Battle of the Bakeries: Levain vs. Crumbl


Jaclyn Morgan

Crumbl Cookies in Rockville, MD, one of their 100 locations. We tried cookies from both Crumbl and their local competitor, Levain Bakery in Georgetown.

By Eli Putnam and Jaclyn Morgan

The greater Whitman area has recently welcomed two well-known — and quite delicious — cookie shops. Levain Bakery of New York City fame opened its Georgetown location on September 16, while an up-and-coming, yet bigger chain, Crumbl Cookies, opened in Rockville on October 1.

Both shops primarily bake and sell cookies, and are two of the highest selling cookie stores in the United States. While Levain has only opened six stores since their establishment in 1995, each one sees hundreds of tourists and locals come through their doors every day. Crumbl, while slightly lesser known, has opened over 100 stores in 17 states in the three years since their founding in Logan, Utah.

With Levain and Crumbl adding locations close to the Whitman community, we had to try out these cookie competitors to see which one was worth the trip.

The Cookies:

Both bakeries have distinct styles. Famous for their massive, gooey cookies, Levain offers a small menu of five classic flavors. What the menu lacks in variety, it makes up in quality. Their signature cookie, Chocolate Chip Walnut, remains a fan favorite due to its soft texture and chocolate explosion; naturally, we tried this flavor first.

Levain’s most popular cookie, the Chocolate Chip Walnut cookie, split in two. (Eli Putnam)

The cookie is more ball-shaped than a traditional cookie, but the unique build helps create a soft interior. For any fan of nuts in cookies, this is a great choice. The walnuts add a nice texture to the soft dough, but they may not be for everyone — the cookie feels a bit busy. Regardless of your nut preference, it tastes significantly better when served warm.

If you’re not a fan of nuts, Levain provides other options, including the Two Chip Chocolate Chip Cookie. This flavor substitutes the walnuts with dark chocolate chips, resulting in a creation which made us wonder if there is such a thing as too much chocolate — and, of course, there’s not.

A Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookie from Levian. (Eli Putnam)

The third and final cookie we tried from Levain was the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip, which tasted like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup reincarnated in cookie form. The inside is dense but soft, and has a texture similar to fudge when served cold.

At Crumbl, the cookies and the menu are both vastly different. Instead of the round, ball-like cookies at Levain, Crumbl offers wider, flatter and more traditional-looking baked goods. However, the flavors they offer are far from basic. The standard chocolate-chip and sugar cookies are always available, but each week, a new set of four unique flavors rolls out, which can range anywhere from German chocolate cake to peppermint bark. Another interesting fact is that Crumbl adds a frosting garnish to almost every cookie they make, adding to the bakery’s novelty, and further distinguishing their style from Levain.

The first flavor we tried at Crumbl was milk chocolate chip. It has a soft and sweet dough, and its milk chocolate chips are a sugary surprise compared to the semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips from Levain. However, there aren’t many chocolate chips in the treat, causing the cookie to taste more doughey than chocolatey.

(From bottom to top) Crumbl’s Milk Chocolate Chip, German Chocolate Cake, Snickerdoodle and Chilled Sugar cookies. (Jaclyn Morgan)

Next came the Snickerdoodle cookie, which was a let down. Though the cinnamon sugar cover looked delicious, the toppings were overbearing and the cookie itself was aggressively dry. Don’t indulge without a full glass of milk or water.

To make up for the average chocolate chip and lackluster snickerdoodle cookies, Crumbl served two heavy hitters: Chilled Sugar and German Chocolate Cake. The Chilled Sugar cookie is meant to be served cold which makes for a quality bite. With a sweet base and strong almond-flavored pink frosting, it tastes like an elevated version of the Lofthouse sugar cookies.

And lastly, the German Chocolate Cake cookie was our favorite from Crumbl. As the name implies, this was a massive creation nearing the size of a slice of cake. Using a standard chocolate cookie as the base, its power comes from the massive dollop of coconut frosting and a chocolate drizzle on top. Though it was very rich, it surprisingly wasn’t too sweet, and it made for a wonderful treat to end the day.

The Best of the Best:

All things considered, determining a winner was no easy task. At the end of the day, the best bakery is a matter of personal preference. Both bakeries have similar sizing, pricing, and are about 20 minutes from Whitman.

So, when deciding which sweet destination, keep in mind a few key differences.

If you are looking for the best of classic, timeless flavors like chocolate chip or peanut butter chocolate, then Levain is the best bet. They’ve spent 25 years perfecting the basics of cookie making, and each bite of their cookies makes that more obvious.

However, if you are more adventurous and have a bit more of a sweet tooth, we’d recommend Crumbl. Each week, there’s the opportunity to try any of four new cookie flavors, so you’ll never get bored.

While both bakeries are distinctly different, no matter which one you choose, you’ll be in for a treat.