I can remember the first time I realized I can have a cookie for breakfast, and it could be the best decision I make all day.
On mornings when I didn’t feel like getting out of bed, if I knew there was a cookie in the house, I could fling off the covers with some measure of enthusiasm, and plod toward the kitchen where coffee and sweet, sweet goodness awaited.
I’m not talking about the kind of pre-packaged cookies you find in aisle three of the grocery store, but the ones made by hand and with love, by people who truly take their craft seriously.
The following are among some of the best I’ve found in Grand Rapids — after extensive personal research, of course. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good place to start your own quest.
If there is a dessert heaven, it might exist at Cakabakery on East Fulton just outside of downtown GR. (There’s also one in Holland.) Known for all manner of custom baked treats, their signature cookies are the roughly half-pound, European dark chocolate chunk cookies, which have actually won awards. They also make some gluten-free treats, the most popular of which are their monster cookies and no bakes.
At Sparrows Coffee, Outside Coffee Co., Squibb Coffee, and Ferris Coffee & Nut, you’ll find creations by
Sweet Batches. Look for their rotating selection of vegan cookie sandwiches, with favorites such as oatmeal cream pies, gingersnaps with lemon cream, chocolate chip, and snickerdoodle. Their specialty shortbreads are also a treat — try the salted espresso dark chocolate.
Cookie Chicks, located on West River Drive in Comstock Park, is currently doing curbside pickup, with most cookies baked on the spot for call-ahead orders. While their dark chocolate chip/chunk cookie is always a winner, the standout is their craft beer cookie, made with bourbon sauce and Founder’s KBS, plus malt, toffee, coffee, and chocolate. It does not disappoint!
Your inner grammarian might think there’s an apostrophe-pocalypse going on with Pauls’ Moms’ cookies, but there are actually two Pauls and two Moms — so just relax. The cookies are not only delicious, they also support Dégagé’s Open Door Women’s Center, with 100% of profits going toward the Center. Forest Hills Foods, Horrocks, and Kingma’s Market carry them. Go for the peanut butter chocolate ganache, which are gluten-free, or lemon cherry.
Though Amethyst Bee’s storefront is not currently open, they are focusing on custom orders, collaborating on pop-ups, and supplying local stores such as Bridge Street Market with their treats. Their macarons are by far their most sought-after cookie, with exciting flavors, colors and designs, and they also offer some gluten-free and vegan options, plus Paleo and sugar free on request.
When you grab a cookie from Stir It Up at Bridge Street Market or Kingma’s Market — or order for curbside pickup from their Hudsonville kitchen — you’re not only treating yourself, you’re supporting a good cause. The bakery offers meaningful employment in a safe atmosphere to individuals with special needs, and seeks to provide advocacy, empowerment and inclusion. My pick? The monster cookie.
When you’re out doing your grocery shopping, you can also add a little something special to your cart. Bridge Street Market, Horrocks Market, and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market all carry Daddy’s Dough cookies. Look for Beauty (chocolate/toffee/pecan) and The Beast (chocolate/butterscotch/coconut/walnut), as well Birthday Cake Cream Pie, which is a major crowd pleaser. Gluten-free and vegan options are available, and cookies can also be purchased on their website.
The vegan decorated sugar cookies from Cyclops Bake Shop are worth waiting for the next pop-up at Freshly Squeezed Print Shop to happen. This one-person operation usually makes appearances around the holidays and other random times, and focuses on 8-10 different designs per occasion. Follow them on Instagram to stay in the loop.
Though their storefront at Fulton and Fuller isn’t open quite yet, and their 1960s vintage Cookie Trailer is awaiting the warmer weather, The Good Cookie is still cranking out the sweets. Find their cookies at Goldie Lou’s and Rustic Lily in Sparta and Natur-Elle in Kent City, or order for delivery. The M&Ms and Sprinkles cookie is a favorite, as is the lemon-glazed.
Another destination for cookie inspiration is Field & Fire. The Hippie cookies from the Downtown Market bakery location are full of gooey, nutty, fruity decadence, while the Financiers have a hint of French sophistication. For a delightfully crisp and chewy macaron, visit the café on Monroe.
Arguably not cookies, but definitely cookie-adjacent are the ice cream sandwiches from UCC Desserts. They have locations in Kentwood and Rockford where you could pick up a specialty known as the Chubby Unicorn: a unicorn sugar cookie with UCC Super Bro ice cream rolled in fruity pebbles. Yes, please!