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Gooey Cowboy Cookie Bars

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Well, howdy.

Cowboy cookies — made famous by first lady Laura Bush — make a chewy, caramel-y cookie loaded with nuts, coconut, oats, and chocolate. But this recipe for cowboy cookie bars is even better

cowboy cookie bars recipe

Meet These Gooey, Caramel-y Cowboy Cookie Blondies

You’ll love these dense, sweet, buttery cowboy blondies: stuffed with goodness and better than the original cookie made famous by Laura Bush. These cowboy bars taste seriously good.

Cowboy cookies are a new classic cookie, made famous by Laura Bush in a cookie contest. But cowboy cookies get an upgrade as a blondie: cowboy cookie bars. It combines all the best elements of cowboy cookies — oats, brown sugar, chocolate, pecans, and butter — into an even better dessert.

These cowboy cookie blondies taste chewy, buttery, and absolutely delicious. This is one of my favorite desserts, and now yours, too.

cowboy cookie blondies ingredients pecans coconut oats chocolate chips brown sugar

Did Laura Bush Invent Cowboy Cookies?

Cowboy cookies are essentially a chocolate chip cookie with lots of bonuses. Think of regular chocolate chip cookie dough (flour, brown sugar, sugar, vanilla, egg, chocolate chips, pinch of salt), then load it with pecans, coconut flakes, and cinnamon.

Cowboy cookies became well known in 2000 during the Bush-Gore presidential campaign season. Family Circle magazine used to have a presidential election cookie bake-off, in which the wives of the candidates published their best cookie recipe and readers voted for their favorite. Laura Bush’s Texas Governor’s House Cowboy Cookies beat Tipper Gore’s gingersnaps.

Putting controversial or outmoded gender assumptions aside, the three-decade contest successfully predicted the presidential race outcomes every time except for the 2008 election, when Michelle Obama’s shortbread cookie recipe lost to Cindy McCain’s butterscotch oatmeal cookies.

The cookie contest — renamed the Presidential Cookie Poll by Family Circle when Bill Clinton was the first male candidate spouse — is now defunct. Family Circle shuttered in December 2019.

pan of raw cowboy cookie bars before baking

Why Are They Called Cowboy Cookies?

The short answer is, no one knows why it is that cowboy cookies are called cowboy cookies. I like to think they are so-called because they are a hearty cookie chockfull of goodness that would keep a cowboy happy and satisfied during long hours on the range.

Cowboy cookies became famous during George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, so perhaps his Texas roots have further cemented the cowboy name. Here’s the original cowboy cookie recipe.

A Legend Is Born: This Gooey Cowboy Cookie Bars Recipe

Recipe development can be hard, especially with baked goods. This recipe for cowboy cookie bars took me about five tries to get right. But it was worth the effort.

Great blondies should have three qualities: 1) dense but not heavy; 2) loaded with chips and add-ins; and 3) like brownies, a good crust on top. Some baking science comes into play here. Playing around with sugar, fats, flour, baking powder, and even the amount of stirring can effect the final product.

I officially love these cowboy cookie bars better than cowboy cookies. Unlike cowboy cookies’ sometimes dry texture, these have all the same flavor, but in a rich, cake-y form, with an extra pinch of salt to better complement the brown sugar and chocolate.

What’s in These Easy Cowboy Cookie Bars?

Everything good! To make these cowboy bar cookies, mix all the ingredients together, smooth in a brownie pan, and bake.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (optional)

Cowboy Cookie Blondies: Recipe Notes

  • This recipe calls for an 8″ x 8″ square brownie pan to give them a little height, but a 9″ x 9″ pan would work fine too. You may have to adjust the baking time down slightly by a few minutes.
  • When are these cowboy blondies done? When a cake tester in the center comes out clean, the color turns a rich caramel, and a crust forms on top.
  • Cool in the pan, then cut as you would brownies, and serve.

cowboy blondies cookie bars stacked on plate

How to Cut Brownies and Blondies Like a Pro

Cutting squares while the cowboy blondies or brownies are still in the pan is fine, but it’s hard to do without mauling at least one piece as you run a knife down the length of the pan and awkwardly angle a spatula to dig out that first square.

