached flour, and sea salt, to name a few. We did notice a few additives snuck in there, such as soy lecithin and dextrose, but that's because the chocolate chunks in the cookies contain them. When it comes to the cookie base itself, it appears to have mostly natural ingredients, which we think is rather impressive.

In addition to the Back to Nature chocolate chunk cookies, you can also expect to find Back to Nature peanut butter cream cookies and fudge mint cookies all bearing the same simplistic components and no sacrificing of flavor, according to customers. Most of these cookies score highly on taste, which is encouraging, especially considering their short ingredient lists. Guess it just goes to show that some additives are completely unnecessary in terms of making cookies taste good. Back to Nature branded cookies demonstrate this point perfectly.

Low: Chips Ahoy

Chips Ahoy will always have a spot in our hearts as one of our childhood favorites, but, like so many other cookie brands on the list, the buck stops there in terms of quality. Loaded with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and more, these Chips Ahoy cookies aren't one of our top picks in terms of ingredients.

On a positive note, although Chips Ahoy cookies have plenty of stuff we'd rather not see, they also don't have as many additives as we sometimes find in other brands. At most, we're seeing dextrose and soy lecithin in the chocolate chips and palm oil in the cookie itself, but unless you have a sensitivity to these ingredients, they shouldn't be a cause for concern. Even so, while having in a cookie or two might seem harmless, remember that moderation is key if you're watching your caloric intake, managing insulin resistance, or having concerns about developing other health issues long-term.

High: Pepperidge Farm

When it comes to high-quality ingredients, Pepperidge Farm comes through. To be honest, we were surprised at this finding since Pepperidge Farm cookies come across as your average grocery store grab. Nevertheless, with a quick glance at the ingredients, we found that there were little to no additives, natural flavors, and surprisingly, no high fructose corn syrup anywhere in sight.

Classic options like Chessmen, Sausalito, and more are packed with mostly goodness, with standard made-from-scratch cookie ingredients like salt, butter, flour, and brown sugar all making their appearance in these high-quality yet delicious-tasting snacks. Of course, we aren't saying these are healthy per se (after all, what cookies are?) but what we can say is that the ingredients here are a lot more wholesome than other cookie brands within the same price range. What makes things even better is that most of these cookies actually taste good, which, we have to admit, truly does matter, even when it comes to clean eating. Thankfully, Pepperidge Farm cookies check most of the boxes in terms of yumminess and quality, and we're so glad about that. 

Low: Great Value

We weren't expecting much here, and indeed, the ingredients on Great Value cookies are definitely subpar. A quick glance at just a few offerings from this cookie behemoth sold by Walmart raises immediate concerns. All the common offenders are easily spotted on the ingredient lists, along with quite a few additives, making these less of a great buy when it comes to quality.

Great Value Chocolate Chippers, for example, contain controversial caramel coloring, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavoring. Other cookies, like Great Value caramel coconut and fudge cookies, contain a hodgepodge of additives and even hydrogenated oils. We see similar trends with additives and artificial flavorings for other cookie types within the brand, including Great Value ginger snaps, Great Value fudge graham cookies, and more. No, cookies aren't made to be healthy, but when it comes to ingredients, better options for cookie consumption are out there. Great Value cookies may be a great value on your wallet, but when it comes to quality, the brand misses the mark.

High: Partake

Wow, these cookies are quite impressive! Partake cookies can be found at many grocery stores, including Kroger, Target, Walmart, and Whole Foods, and come in a variety of fun flavors. The company makes several claims letting us know it means business in terms of ingredients, with one of them being that its cookies are free of the top nine major allergens known to plague those who suffer from food allergies and sensitivities. Partake cookies are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, non-GMO, and Kosher certified. Not only this, but these cookies also contain a host of pure, high-quality, simplistic ingredients that are quite a sight for sore eyes after perusing the ingredients used by some of their cookie competitors.

As for how they taste, that's for you to decide. What we can say is that if you're looking for a high-quality option that's suitable for many of the most restrictive diets, this is a great choice. Choose from flavors like birthday cake, lemon, chocolate chip, double chocolate, ginger snap, and more. Pretty cool!

Low: Oreo

Crispy, crunchy, creamy, chocolatey ... what more could you want in a cookie? Oreos are a one-of-a-kind treat that we are ever so grateful for. Dunking these babies in milk leads to ultimate satisfaction, but when it comes to ingredients, we walk away feeling not quite so satisfied.

The first offense? High fructose corn syrup. Though there are conflicting reports out there as to the safety of this common junk food ingredient, sources agree that it isn't the best when it comes to supporting overall health. In fact, this ingredient poses an increased risk for diabetes, obesity, fatty liver disease, and more, according to the Cleveland Clinic. No thanks.

Another issue we take with the classic Oreo is that it is made with artificial flavoring. Truth be told, artificial flavoring might not be the scariest ingredient we've come across when it comes to examining cookie labels, but it also isn't the wholesome flavoring we'd love to see gracing the Oreo ingredients list. While Oreos aren't as laden with as many additives as some other cookie brands, they don't quite make the cut for high-quality ingredients either.


Cookie brands with the highest and lowest quality ingredients were chosen based on what they were made with. We brought out our magnifying glasses and read the fine print on each package to determine exactly which cookies contained bite-worthy ingredients and which ones were a miss. We found quite a few cookies that yielded unsavory ingredients, especially those available for cheaper pricing, and so, many cookies examined quickly made the low-quality list. As for the few brands that managed to pump out quality ingredients despite lasting for weeks on the shelf, well, they've got our respect. We hope this list will help you hunt down your next high-quality cookie bite.