We Tried Laura Bush’s Winning Cowboy Cookies

After writing about some of our most memorable First Ladies’ Favorite Foods, I noticed Laura Bush was by far the most popular FLOTUS. Her cowboy cookie was the top-viewed recipe in the whole collection. Why? I had to try her cookies myself to see what the big deal was all about.

Every election year since 1992, Family Circle magazine runs a Presidential Cookie Bake-Off. The two potential first ladies submit a cookie recipe, and the public votes on their favorite. In 2000, Laura Bush submitted her Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies; turns out, readers preferred them to Tipper Gore’s Ginger Snaps.

Out of all the cookies in the history of the contest, Mrs. Bush’s have circulated the most. When you google “Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies,” you’ll see that a ton of bloggers have tried her recipe and have dedicated entire blog posts to this cookie. I joined in on the fun, and this is how it went…

Whip up a batch for yourself with the nonstick baking sheet from Taste of Home’s new line of cookware and bakeware!

Laura Bush’s Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups sweetened flake coconut
  • 2 cups chopped pecans

Initial Thoughts

At first glance, I could tell this was going to be a hefty cookie. First of all, it calls for 3 STICKS of butter. THREE! Second of all, there’s a total of 10 cups of mix-ins—chocolate chips, oats, coconut flakes and pecans. Holy smokes! I better go work with a cowboy for a day before eating one of these big guys. Good thing I have a hungry husband who loves my baking.

The Dough

Ingredients for Cowboy Cookies

First things first, I got the butter out of the fridge so it had enough time to soften. This is a very important step, so don’t skip it! Here’s how to soften your butter quickly.

While the butter softened, I prepped all of my ingredients. In the cooking industry, this is called mise en place, and I highly recommend doing it. It’s more work upfront, but then it’s smooth sailing. I mixed the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Instead of using measuring cups, I measured by weight. This gives a more accurate measure of the ingredients. Here’s a handy conversion chart that I printed out and stuck on my fridge.

Once the butter was softened, I beat it for one minute. Then, I added the sugars, and beat for another two minutes. Next, I added the eggs, beating after each one, and then the vanilla. Once the wet ingredients were mixed, I gradually added the flour mixture. Finally, I mixed in the goodies—chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.

 The Bake

Cowboy Cookies dough on a cookie sheetTaste of Home

At this point, the upcoming task was a little daunting. There was a mound of dough in the bowl and each batch bakes for 17-20 minutes at 350º. That’s a lot longer than the standard 10-12 minutes! Plus, these are oversized cookies (1/4 cup of dough per cookie), so I could only baked 4 cookies on a pan.

The Outcome

Thank you, Mrs. Bush! I give these cookies a 10/10. I thought 10 cups was a lot of mix-ins, but it turned out to be the perfect amount. The cookies were humongous (because everything’s bigger in Texas, right?), and each bite had a little bit of everything. The crisp edges melted in your mouth, and the coconut and chocolate flavors paired well with the crunch of the pecans. As one of my co-workers who’s a self-proclaimed cookie critic said, “I have high standards for cookies, and I loved these!” The votes are in: Our staff loved Laura Bush’s Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies!

Turns out the love of food and cooking runs in the Bush family. Check out Barbara Bush’s favorite foods here.

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Emily Racette Parulski
Emily Racette Parulski is a Senior Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in email newsletters. When she’s not writing about food, she’s baking something sweet to feed her chocolate obsession.