I tried my first Levain (“luh-ven”) cookie back in 2013 when Kayle took me on a mini eating tour in New York and it’s been a crucial stop on any New York trip ever since. For those unfamiliar, Levain Bakery has achieved cult-status fame for what they call “New York’s most famous cookie”: oversized creations that are almost scone-like in appearance with irresistibly craggy edges and extraordinarily underbaked centers. They’re so popular that the internet has spawned dozens of copycat recipes. In fact, back in 2015, my friend Morgan invited me over to experiment with Modern Honey’s recipe and it’s been my go-to recipe ever since.
So when Kim from Hi I Made This did a bake off between 7 Levain copycat recipes, my interest was piqued and I decided to do a follow up. The original idea was to test a subset of her recipes to confirm whether I found the same winner. However, when I did the first round of testing with 6 recipes (her top 3 recipes + 3 other recipes I found), I severely overbaked her winner.
To be fair, I decided to redo the bake off. In this iteration, I expanded the contenders to include her top 5 recipes along with the new frozen Levain cookies as the “control” plus a few others for a total of 9 recipes. Let’s get to it!
METHODOLOGY // RESULTS // FACTORS // ANALYSIS // RECOMMENDATIONS
- 24 total tasters
- All 9 recipes were baked the day of tasting (the frozen Levain cookies were reheated per instructions)
- All tasters ranked each cookie on a scale from 0-10 overall as well as 0-10 on how accurate this was to the control cookie
- All cookies were baked anodized aluminum cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
- Cookies were baked in the following order starting at 9:40am (tasting occurred around 2-3pm):
- Modern Honey
- Joshua Weissman
- Cupcake Jemma
- Krolls Korner
- A Bountiful Kitchen
- Hijabs and Aprons
- Levain (reheated for 5 min)
- Gold Medal bleached all-purpose flour
- Swan’s Down cake flour
- Unsalted Land O Lakes butter
- Nielsen Massey vanilla extract
- Diamond kosher salt
- Imperial granulated sugar and light brown sugar
- Nestle Toll House semisweet and milk chocolate chips
- Valrhona 70% baking bar (for Joshua Weissman’s cookies)
Results of the Best Levain Copycat Cookie Bake Off
One important note: I think the overall rankings are a bit skewed since we didn’t have a true Levain cookie to compare against the other recipes. (Note for anyone else trying a Levain bake off–next time I’d shell out to ship the real deal from New York! For science!) In my opinion, the frozen Levain control cookie just wasn’t that good and not very true to the bakery originals.
For the most part, these cookies were all rated fairly highly. There isn’t one cookie that I wouldn’t want to eat again–they are all incredible recipes! As always, here’s your reminder that I am solely an enthusiastic home baker and any weird results could also be due to my (lack of) baking skills.
In the below chart, you can see the overall taste ratings on the x axis and the resemblance to the Levain control cookie on the y axis (hence why the gray Levain circle is at the top of the y axis). So:
- cookies in the top right quadrant were the most highly rated and closest to the control
- cookies in the bottom left quadrant were lowest rated and most different to the control, etc.
The below chart is a more typical chart where you can see all cookies ranked from highest to lowest taster scores:
Below is a chart showing the ingredient breakdown by percentage of the ingredients in each recipe:
- Salt: Salt played a key role in counteracting the extreme sweetness in some cookies. I honestly think Bravetart may have edged out the others due to its slightly higher salt content–so many of these cookies tasted very similar, but the extra hit of salt to contrast the sweetness of the dough made Bravetart’s stand out.
- Flour: Interestingly, Bravetart led with the second-highest percentage of flour (36%) while Cupcake Jemma received some comments about tasting “too floury” with its 46% flour. I think this illustrates that a high percentage of dry ingredients can be an advantage in achieving a ideal cookie thickness, but it can be overdone (though the floury comments for CJ could also be due to the mixing technique, more on that below).
- Butter: Butter played an atypically insignificant role in these cookies. The top two rated cookies had the lowest percentage of butter (~7% for Bravetart and 8% for Hijabs and Aprons as opposed to a more average ~14-15%). I think this is because texture plays almost as big a role (if not more) as flavor–the butter flavor is not as prominent given all the chocolate and walnuts that generally mask the flavor of the dough. Plus, less butter means less spread, leading to a chunkier, thicker, more ideal texture.
- Sugar: Most recipes had a higher proportion of brown sugar than white sugar to promote chewiness and depth of flavor. I don’t think the sugar proportion had a significant impact on the overall ranking, and even overall sugar percentage didn’t show a clear pattern. At 21%, Joshua Weissman had the highest sugar percentage, but I think his cookie was ranked lower due to other factors. Bravetart took first with just 13% sugar, while Hijabs and Aprons and Modern Honey took second and third respectively with 19% sugar.
- Mixing technique: According to this video showing the founders making the original cookies, the butter and sugar are creamed first before adding the eggs, then the dry ingredients (then the semisweet chocolate chips and last, the walnuts). Cupcake Jemma and Delish flipped this script by adding the eggs last so everything barely binds together before shaping and chilling the dough. Both recipes resulted in slightly drier, craggier, grainy-looking exteriors that more closely resembled the top of a Levain original vs. the more smooth, rippled top of other recipes.
- Bake time: Bravetart had one of the longest bake times and was able to retain a gooey center while also ending up with the most picturesque, golden crust. Most of the other cookies had bake times in the 10-12 minute range, which allowed a crust to develop around a gooey center, but oftentimes the crust was lacking an appealing golden color. Aesthetically, I would chose Bravetart’s recipe as written for the most beautiful cookie that also tastes great (and has slightly more crunch). You can, of course, always tweak a recipe to bake slightly longer or at a hotter temperature for more browning.
- Chill time: Cupcake Jemma, Joshua Weissman and Delish were the only recipes to require chilling. Chilling always helps enhance cookie thickness and reduce spread by bringing down the temperature of the butter–the longer the butter stays cold while baking, the less cookies will spread. In this case, chilling did not seem to improve the overall rating. Given the high ratio of dry ingredients, Levain-style recipes are much more amenable to baking right away and remaining thick.
- Freshness: These cookies, more than others, are extremely dependent on the freshness. I completely acknowledge that it was not 100% fair to have some cookies baked 4 hours ahead of other cookies, but I was limited by oven space. However, I don’t think the baking order really affected the rankings (you can see the order I baked them in the methodology section above).
Analysis of the Best Levain Copycat Cookie Recipe
Krolls Korner: an ultra-thick, very sweet, chocolate-packed masterpiece for cookie dough lovers
Going by authenticity, Krolls is at a sharp disadvantage as the recipe does not include walnuts. Tawnie explicitly notes that while her cookies are INSPIRED by Levain (as well as another local California bakery), they’re not meant to be an exact copycat. So it wasn’t quite fair to include these in this bake off, but they looked so incredible that I just had to try! These doughy masterpieces use both all-purpose and cake flour, an extra egg yolk for richness, a teaspoon of cornstarch for thickening, more brown sugar than white sugar for additional moisture and a chewy texture, and a recommended 2 cups of milk chocolate chips for an uber-sweet, chocolate-packed cookie.
To me, these cookies are a more polished caricature of the Levain aesthetic with a smoother, more rippled top. The inside is almost pure cookie dough–tender, gooey and meltingly doughy. Tawnie notes that you can make these cookies with semi-sweet chocolate chips or a mix of walnuts and chocolate, which I would try next time–these are quite sweet with only milk chocolate chips.
And that was primarily the main critique from tasters–“a little too sweet overall.” On the plus side, nut-haters loved these cookies and many praised the super soft texture and cookie dough-like innards. Some observed that the “outside wasn’t very crispy” and was “much gooeier than the control.” Aside from being too sweet, others commented that it was “lacking a bit in flavor.”
“A bit too sweet for me, but still an excellent cookie” sums up my thoughts. Despite the comments around flavor, I would 100% make this cookie again (and already have) for the luscious cookie dough texture. Going forward, I’ll be trying these with a lower proportion of semisweet chocolate and walnuts.
Delish: a crusty, well-structured cookie that most closely resembles Levain, but slightly lacks in flavor
As the winner of Kim’s bake off, I was very excited to try this cookie. The most unusual feature about this cookie is that it requires a bake time of nearly half an hour at 375 degrees. Similar to Cupcake Jemma, it also calls for a mixing technique where the eggs are added last to just barely bind everything together.
During the first bake off, I severely overbaked this cookie (partially due to opening/closing the oven multiple times)–so when I added on extra minutes, the bottoms ended up burning and the insides were fully cooked. I did retry them the next day (baking for a perfect 26 minutes without opening the oven) which resulted in perfectly golden brown tops that looked concerningly raw underneath but when I broke them open, they were the perfect mixture of craggy-topped but melty inside.
“A good replica of the authentic cookie, a little bit of a floury texture,” said one taster. Many tasters thought this was similar to the original but with better texture, though several critiques generally centered around it being a little bready, dry, grainy and crumbly with not as much flavor. “One dimensional flavor,” said one taster. “Love the doughy middle but the edges were a little too crumbly,” said one. “Bready and dry, could taste the flour. Denser than others,” said one taster.
I actually think these cookies most closely resemble the original Levain aesthetic with its craggy, grainy top which I think is due to the egg-last mixing technique. Overall, I really liked the texture of these and the flavor was good, but it didn’t blow me away. If I made these again, I would try increasing the salt.
Joshua Weissman: a decadently buttery and chocolatey cookie that is not very true to the original Levain
I didn’t include Joshua’s cookie in my original mini bake off because it departed so far from the original (notably: using chopped chocolate instead of chips). Plus Kim noted that while it is an undeniably good cookie, using egg yolks and melted butter is extra fuss. It also didn’t make sense to me to chill the dough, then shape it and chill again (optional but recommended), so when I tested these, I simply shaped the balls and chilled overnight.
Overall, these cookies are fairly straightforward to make, but they’re more time-consuming given that you have to melt butter, separate eggs, chop chocolate, toast walnuts and chill the dough. The result? A spectacularly gooey, well-salted cookie with crisp edges and scenic puddles of chocolate. But it’s lacking the vertical heft and cakey thickness signature to a Levain cookie, and for this reason I would not dub this an accurate Levain recreation.
Tasters liked that this cookie wasn’t as sweet as others and the fact that it was “gooey without tasting raw.” “Salt content was great. So nutty and buttery, complex tasting” praised one taster. However, many agreed that it was “not fluffy enough to be comparable to Levain” and it “doesn’t resemble the control visually or tastewise.” Some thought the bittersweet chocolate was a little overpowering. Ultimately, most liked this cookie but agreed it is not a Levain copycat.
Levain (frozen cookie): a one-dimensionally sweet, mostly crisp cookie that pales in comparison to the original
Though I was very excited about having the option to use the newly-launched frozen Levain Bakery cookies (now available at Central Market in Texas!), we were unfortunately disappointed. To me, a key part of a Levain cookie is its monstrous size, which lends itself to a gooey center and a super-thick texture. When scaled down to 2 oz cookies (2.25″ in diameter and .75″ thick vs. the original 4″ diameter and 1.25″ thick according to the website), the cookies aren’t hefty enough to get a gooey center when re-heated. Perhaps the best thing about them was the craggy, caramelized exterior that bore a very close resemblance to the original cookies, but flavor-wise, they were just very sweet and rather underwhelming.
I was surprised that this cookie was ranked as high as it was (fifth place) given the lackluster comments and flavor. This could be because it was the first cookie or perhaps people ranked it higher because it was supposed to be authentic.
Tasters liked the “vanilla flavor,” the “good balance of chocolate and nuts” and some liked that it was sweeter. However, most noted that the texture was “too dry” and too sweet. “Crispier and sweeter than I expected. Disappointed in size and lack of goo,” said one taster. “Too sweet and cakey,” said another.
Overall, I’d rather make any of the other cookies from scratch than buy the frozen cookies again.
Cupcake Jemma: a craggy cookie with a gooey interior and a slightly floury flavor
Using a mix of cake flour and all-purpose, Jemma’s recipe stood out for its use of caster sugar (a superfine sugar often used in the UK), self-rising flour, milk chocolate and toasted walnuts. Like Delish, this recipe using the egg-last mixing technique. After freezing until solid (90 minutes), the dough is baked for 17 minutes. The recipe calls for the finicky step of toasting the walnuts and then rubbing them together in a towel to remove the skins (to remove the bitterness of the skins). Note: a little birdie informed me that the bakery does NOT toast their walnuts, so feel free to skip this step (I didn’t notice a difference between cookies with toasted/skinned walnuts vs. not).
Tasters generally liked the crispy outer texture, doughy interior, and found it fairly close to the control cookie: “the exterior texture is about as dry as the control, but it’s slightly saltier and has a far gooier center.” While some praised the flavor (“flavor was perfect,” “I liked the butteriness and vanilla flavor”), others disagreed, wishing for more flavor and even more chocolate chips. “This is just one dimensionally sweet,” said one taster. And of course, several critics didn’t like the sweetness from the milk chocolate.
As noted above, Cupcake Jemma (CJ) had the highest ratio of flour of all the recipes, and this manifested in a notably dry and crumbly crust which seemed slightly thicker than others, perhaps due to the longer bake time. I think CJ and Delish come closest to the craggy aesthetic of the Levain originals, though I think Delish has an aesthetic edge over CJ (the latter is almost too craggy), but I personally prefer the sweetness of CJ’s dough.
Still, in my opinion the taste and texture of this cookie doesn’t justify the extra effort (chill time + skinning walnuts) or having to buy special ingredients (caster sugar and self-rising flour, though I bet you could sub regular sugar and DIY self-rising flour and achieve very similar results). However, if you do decide to make these, you will not regret it (and I think they would benefit from bumping up the salt a bit)!
A Bountiful Kitchen: a beautifully bronzed cookie with a barely-there, nearly-raw center, great for gooey cookie lovers
Si has an extremely thorough post on how she developed her Levain copycat recipe, which includes scouring videos and extensive flour trials. This recipe is similar to Modern Honey with some small changes–1/2 cup less cake flour, no cornstarch, added baking powder and 1/4 cup less brown sugar. She includes a helpful note for how to sub extra flour/chocolate chips if you want to omit the walnuts.
Aesthetically, though this was missing the signature Levain graininess, I thought the speckled golden tops and rippled dough texture was one of the closest aside from the slightly flatter texture (even after refrigerating the dough balls for 1 hour prior to baking). It wasn’t nearly as flat as Joshua Weissman, but slightly flatter than Bravetart or Hijabs and Aprons. Texture-wise, I baked my cookies for exactly 11 minutes and my cookie centers came out looking quite a bit more raw (as you can see in the photos) compared to her pictures. I loved this texture but obviously you can bake to your desired texture if you make these.
Tasters were divided on the texture front: those who love gooey cookie dough LOVED this cookie. Comments included: “Cookie dough in a shell! Absolutely love,” “honestly, I love cookie dough so this one is fantastic,” “ultra gooey in the middle and crunchy on the outside, so it was like dipping a baked cookie in cookie dough.” However, some thought it was too raw in the center. One noted that there was almost too many mix ins: “love the flavor and texture of the cookie, however, too much chocolate and nuts. Wish there was more actual cookie.”
I loved the flavor of this cookie and would definitely make it again. The only reason it wouldn’t be my top go-to cookie is because the flatter texture is just sliiiightly flatter than my ideal, but I would highly recommend giving it a try!
Modern Honey: a well-balanced, flavorful cookie with a perfectly doughy interior
I’ve always loved Melissa’s recipe for its straightforward simplicity. The trickiest thing about it is to ensure you have cake flour on hand. While I’ve long been skeptical that the 1 teaspoon of cornstarch really does anything in the recipe, I always include it. Although this recipe contains more dry ingredients (flour and brown sugar) than A Bountiful Kitchen, it was similarly on the flatter side–of course, still a thick and gooey cookie, but they didn’t quite mound in the middle the same way others did.
Tasters called this cookie “way better than the original,” complimenting the doughiness and overall texture of “medium crust and very soft.” Overall, tasters seemed pleased with the texture but were divided when it came to flavor–some liked the sweetness and salty contrast with the semisweet chocolate whereas others thought it could use more salt to add an additional flavor punch.
Personally, I loved the flavor–it was almost juicy and buttery in the best way. It had the third highest amount of salt (3/4 teaspoon per batch of 8 cookies), which may be why: I am always Team More Salt (when it comes to balancing sweetness). Overall, I thought A Bountiful Kitchen and Modern Honey were quite similar in taste, appearance and effort. To be honest, if you’re trying to choose between them, I would flip a coin. Perhaps I would give the slightest of edges to Modern Honey because she uses more salt…but A Bountiful Kitchen is great because her recipe doesn’t require cornstarch! It’s a tie!
Hijabs and Aprons: a low-effort, high payoff cookie with questionable structural integrity but great taste
Although I first compared Leena’s recipe to A Bountiful Kitchen (quite similar except it uses all AP flour and half the butter), I then realized it was actually closer to Bravetart (though it uses 1/4 cup more flour, less salt, 1/4 cup more sugar, a different brown/white sugar ratio, and slightly less chocolate chips). Fortuitously, this recipe requires no chilling, uses all-purpose flour (no cake flour!) and has a short bake time of just 9-10 minutes.
Despite using HALF the amount of butter compared to other recipes (8% vs. 17% in Joshua Weissman!), I was stunned to find that this (and Bravetart’s) recipe resulted in a cookie that was just as gooey and tempting as the others, and I didn’t notice it lacking in flavor. Note: though I followed the bake time to the letter for all other cookies, I did bake this one for an extra 3 minutes just because it looked so raw and pale at 9 minutes. The structural integrity definitely improved the longer it sat on the cookie tray, but it’s the type of cookie that, if underbaked properly, will remain soft and gooey inside even hours later.
Tasters called this cookie a “standout” and many noted that it was “closest to” or “better than the original. This texture and flavor is a near match, just better. Perfectly gooey, nutty, and crunchy.” Tasters also praised the “very good flavor balance between salty and sweet” and interestingly, a few commented on the “buttery” flavor. While one taster noted that the “walnut to chocolate chip ratio is perfect” (this has a 1:1 ratio), a few thought there were actually too many nuts/chips to get a good feel for the cookie flavor. A couple also noted that they wish the outside was crispier and that the flavor didn’t wow them (though people universally liked the gooey texture).
I’ve already made these again and to be honest, I think this recipe may replace Modern Honey as my default recipe going forward just because of its pure simplicity–no cake flour or chilling required! (Though I personally would increase the salt to 1 to 1.5 teapoons, closer to Bravetart.)
Bravetart: a well-salted cookie that has a firm crust and gooey, flavorful interior
Like Hijabs and Aprons, Bravetart uses a relatively low ratio of butter to flour (4 oz per 10 oz flour or 1 stick to 2.25 cups). This recipe calls for “assorted chocolate” for more dimension, so I used a combination of milk and semi-sweet. It also calls for a pinch of grated nutmeg, which no other cookie called for. Aside from the small differences noted under H&A’s section, Bravetart also uses more salt, adds vanilla, requires chilling, and has a longer bake time (22 min) at a lower temp (350°F).
“THE PERFECT COOKIE!!” exclaimed one taster. Tasters widely thought this cookie was far superior to the control, with many praising the fact that it was “less sweet” than the control with a perfect “salty/sweet ratio” (and none of the “weird vanilla taste” from the control.) Tasters also praised the crisp outer texture and fantastic caramelization. “The outer texture is almost spot on to the control, good crunch,” said one.
To me, Bravetart and Hijabs and Aprons are both fantastic cookies and most differentiated by their texture and salt balance. If you like a more structured cookie and more crunch, I would use Bravetart’s chilling/baking technique, but if you like a doughier cookie, I would make H&A. If you like a more aggressively salty/sweet cookie, I would go with Bravetart’s amount of salt (my preference); if not, stick with H&A.
Tips on Making the Best Levain Copycat Cookies
If you haven’t picked up on this already, many of these recipes are quite similar and you can easily modify these cookies to fit your palette.
For first timers making these cookies, it really boils down to: FOLLOW THE RECIPE! I did not follow the exact bake times during the first mini bake off and learned my lesson from sad, overbaked cookies. Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Weigh out the cookie balls: You can’t scale down the cookie balls to less than 6 oz and expect the same results as in the pictures. They MUST be oversized balls of dough to get that gooey center. Trust.
- Follow the bake times: Most of these bake times will get you to a perfectly near-raw, gooey center straight out of the oven (which firms up after cooling on the baking sheet). You’ll typically see pockets of undercooked goo underneath a spottily browned crust, but don’t panic! This will set up. If you like a little more structure, bake for an extra 2-4 minutes (but check the bottoms to ensure they aren’t burning!).
- Don’t be afraid to thoroughly mix: With Cupcake Jemma and Delish’s egg-last mixing technique, make sure to mix well to incorporate all the floury bits. The first time I made these, I was fearful of overmixing and ended up with even drier/floury cookies. Make sure the dough sticks together well before forming the dough balls.
- Salt! This kind of goes against my “follow the recipe” instructions, but I encourage you to use at least 1/2 tsp of salt per batch of cookies. I don’t think 1/4 tsp of salt (ahem, Delish and Cupcake Jemma) is nearly enough.
*Addendum: after tasting the real deal, full-size cookies at the bakery side-by-side with the Hijabs and Aprons recipe, I have a few more observations:
- Bittersweet chocolate: While some recipes call for semisweet chocolate, I feel confident that the bakery is using a darker chocolate option. So I’d go with bittersweet to get closest to what Levain is serving up!
- 5 oz dough balls: When made with 6 oz of dough, my Hijabs and Aprons cookie was sizeably bigger than the Levain original. To get closer to the bakery size, feel free to try 5 or maybe 5.5 oz dough balls.
- Lower, longer oven temp: The bakery cookies had a much more crisp and dry exterior vs. the softer outside of the homemade cookies. I’m pretty sure this is due to the higher temp and shorter bake time–this gives the outside less change to set. Of course, Levain cookies are baked in commercial-grade convection ovens that would be hard to replicate at home. But, to get closer–I think H&A baked at 375 for 15 minutes may be about right.
I personally preferred the homemade Hijabs and Aprons recipe to the original Levain as they tasted more rich with a better salt balance and were doughier in the center. But if you’d like to try to more closely imitate Levain’s actual cookie, those would be my top tips!
Best low effort, high payoff (my new go-to): Hijabs and Aprons
Looks most similar to Levain: Delish
Tastes most similar to Levain: Bravetart/Hijabs and Aprons
Best doughy-style cookies: Hijabs and Aprons, Kroll’s Korner, A Bountiful Kitchen
Best flavor: Bravetart, Modern Honey, A Bountiful Kitchen
And just as quick cheatsheet:
- Recipes that don’t require chilling: Hijabs and Aprons, Modern Honey, A Bountiful Kitchen, Krolls Korner
- Recipes that require chilling: Bravetart, Cupcake Jemma, Delish, Joshua Weissman
- Recipes that don’t require cake flour: Bravetart, Hijabs and Aprons
- Recipe with no nuts: Krolls Korner, A Bountiful Kitchen (with modifications)
Pin this post to save it for later.
Just hover over the image and click the Pinterest button!
Loved this great side by side comparison! I have been making the Delish recipe for a couple of years and have tweaked it to add vanilla and salt. It definitely improves the flavour. My daughter has tried the Levain version several times and she says mine identical but are slightly less sweet ( a good thing).Crispy outside and gooey inside. They definitely look most like the Levain.
Hi, thank you for your post and great work in comparing all of these cookies. I just made Bravetart and Modern Honey versions of Levain chocolate chip cookies. Although the Bravetart was rated higher, I preferred the Modern Honey version. I have to admit it not an exact comparison bc I used the CupcakeJemma method for mixing and baking the Modern Honey version and the method described for the Bravetart version. I much prefer the mixing method in Cupcake Jemma. I think it makes the cookies less dense.
I have been using Bravetart’s recipe for a few years now and everytime I make them they are a big hit. Thank you for doing all the hard work for use, really appreciate it.
So glad to hear this, Gigi!!
Heartfelt thanks to you for saving us the trouble of sifting through loads of recipes in order to find a suitable one that satisfies! You take one for the team by investing your time and effort and it is much appreciated.
Like you, my go to for delicious chocolate chip cookies has for years been Melissa Stadler’s from Modern Honey (outstanding!!) However, based on your recommendation, I plan to try the Hijabs and Aprons recipe, but as I too am a staunch supporter of salt to cut the sweetness as well as enhance the flavor in a recipe, I am wondering if perhaps I should increase the salt in Leena’s recipe by 1/8 to maybe 1/4 teaspoon? You’ve said this is probably your new go to so I am wondering what tweaks you may or may not have made to best suit your taste.
Also, if there is anyone else out there that has tweaked the salt content I would love to hear from you!
( I would also be interested to know if you use salted or unsalted butter. I always have salted on hand so that is what I use.)
Hi Chriss–thank you so much for the kind words! I would absolutely be in support of increasing the salt in Hijabs and Aprons to 1/4 tsp. I honestly don’t remember what I did the last time I made these in terms of tweaks, but 1/4 tsp of salt definitely seems appropriate given the ratios of the other ingredients. I always use unsalted butter because that’s what I have on hand, but as a salt fiend, I think using salted butter + 1/4 tsp salt would still be fine!
I sprinkled Fleur de Sel sea salt on top of my H&A cookies right when they came out of the oven and it was PHENOMENAL!! I love salt/sweet. 🙂
Yay!! So glad to hear it!
Thanks for the recipe. http://www.fooddoz.com
This is brilliant!
Firstly, I would like to thank you and everyone involved in this great experiment for doing the hard work in order to make it easier for us. Your efforts are much appreciated.
Secondly, It would be really interesting if next time you include Catherine Zhang. She’s an Australian Pastry Chef and She has never tasted a Levain cookie (at least at the time of her post), and yet she researched over 50 receipes, did her thing and came up with her version.
It would be really interesting to see how her creation measures up in comparison to those how have actually tasted a Levain cookie.
Here she is explaining her process in a reply to a comment in the comment section: “The base of this cookie is the common ratio used to make Levain copycat recipes! I compiled over 50 different Levain cookie recipe to find the “golden ratio” and see what worked. This is basically a combination of all the Levain cookie recipes out there 😆A little bit of science and a little bit of trial and error is what I use to develop recipes so I hope that helps you with your search to replicate them 😊”
Finally, Thank you again.
Here is the link to her recipe: https://zhangcatherine.com/levain-bakery-chocolate-chip-cookies/
Nope!!! No salt? I am suspicious of recipes that don’t include salt as it cuts the sickening sweetness of a recipe while also enhancing flavor…
I am very impressed by the fair and equal treatment you gave during this huge cookie challenge! I love knowing how other cookie bakers interpreted the Levain CCC. I have sent these cookies to various siblings with wonderful results. I insist they are to be frozen IMMEDIATELY; actually popping the unwrapped bags into an additional zip bag. Minor oven warming straight from the freezer allows for delicious results.
Now – are you planning to CopyCat the Levain Oatmeal Cookie? It’s my favorite
hello! i’m just curious about some remarks above, for instance, CCJ’s were mentioned to be too floury. However comparing the butter ratio to some others, it does have quite a high/ reasonable amount of butter ratio. So how does this make it floury?
She mentioned the technique of adding the egg last after everything else was mixed, could contribute. If u think about it, there is significantly less opportunity for the flour to hydrate, especially because the dough is then put directly into the freezer with solidifies the moisture. I have made CCJs NY recipes and I chill first for 24 hrs, then freeze. They are not dry at all that way.
hello! i’m just curious about some remarks above, for instance, CCJ’s were mentioned to be too floury. However comparing the butter ratio to some others, it does have quite a high/ reasonable amount of butter ratio. So how does this make it floury?
Hello, i made the Hijabs and Aprons recipe just now and it was good but a little too undone inside for my taste, even after keeping on the cookie sheet out of the oven for 15 more minutes. If I keep in the oven 2 more minutes (12 minutes or 13 as I made 3 oz cookies), the bottom is too dark, almost smells burned though the inside is better. I don’t know–I have tried about 4 versions of these recipes now and am on the verge of giving up. Maybe this is not the cookie for me–I like them but not quite so gooey inside. Any ideas? Thanks.
Hi Kathy! Yes, perhaps this isn’t the cookie recipe if you don’t like them gooey on the inside–that’s the classic hallmark of a Levain cookie!
Hi – maybe bake them at a lower temp = I baked all mine at 180C and adjusted the times until I am happy. The lower temp might just not bake up the crispiest outside but I loved mine. I also don’t love the very under baked inside taste – but love the cookie overall. Don’t give up! You will find your perfect cookie!
just a general question here~ for these cookies, is there a certain factor that causes them to soften a while after baking and what can be adjusted to ‘slower’ that softening period?
I appreciate you! I’ve been craving Levain cookies and have been scratching my head trying to figure out which copycat recipe to try. I’ve tried one in the past and although it was a yummy cookie it was no Levain. After reading our detailed blog I’ve decided on trying Hijabs & Apron’s recipe since I love gooey (almost raw cookies) with the additional salt you recommended. Will definitely check out other posts from your blog. Thank you for the amount of time and effort you put into this!
Was there a bottom line one recipe the best?
Honestly, really hard to say for this bake off because a gooey, chocolate-filled cookie is never going to be bad. Hijabs and Apron is my top pick for the lowest effort/highest payoff, and A Bountiful Kitchen is probably my top pick for a super gooey-centered cookie.
wow thank you so much for making the comparison! that’s a lot of work!
I have a question about Bravetart recipe. In the link attached I noticed there is 283 g of flour in the recipe (around 22%). If I look at your graph (Best Levain Cookie Copycat Recipe) the % of the flour is around 37%. Before I make the cookies I would like to know if the recipe in the link is the right one.:)
I would like to know this too please.
Hijabs and Apron was my worst cookie. So sorry. Ratio of baking soda was so high and the cookie tasted awful. Na won’t make it again. Bravetart is not bad by my fav is Binging with Babish because of the brown butter.
so weird! my binging with babish one was too flat, i tried hijabs and apron loved it! idk if i should try bravetart too
I love Bravetart, but I think Hijabs and Aprons is such a solid, simple recipe, it’s the one I always return to!
Hello there! I just want to ask you if you try making this cookies a bit smaller like 3 oz instead of 6oz. I am planning of giving this away for christmas to all my coworkers but I want it small so I can have more cookies per batches. I did use the Hijabs and Aprons recipe for this cookie, will the baking time and oven temperature be the same if I will make 3oz? hope to hear from you. Thanks!
Hi there! I make several of these recipes but weigh them to 3oz and bake for 10-12 minutes 🙂
I don’t eat nuts but want to try all the different recipes. Can I just eliminate the nuts or do I have to change other amounts of ingredients? I wanted to try Bracetart and Modern Honey recipes.
Hi Ellen–I would highly recommend subbing the nuts for more chocolate chips or some other ingredient to get the full volume! A Bountiful Kitchen has some great tips in her blog post about tweaking a recipe to exclude nuts.
I have only ever made delishes and they have been amazing as I put it in for less time so it was more gooey. I am making them for my birthday but I’m too scared to change to another recipe just in case I don’t like it, what do I do?
Haha I think you can’t go wrong with Delish; I would stick with those if you feel confident making them and love them!
I’m a scientist / baker and greatly appreciated your meticulous methodology and presentation that went into this page. I happen to live in NYC and can get my Levain fix whenever I’m in the mood but when the quarantine hit, I tried at least 5 of the recipes you analyzed. First of all, many recipes just try to reproduce the thickness and goeyness aspect while ignoring the considerable crunch of the exterior. Even when bought fresh and frozen and reheated, the crunch still persists. It’s the mystery that I can’t yet solve: how Levain manages to get the very crunchy exterior and the soft center. I use a convection oven for all my baking and this does help but it’s still a miss with most recipes. I feel that the solution must be in the right balance between bake time, temperature and convection in combination with the right recipe. Since most commercial bakery oven use turbofans, this must be considered in trying to reproduce the Levain recipe. To me, the crunch reminds me of a well-made pie crust but sweeter, which makes me think Delish and Crumbs and Doilies are closer to how one makes pie dough. I agree with you, Crumbs and Doilies is too much like a scone which makes me think reducing the flour and increasing the castor sugar a bit would help achieve that crunch.
which do you think is the best recipe? I’m on the quest to find a levain cookie recipe that is the closest. I use a convection oven too if that helps 🙂
Which one you think is as close as the Levain cookie?
Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
AHHH I GOT MENTIONED. Girl. Those were the days. I miss Levaaaaain (and you!)
And now I need to go try Hijabs and Aprons recipe!!
SAME!!!!!!!!! That was such a fun trip and you knew all the best places!!!!
This was AMAZING !!! We had it for lunch, and already looking forward to leftovers for dinner. I made it in my Instant Pot… super duper easy! Thank you!
Devoured this in the literary sense and now I can’t wait to actually devour some of these cookies. Bravo! A tremendous amount of effort went into this and we cookie lovers missing Levain thank you.
Thank you so much Erin!!!! <333
This is a comprehensive testing piece. Love it! I have made the Delish version repeatedly and if you watch the video, you will see why the mixing is done in the sequence it is, ie, with the eggs last. I have read several places there is no vanilla in the original Levain bakery cookie….anyway. I love this review and am now inspired to try more of these copycats. I actually loved the Delish version…it tasted better the day after baking; my opinion. It also froze well.
Love this entry. Thank you so much!
Wow, I’ve just discovered your website and it pleases my engineering-baking soul to the core. This post is so good!
This seemed like a worthy experiment, but if you’re not using the real deal Levain’s from the store as your control, what’s the point?
btw I have eaten more Levain’s than I will admit, regularly ship them to friends, and have made the Carolyn Wyman version (Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book) which, although a decent contender, had its own specific flavor. Like you said, in the name of science, get them overnighted from NY!
I have been so excited for the results and observations of this bake-off. I made the Bravetart cookies before (and LOVED them), but have been curious to see how other copycat recipes compare. I might give the H&A recipe a try this weekend!
So where are the recipes?
They are all linked in the post! 🙂
You know, I have never made a Levain copycat recipe because I have always been so overwhelmed by the many choices out there, without there being a kinda “official one.” I am starting with the Bravetart one today!
Hope you love it!!
Reporting back that the Bravetart cookies were a big hit! Now the question is, do I call it good with that or try another one of the copycat recipes?
Wooo! Haha I mean the only way it can get better is maybe to make it a little easier/quicker…which is here Hijabs and Aprons can come in handy 😉
Great write up, thank you 🍪
Very good and detailed bake-off/comparison!!
I just started cookie baking 2 months ago and these seems like the perfect cookies to try next!
I am such a big fan of your bake-offs! Thank you so much for doing all the testing for us!
When you say that you would increase the salt in some of these cookie recipes, are you using kosher salt or table salt? Because kosher salt is about half as salty as table salt. If the original recipe calls for table salt and you use kosher, you would naturally need to increase the salt (if it’s Diamond kosher you can double it – if it’s Mortons you would use 1.5X more).
Very good point! I always use Diamond kosher salt when doing bake offs, and some of these recipes don’t specify what kind of salt they’re using. Will note this in my salt comment, thanks!
If you do try to DIY self rising flour, as mentioned for CJ cookie-plz note that Jemma is English. Her recipe probably uses self raising flour, as that is standard in UK kitchens for scones, biscuits, etc. And it’s different from American self rising flour. Self raising has no salt added, but self rising does. If you use self rising flour and the additional salt in recipe, you may end up overly salting the dough.
this is so true ! we need to keep in mind where the recipe comes from! a stick of butter in my country weights 15 more grams then in the US.
I usually make modern honey Im tryin bravetrt today ! lets see how it goes !!
So excited to try some new recipes. Modern honey has been my go to but I’m always open to testing new recipes!
Hijabs and Apron is the only one I’ve tried and it’s AMAZING!!!
So exited to bake (and devour) Bravetart’s cookie as well, especially since I love salted desserts.
Love all the details explanations as well as the recap and recommendations at the end on all your posts!!
I know this kinda late, but I tried cupcake jemma, hijabs and aprons. One thing I noticed is that I can still feel grains of sugar despite following the recipes.. Idk.. is that really how it should be?.. the crunch on top is like made of sugar..