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Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

4.75 from 92 votes
Try this Levain Cookie Recipe, savoring Levain bakery perfection with rich chocolatey, nutty flavors in irresistible crunchy, chewy textures.
Levain Cookies on a baking sheet

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: This enticing Levain Cookie Recipe is meticulously crafted to satisfy your craving for indulgence, delivering the quintessential characteristics of bakery perfection right to your kitchen:

  • Decadent Texture: Experience the perfect balance of a crunchy exterior and a luxuriously chewy, gooey center.
  • Rich Flavor: Delight your taste buds with the rich chocolatey and nutty flavors infused in every bite.
  • Easy Preparation: Mastering this recipe is a breeze with a prep of ONLY 20 minutes, making it accessible for both seasoned bakers and beginners alike.
  • Convenient Enjoyment: No need to travel to the Big Apple or wait in long lines; now you can recreate the charm of the BEST chocolate chip walnut cookies from the comfort of your home with household baking essentials.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was improved and updated on 5/1/2024, to include explanations of key ingredients, answers to the most frequently asked questions, and Pro Chef Tips.

Table of Contents

A hand holding a giant levain bakery cookie.

What are Levain Cookies?

Levain Cookies, also known as Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies, are large, thick, and decadent cookies known for their gooey centers, crisp edges, and generous mix-ins like chocolate chips and nuts.

  • They originated from the famous Levain Bakery in New York City and have gained widespread popularity.
  • Constance McDonald and Pamela Weekes first opened their iconic bakery to sell artisanal bread, but they earned their place in NYC history when they started selling their 6-ounce chocolate chip walnut cookies. Constance and Pamela call their chocolate chip walnut cookie the one that “started it all.”
  • Surprisingly, this massive cookie was developed for a healthy reason! The co-owners were training for an Ironman Triathlon, and since they were training so hard, they needed carbs and calories for fuel. (I knew cookies were healthy!)

I wanted to stick to their recipe as closely as I could, and I think I cracked it: just like Levain’s famous cookies, this recipe yields a giant, hearty cookie, chock full of walnuts and chocolate. These giant cookies are perfect for sharing!

Tools You Need for Levain Cookies

Key Ingredients and Why

  • Butter(softened)

    • Beyond adding moisture and richness, softened butter helps create a creamy texture in the Levain cookie dough.
    • It also aids in the dispersion of sugar and other ingredients, contributing to a more uniform mixture.
    • Additionally, the fat content in butter helps coat the flour particles to prevent them from forming too much gluten, resulting in tender cookies.
    • You know you’re at the right temperature when you push the butter and it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through. The mix should be lighter in color, and you should no longer see the sugar crystals.
  • Dark brown sugar

    • Dark brown sugar contains molasses, which not only adds a deep, caramel-like flavor but also contributes to the chewiness and softness of the Levain cookies.
    • Its moisture content helps keep the cookies tender, while its acidity reacts with baking soda to provide leavening.
    • Make and save this recipe, you’ll never run out of Brown Sugar.
  • Granulated sugar

    • Granulated sugar sweetens the cookies.
    • Its fine crystals cream with the butter, incorporating air into the dough for a lighter texture.
    • It also aids in browning during baking, resulting in golden, crispy edges.
  • Salt

    • In addition to enhancing flavor, salt plays a crucial role in balancing sweetness and intensifying other flavors in this Levain Bakery Cookie Recipe.
    • It strengthens the gluten structure in the dough, providing support for the cookies to hold their shape while baking.
  • Eggs(at room temperature)

    • Eggs act as binders, holding the ingredients together and providing structure to the cookies.
    • Their emulsifying properties help create a smooth and uniform dough. At room temperature, eggs incorporate more easily into the batter, resulting in a smoother texture.
  • Vanilla extract

    • While vanilla extract adds a delightful aroma and flavor to the cookies, it also rounds out the sweetness and enhances other flavors.
    • Its subtle complexity elevates the overall taste experience of the Levain cookies.
  • All-purpose flour

    • Serving as the base of the cookie dough, all-purpose flour provides structure and stability.
    • Its protein content of 9% to 11% forms gluten when mixed with liquid ingredients, giving the cookies their shape and chewy texture.
  • Baking powder

    • Baking powder is a leavening agent that reacts with moisture and heat to release carbon dioxide gas, causing the cookies to rise and become light and airy. It contributes to the soft and fluffy texture of Levain Cookies.
  • Baking soda

    • Acting as another leavening agent, baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients in eggs and brown sugar to produce carbon dioxide gas, which helps the cookies rise.
    • It also contributes to the cookies’ browning and tenderness.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips

    • These chocolate morsels not only provide bursts of sweetness and richness but also create pockets of melty chocolate throughout the cookies. They are a signature inclusion in Levain Cookies, adding depth and indulgence to each bite.
  • Walnuts(toasted and chopped)

    • Walnuts bring a delightful crunch and consistent nutty flavor to the cookies, complementing the sweetness of the chocolate chips.
    • Toasting the walnuts enhances their natural oils and deepens their flavor, adding complexity to the Levain Cookies profile.

