Portland may be a small city, but when it comes to cookies, Bridgetown can most definitely hold its own. From delicate French macarons to hefty oatmeal cookies that are almost substantial enough to qualify as breakfast, you can find a cookie for every craving.
Scroll down to see all of our top picks for where to buy (and eat!) cookies in Portland.
The Sugar Cube
When visiting The Sugar Cube, it's best to adopt the ideals written on the chalkboard by owner Kir Jensen: "All pleasure, no guilt!" and "Eat butter, be happy!", because you will want one of everything...and when everything is this good, that's exactly the right thing to do. Shrug off any notions of what's reasonable or acceptable, give yourself permission to overindulge, and vow to eat a plate of steamed vegetables for dinner as reparations.
The bakery is located in the Alberta Arts District, 5 miles from Kir's first outpost, a food cart parked on SE Hawthorne Ave, where she baked everything in a convection oven. The new brick and mortar bakery has an expanded menu with a huge variety of pastries, along with savory items and toast boards.
Cookies range from slim Chocolate Cacao Nib Shortbread (sprinkled with bittersweet cacao nibs and sea salt, $1 each) to Big Mamas ($3), a super-sized chocolate sandwich cookie with peanut butter cream filling. It's tough to play favorites with such a stellar cast, but the totally over-the-top Triple Threat cookies (crumbly triple chocolate chunk espresso and pecan cookies sandwiched with glossy bittersweet chocolate ganache, $3), Twisted Tollhouse (thin, super buttery chocolate chip cookies with roasted hazelnuts, $2), and Oh Snap Ginger Snaps! (smooth vanilla bean cream cheese filling sandwiched between the softest ginger cookie imaginable, $2.50) all deserve top billing.
At Nuvrei, you've got two main options for cookies: large, traditional cookies ($3) or tiny French macarons ($2.50). The same care and attention goes into both, but beyond that, they're very different.
If you want to prolong your experience as long as possible (and are a fiend for chocolate), the Chewy Chocolate Walnut is a great choice. It's intensely chocolatey, like a low-profile brownie, and contains no wheat flour. For something a little more subdued, the buttery Valrhona Chocolate Chip or crumbly French Almond are both excellent. There's also Sablé Breton (French shortbread) with a whisper of fleur de sel and a Double Chocolate Brownie, which is the same as the Chewy Chocolate Walnut, except it's missing the nuts.
Grab a seat at the bar overlooking 10th Avenue and eat your cookie with an expertly prepared cappuccino, latte, or mocha made with beans from Heart Coffee Roasters. If you're solo and looking for some reading material, there's a thoughtfully curated selection of magazines hanging in the corner by the window, like Lucky Peach and Barista.
If macarons are more your style, it's best to time your visit for Wednesday to Sunday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), when the Mac Bar—a separate display in the bakery's lower level—is open. There, you'll find a dozen different flavors, including standards (Raspberry, Passion Fruit, and Rose), seasonal specials, and white, dark, and milk chocolate all made exclusively with Valrhona chocolate. Two standouts to consider are Salted Caramel (with soft caramel filling and a tingly pinch of sel gris) and Earl Grey (which is perked up with cardamom). The macarons are the perfect little mouthful: soft, sweet, and light. A 6-piece box is $18; or get a dozen for $34.
Two Tarts Bakery
When you want a little something sweet, hit up Two Tarts Bakery in Nob Hill. The cozy shop specializes in diminutive cookies, available individually (95¢), in a mini gift box (4 cookies for $4), or as a baker's dozen ($9.75)—which, given the petite stature of the cookies, is really the only logical way to go.
The display case is stocked with everything from Lil' Mamas—Two Tarts' take on the Oreo, to Scottish-style shortbread, and mini whoopie pies, plus seasonal varieties (currently, Rhubarb Thumbprints and "Hubba Hubbas"—shortbread cookies sandwiched together with rhubarb cream).
A good way to go about selecting your cookies is to scoop up a combination of seasonal flavors and tried and true standards. Some of our favorites include the Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Cream sandwich cookies (smooth peanut butter cream sandwiched between crisp peanut butter oatmeal cookies with a dark chocolate drizzle), and Hazelnut Baci (chocolate ganache sandwiched between flaky domes of hazelnut shortbread, rolled in crushed hazelnuts).
Since the cookies are so small, it's tempting to pop them in your mouth one after another, but they're best served on a fancy plate, accompanied by a cup of steaming hot tea and savored slowly, like a box of truffles.
