“Thick, fudgy, and creamy no-bake cookies. A no-fail recipe!”

Watch me make these no-bake cookies from start to finish!


No-Bake Cookies 101

My mom was the king daddy of no-bake cookies.

Every year my elementary school had a bake sale and it was like every mother had the idea to make these peanut butter chocolate no-bake cookies. Probably because they are so quick and easy, I’m sure.

Every year we were the only table to sell out completely. People really looked forward to my mom’s no-bake cookies and from scanning the other identical cookies at the bake sale, I knew why!

The other no-bake cookies looked crumbly, dry, ashy, and crusty.

My mom’s no-bake cookies were smooth, thick, and creamy. Almost like eating the best peanut butter fudge loaded with oats. They tasted amazing at every stage:  barely set, all-the-way set, and even somehow managed to taste even better the next day.

So what made my mom’s no-bake cookies so incredible? Well, she had a secret ingredient and a few tips up her sleeve that I’m going to share with you today.

After this post, you too will be the King Daddy of no-bake cookies! Are you ready? Let’s talk about all things no-bake cookies!

easy no bake cookies

What are no-bake cookies?

First, if you’ve never had a no-bake cookie let me tell you all about these incredible, delicious cookies! There are plenty of no-bake cookie recipes but typically when you hear no-bake cookies it’s referring to the peanut butter chocolate oatmeal version. No eggs or flour is required in this cookie recipe! This is an old-fashioned recipe and was a very popular dessert when I was growing up.  No-bake cookies are a type of fudge cookie with peanut butter and oats. Once the batter is mixed up in a saucepan on the stovetop it’s quickly dropped on wax paper by the spoonful to set.  No oven baking is required.

You can even make this without the chocolate for super creamy peanut butter no-bake cookies!

peanut butter oatmeal no bake cookies recipe

Tip #1 The Secret Ingredient  for the BEST No-Bake Cookies

So right out the gate, let’s just start with the secret ingredient to getting the best ever no-bake cookies. And that my friend is cream of tartar. It’s not an ingredient that’s included in the old-fashioned no-bake cookie recipes but it adds a bit of forgiveness to your no-bake cookies that will set them apart.

What does cream of tartar do for no-bake cookies? Cream of tartar is a white powdery stabilizer made from tartaric acid.  You can find it in the baking aisle. A lot of fudge makers swear by this ingredient for creating the creamiest fudge that sets up beautifully.

Since no-bake cookies are pretty much just peanut butter fudge loaded with oats, it’s a huge winning ingredient! Cream of tartar not only helps prevent crystallization (which causes that crusty no-bake cookie) but will also help the cookies set up, resulting in a no-bake cookie with the PERFECT creamy texture.

best no bake cookies recipe

Tip #2 Always Melt The Sugar

If you want to get a ridiculously smooth and creamy no-bake cookie that tastes incredible days after then follow this tip. Before bringing the mixture to a boil, keep the heat on low, while stirring constantly, just until all of the sugar has dissolved. The cream of tartar will make this process quicker as it breaks down the sugar. I usually rub a bit of the mixture between my fingers to make sure I don’t feel any sugar granules before proceeding to the next step. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the pot with sugar granules tend to hide. The mixture should be super smooth.

no bake cookies recipe

 Tip #3 The No-Fail Timing Method

If you’ve glanced at other no-bake cookie recipes then you’ll see how important it is to boil the sugar mixture long enough which will help the cookies to set. Boiling too long will cause the cookies to be dry and crumbly.  However, if you don’t boil long enough the cookies will not set and will be runny. Some folks say bring the mixture to a rolling boil and then count to 60, while others swear by counting to 90. Then there’s the rule that says to stir it the whole time and the other rule that says don’t stir it.

I say “ain’t nobody got time for all that” lol.

This is the tried and true technique that I use and it takes all the guesswork out of wondering if I timed it out correctly or if the mixture is hot enough.

First, grab a candy thermometer ( I used a meat thermometer LOL) and get your timer cued up for 2 minutes. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil (meaning the middle of the mixture is bubbling up with large bubbles and not just simmering). Once this happens press start on the timer. Insert your thermometer into the liquid but don’t let it touch the bottom of the pan.

