Cookie Skillet

O'Niell's has had the same chef make the cookie skillet or almost 20 years.

It’s no secret that O’Neill’s Grill has been a staple of the JMU community for years. It’s the home of many university athletic press conferences, and it’s often frequented by students and staff alike. Walking inside, customers will find its walls adorned with JMU memorabilia and TVs turned to the latest sports game. They’ll also find what students voted the best dessert in Harrisonburg: the cookie skillet.

For decades, the O’Neill’s cookie skillet has attracted customers with its gooey chocolate chip cookie base, homemade hot fudge drizzle and two generous scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream. Since its creation in 2004, variations to the concept have been made — like its cousin, the S’more Cookie Dough Skillet — but assistant manager Sharmen Back said the original treat is special because of its homemade recipe and long history.

“We have the same prep cook who’s been making it for [around] 20 years,” Back said. “It’s one of the most popular things on the menu.”

The dessert previously won the same title in 2017, and Back said she thinks the cookie skillet has remained so popular in the Harrisonburg community because of its consistency. She said the restaurant’s connection to JMU also has a large influence on its success.

“We try to always make sure it looks good [and] tastes good,” Back said. “And we’ve gotten well-known in here with JMU, so we always try to support them, and I think that they do the same to support us.”

For those who can’t make the trip to O’Neill’s but still want to try a cookie skillet, here are two copycat recipes that are sure to satisfy in one’s own kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet Recipe

Not everyone wants to put in the effort to make a dessert completely from scratch. But for the more adventurous cooks, this recipe yields the perfect homemade cookie skillet in about 40 minutes. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Optional toppings:

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Whipped cream

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 10-inch skillet with cooking spray. Mix the butter and both sugars with a hand mixer in a large bowl until it’s fluffy. Then, beat in the egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt until all of the ingredients are combined, then gently fold in one cup of chocolate chips. Spread the dough into the skillet, add the remainder of the chocolate chips on top and bake for 20 to 24 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Top with ice cream, chocolate syrup or any other additional toppings, such as sprinkles or walnuts.

Cookie Skillet Sundae Recipe

For the less daring cooks who happen to have a roll of cookie dough sitting in the refrigerator, this recipe is a delicious alternative to making tiny individual cookies in a short amount of time. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 roll of refridgerated chocolate chip cookie dough

Optional toppings:

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Maraschino cherries

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Press the cookie dough into an ungreased 10-inch skillet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the center is firm and the edges are golden brown. Once baked, let it cool for up to 15 minutes, and add any optional toppings.