Better Practice to slice brownies or blondies in a pan:

  • Grease and line the baking pan with parchment as in the photo. I like to do a strip of parchment that covers the bottom and two sides.
  • Let the brownies or blondies cool in the pan. Run an offset spatula around the rim to loosen any stuck-on bits, then lift the blondies from the pan and place the whole thing on a cutting board.
  • Score markings in the top of the blondies where you want to cut. Use a long serrated blade to go straight down through the entire blondie, gently sawing as you press down. A general rule is to always use a serrated knife when you cut into anything with hard pieces in it, like chocolate chips or nuts.
  • Wipe the blade clean between each cut.

cowboy cookie blondies recipe

Love this cowboy cookie bars recipe? You’ll also enjoy:

cowboy cookie blondies in pan

Gooey Cowboy Cookie Bars

Say howdy to a great new cowboy blondie, a dense and fudgy caramel cowboy cookie bar recipe loaded with goodness. Based on Laura Bush's award-winning recipe for Cowboy Cookies. (But better.)
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Course: Baked Goods, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keywords:: baking, blondie, blondies, chocolate chips, coconut, easy, pecans
Servings: 1 8" x 8" pan of blondies
Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line with parchment an 8" x 8" brownie pan.
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, rolled oats, and baking powder.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.
    PRO TIP: Though recipes usually include salt and spices with dry ingredients, I always add them to liquid so the flavors can "bloom."
  • Pour the liquids into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until mostly combined. Add the chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut flakes. Stir until fully mixed.
  • Spread the brownie batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt.
  • Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the color is a golden caramel, the top sets and looks dry, and a tester comes out clean. Cool the cowboy bars completely before cutting and serving.

26 comments

  • Could coconut oil be used to substitute for the butter?

  • I have never made these before. I will definitely make them again and again and again!!! I am not s huge sweets fan but, these are amazing, tasty and addictive. Oops!

    • Unpeeled

      Wonderful! So glad you enjoyed them. I love blondies, and these have all the right “stuff” in them 🙂

  • Pam Watkins

    My husband does not like coconut. Can it be omitted?

  • Denise Smith

    Are rolled oats the same as old fashioned oats? Please let me know.

    • Unpeeled

      Great question and yes. They are the same thing. Just avoid quick oats, which are too fine. Hope you enjoy!

  • 5 stars
    THE best blondies I’ve made. Seriously. Everyone should make this recipe. xoxoxox

  • Lisa do you have a Blondie -type – recipe that includes seedless raspberry jam?

    Thanks!
    Lisa

  • 5 stars
    Good morning Lisa!
    So my boyfriend & his cowboy buddies have decided I’m a rockstar thanks to your Cowboy Blondies!!!

    They are “real” cowboys, and are in S.A.R., Mounted Posse Patrol here in Cali., so it was only “right” to “arm” them w/ these I very delicious treats!

    This is the first time I’ve ever bake blondies that did one out too dry. This was a very easy-to-follow recipe & very satisfying !
    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes- I’m truly enjoying cooking &baking again after a long absence from the kitchen (both professionally & at home).
    Thank you

  • Vicki L.

    5 stars
    Love, love, love these! Definitely will make them again. A crowd fave!

  • 5 stars
    These are by far the best blondes I’ve ever made!!! I’m sure to be making them again and again. Thanks for the great recipe..

    • Unpeeled

      Yea!!! So glad you love them. They’re one of my favorite recipes on the whole website. Thanks for the great feedback!

  • Is it okay to substitute unsweetened for sweetened coconut flakes? Do I need to adjust amount of sugars?

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Carrie! I have made them both ways. No need to adjust the amount of sugar in the blondie batter; just choose whichever coconut you prefer. Great question.

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