Cowboy Cookies

Back in the election year of 2000, Family Circle magazine had a cookie bake-off between Tipper Gore and Laura Bush. While I’m sure Tipper’s gingersnaps were admirable, Laura’s big Texas cowboy cookies ran away with the prize. And for a good reason, these cookies are good! Packed with oatmeal, pecans, coconut, and chocolate chips, these cookies aren’t shy. They’re big, hearty, now-that’s-a-cookie kind of cookie. Mrs. Bush’s original recipe is huge, it can easily make 6 dozen cookies. So I’ve made some slight adjustments to cut the recipe in half, which still makes plenty. Feel free to double it back to the original proportions.

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Cowboy Cookies Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies.

The bigger the cookie, the more chewy it can be. So if you like chewy cookies, make them big.  If you want a chewy cookie, cook them until the edges are browned, but not the whole cookie. If you cook the cookie until it is all nicely browned, it will be more crisp.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (6 ounces, 12 Tbsp), at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 large eggs*, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (we used shredded)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

*This recipe is a half recipe of the original, which calls for 3 eggs. To get half of 3 eggs, you can either just use only one egg, or beat two eggs and remove about 2 Tbsp.

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower third. Line two large baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.

2 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3 Place butter in a standing electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Slowly add in the white sugar and brown sugar, and beat to combine, about 2 more minutes.  Add half the eggs, beat, and then add the other half and beat again. Add the vanilla extract and beat again.

4 Lower the speed of the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture, until just combined. Add the chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and pecans, mixing until just combined.

5 If you want large cookies, drop about 1/4 cup lumps of the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, separated by 3 inches to allow for enough room for the cookies to spread as they cook. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, then rotate the cookie sheets front to back and top to bottom, and bake for an additional 7 to 9 minutes. For smaller cookies, use about 2 Tbsp of the cookie dough per cookie and cook for 13 to 16 minutes, rotating half way.

Note that if you are using a dark baking sheet, it will absorb more heat, and you won't need as much baking time. Also, the top rack will bake more quickly because heat rises. 

6 Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes.  Then remove the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

You'll likely need to work in batches, depending on the size of your oven and your baking sheets.

 

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Links:

Cowboy cookies from Brown Eyed Baker
Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies as reported in the Washington Post

42 Comments

  1. Jeanette

    I have been making this recipe since I found it. I usually make the whole recipe as the cookies freeze very well.

    It is one of my favorite recipes and is also good with raisins subbed for the chocolate chips.

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    These sound lovely! Such a pretty, simple, cookie :)

  3. Candy C.

    I like the cinnamon and coconut in this recipe! :)
    I make a chocolate Cowboy Cookie to sell at the Farmer’s Market that has oats, raisins and walnuts. It is my biggest seller!

  4. meg

    These are some of my absolute favorite cookies! Sometimes I like to add pretzels or corn flakes to the batter. Yum.

  5. Devora

    Cowboy cookies — yes!! My grandmother had a very similar recipe (minus the chocolate chips) that was always a family favorite, but I didn’t realize it was so well known, and had never seen the recipe printed anywhere besides the family cookbook. This is very exciting, and I look forward to making a batch WITH chocolate chips soon.

  6. mantha

    The cookies freeze well, and so does the dough in batch-sized portions.
    This is the oatmeal cookie base I use for everything, just changing up the “mix-ins” for special effect. Good with almonds, orange zest, golden raisins and pumpkin pie spice mix, for example — or with some finely ground coffee and cocoa powder blended into the flour, and a drift of cardamom. Tried them once for Valentine’s Day with dried raisin cherries and almonds, with a thumb-dent holding a dab of marzipan in the middle. Always the vanilla, no matter what else gets in there.
    I’ll take an oatmeal cookie over plain tollhouse style any day.

  7. David

    Did anyone else think this was very reminiscent of the “Neiman Marcus cookie recipe”? That’s always been my absolute favorite cookie, urban legend or not! :)

  8. Elise

    Hi Louisa,
    I’m guessing yes, they would work. Just not with instant oats.

  9. Jerry (@cbsop)

    We have our own recipe for cowboy cookies (We’re Texans, we have to. It’s in the state charter or something.), but these look good, too!

    I just want to ad that they are equally good made with walnuts. (you do live next to some of the best walnut producers in the country, after all.)

    I’ve not heard of cinnamon in cowboy cookies before. I wonder if that’s Mrs. Bush’s own addition?

  10. Jackie

    I’m sorry Elise, but I don’t see how these can be any better than your own Awesome Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. I admit I haven’t tried this Cowboy Cookie recipe, but I can’t imagine they even come close to yours. Those were some of the finest cookies I’ve ever tasted!

  11. Marnie

    My family has been making cowboy cookies for three generations! I never heard about Laura Bush doing it. I personally omit the coconut. Can’t stand it in sweet food. I also add raisins or craisins or other chopped up dried fruit. We just finished a batch with sugar covered sliced almonds from trader joes. Bought them by accident, but they were delicious!
    I’ve always used the quick oats b/c I thought regular wouldn’t work. I’ll try it next time with the regular.
    Love your website. You are the first person I go to to look up a recipe.
    buon appetito!

  12. Ruby

    What happened to Step #6? Recipe sounds fabulous, can’t wait to try it!

  13. Kerry

    Made these a while back using 1/2 chocolate chips and 1/2 butterscotch chips since that was what I had on hand. They were so good, I totally blew my diet.

  14. Kurt Jacobson

    Looks better than a snickers bar any day, and just as satisfying. I might have to give it a go.

  15. Barbara

    I like ginger snaps! Do you have the recipe for Tipper’s?

