Cowboy Cookies

We make cowboy cookies whenever we feel like channeling my Grandma, need a super flexible and forgiving recipe, or just don’t feel like flipping back and forth to a recipe. With 30-odd years of experience, I’ve got this one memorized.

Today, we targeted sequencing, since this is a familiar recipe. Belle knows that first we start with the butter and sugar, then the eggs, then the flour, and I test her knowledge with “what comes first? Butter or flour?” At 2.5ish, she can handle 2 steps comfortably, but 3 steps are a bit of a stretch. She also doesn’t have the ability to tune out her favorite task (cracking eggs), so I avoid using that as an option when working on sequencing.

Belle is solid on “scoop then pour” as a process, but we are adding in her pairing the language with the action, and a third part to the sequence: scoop, pour, check. “Check” is to see if we’ve hit our measurement line yet – “more or stop?” Belle mostly says “more!” without actually checking and I’ve been putting my hand on hers or moving the measuring cup to force her to slow down and look. While the first few “more!” statements are correct, we need to build that pause for checking into every scoop.

Oats are good for sensory purposes – we smelled, touched, and tasted raw oats to develop Belle’s familiarity with ingredients. “Oh, they smell oaty, they are a little dusty, they stick to your hands. Are the oats big or little? Do they taste dry?”

As we work through the recipe, we label each ingredient and I try to have Belle tell me which container has the flour, the salt, the vanilla, etc. We do this in a three-part sequence:

“Can you show me where the flour is?”

“Bow-a” (/f/ turns into /b/ and /r/ is usually deleted)

“Yep, that’s the flour.”

This positive approach models the correct pronunciation but doesn’t distract from our main goal: sequencing.

Skills worked on:

  • following directions
  • sequencing
  • kitchen safety
  • asking for help
  • fine motor (scooping, pouring, tipping)
  • counting
  • labeling
  • food prep!


  • mixing bowl
  • stand or hand mixer
  • one large spoon for mixing, two small spoons for dropping cookies
  • small bowl for cracking eggs
  • 2 cookie sheets
This batch made with butter and chocolate chips!

Recipe (30 min prep, 30 min bake, yield 4 dozen cookies):

  • 2 sticks (1 c) margarine (or butter)
  • 1 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c raisins, craisins, or chocolate chips
  1. Grease two cookie sheets and preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream 2 sticks margarine, 1 c packed brown sugar and 1 c sugar.
  3. Add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla; mix well.
  4. Combine 2 c flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2/ tsp baking soda. Add to wet ingredients and mix well.
  5. If using hand mixer, switch to spoon as dough becomes too heavy. Mix in 1 3/4 c old-fashioned oats.
  6. Mix in your choice of chocolate chips and/or dried fruit (raisins, craisins, etc.), totaling a scant 1 c.
  7. Using two spoons, drop roughly 1″ diameter balls of dough onto greased cookie sheets, spacing 2″+ apart. Cookies will spread more using margarine than butter.
  8. Bake 15 min. Cookies will be firm and chewy using butter, crispy using margarine.