Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies

3.7
(16)

A sweet treat fit for a president.

Yield:
24 large cookies

Former First Lady Laura Bush is credited with putting these delicious oat-, coconut-, and pecan-stuffed chocolate chip cookies, now known as Cowboy Cookies, on the map. And the story behind her famous Cowboy Cookie recipe is almost as good as the cookies themselves. Almost.

Starting in 1992, Family Circle magazine orchestrated a political bake-off during every presidential election year. It was already commonplace for presidential candidates to release family recipes during their campaign—it helps to humanize the candidates and let voters get to know them more. But Family Circle decided to up the ante by publishing cookie recipes from the wives of each candidate and asking readers to try baking both and then vote on their favorite. The bake-off results have interestingly almost always predicted the winner of the presidential election, save a couple outliers.

In the first First Lady bake-off in 1992, Hillary Clinton's chocolate chip cookies beat out Barbara Bush's still-delicious chocolate chip recipe. In 1996, Hillary's chocolate chip recipe won over Elizabeth Dole's Pecan Roll cookies.

In 2000, Laura Bush debuted her Texas Governor's House Cowboy Cookies, and as expected, they beat out Tipper Gore's ginger snap recipe. Laura switched up her recipe during her husband's second presidential campaign in 2004 to a similar oatmeal chocolate chunk recipe, but it's her first Cowboy Cookie that has become so famous.

As with most things in Texas, Bush's Cowboy Cookies are enormous and wholly stuffed with so many mix-ins: oats, coconut, pecans, and of course, chocolate chips. They're sure to win over any crowd.

cowboy cookies on an orange platter with glasses of milk around
Photographer: Jen Causey, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle,Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

Why Are Cowboy Cookies Called That?

With a few fun origin stories, no one knows where the name cowboy cookie comes from. Some believe that it was initially a sweet treat enjoyed by frontiersmen of the Old West. Others claim the cookie was created in Texas, the cowboy capital. Whatever the case, this fully-loaded dessert is a winner.

What's in a Cowboy Cookie?

A cowboy cookie is basically a souped-up oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips, roasted pecans, and sweetened flake coconut. Former First Lady Laura Bush's recipe included one tablespoon of cinnamon, a unique addition and not typically included.

Some Southern Living recipe reviewers suggest scaling back the cinnamon to just one teaspoon. Try it the original way yourself, then adjust in future batches.

Are Ranger Cookies the Same as Cowboy Cookies?

More Western slang names for sweet treats—ranger cookies are similar to cowboy cookies, but ranger cookies swap Rice Krispie cereal for the pecans

Cookie Troubleshooting

Why are my cookies flat?

Flat cookies are often caused by some part of the baking process getting too hot. Baking sheets that are being swapped out of the oven and not allowed to cool in between batches can turn cookies into pancakes, as well as dough that gets too warm in summer kitchens or ovens that are just set too high.

Why are cookies over- or underbaked?

This recipe calls for ¼ of a cup of dough per cookie—that makes one giant cookie. Before removing them from the oven, look for cookies with a golden-brown exterior and edges that look set. The cookies will bake on the tray after you pull them out, so a little wiggle in the middle is fine. Allow them to rest on the tray for several minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

Can you freeze cowboy cookies?

Leftover cookie dough can be frozen for up to three months. Roll cookie dough into a log and seal in an airtight zip-top bag. Alternatively, scoop cookie dough into balls on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour. Transfer the frozen balls into a zip-top bag or container.

Editorial Contribution by Alexandra Emanuelli.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups light-brown sugar, packed

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

  • 2 cups sweetened flake coconut

  • 2 cups chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.

  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl.

  3. In 8-quart bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 minute. Gradually beat in sugars to combine, 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in vanilla.

  4. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.

  5. For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.

  6. Bake in 350°F oven 17 to 20 minutes, until edges are lightly browned; rotate sheets halfway through. Remove cookies to rack to cool.

    light brown cookies on an orange platter
    Photographer: Jen Causey, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle,Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

Tips

Recipe update June 2022: This recipe yields 24 large cookies—the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of dough per cookie. Some might even call these cowboy cookies giant. The measurements for baking powder and baking soda (1 tablespoon of each) are correct in ratio to the amount of flour.

Updated by
Alexandra Emanuelli
Alexandra Emanuelli

Alexandra Emanuelli is a professional food editor and writer with nine years of experience. She has been published in HuffPost, Clean Eating, AllRecipes, and other publications.

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