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  • Mary Kay

Cowboy Cookies for a big Posse or little Wranglers!

These cookies have been around for decades…at least in our extended family they have been around for 70 years or more. Mom used to make them and pack them into “care packages” for us when we grew up and moved out of the house. She always had extras on hand in case we happened to stop by, and of course, she’d send a box of her treats home with us. (Don't be alarmed. I've added peanut butter cups to my version of Cowboy Cookies in the pic. Mom would love the addition of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.)


As little kids, we’d be outside playing cowboys, robbing stagecoaches all afternoon, running in periodically to replenish ourselves with Cowboy Cookies and milk. But she always made us tie up our pretend horses outside the door before we stormed the kitchen.


Some even made it to Vietnam in the 1960’s during the war there. Mom would pack up cookies of all kinds, including the Cowboy Cookies and her Chocolate Chip specialty (they packed very nicely and didn’t break up in transit) on a regular basis to send to Randy. I’m sure the guys at my brother’s helicopter base appreciated the special treats from home.

Older relatives were not left out, either. Even as Mom aged, she was still baking for those who were even older than she ever was. She included special low-sugar cookies for those with diabetes and added more chocolate chips for those who were chocolate-aholics. She saved all the plastic food containers (Cool Whip, etc.) she could so that she had airtight containers to deliver them in. Then she didn’t have to worry about tracking down her beloved (and expensive) Tupperware containers later.

Mom shared this recipe with everybody since they were so popular. Pam, a close friend of my sister’s, still makes them quite often for her kids and grandchildren. In fact, I had to ask Pam for Mom’s recipe just to make sure I had the correct one. It's on the card in the pic in her very own beautiful cursive handwriting.

I always felt like I hit the jackpot when I stopped at Mom’s house after work and could smell fresh cookies from outside on the porch. Sure enough, she’d be in the kitchen baking, with cookies stacked up all over the dining room table, divvied up, ready to be boxed up and sent off to one of the kids, grandkids or other relatives and friends...with a lot of love.

What a wonderful testament to bringing people together through homemade cookies – Mom baking cookies and sharing them and her recipes with anyone who asked.


This recipe makes 5-6 dozen cookies, depending on how large you drop the dough:

If you’re not in the mood to make that many cookies, just cut the recipe in half.


Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.


Prepare your baking pans:

Line baking pans with parchment paper to help speed up the clean up process and to keep the cookies from sticking.


Gather up the Ingredients:

1 C Shortening, white

1 C Sugar

1 C Brown sugar

2 Eggs

2 t Vanilla extract

2 C Flour

½ t Baking powder

1 t Soda

1 T Cinnamon, ground, optional

½ t Salt

2 C Oats, quick or old fashioned

2 C Chocolate chips

1/2 C Coconut, flaked, optional

1/2 C Nuts, rough chopped, optional


Make and bake:

-With an electric stand mixer, cream the shortening and sugars until well combined.

-Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the side of the bowl after each egg.

-Stir in the vanilla extract.

-Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, (optional ground cinnamon) and salt. Start beating on low and slowly increase the speed until combined.

-Slowly beat in the oats, chocolate chips, (and optional coconut and nuts) just until combined and well distributed. Don’t overmix.

-Drop the cookie dough by tablespoons or use a medium cookie scoop onto the parchment paper lined pans.

-Bake at 350F degrees for 9-12 minutes. I usually check the cookies at the 8-minute mark in order to rotate my pans, turning them 180 degrees. I like them when they are just becoming golden brown on top.

-Optional bake: Use a quarter cup sized scoop or measuring cup to drop the cookie dough onto the pans. Since this a much larger size, bake them at 350F degrees for about 15 minutes. For this size, I check on them and rotate my pans at the 10-minute mark.

-Take the cookies out of the oven and allow them to stay on the pans for 5 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.


Get the kids involved with these decorating options:

-NOTE: Always use care around hot candy wafers and children.

-Top the baked and still warm cookies with a mini-Snickers candy bar, pressing lightly on it. The base of the candy bar will get just a little melty so it sticks well to the cookie.

-Melt some chocolate candy wafers in a deep, narrow bowl and dip about a third of each already cooled cookie. Lay the cookies onto a parchment paper lined pan. Sprinkle some fun candies on top while the chocolate is still wet. Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to cool.

-Drizzle some melted chocolate or white candy wafers over the cookies in lines or zig zags. Add sprinkles or colored sugars if you like.


Optional ingredients:

-Mom used to include other fun ingredients in her cookies, depending on what she had in the cupboard. She was never afraid to try new additions in her cookies. And, of course, we always gobbled them down. If you do add any of these, delete portions of the chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts so you don’t have so much “stuff” in the dough that the cookies don’t hold together. For instance, if you add a half cup of potato chips, then cut back a half cup of coconut.

-Pecans, rough chopped


-Butterscotch chips

-Peanut butter chips

-Potato chips, rough crushed

-Pretzels, broken up

-Crispy cereal

-Marshmallows, mini sized


Cowboy Cookies…I’m not sure where the name came from - I am sure there are a number of stories. One story I've heard is that they were the easy to carry along energy power bar of the Old West. They sure are delicious cookies, with many wonderful memories. However you want to remember these fun-filled cookies, make some friends with them and, “Bake your own Memories!”


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