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 in metropolitan Phoenix.
Mexican Tea Cookie at Ollie Vaughn’s1526 East McDowell Road
If you think icing and sugar-covered cookies are for kids, think again. This snowball-looking cookie at Ollie Vaughn’s on McDowell Road might seem unsophisticated at first glance, but underneath that powdered-sugar finish is a total adult cookie in kid's clothing. It’s mature, multilayered, and nuanced, each bite beguiling your mouth with a slightly sweet, slightly nutty, slightly buttery finish. But if you want to get all childish about it, yes, it’s a total taste bomb.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie at sweetDee's Bakeshop350 East Stetson Drive, Suite C101, Scottsdale
Sweet creamy butter is a cookie must. Browned butter is a cookie game-changer — and one bite of this browned-butter beauty at sweetDee's Bakeshop in Old Town Scottsdale proves it. Not only does it infuse every bite in deep, nutty, miraculous flavor, it creates crispy-edged, chewy-centered perfection. And then you add chocolate to the mix, 65 percent Swiss chocolate to be exact, and your mouth can barely contain the bliss. Sweet Dee’s … more like "sweet Jesus."
Peanut Butter M&M Cookie at Be Coffee + Food + Stuff214 East Roosevelt Street
We’re pretty sure Cookie Monster would give a furry blue thumbs-up to this monster-sized cookie from Be Coffee. The biggest cookie on the list, the Cookie Monster has dough that is dense and delicious and on the sweeter side — no chewy middle here. But the real pièce de résistance are the peanut butter M&Ms 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.
Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies at Pane Bianco4404 North Central Avenue
1505 East Van Buren Street
Pane Bianco has always had a lot to brag about: slammin’ sandwiches, bomb bread, money mozzarella. But oh my God, these cookies. Yes, there’s a little something Chips Ahoy! about them — the smallish size, the chocolate in every bite, the combo of crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle — yet they’re infinitely more gourmet. Thank the quality ingredients for that: Hayden Flour Mills flour, dark chocolate wafers that spread as they melt to create layers of melted chocolate sandwiched between buttery cookie, and just the right hit of sea salt on top. Delizioso.
Snickerdoodle at Churn5233 North Central Avenue
This sweet thing from Churn 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 — that you can forget about the ice cream and eat the cookie solo. It's your call whether you share it with your real-life boo. Better yet, get two.
Macadamia Nut Caramel at Super Chunk Sweets & Treats7120 East Sixth Avenue, #19, Scottsdale
If you ask Super Chunk owner and pastry chef Country Velador which cookie is her favorite, she’ll say, “They’re all my babies.” And she’s not wrong. Her famous Mesquite Chocolate Chip is dense and gritty with a smoky sweetness thanks to the mesquite flour. Her Cowpuncher combines Mexican chocolate with cinnamon, cayenne, and candied jalapeño for a cookie with kick. But we’re giving top billing to her macadamia nut caramel, a soft and seemingly subtle combo of white chocolate chips, crunchy macadamia nuts, and a touch of tangy pineapple, but it’s the fleur de sel caramel baked in the center that melted our heart. It's totally original and one of the most unexpectedly delicious cookies in town.
Macarons at Essence Bakery Cafe3830 East Indian School Road
Macarons aren’t easy to master. It takes finesse to pull off the classic French cookie, and guts to raise it to new heights. Chef-owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos of Essence Bakery, who trained at the famous Ecole Lenôtre in Paris, does 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). And flavors like French chocolate, caramel cream, key lime, and strawberry deliver both decadence and playfulness.
A to Z at La Grande Orange Grocery & Pizzaria4410 North 40th Street
You don’t start off eating this behemoth of badass proportions from LGO 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. It's 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.
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Chocolate Chip Cookie at Chestnut Fine Foods & Provisions4350 East Camelback Road
This cookie! This cookie! This cookie! Just when you thought you’d already tasted chocolate chip cookie perfection, this bite-sized gem from Chestnut 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 re-create 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.
Kitchen Sink at The Bakery PHX1528 East Bethany Home Road
Is there room for two “everything” cookies on this list? Hell, yes. The Kitchen Sink from The Bakery PHX may share chocolate chunks and pretzels with the LGO behemoth above, but this hodgepodge is infinitely softer and gooier, with crackly, caramelized edges and bubbly pockets of marshmallow that make each morsel a mouth surprise. One bite you’ll be saying hello caramel, the next hello chocolate, and the next hello marshmallow. Plus, this one bakes in nostalgia, like a hybrid of Grandma's and Mom’s in one. So, it's less like mish-mash and more like cookie crack.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on December 6, 2016. It was updated on December 4, 2019.