2023’s Best Cities for Cookie Lovers

Two women laugh while sharing a plate of cookies and drinking tea at a café

Whether you prefer gingerbread, springerle, or chunky chocolate chip, freshly baked cookies are a heartwarming trademark of the holiday season. 

So, what cities are serving up the best cookies in the U.S.?

To find out, Lawn Love ranked 2023’s Best Cities for Cookie Lovers. 

We looked for cities with great access to tasty cookies, including late-night cookie vendors and Girl Scout Cookie booths. We also considered TimeOut’s list of “The best cookies in the US,” as well as local interest indicated by Google searches.

Melt into the season of cookies, and find out which of the 200 biggest U.S. cities baked to the top of our rankings below.

In this article

City rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Infographic showing the Best Cities for Cookie Lovers, a ranking based on cookie access, quality, and popularity
Note: For presentation purposes, not all ties may be displayed for certain metrics above.

The upshot

Pacific panaderías

West Coast cities took six of our top 10 spots, with Seattle leading the way at No. 1. Seattle has top-quality cookies, with access to plenty of cookie shops, including those open late. 

California cities follow closely behind. San Francisco (No. 5) boasts the fifth-highest number of late-night cookie shops per square mile to satisfy anyone who’s up after hours studying, working, or partying.

Sacramento (No. 6) rose to the top with the second-biggest share of highly rated cookie vendors. You can crush your cookie cravings without stepping out the door in Sacramento and Los Angeles (No. 8), which tied with five other cities for the highest number of food delivery services. 

Orange (No. 9) has the third-highest number of shops exclusively selling cookies per square mile, and Fresno (No. 10) has the largest share of highly rated cookie vendors. 

Local tips: 

  • Seattle: Say hello to your next favorite cookie at Hello Robin. This Seattle staple sells nut-free cookies with some gluten-free options. Unique flavors include birthday cake, salted butterscotch, and orange habanero chocolate chip. Bell’s Cookie Co. is another local favorite, serving special flavors like red velvet, Colombian corn, and s’mores. They also ship nationwide. 
  • San Francisco: If you value seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, head over to Batter Bakery. Standout flavors include bourbon cherry rye, chocolate tahini avocado, and cherry chocolate cardamom.
  • Los Angeles: Milk Jar Cookies is an LA legend, baking up cookies, cookie cakes, and dog-friendly cookies. Sign up for their “Cookie of the Month” club for a monthly batch delivered straight to your door, with nationwide shipping. Since 1952, La Mascota Bakery has been serving up polvorones, perfectly fluffy conchas, and other panes dulces. 

Sweet-tooth cities

A batch of East Coast cities baked into our top 10.

After-hours munchies are no big deal in Atlantic-side cities. These cities love their late-night cookie shops and have plenty of them to satisfy their sweet tooths after sunset. New York (No. 2), Washington (No. 3), and Boston (No. 4) each have high access to late-night cookie shops. 

New York also stands out as No. 1 in the Popularity category and in access to food delivery services. Additionally, NYC tied with LA for having multiple cookie shops recognized for being the best in the U.S.

It’s easy to find a tasty confection in Boston and Washington, each earning high scores across all Quality metrics. Meanwhile, Paterson, New Jersey (No. 7), has the most cookie vendors per square mile and high scores across the board, except for Popularity and number of food delivery services.

Local tips: 

  • New York: What’s a trip to NYC without stopping by cookie cult classic, Levain Bakery? They’ve been baking up gooey cookies since 1995, offering decadent chocolate and peanut butter chip-filled cookies. Black-and-white cookies are another New York staple. You can try these iconic treats at William Greenberg Desserts.
  • Washington: You can find DC’s favorite cookies at Baked & Wired. This family-owned bakery in Georgetown offers gourmet cookies and other baked goods. Highlights include their Lil Bertha sammies and double chocolate espresso cookies.
  • Boston: For more than two decades, Flour Bakery + Cafe has been baking up delicious treats. This bakery, led by a James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, has abundant options, from homemade oreo cookies to brown sugar almond meringue to almond macaroons.

Texas trefoils

Texans love their Girl Scout Cookies. Five Lone Star State cities — Frisco, Plano, Dallas, McKinney, and Denton — have the highest numbers of Girl Scout Cookie booths, behind Baltimore. 

Texas border cities Laredo (No. 26) and Brownsville (No. 25) are home to locally acclaimed cookie shops. Brownsville has the second-highest average consumer rating for all cookie vendors, while Laredo has the third-largest share of highly rated cookie vendors. 

Sprawling cities like Houston (No. 24) and Austin (No. 35) might lack Access, but that doesn’t mean residents don’t crave cookies. Cookie Quality and Popularity are high in each of these cities. If you don’t feel like driving to the bakery, let the bakery come to you: Houston and Austin each have access to multiple food delivery services.

Amarillo (No. 200), however, was battered down in the rankings. Residents must prefer baking them at home — this city has low cookie Access, Quality, and Popularity.