How to Make Levain Cookies

  • Make the Levain cookie dough

    • Make the butter mixture: cream the butter, both sugars, and salt in a large bowl with a stand or electric handheld mixer for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
    • Add the eggs: add eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
    • Mix dry ingredients:  whisky the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and then swiftly mix into the butter mixture until combined.
    • Add mix-ins:  fold in chocolate chips and walnuts until evenly combined.
  • Shape and age the Levain cookie dough

    • Shape the cookie dough: Scoop the dough into 8 equal portions (roughly 5 ½oz/160g) and place in a single layer in an airtight container.
    • Age the cookie dough: Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 4 days (The unbaked dough can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature for an hour before baking.)
  • Bake the Levain cookie dough

    • Prepare for baking: preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 4 balls of dough evenly spaced on the baking sheet without flattening. This big ball of dough will yield you that thick iconic Levain bakery cookie.
    • Bake: Bake on a center rack for 20-22 minutes, until cookies are lightly golden. (NOTE: In my oven, I get the best results when I bake one tray at a time.)
  • Serve Levain cookies

    • Let cool for at least 20 minutes before eating. These cookies are best eaten the day they are baked.

A close up of a levain chocolate chip walnut cookie

Can I Make Levain Cookies in Advance?

Yes, you can make Levain cookies in advance.

  • For this recipe, you’ll need to rest the dough in the refrigerator until it is firm, which can take at least 2 hours — but you can keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
    • Allowing your dough to age helps develop the flavor. When the dough is chilling, it dries out slightly, concentrating the flavors of the ingredients.
    • Aging your dough also changes the texture, and you’ll get a gooey-er texture that keeps the dough from spreading while baking — which is great for this recipe as we want a very thick cookie.

How to Store Levain Cookies

Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

FAQs

What Chocolate Is Best For Chocolate Chip Cookies?

This recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips, but if you prefer, feel free to go with a darker, bitter-sweet chip. I recommend you try to find the best quality chocolate you can, which in most grocery stores would likely be Ghirardelli’s baking chips.

What Makes This Levain Bakery-Style Cookie Different

These chocolate chip walnut cookies are thick — much thicker than my Best-Ever Chocolate Chip, but I did borrow a few tricks from that recipe. That includes the ratio of white sugar to brown sugar, giving these cookies a perfectly crispy exterior but a soft middle throughout.

Why do you need to use the creaming method for this Levain Cookie Recipe?

  • Creaming incorporates air, making the Levain cookies light and fluffy.
  • It ensures an even distribution of ingredients for consistent sweetness and texture.
  • Creaming activates leavening agents, helping the cookies rise properly.
  • It creates a stable structure, preventing the cookies from spreading too much during baking.
  • Check out our in-depth article How To Cream Butter And Sugar For Cookies (And Why) for more details.

Why do you always toast your nuts for this Levain Bakery Cookie Recipe?

Do yourself a favor and go the extra step in toasting your walnuts.

  • The heat brings out so much flavor! Toasting any nut helps to remove any raw, astringent flavors and helps release their nutty flavors — and that is especially true when it comes to walnuts. If you eat a raw walnut and then a toasted walnut, you’ll notice how much more bitter the raw nut is as opposed to the more flavorful, nutty toasted walnut.
  • Toasting walnuts also gives them a little more chew, which works so much better in desserts when you want them to have a soft, moist texture!
  • To toast the walnuts, bake them in a preheated 350°F (180°C)oven for roughly 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

The interior of a levain chocolate chip cookie.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

  • Make sure that you beat the butter and sugar for the full five minutes to get the proper aeration of the dough.
  • My recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips, but feel free to use bittersweet or milk chocolate chips (or a combination) if you prefer.
  • Do not skip toasting those walnuts! Bake them in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for roughly 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
  • These cookies are best eaten the day they are made. It’s best to store the dough in the freezer and bake as needed.
  • You can make these cookies half-sized if you prefer but watch carefully as the baking times will be shorter.
  • You can replace the walnuts with pecans or hazelnuts for a nice variation.

