Cookie hunting across the Valley can be a dangerous endeavor. Before you know it, it’s cookies for breakfast, cookie-tasting summits with cookie-obsessed friends and even new cookie lingo flying out of your crumb-caked mouth (“that magma in the middle is dope!”). We crunched, we savored, we rode a pretty sweet sugar high — totally worth it to find the best cookies being baked up in Phoenix.
Corn Cookie at Phoenix Public Market Café
We know what you’re thinking: Corn cookie, as if. We get it. Kernels certainly aren’t a traditional cookie ingredient, not to mention corn flour, and no way can niblets hold a candle to, say, chocolate, but somehow in the expert hands of pastry head honcho Sarah Chisholm, what could have been a dough disaster bakes up into a sweet, savory, sinfully good creation that’s simultaneously light and lively and shockingly good. In short, this cookie is the bomb. Sarah’s famous Ballerina Cookie is a close second.
Peanut Butter M&M Cookie at Be Coffee + Food + Stuff
This is a monster of a cookie we’re pretty sure Cookie Monster would give a furry blue thumbs-up to. The biggest on the list, the dough is dense and delicious and on the sweeter side — no chewy middle here. But the real pièce de résistance is the peanut butter M&Ms, taste bombs that add a savory punch and crunch to each chomp. Me loves this cookie and me loves the arthouse vibe only a coffee shop on RoRo could deliver.
Macarons at Essence Bakery Cafe
Macarons aren’t easy to master. It takes finesse to pull off the classic French cookie and balls to raise it to new heights. Chef-owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos, who trained at the famous Ecole Lenôtre in Paris, manages both. Crusty on the outside and billowy on the inside, with just the perfect cookie-to-filling ratio, these candy-colored creations are as cute as buttons (literally) with flavors like French Chocolate, Caramel Cream, Key Lime, and Strawberry to light up your taste buds. Get 'em at the Tempe and Arcadia locations.
Chocolate Toffee at Chloe’s Corner
The cookies at this Kierland hangout are snatched up fast, usually by counter-sitting regulars who know just how delicious the morsels sitting under the glass domes really are. Known more as a grilled cheese joint than a bakery, Chloe’s owner Ashly Young was first a pastry chef, and even though we’re giving kudos to the Chocolate Toffee cookie —one bite into the heavenly Heath-filled delight coats your mouth in chocolate-toffee yumminess — the full cookie roster, from a near perfect Peanut Butter to the Inside-Out Brownie, is A-list delish. Even more shocking: It’s only $2 for a coffee and a cookie.
Snickerdoodle at Churn
This sweet thing is like the perfect boyfriend: soft on the inside, solid around the outside, with just the right balance of sweet and cinnamon spice to give it some edge. It’s so good — that buttery taste screams through the sweetness, and don’t get us started on the cinnamon top layer — you can scrap the ice cream and eat the cookie solo. Your call whether you share it with your real-life boo. Better yet, get two!
Chocolate Chip Cookie at Chestnut Fine Foods & Provisions
This cookie! This cookie! This cookie! Just when you thought you’d already tasted chocolate-chip cookie perfection, this bite-sized gem walks into your mouth to make every other chocolate-chip cookie pale in comparison. Packed with mini chocolate chips and verging on cookie dough, it’s a revelation so good you’ll want to recreate it at home, but drat! Not only is the recipe classified, the top-secret technique, which Chestnut co-owner Kirsten Steele claims is the real star of the show, is under heavy lock, key, and vault.
A to Z at La Grande Orange
You don’t start off eating this behemoth of badass proportions thinking you’ll polish off the whole thing in one sitting. It’s way too big for one person, with hills and valleys hiding caramelized peanuts, pretzels, corn flakes, and chocolate chunks, a hodgepodge of flavor and texture that makes each bite an adventure. But the bites go fast, and then sugar shock hits, and the next thing you know, it’s all gone. If anyone asks, the dog finished it.
S’mores Cookie at Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup
If baking is science, this cookie is Einstein. Known as both the S’mores and the Chocolate Marshmallow Cookie (no official name has been given), a crackly, caramelized edge circles an ooey, gooey chocolate and marshmallow middle for a two-in-one cookie that makes you wonder: How the heck did this contrasting deliciousness of crispy and chewy come from the same dough. Oh, the genius of sugar and butter — and Mom. Owner Aaron Pool’s mom bakes these bad boys from scratch, and they go fast. S’more please!
Fudge Wheel at Cookies From Home
Get ready to be assaulted by chocolate. Soft, chewy, with a hint of grandma, it takes two different types of cocoa plus a hefty dose of semisweet chocolate to raise this fudgy brownie-esque bite to super-duper chocolate status — and it’s gluten-free to boot. Cookies From Home actually taste like cookies from home: They’re cookie-size rather than steering wheel in diameter, and the pink and white Tempe store screams home despite its location in the warehouse district. While you’re there, might as well grab a Salted Brown Sugar and a Macadamia Nut and a Peanut ’N Butter too.
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Apple Oatmeal at Tammie Coe Cakes
Navigating the cookie case at Tammie Coe’s, a cozy bakery on Roosevelt Street, is an exercise in restraint. There are dark and delicious Flourless Cocoa packed with walnuts, a cracked top Peanut Butter dusted with diamonds of sugar and glazed sugar cookies that look like stained glass. But if we had to choose just one, the Apple Oatmeal wins, a saucer-sized treat that’s crunchy on the outside, extra chewy in the middle with hit of apple and cinnamon that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling all over. And hey, it’s apple and oatmeal, so it totally works for breakfast.
(*A big thanks to Mona Morsy for the cookie-hunting help and for coining the expression "magma.")