  16. Catherine

    I have made the Cowboy Cookies on the Homesick Texan website and they were very moreish, but they didn’t have coconut in them. Is that a traditional ingredient? Will give these a try!

  17. T. Hannibal

    You can make the entire full recipe divide the dough in half and put one half in the fridge for a couple of hours before baking and the other half in sealed plastic bags in your freezer. They will keep for a couple of months. I have made similar cookies with the eggs and leavening and they freeze and bake just fine.

  18. Beverly Oneill

    Love These Cookies They Are The Best , I Make Them A Couple Times A Month….

  19. frances

    The American taste is for sweet, sweeter sweetest.
    I made half the recipe and I substituted raisins for the chocolate and unsweetened coconut for the sweet stuff. I also used hazelnuts, as those where in my cupboard. They tasted absolutely lovely and sweet enough.
    I hate to think what they taste like if I would have used more sweetness. Writing from Europe….

  20. Anu

    just made these…halved coconut and pecan amts…put all the ingredients in a bowl and mixed w wooden spoon…di-lic-ious

  21. Hannah

    Made these cookies for “cookie day” with my family…hands down these were the “hit of the day”! I increased the coconut by 1/2 cup, did half pecans and half walnuts…
    Don’t try and make them smaller than the 1/4 C size they don’t turn out as well.
    These cookies didn’t last 3 days in our house…there are only two of us (although half went home with my SIL)!
    Enjoy!!!!

  22. Lynne

    Mine came out a bit dry and over-baked. But they taste good. Next time I’ll reduce the baking time. I like a chewy cookie.

  23. Amber

    I remember when they ran these recipes! Fun blast from the past. I agree with your method of whisking the flour and spices together. I think it makes a lighter crumb–and way easier than sifting.

  24. Laura

    I made these vegan by subbing the butter with earth balance and using flax eggs to replace the chicken eggs. I also used coconut sugar in place of the other sugars. They were great!

  25. Max

    Hello Elise, I like this recipe, but I am allergic to oats. Is there anything I can replace them with, or can I just leave them out?
    Thank you! It’s tough for me to do recipes like this, because of my allergies!

    • Elise

      Oats are vital to this cookie recipe. I’m so sorry about your allergy Max! That’s a pain. You might try leaving them out, but then you would want to substitute with more flour. How much more I have no idea. It’s sort of like making an oatmeal cookie without the oatmeal.

    • Willow

      Max,

      I don’t know if you have any other grain allergies, but I bought some barley that was processed in such a way as to look almost identical to rolled oats. There are other grains processed like this — and even machines that flake grains at home. I bought mine in the bulk section of a natural foods store.

  26. Janet

    It seems like recipe has way too much baking powder, baking soda and salt. Much more than a typical cookie recipe. They rose up high and then collapsed to a thin cookie and taste fairly salty.

  27. Marcie @ Flavor the Moments

    Oats, coconut, chocolate, and pecans? That’s too many of my favorites all in one place, which means I’m going to have to rustle up a batch of these pronto! I’ve been baking so much for the holidays another few dozen won’t hurt, right?

  28. Sheila

    Oh my goodness my mom used to make a cookie very similar to this one, I don’t remember coconut in it, but oooh you are right they are so good. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Christina

    You had me at coconut, oatmeal and pecans. I made these as 2 tbsp size cookies and they totally kept their shape and are nice and crunchy — and still a pretty big cookie. Yummy! Next time I would use dark chocolate chips (I found the semi-sweet Guittard ones that I used to be too sweet).

  30. Kurt Jacobson

    Thanks for the recipe. I baked them today at the facility where I mentor a 12 year old boy. He pronounced them very good, and this is after previous baking sessions where we baked coconut drop cookies, chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. Just wanted you to know Cowboy Cookies get the stamp of approval from a 12 y.o. boy and his mentor.
    ps: the staff members he gifted some to loved them also.

  31. Jose ontiveros

    Hola Elise
    me an buelto loco estas ricas galletas vaqueras , que las estoy preparando cada semana al doble de la receta
    con una modificacion por la razon de que soy alergio al chocolate nadamas les pongola mitad de lo que indica la receta y de todos modos estan fabulosas

  32. Jose ontiveros

    Que bueno que estes contenta ,no se si fuera posipble que nos mandras algunas recetas de galletas similares telo agradesco muchisimo
    s.s.s jose ontiveros

  33. Dennis

    My cookies came out too flat. They were full when they came out of the oven, but shrank to about 1/4″ when cooled. How did you keep yours to full?

    • Elise

      Hi Dennis, it sounds like perhaps your baking powder was old. Baking powder is a combination of a dry acid and a dry base, which over time will react with each other even in a dry state, resulting in the baking powder losing its leavening power. If your baking powder is over 6 months old, it may not work any more.

  34. Faye

    Your Cowboy Cookies looks simple enough for me to create in my kitchen. I love your recipes.

  35. IdaMae

    Visited the Bush Library in Dallas recently and also lunched at Cafe 43, which has delicious food! These cookies were sold at the reception desk, in a package of three
    for $5 with recipe included. They were so scrumptious that I finally decided to bake them today, only realizing afterwards that this recipe appears online with one other ingredient (baking soda) not listed on the printed recipe. So, mine were baked without it and not sure what the difference in taste would be. It is a very large recipe so halved it using two eggs, half of everything else. Baked on parchment using a 2 tbsp. scoop, making 34 large cookies. In my oven 11 mins. worked best, rotating the sheets once, using only one sheet at a time. They are very good, but thinking they are just a tad dry. Perhaps sitting overnight will allow all flavors to meld and they’ll be great. Will bake again, adding the soda, but also reducing the amounts of oats, coconut, chocolate chips and nuts by a tad. Time will tell.
    Enjoy!

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