You may or may not have heard of cowboy cookies before, but they are delicious! Cowboy cookies are traditionally from Texas, made with oats, pecans, brown butter, toasted coconut, and chocolate chips. However, I do declare that my Dad makes the very best cowboy cookies. He leaves the shredded coconut out, and instead adds flax meal and raisins for extra nutrition. These healthy cowboy cookies are soft yet crunchy, chewy yet crumbly, and packed to the brim with flavor.
This cowboy cookie recipe goes easy on the sweetness. Sometimes cowboy cookies just add way too much sugar. But the raisins add a natural sweetness, alongside the brown sugar and chocolate chips. Oats and nuts add more texture to each cookie, and ground flax seeds add fiber.
These cookies are perfect for taking on a road trip, hike or camping. They stay fresh for several days when stored in an airtight container. And all the add-ins bulk up each cookie with potassium, fiber, healthy fats and protein. Well, and sugar too, of course. 😝 If you’re looking for more snacks that keep well on long trips, try homemade trail mix, peanut cashew energy bites which can be made with just about any type of nuts, or crispy apple chips.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
- These healthy cowboy cookies are the ultimate cookie, packed with raisins, nuts, oats, chocolate chips and flax meal.
- The high fiber content makes these cookies super filling!
- Make a batch to take on a trip or to a party!
- These are great “kitchen sink” style cookies, so if you have leftover ingredients from other recipes like dried fruit, seeds, coconut or little candies, mix them in!
- All-purpose flour – You can substitute half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour for even heartier cookies, per my Dad’s recommendation.
- Baking powder and Baking soda – Allow the cookies to rise in the oven while baking.
- Salt – Salt is a key ingredient to balance all the sweet flavors in cookies.
- Cinnamon – Ground cinnamon adds a hint of warm spice.
- Unsalted butter – Soften your butter to room temperature either by leaving it on the counter for about an hour, or warming it in the microwave on 10 second bursts.
- Granulated sugar – Sometimes my Dad leaves the granulated sugar out completely in his cowboy cookies recipe, toning down the sweetness a bit.
- Brown sugar – More brown sugar is used than white sugar in these cookies, to bring forth a rich, caramel flavor.
- Eggs – Eggs add structure and the golden brown color to cowboy cookies, along with helping them rise in the oven.
- Vanilla extract – Vanilla intensifies all the other flavors in cookies.
- Milk chocolate chips – You can substitute dark chocolate, white chocolate, or even peanut butter chips.
- Nuts – Traditional cowboy cookies use pecans, but you can add any type of nuts you like. My Dad often uses chopped walnuts.
- Rolled oats – Don’t use quick-cooking oats; it’ll create a more mealy texture.
- Raisins – Add potassium, fiber and natural sweetness.
- Ground flax seeds – Also called flax seed meal. My Dad usually adds equal amounts of wheat germ and flax meal to his healthy cowboy cookies, but both are optional.
How to Make Healthy Cowboy Cookies
Mix the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Mix the wet ingredients: In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the soft butter with the granulated sugar and brown sugar with a stand mixer, electric hand whisk, or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease. Continue beating until it is well combined.
Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the butter and beat until well combined.
Mix the dry and wet ingredients together: Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until there is no visible dry flour.
Add the rest of the ingredients: Fold in the chocolate chips, chopped nuts, rolled oats, raisins and ground flax seeds.
Shape and chill the dough: Scoop and roll the cookie dough into ¼-cup dough balls. Place them on the baking sheet spread out at least 2 inches apart. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Bake the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
Bake for 14 – 16 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Let cool for at least 5 minutes, then enjoy!
Importance of Chilling Cookie Dough
I used to wonder, is it really that important to chill cookie dough before baking? So I conducted a little experiment. I chilled balls of cookie dough for different times in both the fridge and freezer to compare the results on the baked cookies. I used an ice cream scoop to scoop balls of dough onto a baking sheet, to ensure they were all the same size and shape. Here are the results!
- The best amount of chill time for these healthy cowboy cookies is 1 hour in the fridge. This allows the oats and raisins to soak up moisture in the cookie dough so they aren’t too hard when you bite into your baked cookie. It also allows the dough sufficient time to cool to it doesn’t spread too much in the oven. This results in a thick, chewy cookie that isn’t flat or overbaked.
- The cookie that wasn’t chilled at all spread more and because of that, it was a little overbaked at the 15 minute mark. If you don’t have time to chill your dough, reduce the baking time by a few minutes.
- The cookie that was chilled in the freezer for an hour came out of the oven still a bit raw on top. It spread the least while baking and therefore didn’t quite have enough time and surface area to cook all the way through. If you freeze your cookie dough to bake at a later date, increase the baking temperature by a few minutes.
- The cookies that were chilled for 30 minutes in the fridge and 30 minutes in the freezer turned out pretty similar to the cookies that were chilled for a full hour in the fridge.
- Overall, chill time does have an effect on how your cookies spread and bake in the oven. If you’re short on time, stick with a minimum of 30 minutes in the fridge or freezer.
Where did cowboy cookies originate from?
Most sources say cowboy cookies are from Texas. The old myth says they were able to withstand long horse rides in a cowboy’s saddle bag.
Why are my cowboy cookies flat?
Your cookies may come out of the oven flat because you didn’t chill the dough or because your oven is too hot. Be sure to chill your dough at least 30 minutes in the fridge and heat your oven to 350°F.
What is the secret to chewy cookies?
Brown sugar contains more moisture than white sugar, so more brown sugar in your cookies will make them chewier. A longer chill time (an hour or more in the fridge) also gives the flour in cookie dough time to absorb moisture, resulting in chewy cookies.
What is the best butter to make cookies with?
Unsalted butter is the best because it allows you to control the amount of salt added into your recipe. If you use salted butter or sweet cream butter, salt has already been added by the manufacturer. And no one wants a salty cookie!
Healthy Cowboy Cookies
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped nuts (your choice: almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
- 1 cup raisins
- 1½ cups rolled oats
- ¼ cup ground flax seeds (also called flax meal)
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the soft butter with the granulated sugar and brown sugar with a stand mixer, electric hand whisk, or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease. Continue beating until it is well combined.
- Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the butter and beat until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until there is no visible dry flour.
- Fold in the chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, rolled oats and ground flax seeds.
- Scoop and roll the cookie dough into ¼-cup dough balls. Place them on the baking sheet spread out at least 2 inches apart. Chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge or just 30 minutes in the freezer.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
- Bake for 14 – 16 minutes, until golden around the edges. Let cool for at least 5 minutes, then enjoy!