We’ve all been there. After promising to bring dessert for a potluck, or inviting friends over for a small get-together, or walking through the refrigerated aisle of a grocery only to realise you have an unimaginably strong craving for cookies, you decide to buy some ready-made chocolate chip cookie dough.
But which brand should you choose? Rolled dough? Pre-cut? Bagged mix?
We purchased the five most common pre-made cookie doughs available in grocery stores nationwide, and put them to the test.
Pillsbury and Nestle Toll House have two common varieties — a rolled tube of dough, and then pre-cut cubes. We bought one of each.
The pre-cut packages were each $4.99 at our local markets, while the rolls were $3.99. We also decided, after seeing it in three different New York City grocery stores, to buy the Betty Crocker bagged dry mix for $3.79. Having never experimented with bagged cookie dough mix, we figured now was our chance.
Though Betty Crocker’s mix requires one stick of butter plus an egg (therefore making it far less “ready made” than our other four types), we figured you might want to see what these bad boys looked like fresh out of the oven, too.
Phase One: Rolled Dough
We started with our two tubes of Pillsbury and Nestle dough. Both doughs called for a pre-heated oven of 350°, and instructed bakers to divide the dough into “teaspoons.” Nestle specifically says to “spoon heaping teaspoons of dough,” while Pillsbury instructs you to “spoon dough by rounded teaspoonfuls.”
We took them literally (since this is such a vague measurement) and used a teaspoon measuring utensil to scoop chunks of dough from the tubes.
We eyeballed each scoop to ensure similar size and therefore guarantee the baking times would be consistent. Pillsbury’s dough seemed to crumble more, and needed lots of pressing in order to create a proper spoonful. But the overall appearance alone of both was very similar.
Using our hands, we rolled each spoonful into a smooth sphere (again, to ensure consistent bake times), and placed six of each brand onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
When making homemade cookies, we tend to make much larger balls of dough using an ice cream scoop. The recommended size seemed very small to us, but we didn’t want to improvise and therefore screw up the bake time or temperature.
Into the oven they went (for 12 minutes) while we prepped our next batches.
Phase Two: Pre-cut Dough
Nestle and Pillsbury each also offer a flat package of chocolate chip cookie dough that’s already rolled out and measured for you, saving the extra steps of guestimating what a “teaspoonful” is and rolling it into a ball.
Here’s what each brand’s ready-made dough looks like right out of the package:
There’s a stark difference between the two.
Nestle’s dough had a darker brown appearance, and a lot more visible chocolate chips. The dough was almost packaged more compactly and in squares.
Pillsbury’s dough was a lot more pale, with fewer chips and a larger cardboard container. The dough was separated more and had rounded edges.
We chose NOT to manually roll the pre-cut chunks into smooth balls, since the point of this type is that it require fewer steps, right?
The Nestle cubes broke off relatively easily, though a few times the squares would come apart unevely. Pillsbury’s rounded rectangles were much easier to pull apart.
We placed the pre-cut dough into a 350° oven and set the timer for another 11 minutes.
Phase Three: Bagged Dry Mix
As we mentioned earlier, we realise the Betty Crocker dry cookie mix is not quite on the same level of “ready made” as Nestle and Pillsbury’s two options, but we figured it was worth checking out.
The mix require one stick of softened butter, and a single egg. That’s it. Mix those two ingredients together, add the dry mix, and voila! Cookie dough.
We used a hand mixer, since stirring together butter and an egg isn’t the easiest task.
We busted out our handy teaspoon measurer again, and used the same method with the Betty Crocker dough as we did the tube-form of Nestle and Pillsbury.
Betty is a touch more sensible, though, and added instructions for using tablespoons of dough — a size much more to our liking. We scooped out several tablespoon-sized balls as well (shown below on the right).
Those went into our oven as well for 10 minutes, though we kept the larger size in for a tad longer.
Phase Four: Taste Test
The moment of truth arrived.
This wasn’t a beauty contest, but the visible difference between each cookie type was intriguing.
Nestle’s dough retained its darker hue, while Pillsbury came out looking more like a pristine factory-made cookie. The Betty Crocker’s were the most “homemade” looking, which was perhaps to be expected. They did come out a but flatter than the other though.
What really mattered to us was taste.
This cookie had nice and crunchy edges, with a soft and chewy center. There was a lot of chocolate flavour coming through from the chips, and a sort of nutty/buttery finish.
Slightly crunchier than the pre-cut version, but still with a good buttery and rich chocolate flavour.
Also had crisp edges with a softer center, though slightly more bland than Nestle. This was probably due to its lack of chocolate chips in every bite.
Chewier all around, and also suffering from missing chocolate chips. Not nearly as buttery as the Nestle varieties.
Betty Crocker Bagged
Very crispy edges, but still a touch soft in the middle. Lots of butter flavour coming through, and a reasonable about of chocolate flavour as well.
After our blind taste test of all five cookie the winner was clear: Nestle’s pre-cut cookies are the best.
Though the cubed dough makes for wonky-looking cookies with a square still visible, the taste was best by far. Crispy edges mixed with a doughy center, plus lots of chocolate chips throughout, make for a perfect cookie in our opinion.
The prep was also easier than the tube and bagged versions, which makes it far better choice for anyone looking to make cookies in a jiffy. The Betty Crocker bagged mix was a close second when it came to taste, but the one-step-prep of the Nestle cookies can’t be beaten.
For anyone craving perfectly round cookies, we’re sure rolling the Nestle squares into little spheres would do the trick.
Next time you’re in the grocery store and craving easy chocolate chip cookies, Nestle’s pre-cut is the way to go.
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