Cowboy Breakfast


For those of you looking for new holiday traditions, consider having Thanksgiving breakfast on the North 40.

Ever since my kids were little, on Thanksgiving morning I?ve gotten up early — well not that early — and prepared our annual “Cowboy Breakfast.” What is a Cowboy Breakfast, you ask? First of all, it is a breakfast that cowboys would eat: scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, fried onions, fried green peppers, fried apple slices, and toast — preferably not whole wheat or some other healthy abomination. The whole thing is gloriously cholesterol-laden, and rich in saturated fat.

A cowboy breakfast has two basic rules: first, manners are forbidden. I started this rule because I was always working on manners with the kids the other 364 days of the year and figured they needed one day a year off.? (?I?ll tell you why it matters how you hold your knife.? When you?re grown up, you might just be invited to the President?s house for dinner.? If you don?t know how to hold your knife you?ll look like a bumpkin.? Do you want to look like a bumpkin in front of the President?)

So the Cowboy Breakfast no manners rule means you can talk with your mouth full, slurp, eat with your fingers, put your elbows on the table, burp, and lick your plate if you want to.? All these are encouraged.? You don’t have to say “please” and “thank you.” You can say, ?Gimme them eggs.?? Everybody can talk at once. You can wipe your mouth on the back of your arm.

The second rule is you must talk in a cowboy voice and utter cowboy-like sayings, for example, (in Texas accent) “Jonny, after we?re done chowin? down here, I want you to get up to the north 40 and fix that fence.? We got dogies (not doggies) runnin? all over tarnation.? Man, these eggs is mighty good if I do say so m’self.? Consarn it!? I just dripped grease all over my new chaps.? Hey woman, kin I git you to clean ?em after yer done fixin? that leak in the barn and skinnin? that buffalo I shot this mornin??? I?d preciatate it a heap.?

This Thanksgiving we?ll do our Cowboy breakfast for probably the 20th year in a row.?? We?ve had cousins and other families join us, and it?s one of our favorite traditions.? The kids don?t do the cowboy voices much these days, but they still want to do the breakfast.

So around 7:30 or 8 Thanksgiving morning, you?ll find me in our kitchen slicing potatoes and firing up several frying pans full of oil.? And I?ll still be talkin? like a cowboy, consarn it, even if nobody else wants to.? Now where?s that woman got to?? I need my socks darned.

photo by anyjazz65


  • Courtney says:

    Oh, that sounds ridiculously fun! Our kids would love it.
    The only problem I can see is that after eating all that fried everything for breakfast nobody would be hungry when it came time for turkey and all the trimmings.

  • Hi Courtney,

    We usually eat our Turkey later in the afternoon, so by that time we’re all hungry again…plus we have mostly boys, so they were always hungry about 30 minutes later.

  • Tim says:


    Is a Cowboy Breakfast remotely possible without “coffee, black”. What in tarnation would you drink?

    Just wondering,

    PS – Don’t cowboys wolf down heaps of scrapple, too?

  • Steve S says:

    Sounds great, Mark. I especially appreciate the proper way to hold you knife part. I think we’ll give this a try, unless it’ll delay our Thanksgiving dinner preparation.

  • fredokie says:

    Hey pardner,
    It ain’t a real cowboy breakfast unless ya got them biscuits and sausage gravy on the side. Cholesterol….ain’t no such thing. Just good vittles!

  • Hey Tim,

    Oh yeah, steamin strong coffee. I should make the kids drink that too. Scrapple…..hmmmm I might have to add that to the menu.


    Go for it!


    I know for a fact that you don’t believe in cholesterol…sausage gravy – I guess I need to learn to make that.

  • Megan Liz says:

    Ha ha… we should try something like that. If that ain’t the cutest idea I ever did see… :D

  • Sarah Altrogge says:

    Can’t wait to experience my first Altrogge Cowboy Breakfast this year, Mark! I’ll have to start practicing my cowboy talk.

  • Megan,

    You really should try it!


    You’d better start practicing your bad manners too!

  • How else would you drink your coffee…is there another way besides black? ;)

  • Briana says:

    Did I read about this in Stephen’s book about you? I know I’ve heard of it before. I love it. I think my kids would appreciate a Dunkin Donuts run instead and maybe we’ll mix in the no manners rule, too; although, that’s most days at our house still as my kiddos are 4 and under.

  • Yeller,

    I guess according to fredokie, there’s no other way but black. I use a bit of sweetener, which I justify by the fact that I put a little salt on steak.
    To coffee purists, this argument doesn’t hold water.

    Hi Briana,

    I think Stephen did mention this. Yeah, 4 and under is pretty much Cowboy Breakfast every day.

  • Aimee says:

    Hey, I live in Texas, and I don’t even remember the last time I heard somebody say “I?d preciatate it a heap.” The way to say it is, “Preciate it!” (pronounced “pree-SHADE-it”), and if necessary followed by, “Y’all holler if ya need somethin’!” (Carefully note the placing of the apostrophe in “y’all”.)

    To learn real Texas talk, read this book:

    BTW, thank you so much for this blog, it has really helped and encouraged me so many times. God Bless y’all! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

  • Hey Aimee,

    Thanks for the help on pronunciation – Preciate it! And thanks for y’all’s encouragement!

  • beth says:

    can’t wait!
    …can cowboys have soy milk in their coffee?

  • Hey beth,

    Cowgirls can!

  • beth says:

    sweet, then count me in!

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