Pillsbury Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cookie Dough Review: An Extra Boost Of Fall To Go With Your PSL

Pillsbury pumpkin cheesecake cookie dough
Pillsbury pumpkin cheesecake cookie dough - Steven Luna/Mashed

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If you're one of the dedicated few who wait for the Great Pumpkin every year without fail, only to be disappointed yet again when the clock strikes November 1, there's a pumpkin on the rise that's sure to be a more exciting experience. Pillsbury has relaunched its Pumpkin Cream Cheese Chip cookie dough as part of its Ready to Bake collection, in time for the sweetest season of them all. The treat returns from prior years with its pumpkin street cred intact. An easy-to-bake bite that takes mere minutes to go from package to plate, this recipe ramps up the flavor quotient of Pillsbury's other products by flavoring the dough with a healthy dose of pumpkin flavor, then scatters cream cheese-flavored white chips throughout the mix. It's an autumnal twist on a chipper custom design for folks who keep their plaid shirts and woodsy boots at the ready all summer long.

Of course, you don't have to be a pumpkin spice product superfan to climb aboard the cookie carousel. The sweet prospect of a bakery-style goodie that promises to bring new dimensions to an annual taste tradition was enough to lure us into the test kitchen to give it a spin.

Read more: 12 Popular Ice Cream Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

The Ingredients Are Less Questionable Than Expected

cookie dough out of the wrapper
cookie dough out of the wrapper - Steven Luna/Mashed

It's difficult not to think about Pillsbury packaged products without presuming they're loaded with additives, preservatives, and all sorts of chemicals with unpronounceable names. The company prides itself on pre-blended dough that takes nothing more than a swipe of a knife to be fully ready for baking. The wholesome goodness of home-baked cookies takes toil and trouble and a list of ingredients you can recognize as food. So how true-to-home-baked could a dough that's mixed in a factory, wrapped in plastic, and kept in cold storage actually be?

The truth is, Pillsbury's pumpkin cream cheese chip cookies come pretty darn close to a dough you'd whip up yourself. Enriched flour, oil, cream cheese chips, and water are the main ingredients, with less than 2% of eggs, baking powder, salt, spices, and pumpkin (in the form of flakes) making up the rest. Sure, there are some additives like artificial flavor and food coloring that you might skip in your home recipe. Overall, the rundown is a collection of familiar elements that have pronounceable names, which made us feel a whole lot better about gearing up for the ol' taste test.

The Price On These Treats Is Pretty Reasonable

cookie dough on parchment paper
cookie dough on parchment paper - Steven Luna/Mashed

With a price tag ranging between $3.50 and $4.00 per package, you get a sweet dozen oversized cookies for less than 35 cents each. That's a steal of deal when it comes to cafe-style baked goods. And these are considered oversized cookies, which means if you cut them in half, you get twice as many treats while bringing the price down to 15 cents per cookie, or $2.00 a dozen. Considering that Starbucks sells single cookies for almost $3.00 in their bakery cases, this is an entirely reasonable price to pay for what amounts to 24 bakery-quality cookies. You can also control the texture of the bake and only make as many as you want, altering the quality and extending the life of the package as you see fit. Starbucks doesn't give you that kind of flexibility.

The flip side of the spatula is that baking your own cookies at home generally costs even less, something home bakers are sure to know. With grocery prices on the rise again, it may not be reasonable to gather all your holiday baking ingredients and keep to your budget. If this is the case, Pillsbury isn't a bad backup.

You Can Find Them Just About Everywhere

baking sheet going into oven
baking sheet going into oven - Steven Luna/Mashed

As with all products bearing the orange burden of pumpkin flavoring, these read-to-bake cookies are likely to be a temporary temptation. Though no dates are given, the label calls them limited edition, which makes them a seasonal (and possibly a holiday) product renting space in the refrigerator section with their break-and-bake buddies. They're bound to be around at least through Halloween and possibly all the way to Thanksgiving, given the prolonged pumpkin period of the months that end in -ber. If you're concerned that they might not be around come Christmastime and you might still have a hankerin', you can freeze them for at least three months, according to the label, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy them on repeat.

