This cowboy cookies recipe is such a keeper that I’ve updated this post for Chocolate Chip Cookie Day.
Cowboy cookies are the clear winner of any bake-off at our house. In fact, these cookies do an impressive disappearing act. They’re here one second and gone the next! You’ll have to lasso your cookie the moment a batch comes out of the oven, or you’ll be out of luck till the next batch. They really are that good.
Cowboy cookies are basically oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with some hearty extras: namely, pecans and coconut flakes. These moist yet crispy treats will fill you up on Chocolate Chip Cookie Day or any other day.
I might as well call these cookies Friendship Cookies! The kindest lady in Texas and I became quite good friends from her and her son loving this cowboy cookie recipe. She should know a good cowboy cookie when she eats one, being from Texas and all. She let me know that she freezes an extra batch when she makes them. Her son eats the batter straight from the freezer before she can even make the cookies! I know, we’re not supposed to eat raw batter, but it’s hard not to snitch a taste with this recipe!
If these cowboy cookies weren’t so filling, I could probably eat them all day. Interestingly enough, that stick-to-your-ribs quality is how the cookie got its name.
Where did Cowboy Cookies come from?
Cowboy cookies have a rich history that dates back to the pioneering days of the American West. These cookies were a legendary staple in the diet of cowboys, who needed a portable and nourishing snack to sustain them during long days on the trail. The origins of cowboy cookies are somewhat mysterious, but many believe they were a variation of the traditional oatmeal cookie, with the addition of nuts for extra flavor and energy.
In other words, think pioneer-style granola bars. You’ll also hear them referred to as “ranger cookies.”
Since the chocolate chip cookie wasn’t actually invented until the 1930, the 1880s version of these cookies was probably different from the cowboy cookies of today. Pioneers didn’t have semi-sweet chocolate chips on hand. However, odds are that pioneer cookie dough had plenty of hearty rolled oats.
What makes these cookies so filling?
Whatever the true story is, this sweet treat definitely will stick to your ribs. The oatmeal and nuts add chewiness, fiber, and nutrition to a classic chocolate chip cookie. While “oatmeal pecan chocolate chip cookie” is certainly a mouthful, it’s also almost a meal in itself. (Yes, the calories are up there, too, but who wants to worry about that when eating cookies?)
You’ll want to savor these treats instead of binge on them. One or two cowboy cookies go a long way! That said, if you have a houseful of kids like ours, they will go fast.
Ingredients for the Ultimate Cowboy Cookie
The ultimate cowboy cookie is an irresistible roundup of flavors and textures. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to lasso together:
Rolled oats: Quick-cooking oats provide a hearty and chewy base for the cookies, giving them a satisfying texture that stands up to the other ingredients.
All-purpose flour: This is the main dry ingredient that helps bind everything together and gives the cookies structure.
Butter: You know it: real butter adds richness and flavor to any cookie. Unsalted butter is best because it allows you to control the saltiness of the cookies.
Brown sugar: This adds a hint of caramel flavor. The moisture from the brown sugar also contributes to the chewiness of the cookies.
Granulated sugar: The white sugar helps to create a slight crispness on the edges of the cookies.
Eggs: These act as a binding agent and add moisture to the cookies.
Vanilla extract: Real vanilla extract enhances the flavor of cowboy cookies and adds a subtle sweetness.
Baking soda and baking powder: The leavening agents help the cookies to rise and give them a soft and tender texture. The baking soda also helps the cookies brown.
Salt: A small amount of Kosher salt balances out the sweetness and enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.
Semi-sweet chocolate chips: Chocolate chips are a classic addition to cowboy cookies, providing bursts of chocolatey goodness in every bite.
Chopped nuts: Pecans or walnuts are commonly used in cowboy cookies, adding a satisfying crunch and nutty flavor as well as protein. This cowboy cookies recipe uses chopped pecans.
Coconut flakes: Like First Lady Laura Bush’s cowboy cookie recipe, my recipe uses chewy, sweet coconut flakes.
Possible substitutions: No doubt those pioneers on the range had to be flexible, using what they had on hand. Depending on your flavor preferences, you could try this cowboy cookie recipe with white chocolate chips or dried fruit like raisins or dried cranberries. Add a handful of your favorite trail mix to the dough for extra flavor and texture. You could even sprinkle on a little ground cinnamon.
Making Perfectly Moist, Chewy Cowboy Cookies
I use both white and brown sugar in this recipe. The brown sugar helps the cookie retain its moisture as it bakes, while the white sugar helps it remain crispy on the outside.
Ever wonder why cookies sometimes spread out too much on a baking sheet? Too much butter and sugar will cause them to spread. This cowboy cookies recipe has just the right proportion of each, ensuring a perfectly puffed, moist, and flavorful cookie.
To keep your cowboy cookies fresh and chewy, store them in an airtight container at room temperature. If you live in a humid climate, you may want to add a slice of bread to the container to help retain moisture.
Cowboy cookies freeze exceptionally well. Simply place them in an airtight container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw them at room temperature before enjoying.
I will say, I’ve never had anyone pass on these cookies. They steal the show once they’re placed on the table, whether we’re at a swimming party or waiting on Christmas dessert! They also make a great holiday gift. Package them in a mason jar, tie a ribbon around the lid, and attach a handwritten recipe card for an extra special touch.
More Cookie Recipes
Prefer your chocolate chip cookies thinner and crispier? Try out my Crispy Thin Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe!
You also can’t go wrong with this simple, kid-friendly Sugar Cookies from Scratch recipe.
Cowboy Cookies Recipe
- 1 cup melted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt Kosher salt is best
- 2 cups quick cooking oats
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup sweetened coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars. Add the eggs one at the time and the vanilla until well incorporated. You can use a stand mixer or mix by hand.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Add the oats, chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut and stir until distributed throughout the dough.
- Scoop out rounded tablespoons of dough and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven for about 9 to 11 minutes, or until the cookies are golden on the edges. The middle may look a little moist. Allow the cookies to cool for about 2 minutes and remove to a cooling rack.
- To freeze: After cookies have cooled completely, place them on a sheet pan in the freezer. When cookies are frozen, place in a freezer-proof zip-top bag. When the cookies are ready to be eaten, place them in the oven at 275 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until warm.