Can’t decide whether to bake chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies? How about both? These chewy, nutty oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are a staple in many households. The recipe makes enough to last for a whole week (even with mini cookie monsters in the family). And they’re chock full of tummy-filling ingredients, which means one or two cookies last a long time.
Chocolate chip… or chewy oatmeal cookies? Yes, please.
Welcome to “cowboy cookies.”
These chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are sturdy, substantial cookies that taste great and travel well. They’re bursting with rolled oats, chocolate chips, and toasted pecans, giving them an irresistible buttery-chewy-crunchy-sweet burst of flavor and texture in every bite.
(Short on time? For even simpler chocolate oatmeal cookies, try these classic fudgy oatmeal cookie bars.)
So why are they called cowboy cookies?
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It’s said that nutty oatmeal cookies originated in the Old West, and cowboys took them on their extended travels (cattle drives?) because they lasted so well. In fact, according to Civil War Talk, these chunky, robust cookies were considered to be the first “power bars.”
This old-fashioned “breakfast” cookie recipe is packed with nutritious rolled oats, toasted pecans, and chocolate chips held together by the barest hint of dough. They’ll satisfy any sweet tooth, and they keep well in an airtight container.
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A filling snack, perfect with a glass of cold milk
Sure, they’re also a little high in calories, fat, and sugar; I can’t deny it. BUT, compared to many other cookies with dubious health properties, THESE cookies are a more wholesome choice. Let me explain…
- Pecans have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by up to 10%, according to WebMD.
- Oatmeal is an excellent source of fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and weight management.
- Chocolate provides antioxidants that can help prevent strokes, heart disease, or cancer from developing due to oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
These made-from-scratch cookies taste better than the store-bought kind that contain ingredients nobody but a scientist can pronounce. AND they’re cheaper because one recipe yields dozens of cookies. And it only takes one (or two) to satisfy a craving.
So there. Now you can have your cookie and eat it too.
Butter, salted or unsalted (I prefer salted)
Some cowboy cookie recipes call for shortening because shortening is pure fat and contributes to moist cookies. However, aside from the fact that shortening is exceptionally unhealthy, it’s also bland. Butter, on the other hand, gives cookies that “gotta have one more” flavor. And in the case of this cookie recipe, the butter is melted, which creates a chewier cookie. So you have the flavor of butter and the moist chewiness of shortening-based cookies. Win-win.
White and brown sugars are called for in this recipe. Both sweeten the dough, but brown sugar adds extra moisture, which creates a chewier cookie. Light brown sugar is recommended.
Vanilla enhances baked goods, no doubt about it. It’s doubly delicious in sweets that contain chocolate. They’re a perfect couple. Always use the real deal, never artificial.
Use large or extra-large whole eggs in this recipe. No need to beat them first.
Use rolled oats in baked goods calling for oatmeal. I use quick rolled oats in my cookies, but the 5-minute oats are fine too. They’ll just yield a slightly chewier texture. NEVER use instant oats or steel-cut oats.
You can also use chopped chocolate bars in equal amounts. Use semi-sweet, not milk chocolate. Milk chocolate chips melt differently and would make the cookies too sweet.
This recipe calls for pecans, but you can substitute walnuts. And if you want to go the extravagant extra mile, try them with cashews. WOW. Just make sure you always toast the nuts first before chopping to get the most flavor out of them.
Simple steps to delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
1. Melt the butter. Wait, what?? That’s right, the reason these cookies are so moist is that they start with the unusual step of melting the butter first. Standard recipes beat the butter to a creamy state, incorporating air into the cookie and creating a cakier texture, but melting the butter creates a flatter, more dense, and chewier cookie.
I melt butter in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. Heat the butter 10 seconds at a time until almost melted, and then give it a final stir to finish the process.
2. Beat the melted butter with both sugars until creamy. This takes a few minutes, but it ensures proper mixing of the butter with the sugars.
3. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter mixture at once, stirring until a soft dough forms.
4. Stir in the oatmeal, chocolate chips, and toasted pecans.
5. Place tablespoonsful of dough 2 inches apart on a lightly greased (or parchment-covered) baking sheet.
6. Bake as directed until edges are light brown. They might not appear entirely done, but remove them from the oven anyway. They’ll continue cooking on the cooling rack.
7. Cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack. Leaving the cookies on the baking sheets allows them to finish the cooking process.
Cookie-baking FAQs (and answers!)
Why do I need to toast the nuts? Won’t raw nuts taste ok?
Toasting the nuts adds flavor to baked treats, and they also add a delightful crunch. There’s no comparison between toasted and raw nuts, but luckily, toasting them is super easy.
When you turn on your oven to preheat it, simply place a handful or two of raw nuts on a small baking sheet and place in the cold oven. Remove from oven after six minutes (be careful, nuts burn quickly!) and set aside to cool. By the time you need them, they’ll be cool enough to chop.
My cookies stick to greased baking sheets. Is there another way to prevent them from sticking?
Yes! Sometimes cookies still manage to stick to their baking sheet, even if it’s been greased. And with buttery cookies, which already have a high-fat content, you might not want the added oil from a greased cookie sheet.
The best way to prevent this is to bake them on sheets of parchment paper. Cut a piece of parchment paper the length of the baking sheet, wad it up, then straighten it out.
This eliminates the curling that usually occurs with parchment. And this paper can be reused as often as necessary for the entire batch. You’ll get perfect results every time. (And you won’t have to wash the baking sheet, either. Bonus!)
How can I keep my cookies soft?
Cookies should be stored in airtight containers, but even then, they can start to dry out. Here’s a great trick for keeping cookies moist. When cookies begin to dry out, place a single slice of bread in the container and close the lid. The cookies will absorb the small amount of moisture from the bread and turn soft again within a few hours. Discard the bread, which will be hard and dry. (This trick also works with brown sugar.)
How can I keep the cookies all the same size?
The easiest way to portion the dough in precise amounts is to use a scoop. These scoops are available in various sizes. They’re excellent for portioning everything from meatballs and mashed potatoes to muffins and cupcakes. (Plus ice cream, too, of course!)
Get the kiddos involved in making these nutty oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
This simple and easy recipe is a great way to get your children involved in cooking, as they will love scooping the cookie dough with the tiny ice cream scoop. These cookies are fun to make and delicious, and they’re even a little bit healthy.
Let me know what you think of these yummy cowboy cookies by leaving a comment below! And if you love this recipe, please let me a rating!
More easy dessert recipes…
Nutty Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (aka “Cowboy Cookies”)
- Hand mixer
- parchment paper
- cookie scoop
- flat baking sheet
- 1 C butter
- 1 C granulated sugar
- 1 C brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 large or extra-large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 C quick-cooking rolled oats
- 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips (2 Cups)
- 3/4 C chopped, toasted pecans May substitute walnuts or cashews
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- If toasting nuts, place them on a baking pan in cold oven.
- Remove nuts from oven after 6 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Beat melted butter and both sugars in a large bowl on medium high speed until creamy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one. Add vanilla, beat until smooth.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl.
- Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and stir until a soft dough forms.
- Stir in oats, chocolate chips and pecans.
- Drop tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto greased (or parchment-covered) baking sheets. (A scoop makes this easier.)
- Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.
- Remove from oven but leave cookies on baking sheet for two minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack. The heat will finish cooking the cookies.
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
- The cookie dough can be made ahead and frozen for up to three months. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store in a food storage container. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.
- Baked cookies can be frozen. Thaw, covered, at room temperature.