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


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
18 servings
520 kcal
4.95 / 89 votes
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  • 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


  • 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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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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  1. 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.

  2. 5 stars
    These cookies are heavenly!!! There’s something magical that happens to cookie dough when refrigerated for 36 hours! I brought them to a birthday party and they disappeared in no time!

  3. 5 stars
    I am a Junior Baker/Novice at 77 years old. I tried this recipe but, as usual, I adapted it based on preferences. It is my go-to recipe now. I’m posting for others that they can ponder my adaptations. I used all-purpose flour, 14 oz. of 1/2 60% bittersweet chips, and 1/2 peanut butter chips (7oz. ea). I preferred folding in the dry ingredients and I let the dough come to room temperature before scooping it into standard-sized cookies. I baked till the edges started to brown. Thank you for this recipe!

    1. 5 stars
      Update – I have been measuring the brown sugar by packing it into a 1 cup container and into a 1/4 cup container. This last batch I used my scale and weighed out 10 ounces. It didn’t like right so I have since compared the two methods. They are not equal

      1. Thanks for the update, Tim. I’m guessing that you are adding more sure with the packed 1 1/4 cup method vs weighing? The weight of a cup of brown sugar can vary significantly depending on how tight you pack it. If you’ve found the way you enjoy it best includes a little extra sugar, that’s fine!

    2. You’re welcome, Tim. We’re delighted to hear that you’re enjoying these as much as we do, and we so appreciate you taking the time to share your tips and experience with us and the rest of our readers.

      1. 5 stars
        I appreciate your prompt responses. I will stick to weighing in the future. I have just tried the recipe using instead 8 oz of Macadamia nuts and 8 oz. of white chocolate. I was disappointed in the strength of flavor from the Macadamia nuts but it is still a combination that creates a delicious, chewy cookie. I am constantly in search of eaters. Fortunately, these cookies hold up well on the table in a zip lock, in the refer and in the freezer.

        1. I love hearing about your variations on this, Tim. I’m surprised that you need help finding eaters. I’d happily oblige!

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve tried so many chocolate chip cookie recipes but this, by far, has been the best! I used Auro Chocolate couverture (half milk chocolate, half dark chocolate) instead of Valrhona. My only regret is making only half a batch as a test group. 😂 thank you!

    1. Hah! I’d regret only making 1/2 a batch if I had cookies that looked that good, MM. We’re so glad you love them!

  5. Hi David, hope you are well! I am having some issues with the cookies; they don’t seem to spread when baked. Can you please advise on what to do?

    Many thanks.

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