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Buckle up for gratifying crunch, buttery softness, and a bucket load of sweetness with these beloved American cookies, all of which can take snack time to whole new levels of yumminess, no matter where in the U.S. you may be traveling.
1 – Chocolate Chip
If you’re looking for the all-American cookie, look no further. There are a ton of stories about how the chocolate chip cookie came to be, but baker Ruth Wakefield claims the cookie crown.
She invented the recipe in 1939 in Massachusetts as an ice cream accompaniment. Today, it’s enjoyed a la carte as well as by itself as a delicious snack.
Some prefer their chocolate-chip cookies soft and chewy while others prefer hard and crunchy, but as long as those sweet chocolate morsels are there, you have yourself an American favorite dessert.
2 – Sugar
This simple cookie is a staple year-round in the United States, but especially around the holidays. Sugar cookies are so delicious you wouldn’t believe how easy they are to make — flour, butter, eggs, vanilla, and obviously, sugar, are the main and pretty much only ingredients.
This sweet treat has been around for a long time, originating in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. While they were originally crafted by German Protestant settlers, the sugar cookie has become a classic American baked good.
3 – Snickerdoodle
Introducing the cousin of the sugar cookie: the snickerdoodle. Snickerdoodles are similar to sugar cookies (and are also speculated to be of German or Dutch descent), but they have a distinct flavor thanks to their signature spice.
They also include cream of tartar, which gives them a unique tang as well as their lovely chewiness by preventing the sugar from getting crystalline and crunchy. They’re fun to eat and fun to say — but nobody really knows where they got their name from!
4 – Thin Mints
When you’re in the United States, you’re in Girl Scout Cookie territory, and you won’t want to miss out. Every year from January to April, the Girl Scouts sell their signature cookies to raise money for their organization, and Thin Mints are historically the best-selling kind.
They’re loved for their chocolate wafer covered in a minty, chocolatey coating, which creates the perfect balance between the two flavors. They’re crunchy, light, and easy to eat a lot of (maybe too easy).
5 – Samoas/Caramel deLites
Also called Caramel deLites, these classic cookies aren’t far behind Thin Mints in sales (and are my personal favorite). Samoas are donut-shaped vanilla cookies that are coated in caramel, topped with toasted coconut, and striped with chocolate.
The chewiness of the caramel complements the crunch of the wafer so deliciously, and the nutty coconut is a yummy finishing touch. Some say Samoas and Caramel deLites taste slightly different, but if you see either of them, make sure to grab a box.
6 – Tagalongs
The final Girl Scout Cookie that should be on your must-try list is the Tagalong, also called the Peanut Butter Patty. These tasty cookies combine all the best flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter.
The crunchy vanilla cookies are layered with creamy peanut butter and coated with chocolate. The flavors and textures work together to create a wonderful combination, especially for those of you peanut butter fans.
And if you can’t get enough of these flavors, make sure to try the other kinds of Girl Scout Cookies and find which one is meant for you.
7 – Peanut Butter
During the other eight months of the year, you can fulfill your peanut cravings with these peanut butter cookies. They were invented in the United States in the early 1900s when peanut butter started becoming more widely used.
Their main ingredient makes these cookies dense and thick, which is the reason for their signature criss-cross pattern. Pressing them down with a fork before baking helps them cook evenly and gives them a nice firm exterior and soft warm interior, setting you up for that perfect bite.
8 – Oreo
This iconic cookie is the top-selling brand of cookie in the United States, so it won’t be hard for you to find. They’ve been around for a while, first released in 1912 (though back then, they were called Oreo Creme Biscuits, not Oreo Sandwiches).
As its current name suggests, these sandwich cookies are composed of two chocolate wafers with a sweet vanilla filling. There are tons of variations of Oreos, including Golden Oreos made with vanilla wafers, Double Stuf, which has double the cream filling, and various other fun holiday editions.
9 – Oatmeal Raisin
Oatmeal raisin cookies are a filling and sometimes divisive snack in the American cookie landscape. The first recipe was published in the late 1800s, and they have quickly become a favorite in the U.S.
While some dislike the texture of the oats and flavor of the raisins, others appreciate the chewy, buttery texture, warm soft inside, and golden, crusty exterior. If you’re not a raisin fan, you can replace them with chocolate chips or forget about them entirely.
10 – M&M
This sweet treat is the chocolate-chip cookie for M&M lovers. M&Ms have been around since 1941, when they were created for soldiers in World War II. It only makes sense that inventive bakers eventually decided these chocolate morsels would taste great in cookies — adding an extra crunch and pop of color.
The coating of the M&M prevents the chocolate from melting out, creating warm chocolate bombs that explode when you bite into them. Combined with a soft, chewy texture, M&M cookies are an iconic American dessert you can find in stores or make at home.
