Gluten Free Cowboy Cookies

November 6, 2020
At a Glance


There’s no chilling required to make these big, beautiful, nubby brown chocolate chip gluten free cowboy cookies. Whatever their origin story, these are universally beloved!

Prep / Cook Time

10 minutes / 12 minutes


 5/5 (23 votes)
Gluten Free Cowboy Cookies

Gluten free cowboy cookies are chewy and hearty, with just the right amount of chocolate chips in a big, generous cookie packed with oats and coconut chips.

Cowboy cookies arranged overlapping on white cake plate

The cowboy cookies origin story

I’m no cowboy, and frankly I was always kind of neutral about Laura Bush, but these are some seriously good cookies. I don’t think she “invented” cowboy cookies.  Clearly, Tipper Gore didn’t stand a chance with her gingersnap cookies.

I love snappy, spicy gingersnaps, but if I’m entering a contest I’m not showing up with that. Even just visually, a cookie with mix-ins beats a straight-up cutout cookie with no frosting, no nothing, any day of the week. 

Let’s ignore that, as recently as election year 2000, Family Circle Magazine held a cookie bake-off between the presidential candidates’ wives, Tipper Gore and Laura Bush. That certain wifely stereotype, like that’s all that they’re good for, has thankfully been upended (right?).

I’m just in it for the cookies anyway. My gluten free cowboy cookies are chewy and hearty (oats!), with just the right amount of chocolate chips in a big, generous gluten free chocolate chip cookie.

Raw cowboy cookies on white paper on tray

A nubby, hearty cookie

My version of gluten free cowboy cookies, seen in these photos and the how-to video, don’t spread much, if at all, during baking. I cut back on the butter called for in the original recipe (or at least Laura Bush’s version of it).

I wanted a thick cookie that was crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. So shape them before baking in the manner in which you’d like them to turn out after baking.

This is not the type of cookie you’re going to eat when it’s gooey, as it has a crisp outside when it cools.  After baking and before they’re cool, the cookies will be fragile. After they’re mostly cool, their crisp and nubby texture outside makes them very stable.

Closeup image of baked cowboy cookies on baking tray

What the raw cookie dough is like

This cookie dough doesn’t happen to be especially sticky, even though the cookies are chewy inside. Often, the chewiest cookies begin with the stickiest cookie dough.

These cookies are made in one bowl, using what’s called the “reverse cream” method, where the wet ingredients are mixed into the dry. This way we don’t add much air to the cookie dough, which preserves the hearty, chewy flavor.

There’s enough butter and eggs to moisten all of the dry ingredients, but you may find that some of the most dry ingredients seem to resist combining. Just keep pressing the underside of the bowl of the spoon or spatula you are using for mixing into the wet ingredients so they absorb the flour.

Mix the dough with a spoon for as long as you can before switching to using clean, dry hands to knead the dough together. If you touch the dough with your hands too soon, too many wet ingredients will stick to your fingers.

I don’t recommend using a handheld mixer, since beaters will aerate the dough too much. But you can use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and make quick work of making the dough. 

Stack of cowboy cookies with one on its side

Ingredients and substitutions


In place of the butter in this recipe, I recommend trying Melt or Miyoko’s Kitchen brand vegan butter. I don’t recommend Earth Balance buttery sticks, as they contain too much moisture and your cookies will spread too much and potentially burn before they’re nicely browned. 

If you’re dairy-free, be careful about your chocolate chips. There are plenty of gluten free varieties of semi sweet chocolate chips. You could use any other sort of chip you like for a different flavor profile.


There are two eggs in this recipe. Try replacing each of them with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel).


Purity protocol gluten free oats are, indeed, safely gluten free. If you can’t find those sort of oats, or you simply won’t eat them, you can try using beaten rice in their place (for more detail on oat substitutions in baking <—click over).

Coconut chips

If you think you don’t care for coconut, you might not be familiar with the good type of coconut (just an idea). are you thinking of the bagged, shredded sweetened coconut?