Pillsbury isn't reserving these sweet somethings for an exclusive partnership with its favorite retailer. You can find them in the refrigerated cookie section of all major grocery stores and big box outlets all across the U.S. Don't be fooled if you happen to see a similar product called Pillsbury Perfectly Pumpkin cookie mix on Amazon, though. That one is a dry boxed mix, not the ready-to-bake refrigerated dough we're talking about.

This Pumpkiny Twist Is A Logical Addition To The Pillsbury Product Line

finished cookies on cooling rack
finished cookies on cooling rack - Steven Luna/Mashed

Pillsbury is the innovator that created slice and bake cookies to make home baking a much easier process for home cooks. It's no surprise that the company has continued to experiment with an ever-expanding range of easy-to-prepare cookies, cakes, and pastry treats through the years, especially when considering the company's fall product line-up. Pumpkin cream cheese chip cookies are a modern-minded option in a  selection of holiday treats, which includes gingerbread men, Valentine's Day sugar cookies, and slice-and-bake treats with ghosts and jack-o'-lantern faces embedded in the dough. There are also product crossovers featuring Reese's peanut butter cups, Lucky Charms cereal, and Oreo cookies used as mix-ins to create several premium items. As a contemporary expansion that considers both convenience and consumer taste, pumpkin cream cheese is a fine fit.

While most of the other Pillsbury quick-prep products appear to be aimed at younger snackers in the household, these cookies may be marketed to a more sophisticated cookie consumer. The adults in the house are sure to love the more gourmet presentation and flavor combination, even with the forever-young Pillsbury Doughboy holding his own on the label.

Nutrition? Come On ... It's A Cookie

close-up of pumpkin cheesecake cookie
close-up of pumpkin cheesecake cookie - Steven Luna/Mashed

These cookies are cookies. They don't pretend to be anything else. Oversized as they are, breaking and baking them as-is makes eating a single cookie equal to eating several smaller cookies all at once. And the Pillsbury Doughboy isn't messing around with the richness in this recipe. With every ginormous treat, you'll be taking in 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 13 grams of sugar. If that isn't enough to convince you to take these nifty noshes under careful consideration, maybe the palm oil in two forms and two different forms of food coloring will. So while they may taste home-baked, they are every ounce a prepackaged food item. In other words: eat with caution.

On a strange and somewhat unexpected note, Pillsbury claims to have perfected the recipe for edible cookie dough without risk of illness thanks to heat-treated flour and pasteurized eggs. This allows the company to boldly proclaim on the front of the wrapper that its pumpkin cheesecake chip mixture can be safely eaten raw — yes, raw. We tried a tiny bite, and boy, does the pumpkin essence come through in a big way. One bite was plenty.

Review: We're Pumped For These Primo Autumn Treats

plate of pumpkin cheesecake cookies
plate of pumpkin cheesecake cookies - Steven Luna/Mashed

For pumpkin fans who need an extra boost of fall flavor to go with their PSL, these cookies are a perfect match from the patch. When cooled, they're crispy and chewy, with generous pumpkin flavor and enough cheesecake essence in the white chips to give the impression of cream cheese frosting. We also tried them warm, and they were even better — soft, gooey, and cake-like. There's no reason you couldn't slather a smudge of your favorite frosting between two of these bad boys and make yourself a homemade whoopie pie.

We should note that baking per the instructions on the package was a bit wonky, and the cookies do turn out quite large. It didn't stop us from eating them, but it might give others cause for pause. If you're looking for circular cookies that don't hold hands on the baking sheet, you'll want to roll them a bit to make them rounder and space them further apart than the recommended two inches. Better yet, you can just break the pieces in two and double up. However you slice it, you'd have to be out of your gourd to miss them.

Read the original article on Mashed.