Local tips:

  • Houston: Fluff Bake Bar serves a wide variety of classic and specialty cookies, with unique flavors like unicorn bait, gooey butter, and couch potato (a mix of potato chips, pretzels, cornflakes, marshmallows, and chocolate chips). For Desi-inspired flavors, head to Pondicheri Bake Lab, which features chocolate lavender and ginger cloud cookies. 
  • Laredo: For over 50 years, Quickie Bakery has been The Gateway City’s go-to spot for fresh Christmas cookies, conchas, and panes dulces.
  • Brownsville: Sweet Notes Baking Company is a small-batch bakery, serving up tasty pizzelle, oat note, and brown sugar rosemary cookies in the Rio Grande Valley.

Expert take

One of the best parts of the holiday season is making (or being gifted) homemade cookies. Unfortunately, not everyone has the baking expertise to pull a perfect batch out of the oven. 

We reached out to a panel of experts for some holiday baking advice and for a peek inside today’s cookie-making industry. Read on to find out what they had to say. 

  1. What’s your favorite underrated holiday cookie?
  1. What is your best tip for making delicious cookies that can appease a crowd?
  1. What is one key ingredient you can use in place of dairy products or flour when making cookies that adhere to veganism, gluten-free, or other dietary restrictions without minimizing the taste? 
  1. What is one emerging trend in the world of cookies? 
  2. What is one reason for the rise in popularity of late-night cookie vendors and delivery services like Crumbl Cookies and Insomnia Cookies?
Chay Rees Runnels, Ph.D., CMP
Director School of Human Sciences and Professor
Wendy Petersen
Lead baker
Lu Lu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Arthur F. McGonigle Research Fellow
Tassie Pippert
Professor
Chay Rees Runnels, Ph.D., CMP
Director School of Human Sciences and Professor
Stephen F. Austin State University, School of Human Sciences

What’s your favorite underrated holiday cookie?

A cookie that sometimes gets overlooked at the holidays is Jan Hagel. It is a Dutch cookie that is a favorite in my husband’s family. They are from Pennsylvania Dutch country and he always asks for it during the holidays. It is a flaky crispy cookie studded with sliced almonds. They are perfect to eat with coffee on Christmas morning.

What is your best tip for making delicious cookies that can appease a crowd?

Make them ahead. During the holiday season, there are always parties and potlucks that pop up. Making cookies ahead and freezing them before the rush of the holidays can really cut down on stress.

Also, look for cookies that are small bites, like the traditional spritz cookie. One recipe can feed a large crowd. Adding sprinkles or dividing the dough and coloring it can add variation to your cookie platter.

What is one key ingredient you can use in place of dairy products or flour when making cookies that adhere to veganism, gluten-free, or other dietary restrictions without minimizing the taste?

One of my absolute favorite secret ingredients in making vegan cookies is aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas). If I am looking to make a quick but festive gluten-free and vegan cookie, my go-to is always going to be a vegan meringue made with aquafaba instead of egg whites. Aquafaba is a little less fussy than the precision needed with whipping egg whites but you really need a stand mixer to whip them up into soft peaks.

What is one emerging trend in the world of cookies?

Using savory ingredients in cookies is a trend I’m seeing more and more. Rosemary, bacon, and cheese in cookies provide a savory note that is a counterpoint to the sweetness of the holiday season.

What is one reason for the rise in popularity of late-night cookie vendors and delivery services like Crumbl Cookies and Insomnia Cookies?

I live in a college town, so late-night cookie vendors and delivery services are really popular. Convenience is key –– who can resist having a melty chocolate chip cookie delivered for a 2 a.m. study break?

Wendy Petersen
Lead baker
University of Richmond dining services

What’s your favorite underrated holiday cookie?

The cutout butter cookie. I grew up with that cookie, and it’s a familiar, but simple cookie.

What is your best tip for making delicious cookies that can appease a crowd?

Choose one that would not have multiple ingredients. If there are too many ingredients, people may not like certain elements. A good chocolate chip cookie is always a winner. You can’t go wrong with that.

What is one key ingredient you can use in place of dairy products or flour when making cookies that adhere to veganism, gluten-free, or other dietary restrictions without minimizing the taste?

A shortening instead of butter is a good option and won’t alter the taste the way margarine would. It would also make a crispier cookie. Nut flours, like coconut flour, are good options for swaps too.

Check out this recent story about the University of Richmond bake shop

Lu Lu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Arthur F. McGonigle Research Fellow
Temple University, Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management

What’s your favorite underrated holiday cookie?

I would say it’s pecan snowball cookies. They are not as easy to find as other popular cookies such as chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, oatmeal raisins, molasses cookies, and thumbprint cookies.

What is one emerging trend in the world of cookies?

They are always the must-have items for many consumers, especially during holidays. Despite their nostalgic connotations, one emerging trend in the cookie world is the continuing innovation of the recipe.

It’s hard to stand out among the competition if stores always work around classic recipes such as chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and ginger molasses. I have seen increasingly interesting and unconventional recipes from bakeries. These unique flavors are often paired with a premium price but still are attractive to customers.

