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Ranking The Best Trader Joe’s Cookies, To Set Your Weekend Off Right


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Everybody loves a good cookie. Children love cookies; old people love cookies. Beautiful people love cookies; hideous monsters who work on the internet love cookies. Forget cocaine. Sugar + gluten is a hell of a drug. You know what else people love? Trader Joe’s. So we decided to combine two of the world’s favorite things in a ranking. Which is how I found myself with $40 worth of cookies in my kitchen on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.

The last time I ate a bunch of Trader Joe’s for science, I didn’t feel so hot for a few days. Turns out binging seventeen frozen foods over a 24-hour span isn’t the foundation of an impeccable health plan. This time, the results were even more dramatic. Because for such a small store, TJ’s is freaking loaded with cookies. They’re everywhere — biscotti, cookie butter, frozen dough — it never stops.

Am I complaining? Yes. I’m basically a 19th-century coal miner. I’ll die of Trader Joe’s ginger snap dust in my lungs. My family will be left with nothing but a tombstone made of cardboard cookie boxes. No pensions for old-timey laborers or modern day internet writers. It’s a tragic tale, but well worth it to make you a happy (or at least an informed) shopper.

So here you go: The Best Trader Joe’s Cookies, Ranked.

Gluten-Free Joe-Joe’s

Lisa Dunn

I am a strong believer that even a bad cookie is still a cookie that I will enjoy. Or… I was. But that was before gluten-free Joe-Joe’s touched my lips. That said: WHY DIDN’T ANYONE WARN ME WHAT I WAS IN FOR?

These cookies are cursed. The taste is like s’mores gone wrong. And s’mores almost never do wrong, so… not s’mores at all. Like the ghost of s’mores. The texture is a mix between dusty, crusted-over jell-o and stale Oreo that’s been left in the back of your well-meaning grandmother’s pantry for seven years. This cookie has offended me and my entire family and the whole of the eastern seaboard.

Rating: 0 out of 10. What the hell, why would anyone buy this? If you can’t eat gluten, just eat ice cream (if you can’t have dairy either, you’re screwed).

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Peanut Butter Cartwheel Cookies

Maybe I’m not the best judge of character for these, as I’m not a big peanut butter fan, but these were strange. Biting into this cartwheel was a dissonant combination of overly-crisp cookie and an absolute glut of peanut butter. And I’m not sure about the logistics in terms of mass-producing cookies with fresh peanut butter, but judging by these cartwheels, it’s not possible. The spread was chalky and almost tasteless.

One assessment from the impromptu tasting party I had? “The dollar store version of those peanut butter Girl Scout cookies. Oh man, I love those. I think I missed Girl Scout cookie season this year. Man, that’s such a bummer. Do you think I could, like, order them online or track down a troop and see if they’ll sell them to me late?”

He was talking about Do-Si-Do’s and these are no Do-Si-Do’s.

Rating: 1 out of 10. You want peanut butter? They have it in dark chocolate cups at TJ’s. Those are roughly a million times better.

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Soft-Baked Snickerdoodles

Chewy cookies aren’t inherently bad, per se. It’s just that they’re kind of one-note, texture-wise. So when I saw that these snickerdoodles were soft-baked, I was a bit suspicious. What the hell is the point of a cookie if you don’t have a touch of crisp to contrast the soft center? But I love a good snickerdoodle. The buttermilk, cinnamon, salt, and sugar work in concert to create what is, in my opinion, one of the best baked good experiences one can have.

This soft-baked snickerdoodle however…well. Snickerdoodles should be balanced — not too airy, not too dense. This is not only dense, it feels underbaked. So underbaked that I pull a Paul Hollywood and start mauling my sample to really test the texture.

Lisa Dunn

[Paul Hollywood voice] This is raw.

Or almost raw. The upshot? The cinnamon coating is nice, and I could see maybe using these undercooked doodles as a pie crust. They’re easy to shape, at any rate.

Rating: 2 out of 10. To quote Ron Swanson, “Don’t half-ass anything.” I’d rather eat straight-up dough or properly baked cookies.

UNLESS… was I supposed to put them in the oven to warm them? I think I probably was. Oh, I get it now. Oops.

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Joe-Joe’s

These are the Trader Joe’s answer to Newman’s Own. Organic Oreos, basically. They’re not bad bad. They have a nice crunch, one that holds up to milk-dunking pretty well, and the creme is…well, it’s creme. In fact, these are so not bad bad that if I were extremely baked and someone put these in front of me, I would probably eat 2 or 3. But at the same time, why buy Joe-Joe’s when you can buy Newman-O’s or actual effing Oreos? The mysteries of life, I tell you.

Rating: 3 out of 10. Give ’em to me when I’m stoned. Miss me with them otherwise.

