Ranger Cookies are an old-fashioned oatmeal cookie made with plenty of cornflakes and walnuts for added crunch and flavor. They have chewy middles, crisp edges, and are one of my childhood favorites!
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My mom used to make these ranger cookies as an after-school treat for my siblings and me when we were growing up and they were always my favorite. I loved them even more than chocolate chip cookies, which is saying something.
They are a shockingly humble cookie where cornflakes, walnuts, old-fashioned oats, and brown sugar take center stage. There isn't even any cinnamon in there as a distraction trying to compete with those wholesome, homey flavors.
What are Ranger Cookies?
At it's core, a ranger cookie is an oatmeal cookie with some additional mix-ins, similar to my monster cookies or toffee oatmeal cookies. But while the recipe might seem pared down, don't let that fool you. The flavor of this combination of humble mix-ins is addictive and delicious.
I tried to find out where ranger cookies came from and while there are vague stories involving Texas rangers the and name Texas Ranger Cookies or Lone Ranger Cookies, nothing seemed very concrete. And there are dozens of versions of this recipe floating around using other cereal like rice krispies and adding more mix-ins like cinnamon, chocolate chips, coconut, or dried cranberries. Many people confuse them with cowboy cookies, which are similar but different enough that they need their own separate recipe.
But this simple ranger cookies recipe is unquestionably my favorite version of all the ones I've tried.
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Regular all-purpose flour
- Light brown sugar - Dark brown sugar will also work for a deeper flavor with more molasses notes.
- Cornflakes - Good old Kellogg's cornflakes come in clutch and add a ton of texture and buttery flavor once they are baked into these cookies.
- Old-fashioned oats - We prefer making these with the chewier, larger flakes of old-fashioned oats, but quick oats will also work.
- Walnuts - I don't ever bother chopping my walnuts for these cookies. Just throw them in whole so you get big chunks of walnuts and craggy, lumpy tops once the cookies are baked.
- Shortening or butter
- Baking powder & baking soda
- Vanilla extract
You will also need a mixer and a couple of cookie sheets.
People love to hate on Crisco but the original ranger cookie recipe my mom followed used only shortening. I have since made them with half butter/half shortening (pictured below), as well as with all butter. The recipe works regardless of which you approach you use without any other adaptations, although the all-shortening version from my childhood is still my favorite and does have a slightly different taste and texture that is superior, in my opinion.
How to Make Ranger Cookies
The method for these easy drop cookies is pretty standard and simple.
Start by creaming shortening (and/or butter) with the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Then add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat again until creamy. Stop to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl so everything mixes together evenly.
Add the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt - and mix again just until combined. It's okay if some streaks of flour still remain.
Add the corn flakes, oats, and walnuts and stir just until they are evenly dispersed. The cornflakes and walnuts will break down a bit from the mixer but that's totally okay.
Use a medium cookie scoop to place balls of cookie dough on a baking sheet. I like to line mine with parchment paper for easier clean up.
Bake for 9-11 minutes at 375°F degrees until the cookies are golden brown and no longer shiny looking in the centers, but don't overbake. Cool for a couple minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack.
Tips for Success
- Don't overmix. Once you start adding the flour you can just pulse until things combine. You don't want to beat the heck out of your cookie dough at this point or your cookies will end up tough instead of tender.
- Don't overbake. For cookies that stay chewy, you want to underbake slightly. Watch for the edges and tops of the cookies to just start to brown, then pull them from the oven. They will continue to set up on the baking sheet for a few minutes anyway.
Although I think these are the best ranger cookies as is, if you want to play around with other popular mix-ins, these are some great choices.
- Cornflakes are traditional, but Rice Krispies are another popular option. You could even use Chex cereal or another crunchy cereal variety with flakes like Honey Bunches of Oats.
- Add some spice in the form of a teaspoon of cinnamon or ½ teaspoon of nutmeg.
- Throw in some chips like butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips, or good old chocolate chips if you like. Even M&M's would work.
- Dried cranberries, raisins, or even chopped dates would add a delicious bit of chewy sweetness to the cookies.
- Pecans are another good choice in place of walnuts in this easy ranger cookie recipe.
- If you want to add 1 cup of shredded, sweetened coconut to the recipe it will give extra chew and sweetness.
Store the cooled ranger cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Any longer than that and they start tasting a little stale.
Freezing: These cookies freeze great! Just throw them in a freezer-safe ziploc bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature or warm them in the microwave for a few seconds for a cookie that tastes almost as fresh as if it had just come out of the oven!
Can I freeze the dough?
Yes, if you want to freeze balls of cookie dough I recommend scooping the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freezing them for 1-2 hours until firm before transferring them to an airtight container for longer-term storage in the freezer. When you are ready to bake you don't even need to thaw the dough first. Just bake the balls of cookie dough for an extra 2 minutes longer.
More Cookie Recipes
- Frosted Swig Sugar Cookies
- Easy White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Homemade Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
- 1 ⅓ cup shortening*
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (282g)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
- 2 cups cornflakes
- 1 cup walnuts
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Beat shortening and brown sugar in a large bowl until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract, then mix again, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix just until combined.
- Stir in the cornflakes, oats, and walnuts.
- Use a medium cookie scoop to drop balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them a couple inches apart so they have room to spread. Bake for 9-11 minutes until just golden brown around the edges and on top.
- *Substitutions: An equal amount of salted butter or ⅓ cup of butter and ⅓ cup of shortening can be used. The taste will be slightly different and the cookies might spread a bit more with butter, but the cookies will still be great. Rice Krispies can be used instead of cornflakes. Pecans can be used instead of walnuts.
- Storage: Store the cooled ranger cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Any longer than that and they start tasting a little stale.
- Freezing: These cookies freeze great! Just throw them in a freezer-safe ziploc bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature or warm them in the microwave for a few seconds for a cookie that tastes almost as fresh as if it had just come out of the oven!
- Additional mix-ins: 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or ½ teaspoon of nutmeg, 1 cup butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips, chocolate chips or M&M's, dried cranberries, raisins, or even chopped dates.