If you’ve never tried the wide, flat coconut flakes that are sometimes called coconut chips, I submit that you’re selling coconut short. If you want to replace it here, though, maybe try an equal amount, by weight, of chopped nuts.

The coconut chips are adding flavor and texture, but not really entering into the chemical reaction in any meaningful way. So experiment away!


Cowboy cookies baked on white paper on tray

Cowboy Cookies closeup image and in a stack with one cookie on its sideOverhead view of a cowboy cookie on a wooden surfaceOverhead view of multiple cowboy cookies on brown surface

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 20 cookies


1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

1 cup (218 g) packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups (150 g) certified gluten free old fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups (120 g) coconut chips (See Recipe Note)

10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar and mix to combine, working out any lumps in the brown sugar. Add the oats and coconut chips and mix to combine. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, eggs, and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. Press the back of your mixing spoon into the dough to moisten all of the dry ingredients and create a cohesive dough. Add the chocolate chips, and mix until they’re evenly distributed throughout the dough. If necessary to bring the dough together, knead it with your hands. Divide the dough into 20 pieces, each about 2 ounces. Roll each into a ball and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten each ball into disk about 1/4-inch thick.

  • Place the baking sheets in the center of the preheated oven, one at a time, and bake until lightly golden brown all over (about 12 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes or until firm before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Adapted from Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies, as reprinted in The Washington Post. Originally published on the blog in 2014. Recipe unchanged; photos, video, and most text new.


Comments are closed.

  • Carmalee
    December 20, 2020 at 8:54 PM

    These are awesome, loved them. thanks so much for this GF recipe

  • Marilyn Lodge
    November 23, 2020 at 10:41 PM

    I’m quite interested in your gluten-free recipes as I have a granddaughterr who needs gluten-free and I like to make special treats for her.
    How can I get cook book? I’d especially like the recipe for G-F Oatmeal Cookies.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 24, 2020 at 8:03 AM

      Hi, Marilyn, you may actually find everything you need (including that recipe for gluten free oatmeal cookies) here on the blog. Just use the search function. If you’d like to buy a cookbook, I recommend the second edition of my first book, which you can see here.

  • Pam
    November 14, 2020 at 8:35 PM

    I don’t know what I did wrong. Maybe my eggs were too large. My dough was really moist & sticky. I did weigh my ingredients. My first try in the oven spread like pancakes. I increased the temperature to 350oF & they still spread out covering the whole cookie sheet. So the next thing I tried was not flatten them & that helped. They taste great but what can I do differently to stop this. We live in a high altitude city.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 15, 2020 at 8:25 AM

      First, it sounds like you do need to make high altitude adjustments, but I’m not able to give any advice on that since I can’t replicate that situation. Beyond that, here is my typical list of questions to ask yourself:
      Did you measure by weight, not volume (volume is simply not accurate)?
      Did you use one of my recommended flour blends? My recipes will not work with a poor quality blend.
      Did you make ingredient substitutions?
      Did you bake at the proper temperature? Most ovens aren’t properly calibrated, so you really need a simple analog standalone oven thermometer.

  • Hali
    November 11, 2020 at 8:54 PM

    2oz each made these massive cookies!! I cut them
    down to 1.5 oz , yes I weighed each one, makes it easier to count the carbs for my diabetic son. Thanks for this yummy recipe!

  • Liz
    November 9, 2020 at 8:17 AM

    i am a great fan of your gf recipes but I am trying to cut down or even out in sugar, on medical advice. Do you hve any suggestions for sugar substitutes in your recipes?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 9, 2020 at 8:43 AM

      I’m afraid there really isn’t a universal way to replace actual sugar, although there are many that try. Sometimes, you can use Lankato brand monkfruit sweeteners, but they do change the chemistry and always require additional modifications. There is no one rule, I’m afraid!

  • Asia
    November 8, 2020 at 5:25 PM

    Really nice, I allready take them out from oven, smells great, and taste … give me sec… fabulous:)
    Thank You

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 9, 2020 at 8:42 AM

      I love the tick-tock results, Asia! So glad you’re enjoying them.

