Review: Milk Bar's Ready-To-Bake Cookie Dough Blew Us Away

Milk Bar cookies aren't just a cookie; these are truly an experience. The flavors used in Chef Christina Tosi's creations have this incredible ability to invoke nostalgia. The cereal milk that started Tosi's empire takes the eater back to childhood, slurping down every last sip of the flavorful milk left behind (and the brand has even expanded to products like pancake cakes). Tosi achieves the same playfulness when it comes to the cookie ingredients, and it doesn't hurt that the bakery's large cookies are perfectly soft, tender, and chewy.

Milk Bar recently announced a line of ready-to-bake cookie dough that takes the guesswork out of mixing cookie dough. We wondered what would happen when the bakery experience was brought into our home kitchens, though. Baking isn't foolproof, and would the average home cook be able to create perfect cookies in a regular oven? So we decided to bake the cookies several different ways: Two that followed the cookie's packaging, one that followed instructions for a softer, chewier cookie, and one that "accidentally" overcooked the cookies. Did Milk Bar's ready-to-bake cookie dough hold up to our home-cook tests?

What's the deal with ready-to-bake cookie dough?

Milk Bar released a line of ready-to-bake grocery cookie dough that's produced via a limited-time partnership with General Mills. The dough is designed to mimic the bakery's famous soft-baked cookies, maintaining a gooey interior texture while creating an appealing golden brown color on the outside. We love the idea here because ready-to-bake cookie dough is so convenient, and you don't have to worry about dirtying up the kitchen by mixing the dough from scratch. Most refrigerated cookie dough is a little boring, too, so we were thrilled to see some fun options in the mix.

That said, this ready-to-bake cookie dough only represents a fraction of the Milk Bar's decadent cookie options. There are currently only two available flavors: Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie Dough and Fruity Cereal Cookie Dough. The former uses a deep vanilla cookie base and includes chunks of salty cornflake crunch, creamy chocolate chips, and gooey marshmallows. The latter remixes classic sugar cookies with bright pops of fruity cereal, creamy milk chips, and gooey marshmallows.

What makes Milk Bar cookies unique

Milk Bar cookies contain fun ingredients that work together to make every bite memorable. Tosi adds ingredients like cornflakes to regular chocolate chip cookies, giving them a sweet-and-salty vibe. Using cornflakes also add a pleasantly crunchy textural element that makes these treats almost irresistible. With Fruity Cereal, the regular sugar cookie is elevated with a milky flavor, gooey marshmallows, and a burst of color from the fruity cereal, making this cookie look like it was decorated with sprinkles. In both instances, the contrast between familiar flavors and innovative ingredient choices takes the cookie to the next level.

Christina Tosi also discloses that she has a secret flavor weapon: clear vanilla extract. While regular vanilla extract's dark color emphasizes warming, caramelized flavors in cookies that use brown sugar or molasses, clear vanilla extract creates a lighter, creamier taste. Put it all together, and you have a cookie that's bold, decadent, and not afraid to be different.

How to buy Milk Bar ready-to-bake cookie dough

You can buy pre-baked Milk Bar cookies from the company's online store, but the ready-to-bake cookie dough is only available from your local grocery store. According to Milk Bar's VP of Brand, Creative, and Communications, the cookies are hitting the shelves at 500 Target locations nationwide. They are also available across all Kroger banners, including Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Dillons, and Harris Teeter.

Milk Bar has gotten into the grocery market in a big way, and you'll also find other items at these stores, such as ice cream, crumb cakes, frozen batter bites, and the new bite-sized, snackable Crunchies. Like the ready-to-bake cookie dough, these products are inspired by Milk Bar menu items and reimagined for the grocery store. You can use the company's grocery store locator service to type in your zip code and find the stores that carry Milk Bar products near you. It's a helpful way to identify which specific flavors are available near you before you hop in the car.

How much do Milk Bar's ready-to-bake cookies cost?

Both flavors of Milk Bar's ready-to-bake cookie dough cost the same, clocking in at $5.79 at our local Target store. If you make 12 cookies, that makes the cost just under $0.50 per cookie. If you follow the directions for making six "bakery-size" cookies (stacking two dough squares together before baking), each cookie costs $0.97.

That price is something we can live with, considering that Milk Bar's pre-baked cookies cost quite a bit more when you purchase them for online delivery. A six-count box will run you $27 ($4.50/each) or $46 for a 12-count box ($3.83/each). Add in the $15 delivery fee, and the cookies get even more expensive. The ready-to-bake cookie dough is also a good value compared to the company's soft-baked grocery cookies. These cookies cost $5.49 for eight cookies ($0.69/each), so the price difference isn't that apparent. We like that the ready-to-bake dough provides you with a freshly baked cookie experience, though. As a bonus, it makes the house smell fantastic.

We compared the Milk Bar nutrition information with Nestle Toll House

Both doughs make 12 cookies that weigh a little more than an ounce each (33 grams). The nutrition content varies between the two Milk Bar flavors varies slightly. Each Fruity Cereal Cookie Dough contains 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, and 20 grams of carbohydrates. The Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie Dough has 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, and 21 grams of carbohydrates. Both contain 13 grams of sugar and 1 gram of protein.