This bustling bakery in Portland's Pearl District is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, which lets the sun stream in. And while the case is bursting with everything from croissants to cakes (not to mention a huge display of fresh-baked bread), cookies are a great way to go.
There are seven different varieties (Chocolate Crinkle, Oatmeal Raisin, Ginger Molasses, Chocolate Chip Pecan, Peanut Butter, Snickerdoodle, and Russian Tea cookies, $1.95 each). Standouts include the soft and tender Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crinkle, but let your own cravings guide you; every variety is equally worthy.
If you have time to linger, get a seat by the window, facing 10th Ave (or outside, on the patio) and watch the parade of pampered pooches en route to or returning from Jamison Square and Tanner Springs Park.
Ken's Artisan Bakery
There are two main reasons to stop into Ken's Artisan Bakery in Northwest Portland: the Valrhona Chocolate Chunk cookie ($2.25) and the Strawberry Macaron ($2.75). Yes, there are lots of other tasty items in the case, but when it comes to cookies, these are the ones you want.
The strawberry macaron is like a macaron/tart mash-up: juicy strawberry segments and sweet buttercream sandwiched between two sweet, crimson cookies. The experience is momentary, lasting only lasts two bites (or three, tops) but it's so totally worth it.
Ken's Chocolate Chunk Cookie is textbook: crispy around the edge, soft and chewy in the middle, and rich with brown butter and dark Valrhona chocolate. It's hiding off by itself on the right hand side of the display, among savory croissants and quiche, but don't let its placement fool you: this cookie is worthy of a spotlight.
This full-service bakery near the edge of Portland's Pearl District stocks cookies ($1.50 each) crafted with locally made butter and dairy products, flour sourced from sustainable wheat farms, and top quality chocolate, fruit, and nuts. They're some of the most substantial cookies we tasted, particularly the Oatmeal Raisin, which is so packed with chewy oats and sweet golden raisins, it could qualify as breakfast (with a little imagination).
Best bets here are the Chocolate Chunk, which is loaded with bittersweet chocolate, buttery pecans, and a pinch of orange zest, and the Ginger Cookies, which are soft and chewy, with a sparkling crust of crystallized sugar and a flavor profile redolent of holiday cheer.
All of the cookies have a well balanced sweetness and a dense, rustic texture that stands up to repeated dunking in a milky coffee or latte. The cookies are easily large enough to share, but also hefty enough to survive being battered around in a purse or pocket for several hours, meaning you can snack throughout the day, confident that your cookie (or cookies) won't be reduced to a handful of crumbs.
Blue Collar Baking Company
Butter is the not-so-secret ingredient at Blue Collar Baking Company, a cookie, bundt cake, and scone-centric bakery located in the ground floor of the Embassy Suites in downtown Portland. Owner Warren Becker, who grew up in Milwaukee, wholeheartedly embraces butter in his baked goods, which results in rich (but not greasy) cookies that spread thin and have a fine crumb. The production area is directly behind the counter, so you can count on the display being refilled with fresh cookies all day long.
Most of the cookies ($1 each) start with the same base, but have different mix-ins, like oats, dried cranberries, and butterscotch chips (in the Big Rig), and dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, and orange zest (in the Lunch Whistle). There's a gluten-free peanut butter cookie and two types of shortbreads, but the best cookie we tasted was The Wage Earner, a brown sugar-rich chocolate chip cookie with toasted pecan pieces.
For best results, order a small carton of milk ($1), or time your visit for Cookie Happy Hour (Monday between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) and get your third cookie free.
Packer Orchards and Bakery
Farmers Markets are a great place for one-stop shopping for cookies from multiple bakers. Keep an eye out for Packer Orchards, a fourth generation family-owned farm (and bakery) located in Hood River.
Lined up along several tables, you'll find dozens of cookies priced at $1.50 apiece (or 4 for $5). The cookies are thin, crisp, and nothing short of enormous. We love the Cherry White Chocolate Chip (a sugar cookie with white chocolate chips and dried cherries), Cowgirl Cookie (a best-of-all-worlds option with chocolate chips, oats, and peanut butter), Brownie Nut Cookie (a chocolate cookie riddled with chocolate chips and toasted pecans), and the Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroon. Free samples of every flavor are available if you're unsure which cookies to choose. Based on our (somewhat excessive) sampling, you really can't go wrong.
Packer Orchards sets up shop at a variety of farmers markets throughout the week, including Portland Farmers Market (Saturdays), Pioneer Square Market (Mondays), and Shemanski Park Market (Wednesdays). Check the schedule for a full list.