How to Make the Instagram-Famous Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies at Home

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We recreated New York City's famous Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Fresh off of our quest to replicate New York’s famous Magnolia banana pudding and should-be-famous bialy, we decided to tackle the monumental challenge of recreating yet another Instagram-worthy, stand-in-line-for-hours, life-changing treat: Levain chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.

You’ve likely seen snaps of these giant cookies (and these giant air-fryer cookies) floating around the internet and featured on numerous food and travel shows.

Weighing in at close to a third-pound per cookie, loaded with gooey chocolate chips, and studded with big walnut chunks, it’s clear why these ultra-thick chocolatey behemoths are New York City’s most famous cookie.

No plans to venture to the Big Apple any time soon? While you can have real Levain cookies shipped to your house or try the frozen Levain cookies at your local grocer, a better plan would be to make them fresh yourself.

Use our spot-on copycat recipe for Levain-style chocolate chip cookies and make all your cookie dreams come true!

How to Make Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies

ingredients for making cookies on a counter in various glass bowlsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (150g) dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (13g) kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (11g) baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon (9g) baking soda
  • 3 large eggs, cold
  • 3 1/2 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (530g) blend of dark and semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups (280g) walnut halves

Yield: 12 giant Levain-style cookies

Editor’s Tip: Where’s the vanilla?! The owners of Levain have repeatedly stated that they do not use vanilla extract in their recipe, so we elected to skip it too to try and be as authentic as possible. If you are loyal to team vanilla (if so, here are our favorite vanilla brands), feel free to add 1/2 tablespoon to the recipe. We tried it and thought the cookies were still stellar.

Directions

Step 1: Whisk dry ingredients

large glass bowl with dry ingredients for baking and a whiskLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

Step 2: Cream butter and sugar

egg added to cookie batter in a kitchenmaid mixing bowlLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar, salt, and butter; about 8 minutes on medium-low.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully combined into the dough after each addition

Editor’s Tip: Take care to properly cream your sugar and butter. This will limit cookie spread, improve the rise of the cookies, and enhances their final baked texture. Seriously, don’t rush this process—you really want to see the mixture go through an obvious change in your mixer. Properly aerated butter and sugar should be fluffy and noticeably lighter in color.

Step 3: Add dry ingredients

With the mixer on low, stir in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Editor’s Tip: Conversely, when adding the flour, mix until it is just barely incorporated into the dry ingredients—do not overmix your cookies. Overtaxing will overdevelop the gluten in the flour causing the cookies to be tough, dense, and cakey—not an attractive look for Levain-style cookies.

Step 4: Fold in mix-ins

With the mixer on low, fold in the chocolate and walnuts mixing until evenly combined and the walnuts have become partially broken up a bit by the mixer’s paddle.

Editor’s Tip: Want to take these cookies to the next level? Toast the walnuts first.

Step 5: Portion out the dough

cookie dough on a scaleLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Using a food scale, portion out twelve roughly-hewn 5.5oz (156g) balls of dough (they’re more like globs if you want to be technical).

Editor’s Tip: No baseballs! Resist the urge to compact the dough into tight balls when dividing the dough. Keep them loose and craggy to achieve that iconic Levain appearance and texture.

Step 6: Chill

Transfer to a large parchment-lined container with a lid and chill the cookie dough for at least 6 hours or overnight for best results.

Editor’s Tip: You may wonder if you can freeze the dough for less time rather than refrigerate it and get the same results. While the cookies will still be divine, you won’t get quite the same results. While we want the dough to be cold when it goes in the oven, we’re also working to hydrate the flour which has more to do with time than it does with the temperature. Be patient. It’s worth the wait—we promise.

Step 7: Arrange the dough and bake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the chilled “globs” of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. We could fit 6 cookies per pan, though this may vary depending on the size of your pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature of the cookies registers 180°F when using an instant-read thermometer. The cookies should appear almost fully set and have a warm golden color on their top and edges.