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Oat And Greek Yogurt Sandwich Cookies

Lisa Dunn

What is the purpose of a cookie? I suppose it depends on the day and mood. On the occasions when I want a cookie, I usually want something rich, a dense, warm, sweet-and-salty treat. But these. These are, like, health cookies? I mean, not really if you look at the nutrition values. But, taste-wise. They’re very light on the tongue — both in terms of density and flavor. They’re not sweet, not salty. Separated into their components (in other words: when I took apart the halves and licked the creme like a nervous animal), you can taste the oat and the yogurt. But, I mean, meh. Who wants more oats and yogurt?

One tester? “Yeah, not blowing me away with flavor. Plus, they’re super crumbly when you bite into them. I mean, it’s a good texture, but it’s not a couch snack or a bed snack.”

Rating: 4 out of 10. “HEYYYYYY KIDS! WHO WANTS YOGURT IN COOKIE FORM??? COMMEEEEEEE AND GET EM!!!”

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All Butter Shortbread Cookies With Apricot Or Raspberry Filling

Lisa Dunn

Shortbread and jam are a match made in heaven: fingerprints, jammy dodgers, those dutch butter cookies that last for a day, and then every time you open the tin you find a sewing kit instead. I frickin’ love shortbread and jam. And these were the first legit good entry. The shortbread is nice, a good balance of crumbly and buttery. They could use a touch more salt to really take the shortbread over the top. As for the jam? Not enough. Both the raspberry and the apricot: need more jam. The collective reaction to the lack of jam was a wave of disappointment. I caught several testers sadly looking at their half-eaten cookies, wishing more jam would magically appear.

Rating: 4 out of 10. Same as the oat and yogurt cookies. SO SUE ME. Actually, don’t. I already have this cookie lung thing I’m dealing with. I’m overwhelmed. But seriously, both of these gave my testers the same level of, “eh.”

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Maple Leaf Cookies

As a known maple donut lover, I saw these cookies and squealed. They come apart nicely. The cookie has a nice crunch, and the cream is a velvety, smooth texture. The flavor? Very maple-y. Like, maybe just a bit too maple-y? Like someone was making these cookies and pouring Vermont maple in the batch and, like, sneezed and dropped the whole bottle in by accident. I don’t hate it, not at all. But, like, I want exactly one of these per year, preferably in October or November.

Rating: 5 out of 10. Mmm, maple. Good in desserts but always better in donuts.

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Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you gave me the choice between a soft chocolate chip cookie with a bit of crisp on the outside or a crunchy one, I’d go with the former. That said, bite-sized, crunchy cookies are a nice snack. Grab ’em by the handful and go crazy. But when you’re going to make a crunchy chocolate-chip cookie, comparisons to Chips Ahoy are pretty much unavoidable. And Chips Ahoy is just better. These are too chewy. They have crunch, obviously, but it’s like whoever made these saw them getting crispy, got spooked, and pulled them out of the oven too soon. If you’re going to make a crunchy cookie, make a crunchy cookie.

One tester noted a somewhat plastic-y aftertaste, but the rest of us didn’t agree. That asshat will never get invited to my place again.

Rating: 6 out of 10. Gimme a bag, and I’ll nosh.

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Speculoos

I mean, of course the cookies that cookie butter is made of are spiced, delectable goodness. They’re a bit dry after a few bites, so feel free to dunk in either coffee or milk. Or cookie butter. Above anything else, they just make me think of flying — no surprise given that you’ll find them on Alaska Airlines, Delta, and American. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Rating: 7 out of 10. Are they cookie butter cookies? No. But they’re delicately spiced, and I could eat a whole sleeve of them in a sitting.

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello, gorgeous. These came from the fresh-baked section. I figured: why not live a little, see what their smaller batches are like? And when I was deciding between the lemon sandwich cookies and the chocolate chocolate chip cookies, the dark shine on these was irresistible. I mean, they were just pretty.

But the chocolate chocolate chip cookies aren’t just pretty on the outside. They have a lovely texture, so soft on the inside but a nice crisp outer layer. And my god, the taste. So chocolatey and decadent, these are definitely not for mindless snacking. No, pay attention to each and every bite, and enjoy.

Rating: 8 out of 10. So rich. So lovely. So perfect for dunking in coconut milk. Or, you know, dairy milk, oat milk, whatever. I’m not the milk-boss of you.

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Triple Ginger Snaps

By a stroke of luck, one of my testers is a tried-and-true English person. A real! Live! English! Human! And he has a lot of opinions about ginger snaps. So he picked up his first ginger snap, sniffed it, and checked for real ginger. He was happy to report that you can, indeed, see real chunks of ginger. Further, the spice and snap were deemed perfect.

They’re small, perfect bites of spice and sweet. The only complaint? “They could be a little bigger for dunking.” Ugh. Those impossible-to-please Brits, amirite?

Rating: 9 out of 10. Almost perfect.

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Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies

What would I do for these cookies? What wouldn’t I do for them? Every time I buy a box of these bad boys, I think about the “it’s made out of fucking cookies” puppets and how very close my reaction was the first time I had cookie butter — black blood and everything. Is this dangerous information to put out in the world — the fact that I would do bad things for these cookies? Maybe. But it’s worth it.

Rating: 10 out of 10. Absolute perfection. Nirvana. Enlightenment in a cookie.

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