Don’t Miss More Cookie Recipes

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was improved and updated on 5/1/2024, to include explanations of key ingredients, answers to the most frequently asked questions, and Pro Chef Tips.

Watch The Recipe Video!

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

4.75 from 92 votes
Try this Levain Cookie Recipe, savoring Levain bakery perfection with rich chocolatey, nutty flavors in irresistible crunchy, chewy textures.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 8 cookies
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Chill for 2 hours
Try this Levain Cookie Recipe, savoring Levain bakery perfection with rich chocolatey, nutty flavors in irresistible crunchy, chewy textures.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 8 cookies

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (4oz/115g) butter (softened)
  • cup (4oz/115g) dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup (4oz/115g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (10oz/284g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups (12oz/340g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ⅔ cups (8 ⅓ oz/236g) walnuts (toasted and chopped)

Instructions

  • Cream the butter, both sugars, and salt in a large bowl with a stand or electric handheld mixer for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and then swiftly mix into the butter mixture until combined.
  • Add in the chocolate chips and walnuts until evenly combined.
  • Scoop the dough into 8 equal portions (roughly 5 ½oz/160g) and place in a single layer in an airtight container. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 4 days (The unbaked dough can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature for an hour before baking.)
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Place 4 balls of dough evenly spaced on the baking sheet without flattening. This big ball of dough will yield you that thick iconic Levain bakery cookie.
  • Bake on a center rack for 20-22 minutes, until cookies are lightly golden. NOTE: In my oven, I get the best results when I bake one tray at a time.
  • Let cool for at least 20 minutes before eating. These cookies are best eaten the day they are baked. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Recipe Notes

  • Make sure that you beat the butter and sugar for the full five minutes to get the proper aeration of the dough.
  • My recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips, but feel free to use bittersweet or milk chocolate chips (or a combination) if you prefer.
  • Do not skip toasting those walnuts! Bake them in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for roughly 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
  • These cookies are best eaten the day they are made. It’s best to store the dough in the freezer and bake as needed.
  • You can make these cookies half-sized if you prefer but watch carefully as the baking times will be shorter.
  • You can replace the walnuts with pecans or hazelnuts for a nice variation.
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Heba
Heba
2 years ago

Hi Gemma, I made these cookies yesterday and they were a big hit. They’re probably one of THE BEST cookies I’ve ever made. They’re literally perfect and just how I like it. And I’ve always wanted to try making these cookies but I couldn’t trust anyone else so I was so happy when you posted the video. And I love how one cookie makes me feel full and satisfied for a few hours. Thank you so much for the recipe. P.S :my sister and I are snacking on one of the cookies as we wait for our mom to make… Read more »

Mamta
Mamta
2 years ago

I would love to bake them – egg substitutes?

shira
shira
2 years ago

Hi! These are absolutely AMAZING!!! Can you make the other 3 Levain cookie flavors?

Rakhi Tripathi
Rakhi Tripathi
1 year ago

Amazing cookies Gemma! These cookies tasted exactly like the real deal! This was a true Bigger BOLDER Baking experience for us. Thank you for this recipe.

Shishma
Shishma
2 years ago

Omg these were the best I ever had substituted 1 cup flour to almond flour and doubled the recipe.

Miriam Allen
Miriam Allen
2 years ago

Those look awesome! For those who can’t have nuts would you add just extra chocolate chips or something else?

Kalpesh
Kalpesh
2 years ago

This weekend I’ll have a ago at these king size cookies.

Bonnie
Bonnie
2 years ago

Thanks for the recipe, Gemma! We love the Levain cookies, and your version looks quite approachable! Is there an advantage to using the stand mixer vs the handheld? I have both but one is obviously easier to clean 🙂

martnie
martnie
2 years ago

what is the ‘secret’ thou it seems like a regular chocolate chip cookie

Karina
Karina
1 month ago

Hi Gemma,
Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe! I baked them today but they came out a bit cakey instead of chewy.
I noticed that the measurements in cups is different for the brown and white sugar ratio, but in grams they are the same. Will you clarify for me?
Also, is the amount of flour in grams/cups correct?

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About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

Weeknight Family Favorites Chapter from the Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook