David Leite’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Say hello to the chocolate chip cookie recipe that started an Internet craze and made bakers rethink how to make cookies. They originally appeared in the July 9, 2008 edition of the New York Times in an article written by our Fearless Leader, David Leite. What makes them so damn special is the dough is refrigerated for 24 to 36 hours for a more complex flavor and greater variation in texture. Sea salt is the finishing touch.

Seven of David Leite's chocolate chip cookies cooling on wire racks

Are these chocolate chip cookies the ultimate, unsurpassed, perfect specimen? The consensus is yes. But, hey, don’t take our word for it. Bake them for yourself.–David Leite

A close up shot of a few of David Leite's chocolate chip cookies on a wire cooling rack
An empty parchment-lined baking sheet with a chocolate-smeared spatula resting on it

Video

David Leite’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Seven of David Leite's chocolate chip cookies cooling on wire racks
Say hello to the chocolate chip cookie recipe that started an Internet craze and made bakers rethink how to make cookies. They originally appeared in the July 9, 2008 edition of the New York Times in an article written by our Fearless Leader, David Leite. What makes them so damn special is the dough is refrigerated for 24 to 36 hours for a more complex flavor and greater variation in texture. Sea salt is the finishing touch.
David Leite

Prep 15 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 1 d 12 hrs
Dessert
American
18 servings
520 kcal
4.96 / 85 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate discs or Valrhona fèves at least 60 percent cacao content
  • Sea salt

Directions
 

  • Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. 
  • Reduce speed to low, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. 
  • Drop the chocolate chunks in and incorporate them without breaking them. You may have to do this by hand with a spatula. 
  • Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. (I vote 36 hours.) Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

    TESTER TIP: To make handling the dough easier, you can form the dough into balls now and refrigerate in a resealable plastic bag.

  • When you’re ready to bake, fire up the oven to 350° (176°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  • Scoop six 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto a baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. You can also freeze the balls in a resealable plastic bag.) Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  • Bake the cookies until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. You’ll know the cookies are done when the tops have the caramel folds of a Shar Pei. 
  • Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another wire rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with the remaining dough. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
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Notes

How To Make Gluten-Free Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lusting after these cookies but groaning and bemoaning over being gluten-free? Dry your tears and try Shauna James Ahern’s gluten-free version of the cookies. If only we could fix all your problems so easily!

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 520kcal (26%)Carbohydrates: 73g (24%)Protein: 7g (14%)Fat: 25g (38%)Saturated Fat: 15g (94%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mg (18%)Sodium: 290mg (13%)Potassium: 196mg (6%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 42g (47%)Vitamin A: 423IU (8%)Calcium: 48mg (5%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’ve searched high and low for several years trying to find the greatest chocolate chip cookie recipe. Thankfully, David Leite has done the footwork for us. I’ve made this recipe several times now, and the very first time I made it, I knew I had encountered some otherworldly magic.

This chocolate chip cookie is THE cookie against which all cookies should be measured. I’ve made these to impress friends and colleagues and even to help me woo my new wife. When you give these cookies to friends or family, expect EVERY comment to be overwhelmingly positive. Every single person who has tried one of these cookies has had the same reaction: “OMG! This is the best cookie EVER!”

When I make this recipe exactly as it’s written, it makes huge 3 1/2 ounce cookies—just 1 perfect cookie per person is a great dessert, nothing more needed.

Exactly one month ago, I made these cookies for my annual Christmas cookie exchange at my friend Anita’s in Cincinnati. I started by making 40 pounds of cookie dough. (I decided to make 1 1/2 ounce cookies, which are a normal size. I had to adjust the baking time because the cookies were less than half the size the recipe called for. Exactly 13 minutes at 350ºF worked perfectly. My yield was between 40 and 42 cookies per batch.) Needless to say, I won the cookie exchange. I made far more dough than was needed, so I divided the leftover dough into 1-pound batches, rolled the dough into 12-inch logs, and tightly wrapped them in plastic wrap. Next, I filled 1-gallon resealable plastic bags with the cookie logs, forcing the air out, and stacked the logs in the freezer. The cookies I made with the frozen dough tonight are as perfect as the cookies I made from the unfrozen dough a month ago.

On a final note, the cookies are wonderful warm, but they’re delicious a few days later, cold. I promise you, if you make these cookies, you’ll soon find yourself referring to them as “My Cookies.”

I will go to this chocolate chip cookie recipe again and again because these are the best I have ever baked. I had some fleur de sel I used to sprinkle on the top. This sure did bring out the sweetness of this ultimate cookie! Nice and gooey right out of the oven. Of course, this is the only way to have them. Yum….Thanks, David.

I rarely give a recipe a 10, but having made this chocolate chip cookie recipe for the last 6 years, literally hundreds of times, I can say above and beyond all other recipes, this one deserves a 10. This is my tried-and-true, fail-safe, go-to, wow-them cookie recipe.

But last month, to my shock and horror, my batch of these cookies spread out thin and did not have the same amazing texture as all the previous batches. Baffled, I made them again with the same poor results. Truly a crisis! I sent out a 911 email to my fellow Leite’s Culinaria recipe testers. After confirming I was using the same brand of chocolate, flour, and butter as always, David Leite asked me to call him. David went through each ingredient and asked a lot of questions, about my scale, my ingredients, including was my baking powder still good (who knew you could test your baking powder by adding a spoonful to hot water, if it fizzes it is good), and everything was fine. He then picked up on the fact I keep my huge Sam’s Club bag of flour in the garage. With the current heavy rains and humidity, it had definitely picked up moisture. He then explained how if my flour had added moisture and I am weighing my flour, I was not only adding less flour than intended (part of the weight is water weight), but I was adding undesired water to my dough. I purchased new flour that I now store inside the house and attempted the recipe again. Perfection.

Thank you, David, and all the testers who continually help me improve. Hope this information helps someone else.

Originally published May 22, 2009

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi! I’ve made this recipe several times and they’ve always turned out perfectly. However, this most recent time the cookies came out much harder, which has never happened to me. I can think of a few reasons this might have happened so wanted to share and get your thoughts.
    – The butter was maybe too soft. I left them out on the counter to get to room temp, but my apartment is a bit warm so they were very soft by the time I made the dough.
    – Because the butter was so soft, perhaps I creamed and/or mixed for too long.
    – When I took them out of the oven, I left the sheets on top of the stove for probably 5 minutes before I transferred the cookies to cooling racks. The burners were not on, but I’m sure were a bit warm from the residual heat from the oven.

    Thank you!!

  2. Hi David, I’ve made these cookies plenty of times before but always with all-purpose flour instead of cake flour because that’s what I have on hand. Although I love the texture of the cookies as is, just curious what the texture would be like if using cake flour?

    Also, because I love the recipe so much, but wanted something darker/double chocolate chip version of it, is it possible to add cocoa powder to this? What would the measurements look like?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. JS, thanks for writing. I’m delighted you enjoy the recipe. Using cake flour will make the cookies a bit more tender than with AP flour. And I’ve never added cocoa to the cookies, but try substituting 1/2 cup of coca powder for an equal amount of cake flour. One thing The One did was “accidentally” added melted Several ounces of the chocolate and added it to the mix. It was wicked good.

  3. 5 stars
    Having moved on, I added 3/4 cup of Dutch cocoa to the original recipe. I found that waiting 3 days with the dough in the fridge and then portioning the dough and freezing the portions prior to baking gave me the best result.

    After baking at 350 for 11 minutes, I let the cookies cool in the pan for 6 minutes before moving to the rack. After cooling to room temp for 15 minutes. I then cooled in the fridge to set the chocolate chips. They go in a container with some bread that is isolated from them with a piece of plastic. Left to sit for 2 days on the counter they soften up perfectly. All this takes time. They are delicious right out of the oven though. Warm, soft with some chewiness, and gooey with chocolate and peanut butter chips.

    What a treat to eat and to share. Milk required.

    In love with and grateful for the recipe.

  4. Hello- I’m a little confused by these measurements for the flour, both call for 240 grams of flour, even though the cup amounts are different? Doesn’t all purpose flour weigh 125 grams per cup, so these flours seem a lot more. Thanks I just want to make sure I’m reading this right before I make them I did a while ago and loved them but want them to cine out perfectly this time!

    1. Austin, you have discovered the great and annoying problem with measuring flour by volume! Not all flours have the same density. Cake flour is less dense than bread flour, hence you need more to equal the same weight. It reminds me of the old childhood riddle: What weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of stones? Obviously, they weigh the same…but you would need a massive amount of feathers to equal the stones.

      1. Hi David – thank you so much for the rapid fast reply! This makes sense too, perfect sense. I am starting to become OCD with my cookies and want them to turn out perfect! Thanks again, happy holidays!

  5. 5 stars
    Hi David- I’ve been making this recipe since you published the original article. It’s fabulous though I do make the cookies a bit smaller so I have enough to share. They are still fabulous! I give away all the cookies I bake and this is the fav every year. I have a question or 2. I’d like to make these ahead and freeze the dough. I’m always short on fridge space so thought freezing could help me out. Do I rest it in the fridge for 36 hours first then freeze or do I freeze them right away? If I make the cookies before freezing do I thaw them before baking as I would have to do if I froze the dough in bulk? Is it ok to freeze with the chocolate in the dough or thaw the bulk dough and add the chocolate? I have baked for many years but have never frozen cookie dough so I feel like a novice. Thank you for this recipe!

    1. Sue, I’m delighted you enjoy the recipe. I’d definitely age the dough for 36 hours before freezing. If I’m freezing the dough, what I do is shape the balls of dough (with the chips in them), toss them in a zip-top bag, and refrigerate for 36 hours. I then take the bag and pop it in the freezer. When it comes time to bake, it’s a personal preference. I’ve baked both from the freezer and after defrosting. If do you want to bake directly from the freezer, turn the oven down to 330°F to 335°F (165°C 168°C). You’ll need to bake the cookies a bit longer.

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