Monday, December 24, 2007

Homemade vs. storebought cookie dough

Last week I wrote about cheerful frugality and cutting corners, using slice-and-bake cookies as an example.

While our kids were decorating cookies, a couple of friends and I decided to test a homemade gingerbread cookie against Nestle Tollhouse pre-cut gingerbread dough sheets.

The results were close. My Gourmet magazine recipe baked a darker, crisper traditional gingerbread. The packaged dough had a softer crumb and a more complex spice flavor, with less of a molasses taste. Tastewise, we liked them both.

The homemade gingerbread cost more, with its 2 sticks of butter--but it also made almost twice the amount of dough. The half we rolled produced two baking sheets of cookies. I stuck the rest in the freezer for later.

The packaged dough was pre-cut with 24 tiny gingerbread men, making it a good choice for families without cookie cutters or simply short on time.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate the convenience of store bought, BUT......I don't feel I am really giving something from the heart, if I just slice and bake. I suppose if I was SUPER busy and had to do it, I would tell them that they were not homemade.

I am a bit of purist when it comes to cooking. I don't like any pre-packaged stuff:)

But who knows after the 3rd kid arrives I might be singing a different tune

mama k said...

I am curious to hear the cost break down per cookie. Since the homemade dough made more, does that mean that the cost ballenced out? I thought baking from scratch ususally is cheaper if ingredients are bought in bulk, but with sales and coupons you can get mixes for pretty cheap too.

I agree that I am kinda picky when it comes to baked goods. I like having control over the ingredients (like subbing some whole wheat flour) and being able to omit the preservatives. said...

that is good to know!

thanks for coming by to visit, hope to see you around!

Merry Christmas!

Creative Life Studio said...


Thanks for continuing to share such creative and clever ideas. I hope your family has a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

~ Nicole

Anonymous said...

Following your lead last night and this morning my daughter and I rolled out store bought sugar cookie dough and decorated with pre-fab frostings. The cookies and cupcakes are beautiful, taste relatively good and we made a very happy memory.

Next year I'll make the dough ahead and buy my butter in bulk, but his year decorating baked goods was a stress free, excellent alternative.

Merry Christmas!


Donna-Jean Breckenridge said...

Just a note to say I have enjoyed your blog so much.

Have a merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year!

Julie said...

As I type, we are baking fudge made from melted chocolate chips and a cnn of frosting, cookies from a bag and no-flour peanut butter cookies. I decided on simple this year and it has been loads for fun for both me and the kids.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

I really love your ideas but this is one I will skip. Pillsbury cookies (an all other refrigerated dough that I've looked at) is made with partially hydrogenated fats- that means trans fats. These are horrible for your health (much worse than saturated fat). Even if the package says 0g trans fat, if there are hydrogenated oils in the ingredients, there are still trans fats in there, just less than 0.5g per serving.

Love your blog though and I vote for home made cookies!

Edi said...

What a fun "test kitchen" idea!

One thing I always thought about home-baked vs store-bought, is the amount of calories and fat. Thinking home-baked would be lower.

I did cheat when we had our cookie baking "party" with a bunch of kids...some of the dough was store bought.

To be honest I wasn't too concerned with the taste b/c I figured they'd be lathered in icing and decorated with tons of sprinkles and really the cookies themselves could have been made out of cardboard and they would have been none the wiser.

But for other types of cookies - for giving to others or for enjoying w/out the icing...I'd prefer to go with home-made.

Anonymous said... has the hands-down best gingerbread recipe I've ever used. It's not decorating gingerbread - the baked cookies stay soft - but they make oh-so-fab gifting (and enjoying at home cookies).

I object to store-bought doughs on health grounds (not, of course, that I can really claim homemade gingerbread as a health food) but also because it falls into that category of "cheaper and I can have more, but that's not the point". Where I can, I try to stay out of that zone - in this case I'd either fore go the cookies or make peace with the extra expense. This is very much a YMMV thing, I realize.

Jennifer @ Fruit of My Hands said...

I agree with the previous poster about the scary chemicals in store bought foods. A 39 cent super size at McDonald's costs you something like $9 in extra health care down the road! Trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, & unpronounceable chemicals=bad.

If you reduce the homemade recipe to make the same number of cookies, is it still more expensive for homemade?

The other downside of store bought is all the unrecyclable packaging that goes in the trash.

Meredith said...

I'm NOT saying that the prepackaged dough is better healthwise. Read the article I linked to where I detail in more depth the health concerns with prepackaged dough.

However, now that we tried it, I thought it was only fair to give our opinion of the taste.

I would say that a couple of prepackaged dough cookies at Christmas will not be a major health concern for most families.

A steady diet of McDonald's, yes. But not cookie dough when you're in a pinch at the holidays. After the decorating, who actually eats those cookies anyway?