11 – White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
This is another yummy riff on the chocolate chip cookie, this time using white chocolate. The rich, milky, and slightly floral taste of the white chocolate beautifully complements the macadamia to create a unique combination of flavors.
Macadamia nuts weren’t easily accessible until the 1980s, but their nutty, buttery flavor has been a game-changer. Texture-wise, these cookies are puffy and chewy in the center with crispier golden edges.
Some prefer bigger white chocolate chunks over the classic chips, but they’re all the same when they’re fresh out of the oven: warm, soft, and melty.
12 – Whoopie Pie
Despite its misleading name, this baked treat is more of a cookie than a pie. Many states claim to be the ones that invented the Whoopie Pie, but one of the most common theories is that it was a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition.
It’s a sandwich-style cookie composed of two round pieces of chocolate cake filled with a sweet, creamy vanilla frosting. The cake is rich and moist, and the buttercream is fluffy and slightly marshmallowy.
If you can’t get enough, you can try a lot of different flavors of Whoopie Pies, like gingerbread, s’mores, and red velvet.
13 – Moon Pie
The Moon Pie draws a lot of its delicious influences from the Whoopie Pie. This sandwich cookie was invented in 1917 at the request of a coal miner in Kentucky and has been an American favorite for over one hundred years.
Moon Pies have a fluffy, sticky marshmallow filling stuffed between two crunchy round graham cracker cookies and coated in chocolate. Moon Pies come in a ton of different flavors besides the original, so make sure to try out the banana, strawberry, vanilla, and salted caramel, among many others.
14 – Red Velvet
This iconic flavor is a great way to finish off the cookie list. Red velvet cake has been around for a while, with the first recipe cropping up in the United States in 1943.
These cookies take the rich, sweet, and chocolatey flavors of the famous cake and turn them into a yummy snack-sized version. They’re chewy and soft, with that mouth-watering crusty edge.
Their most important ingredient is natural cocoa powder, which gives a punch of chocolate without turning the cookies too dark. Some red velvet cookies include white chocolate chips, the perfect contrast to that classic red color.
15 – Molasses
These cookies highlight the sweet and robust flavor of molasses, a thick, dark syrup that has been around since 500 B.C.E. Though the popularity of molasses as a sweetener has declined since the introduction of refined sugar, molasses cookies are still a classic American treat.
Like gingerbread cookies, they highlight cinnamon and ginger flavors, but molasses cookies are much softer, denser, and chewier. They are often topped with a sprinkling of sugar, which adds that extra kick of sweetness and slight crunch.
Created Around the World but Popular in the States
16 – Gingerbread
Originating in Europe, gingerbread cookies are now a favorite year-round in the United States, and their popularity skyrockets at Christmastime — and for good reason. The sweet and buttery flavors mix with the kick of the spices to create a flavor-packed treat reminiscent of the smells and tastes of the holidays.
They’re usually topped with icing and designed to look like men, women, or other fun shapes. You can use this sturdy, snappy cookie to make gingerbread houses as well, but make sure you don’t eat it all before finishing construction!
17 – Butter
You can probably guess the main ingredient in these cookies! Butter cookies are a celebration of this rich ingredient and are often made around the holidays, though they can be enjoyed any time of the year.
They are said to have originated in Denmark in the 1930s, but others speculate that a butter cookie-like recipe has been around since the 12th century.
They’re light and golden, and if topped with sprinkles, they have a nice crystalline crunch. The butter creates a mouth-watering flavor that isn’t too sweet, and a consistency that will have you reaching for more.
Related: 20 Popular Danish Foods You Need to Try in Denmark
18 – Shortbread
This buttery, crumbly cookie has been enjoyed by many countries for hundreds of years, and the United States is no exception. The shortbread is of Scottish origin; the recipe was refined and popularized by Mary, Queen of Scots.
They’re super easy to make, usually using only four ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, and vanilla extract. You can find spruced-up shortbread cookies in stores as well, like ones with chocolate, sprinkles, or jam, but the classic is a melt-in-your-mouth favorite you won’t want to miss.
Related: 18 Popular Foods You Need to Try in Scotland
American Cookies Summary
For so many of us, myself included, cookies are more than a sweet treat. They’re emotional snacks, often bursting into our minds in a tidal wave of nostalgia and memories from the moment we take that very first bite.
America is home to some utterly wonderful cookies, as my rundown proves. Whether you love spice-laden crunch, melt-in-mouth sweetness, or just chocolatey goodness oozing onto the tongue, there truly is a cookie in the States for you to fall in love with.
Whether you love these sweet treats, or have never tried some of them, seek out and gorge on as many as you can when in the U.S. – they’ll take you straight back to childhood, I can assure you!
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Contributor: Madeline Marks is an American writer and avid foodie. She enjoys blogging, journalism, poetry, and fiction, and when she’s not writing, she likes to read and spend time in nature.