It's hard to compare Milk Bar cookies to other ready-to-bake cookies since their flavors are so unique, but we put them side-by-side with a package of Nestle Toll House ready-to-bake chocolate chip cookie dough for a rough nutritional comparison. The Nestle packaging weighs roughly the same (16.5 ounces compared to Milk's 14 ounces), but it makes 24 cookies. These smaller, 19-gram cookies each contain 90 calories, 4 grams of fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

Our first impression of Milk Bar ready-to-bake cookie dough

We eat with our eyes first, so we appreciated Milk Bar's visually appealing packaging. The colors are bright and appealing — a vibrant teal for the Fruity Cereal and an electrifying yellow for the Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow. The "Limited Edition" tag running alongside the top definitely caught our eye, and it would certainly work to pull us into FOMO marketing if we happened to wander upon it at the store.

When we opened the package, we found a paper tray containing a rectangle of cookie dough. It was conveniently punched into 12 portions, so there's no measuring or guesswork involved in baking this dough. Simply pull off a square and follow the directions on the back of the package. When it came to baking directions, the package offered two options: a regular cookie and a "bakery size" cookie made by stacking two cookie squares (more on that in a minute).

The package also clearly states the product's best-buy date. The ones we received had a little more than two months until that date expired. The cookies can also be frozen for up to two months (as long as they hit the freezer before the best-buy date). We appreciate that the baking instructions also include tips for how to bake the frozen dough, as we don't always remember to thaw dough ahead of time.

Testing the actual baking process

We baked the cookies in four ways. The first used the regular baking directions. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, place the dough on a greased cookie sheet, and bake them for 18 to 21 minutes. This resulted in a cookie that was lightly crispy on the bottom, golden brown around the edges, and gooey on the inside. They were thin but soft, and definitely delicious.

For the second method, we followed the regular baking directions but baked them longer. Many inexperienced home cooks tend to over-bake cookies because they don't appear to be fully cooked at the suggested cooking time. Instead of pulling the cookies out of the oven at the 20-minute mark, we cooked them for an additional 10 minutes until they were fully set. These cookies were extremely crunchy, but we were surprised that they still maintained a gooey interior (we think the marshmallows were instrumental in providing that overcooking protection).

You can create bakery-size cookies with Milk Bar ready-to-bake cookie dough

Third, we tried a method suggested by Milk Bar's culinary team; baking the cookies at 325 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve the fudge-esque texture Milk Bar is known for. Reducing the cooking time also helps create a soft, gooey cookie, so we only baked the cookies for 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. To keep the bottoms from over-browning, we also nested two sheet trays. These cookies would definitely make a new cook nervous — the cookies looked like they weren't finished cooking, but we trusted the process. We couldn't scoop them off the tray until they had fully cooled, but the advice was good when it came to the cookies' finished texture; they were the softest and creamiest of the test batches.

The final method involved creating "bakery-size" cookies. Instead of placing 12 squares onto the baking sheet, we stacked two squares to create an oversized cookie. These also bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, but they take slightly longer to finish (22 to 25 minutes). We found that these pool out into large circles as they bake, and we didn't leave enough room between the dough.

Of all the cookies, these were our favorite. If you're looking for a Milk Bar experience but don't live in New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, or Washington, D.C., this baking method will get you there.

What the cookies taste like

Our biggest takeaway from this process was that the cooking method affected the texture of the cookie, but the flavor remained largely unchanged. Increased cooking time and temperature did result in extra caramelization, though the tip about the nested baking tray kept the bottoms from getting overly browned. All in all, each version tasted sweet and nuanced, and we would eat any version again in a heartbeat.

The Fruity Cereal Cookie Dough is based on a sugar cookie, so we weren't surprised when the flavor turned out to be very sweet. We enjoyed how the flavor was nicely balanced by the bites of creamy milk chips and marshmallow chunks. The best part of this cookie was the fruity cereal. It looked like sprinkles, but the bites were crunchier (like Fruity Pebbles), and they had a light citrus flavor.

The Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie Dough was less sweet overall, although the combination of chocolate chips and gooey marshmallows certainly brought a sugary character. What really made this cookie shine was the addition of the salty cornflake crunch. They were interspersed throughout the cookie, and although we could see the large yellow chunks before we took a bite, our palates were pleasantly surprised with the introduction of salt flavor each time.

Is Milk Bar ready-to-bake cookie dough worth it?

We really did try to mess up Milk Bar's ready-to-bake cookie dough, putting it through a variety of over- and under-cooking techniques to see if we could ruin the promise of an easy-to-bake cookie. No matter what we did, the cookie still tasted delicious. Of the two flavors, the Fruity Cereal Cookie Dough was a little softer out of the package, and it always had a gooey texture (even when over-baked). The Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie Dough became more caramelized and hardened when over-baked, but that extra crunch worked in its favor, accentuating the cornflake chunks.

Our final verdict is that these cookies are absolutely worth it. If you're in the mood for a thin but soft cookie, you probably can't mess this up. For best results, try the double-stacked method, but make sure you space them out enough so they don't bake into one giant cookie. We also love that this ready-to-bake cookie dough lasts for a while in the refrigerator, and it can also be frozen, so you can have a package on hand for last-minute baking sessions.

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