What Did Cowboys Eat?

The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Cowboys ate fresh beef, cured pork, beans, biscuits, corn bread, apples and apple-based recipes, potatoes and various greens. The cowboy diet needed to be cheap, portable, high-calorie and simple because of the many constraints of their rough lives.

Cowboy food used a limited number of ingredients, partly because imported foods were expensive and partly because they needed food that kept well on the cattle trail. Coffee was an essential part of breakfast, which was large and high in fats and protein. Lunch was commonly beans, and dinner generally included something sweet like vinegar pie or apple dumplings. Because a large percentage of cowboys were of Mexican origin, spices and flavorings of that cuisine were popular.

Cowboys loved “mountain oysters,” sliced and fried calf testicles. These were harvested in the spring when preadolescent bulls were castrated so they would be steers.