Looking for the best cookie in New York is a bit like trying to find the city’s best bagel or the perfect date: you might be searching in vain, but you’re sure to find dozens of delicious options along the way. With the days of simple chocolate chip and black and white cookies comfortably behind us, navigating the New York cookie universe can be increasingly tricky, especially with the advent of non-traditional flavors like maple bacon and blueberry & cream. That’s why we’ve rounded up our favorite cookies across the city and just in time for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day on Wednesday.
Home to what many consider New York’s most scrumptious cookies, Levain’s reputation precedes it and then some. The Upper West Side mainstay may be tiny, tucked down the block from Central Park West, but it boasts global renown and lines that wrap around the block. Indeed, people come to the city from all over the world just to try the bakery’s legendary chocolate chip walnut and dark chocolate peanut butter cookies, but Levain is also the kind of neighborhood spot that welcomes its local regulars by name.
The bakery opened its 74th Street headquarters back in 1994, when founders Connie McDonald and Pam Weekes embarked on a mission to create the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie. Within just a few years, it became a New York institution and a destination for anyone and everyone passing through the city.
Levain offers an array of gorgeous rustic bread and baked goods, but it’s really known for the dense and impossibly rich cookies it bakes fresh and on-site every day. Consistently available in chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chocolate chip, dark chocolate peanut butter and oatmeal raisin options, the warm cookies can be smelled from blocks away, which coincidentally might just be where the line for them starts.
Today, the bakery has four locations-its original 74th Street home, another Upper West Side spot on Amsterdam Avenue, a shop on Harlem’s Fredrick Douglass Boulevard (where a live video feed streams online so visitors can gauge the wait time), and one in Wainscott, New York, for all those Hamptons-bound beachgoers. Levain also has two more Manhattan locations on the way, in the Upper East Side and downtown in NoHo, and customers near and far can order the famous cookies online to be shipped anywhere in the United States.
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Affectionately dubbed “the unofficial cookie of Broadway,” Schmackary’s is a somewhat recent addition to the New York cookie world. The Hell’s Kitchen bakery opened in just 2012, when Zachary “Schmackary” Schmahl took his young cookie company out of his apartment and into a brick-and-mortar store on the corner of 45th Street and Ninth Avenue. It was an instant success, with lines of cookie aficionados and amateurs alike forming virtually overnight.
A visit to Schmackary’s is a bit like stepping into a time machine, or at least stepping outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. The bake shop brings small-town charm and hospitality to the big city, and if not for the funky flavors on offer, you might just think you were back in 1950s suburbia.
Schmackary’s original menu of 10 flavors has now grown to include more than 75 unique cookie creations, and options change daily. The bakery offers classics like chocolate chip and their famous “Schmacker-doodle,” as well as inventive flavors like hibiscus passionfruit, piña colada, chocolate-covered pretzel and cotton candy. A list of the daily flavor offerings is available on the Schmackary’s website every day, and cookies can be purchased online and shipped nationwide. The Hell’s Kitchen store, meanwhile, is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. or midnight, making it the perfect destination for a post-Broadway treat. And who knows, you might just run into Kristin Chenoweth or Audra McDonald while you wait.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Dominique Ansel Bakery is known for breaking the rules. With inventions like the cronut, the avocado toast ice cream sandwich, and the DKA pastry, it would be an understatement to say that the French chef has disrupted the baking industry. His SoHo outpost has long attracted an onslaught of loyal downtowners and curious tourists, long lines, and media attention for its groundbreaking cakes and pastries, and the bakery’s chocolate chip cookie shots have done no different.
Having grown up in France, Ansel never really had cookies as a child, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that someone gave him one and instructed him to eat it with milk. The chef loved the classic treat combination and soon learned of its popularity among American kids. He was inspired to make a dessert that incorporated both warm cookie and milk, and in 2014, he introduced the cookie shot at a special event at Austin’s South by Southwest. After 700 people showed up to try Ansel’s new treat, he decided to serve it at the SoHo bakery, where it quickly became one of the most popular items.
The shots are made from warm, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and are filled to order with the bakery’s homemade, cold-infused Tahitian vanilla milk. Some people down the delicious milk and then eat the soft cookie shot, while others alternate between sips and bites, but everyone, from toddlers to nonagenarians, seems to enjoy the tasty treat. The cookie shots are available at Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street every day from 3 p.m. or online for pre-order and can be purchased individually or in packs of six, with or without milk.
Nestled on 16th Street, just west of Union Square, Breads Bakery is the perfect place for a mid-morning snack or an afternoon sweet. A local hotspot from breakfast through dinner, the bakery is famous for its breads and babka and has even won awards for its crunchy baguettes, but Breads’ not-so-hidden secret is its delicious cookies.
Available in triple chocolate chip and oatmeal white chocolate chip with dried cranberries, these treats are reminiscent of the cookies your mom used to make after school but even better. Breads achieves the always difficult soft-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside combination, and there isn’t a single bite of these cookies that isn’t generously filled with chocolate chips. They are thin and small enough that you could easily have two or three and not feel (too) guilty about it. Breads Bakery’s cookies are always available and are the hidden gem of the New York cookie scene, perfect for those who want a sweet snack but don’t want to deal with grueling wait times and potential shortages.
Breads Bakery now has three locations: its Union Square café, a small kiosk in Bryant Park that specializes in to-go foods, and a bakery next to Lincoln Center, and the yummy cookies are for sale at them all, every day from early in the morning to late at night.
It’s undeniable that Jacques Torres, the renowned chocolatier and host of Netflix’s “Nailed It!,” conquered the world of chocolate long ago, but his talents, it appears, have now successfully extended to chocolate-adorned baked goods, as well.
With the creation of his ultimate chocolate chip cookies, Torres has brought his chocolate skills to a whole new medium. The cookies are colossal, to say the least, spanning about seven inches in diameter, and they boast a soft center and crunchy edges. The giant cookies are made with the House Blend 60% dark chocolate baking discs and are sold in both the classic variety and with a chocolate-coated bottom. “It’s a lot of chocolate with a little cookie dough around it,” Torres says.
The cookies are sold in packs of six, 12 or 24 and are available at all six Jacques Torres locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as online at the Jacques Torres website and on Amazon.
Since its debut in 2008, Milk Bar has drawn a cult-like following for its layer cakes, Cereal Milk soft serve, and famous pie, but it’s perhaps best known for its yummy and inventive cookies. Flavors include cornflake-marshmallow-chocolate-chip, confetti, compost (a mix of graham cracker, pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, and butterscotch, not actual compost), and the newly added caramel grapefruit snaps. All these and more are available at each of the nine Milk Bar locations across New York and online.
Known for its indulgent hot chocolate, this Flatiron bakery has been proudly serving up sweets and savories since 1990, and in that time, its cookies have made a particularly memorable mark on the city. City Bakery’s cookies are available in chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, white chocolate chip, and peanut butter, satisfying even the most discerning of customers, and can be purchased daily at the 18th Street spot.