I remember visiting bakeries that have interesting combinations such as pretzel and salted caramel, pumpkin chocolate chip, and marshmallow and peanut in a single piece. I was happily paying a premium price and believed they were worth trying.

What is one reason for the rise in popularity of late-night cookie vendors and delivery services like Crumbl Cookies and Insomnia Cookies?

These late-night cookie vendors have gained much popularity in recent years. Both brands use the appeal of “the late night crave” to promote an indulging experience. I believe Insomnia Cookies is branded towards college students who often stay up late.

The idea of a late-night treat and early-morning snack has its market demand. That’s why many of their stores are usually located around college campuses. Likewise, but with a slightly different strategy, Crumbl Cookies is known for its rotating menu which has generated social media buzz for the brand image of being fun and tasty. Customer engagement plays a major role in its success.

Tassie Pippert
Professor
James Madison University, Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management

What’s your favorite underrated holiday cookie?

My favorite cookie is a shortbread cookie, which is totally underrated. There’s so much you can do with the shortbread cookie.

What is your best tip for making delicious cookies that can appease a crowd?

To appease a crowd, generally a shortbread butter style cookie or a sugar butter style cookie will go really well. Then you can dip them in white chocolate, dark chocolate, sprinkles –– whatever you’d like. I also love to decorate sugar cookies with buttercream icing.

What is one key ingredient you can use in place of dairy products or flour when making cookies that adhere to veganism, gluten-free, or other dietary restrictions without minimizing the taste?

The key ingredient question is a really tough one. It’s hard to adhere to veganism, gluten-free, and sugar-free and have one ingredient that works. Peanutbutter is the one ingredient that comes to mind, but peanut allergies are so prevalent that even that ingredient is tough to use for everyone.

What is one emerging trend in the world of cookies?

One pan cookie bars are on the rise. They are versatile and easy for those on the run.

What is one reason for the rise in popularity of late-night cookie vendors and delivery services like Crumbl Cookies and Insomnia Cookies?

Insomnia cookies and all the other brands out there that deliver late at night are really very popular particularly among college students. We are a society that wants what we want when we want it, and just like checking into the Doubletree and enjoying a hot chocolate chip cookie, Insomnia Cookies and the other brands fit that need at any time of day.

Behind the ranking

For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below. 

We then grouped those factors into three categories: Access, Quality, and Popularity.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category. 

Finally, we averaged the scores for each city across all categories.

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 200). 

Notes: 

  • The “Worst” among individual factors may not be 200 due to ties among cities.
  • “Cookie Vendors” include all establishments that sell cookies, such as bakeries, dessert shops, and grocery stores. “Cookie-Only Shops” include establishments that exclusively sell cookies.

Sources

Beyond menu, ChowNow, Delivery.com, DoorDash, foodiecall, Girl Scouts, Goodly Cookies, Google Ads, Grubhub, Insomnia Cookies, instacart, Midnight Cookie Co., Midnight Cookies & Cream, Night Owl Cookies, Postmates, seamless, The Real Yellow Pages, The Three Snackateers, TimeOut, and Uber Eats

Have a sweet holiday season

Santa isn’t the only one who appreciates a freshly baked cookie during the holiday season. Nothing’s better than biting into a warm cookie and drinking cocoa after a chilly winter day. 

Today, It’s easier than ever to get a dozen fresh cookies, thanks to numerous cookie delivery services available across the nation. Even Nestle has hopped onto the cookie delivery train.

Appease your inner cookie monster by making a sweet pilgrimage to some more of the nation’s top cookie destinations below. 

Portland, Oregon: Lovejoy Bakers is a beloved local chain selling delightful pastries and iconic cookies, like the ginger biscuit and Lovejoy Oreo. If you can’t help but eat the dough before getting them in the oven, The Cookie Dough Café is the place for you. Mix and match your favorite doughs, get a pint to go, or enjoy them in their classic baked cookie form.

Photo Credit: Nick Ares / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Chicago: Sweet Mandy B’s bakes up an assortment of the Windy City’s favorite cookies, including their famous confetti cookie, Linzer, and iced molasses cookies.

Photo Credit: Richie Diesterheft (cropped) / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Providence, Rhode Island: Not only is Meeting Street Cafe a great spot to grab some breakfast, but they also sell colossal (10-ounce) gourmet cookies. From classic chocolate chunk to macadamia white chocolate to peanut butter, you have options when picking out a cookie that’s about as big as your face.

Photo Credit: emma / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
Philadelphia: For more than four decades, The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company has been creating homemade-quality cookies. Special flavors include white chocolate candy cane, toffee pecan, and oatmeal orange cranberry. 

Photo Credit: Pinc Floit / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Denver: Victory Love + Cookies serves up unique offerings, including Cowboy Joe, Diablo (spicy chocolate), and Lemon Lucy. You can even try to make some of their recipes for yourself at home. 

Photo Credit: LearningLark / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Main photo credit: Pexels

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.