  • Terri Leftwich
    November 8, 2020 at 10:32 AM

    Thank you Nicole for all you do in the gluten free world! Your recipes are all I use and I’ve not made anything that hasn’t turned out perfect. These cookies are no exception. They are so crispy around the edges and chewy in the middle, which is the perfect combination ever! 10 out of 10!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 8, 2020 at 10:50 AM

      Love the 10 out of 10, Terri! These cookies are something special, indeed. So glad you love them, too.

  • Bevvy
    November 8, 2020 at 10:09 AM

    This was a Good and easy cookie. I’m Allergic to coconut. So, I used walnuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. I’m thinking about making a cream cookie.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 8, 2020 at 10:14 AM

      Sounds good, Bevvy! Walnuts are a good choice since they’re a tender nut. Pecans are also good!

  • Jackie Hannahs
    November 6, 2020 at 12:08 PM

    I wonder if you could add regular coconut instead of the coconut chips (which I’ve never seen).

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 6, 2020 at 2:44 PM

      What do you mean by “regular coconut,” Jackie? Do you mean shredded coconut? I guess you could try, but the chips are sold nearly everywhere. My local Trader Joe’s even sells them. They’re just wide flat pieces of dried coconut.

  • Latia D
    September 3, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    Nicole, these turned out to be fabulous! A big hit with my teenaged boys and their friends; grown-ups, too! I doubled the recipe and we’re already out. Must. make. more. Thanks for all you do!

  • Mare Masterson
    August 27, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Danger Will Robinson! Warning! Warning! Danger! I can tell you right now that I would eat all of these and that is NOT a good thing for me and my blood sugar! Nicole, have you tried freezing them? That would be my only saving grace – out of sight – one once in a blue moon. Otherwise, these will have to stay away from my house!

  • August 27, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    These look perfect! I can’t wait to try them. I’ve been looking for a crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle gluten free chocolate chip cookie for ages!

  • Jennifer S.
    August 27, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Yum. I love this! I have to tell you though I made the oatmeal NY cookies and my husband was like – what is up with the size of that cookie???? we all had a good laugh because they are huge. These look regular sized right? not that I care what size my cookies are – they are all good.

  • Elspeth
    August 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    I grew up with cowboy cookies, as did my mother, citing her mother as the baker of the delicious treats. I don’t know where my grandmother got the recipe, but Laura Bush could not have invented them as she is only one year older than my mom. But they’re my favorite cookie and I’m happy to have a GF recipe now, thanks!!!

    • August 27, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      Good to know, Elspeth! P.S. Extra points for knowing how old Laura Bush is! ;)

  • Lucy
    August 27, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    I have made cowboy cookies many times before going GF and they also had cocoa in the recipe.
    I haven’t converted the recipe yet, these were always my favorite cookie. The recipe came out of a tupperware cookie cookbook “Chocolate Lovers Cookies”, my girls are not chocolate fans but they do surprise me and want chocolate on the occasion.
    I will definitely make these, school is to commence here on Sept. 2, if the teachers strike is over which they seem to be holding out for all they can get, at the students expense.
    Nicole, your chocolate graham crackers were a hit at the campfire, to my surprise since it was chocolate over kill!
    We are going camping again in 3 weeks, do you have any suggestions for a campfire treat?
    Love ya!

  • Michelle
    August 27, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    Chocolate, coconut and oatmeal? Oh, yum! What a great combo! I may even toss in a few chopped pecans, too. What a wonderful treat! Thanks!

    • Michelle
      August 27, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      Made them this afternoon, and they are fab.u.lous. My husband doesn’t usually like coconut, and he really likes them too. It will be nice to have these in the freezer. Thank you!

      • August 28, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        That’s awesome, Michelle! Thanks so much for reporting back. :)

  • Linda
    August 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Any hints on where to find coconut chips? I’m thinking my first stop will be Amazon, but I wanted to make these tomorrow!

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