Step 8: Cool the cookies

Let the cookies cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the sheet pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool for another 5 to 10 minutes before digging in. Meanwhile, bookmark a few of these other must-try cookie recipes.

Editor’s Tip: Fair warning, if you dig in too soon the center of the cookies will contain essentially molten chocolate; they’ll be delicious but they may also burn your tongue.

What Makes Levain Cookies Special

cookies on a cooling rackLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

What makes Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies special? Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald, Levain’s owners and the masterminds behind the original recipe, created a cookie that took subjectivity out of the chocolate chip cookie. It truly pleases all.

This cookie is somehow soft and chewy and simultaneously crisp and crumbly at the same time. There’s a perfect ratio of melty chocolate to gooey cookie dough and they’re almost the size of your face. What’s not to like?!

To replicate the magical Levain cookie recipe, we focused on a few key things:

Limiting Cookie Spread

A lot of people are leery of thick chocolate chip cookies because they tend to be dense and cakey. This is usually because too much flour (here’s how to properly measure flour) was used in the recipe and subsequently over mixed. Here’s how we limited spread in our copycat Levain chocolate chip cookie recipe.

  • Less sugar: In this recipe, we achieved a mile-high cookie that was still delicate and tender by using a low proportion of sugar to flour. Sugar is a big driver in cookie spread, so using a lower ratio of sugar was key.
  • Dark brown sugar: Related, while we think Levain likely use light brown sugar in their recipe, we opted for dark brown sugar in our version. Not only did we find that it produced a more flavorful cookie with a richer color, but dark brown sugar also reduced their spread and improved their overall rise. Note that the batches made with light brown sugar were still delicious. So if you don’t keep dark brown sugar on hand feel free to use light brown sugar.
  • No chopped chocolate: Chocolate chips contain additives that enable them to hold their shape better during baking and thus help the cookies stand tall.
  • Whole nuts: Opting for whole walnut halves added height and bulk to the dough to keep the cookies thick.

High-Quality Ingredients

If you want to make the best Levain-style chocolate chip cookies, opt for the best ingredients possible. After testing with “the best” we can confirm the proof is in the pudding—erm, cookies.

Use these cookies as an excuse to buy the “good” chocolate chips, this is it. Since there is so much chocolate in these cookies investing in quality chocolate chips is well worth the investment. Here are our favorite chocolate chip brands.

And be sure to check out more gourmet baking ingredients that are worth every penny and bite.

Patience

As they say, you can’t rush greatness. Follow these tips to perfect your homemade Levain chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. They may seem tedious or unnecessary, but in testing, we found they really impacted the end result.

  • Weigh your cookie dough: Because these cookies are so massive, making sure you have cookies of uniform size will ensure each and every cookie bakes evenly. We scaled ours to 5.5 ounces to yield 12 cookies. (Bonus tip: Measure your ingredients by weight too!)
  • Refrigerate your dough: Other Levain-style recipes skip this step, but we found it really made a huge difference in both taste and texture. Chilling the dough fully hydrates the flour which reduces spread, keeps the cookies ultra-thick, improves their color as they bake, and enhances their chewiness.
  • Keep the oven closed: Resist the urge to open and close the oven door while baking. Doing so will cause the temperature to drop which may increase your baking time leading to cookies that are overcooked on the outside and raw on the inside.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer: You’re looking for the cookies to register right around 175-180°F in the center. For gooier cookies, you could even go with a temperature of 170°F.

Storage Tips and On-Demand Baking

The low proportion of sugar to flour in this recipe means these cookies tend to dry out quicker than others. For this reason, we recommend only baking the amount you intend to eat within one sitting.

If you do bake the full batch of cookies and have to store leftover cookies, you can store them at room temperature in a container with a tight-fitting lid for about two days. To enjoy, we recommend warming them up in a 350°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. You could also microwave for 30 seconds.

Unbaked portioned cookie dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Alternatively, the portions can be individually wrapped, then placed in a freezer-safe zip-top bag, and frozen for up to six months. Thaw frozen cookie dough overnight in the refrigerator, unwrap and bake as directed.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.