You want to get this mixture to 230-234 F.  before those two minutes are up. So increase or decrease the temperature accordingly.  DO NOT STIR.  If you get to 230 quicker than two minutes that’s fine to remove it from the heat. If after 2 minutes you still haven’t reached 230 then it’s ok to cook it a bit longer, but try to increase or decrease your heat so that it reaches between 230-234 close to the end of 2 minutes.  This method never fails me and my cookies ALWAYS set up so beautifully.

no bake cookies

Tip #4 That Last Splash of Milk

Once you are at the final step of mixing in the oats, stir in two more tablespoons of milk until the mixture is super creamy. Don’t ask why because I don’t know. It’s just something that works. Every.Single.Time.  Maybe mom just did it because she forgot to add it to the original milk, but I swear even when I do add this extra amount it still needs about two tablespoons at the end to get it super creamy. Who knows, just do it. It works.

The Ingredients

The BEST no-bake cookies start with your favorite ingredients. That doesn’t mean the most expensive ones, just what your taste buds like. I prefer to use the tried and true old-school brands here. It’s what my mom used.

Butter- Use unsalted butter. Although some people prefer no-baked cookies with margarine, my mom always used real butter. It lends the perfect creamy texture and delicious flavor.

Warm Milk- Whole milk works the best for the creamiest no-bake cookies. I’ve tried these with heavy cream, almond milk, and rice milk, but whole milk takes the prize. In a pinch, evaporated milk works ok.

Sugar- Pure granulated sugar is classic to the recipe. I’ve played around with adding brown sugar but always come back to just plain granulated sugar. It works!

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder– You can get fancy here and purchase the expensive stuff if you want. I always go with Hershey’s brand.

Cream of tartar- Don’t skip this ingredient. It’s like magic to your no-bake cookie. 

Peanut Butter- Use creamy peanut butter and whatever brand you could eat by the spoonful. Trust your tastebuds here. I always use creamy Skippy or GIF because that’s what I grew up eating and it’s what my mom used.

Oats- Use 1-minute quick-cooking oats for the best texture. Rolled old-fashioned oats are too thick and need time to cook. This will not make for a very enjoyable no-bake cookie.  I always use the Quacker brand. Other brands seem to be hit or miss when it comes to texture.

Vanilla extract- A bit of vanilla extract adds a nice level of flavor to the cookies so don’t skip it. You can use up to a teaspoon vanilla extract.

best no bake cookies

How to Make No-Bake Cookies

  1. Prep: Read over the entire recipe. Line 2 baking sheets with wax or parchment paper. Measure out all of your ingredients. Have your thermometer,  timer, and large cookie scoop ready. (This recipe is about timing and having everything ready to go helps)
  2. In a bowl, whisk together sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, and cream of tartar until no lumps remain. Set aside
  3. In a large, deep non-stick skillet melt butter over medium-low heat.
  4. Add milk.
  5. Pour in the sugar mixture and stir using a rubber spatula.
  6. Stir until all sugar has dissolved, being sure to scrape down the sides of the pot. Increase the heat if needed but do not simmer. (I check for granules by rubbing the mixture between my fingers. If it feels smooth, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.)
  7. Once the sugar has melted, increase the heat to a rolling boil over medium heat while continuing to stir.. (meaning the middle should have large bubbles)
  8. Once the mixture has come to a full rolling boil, set the timer for 2 minutes.
  9. Insert a thermometer and cook the mixture until it reaches 230-234 F.  Do not stir. (You have 2 minutes to reach this temperature so adjust your heat up or down.)
  10. Once the temperature is reached, remove from heat and quickly stir in peanut butter and vanilla extract.
  11. Once incorporated, quickly stir in the oats just until combined.
  12. Next, stir in 1-2 tablespoons of milk until the mixture is creamy.
  13. Using a mini cookie scoop, drop two scoops per cookie onto the prepared pans.
  14. Allow the cookies to sit until room temperature and set, (about 30-45 minutes)
  15. Store cooled cookies wrapped individually in plastic wrap and placed in an airtight container.

no bake cookies

Tips for making the BEST no-bake cookies

1. Use your favorite peanut butter. Like seriously, this is where many recipes go wrong. The peanut butter is crucial and a really delicious one will set your cookies apart. Make sure it’s good enough to eat by the spoonful.

2. Use 1-minute quick oats. If you use Old-fashioned rolled oats you’ll feel like a horse eating those cookies because they will seriously taste like eating raw, chewy oatmeal.

3. Use the no-fail timer method to take the guesswork out of making no-bake cookies. Sure, you could change4. it and use the counting method but why?

4. Make these on a clear day. It’s been said that a rainy or humid day will cause these cookies to not set correctly.

5. Don’t skip the cream of tartar

6. Whisk the sugar mixture well and make sure there are no sugar granules in the stove-top chocolate mixture before moving to the next step.

7. Store the cookies correctly. Wrap the cookies in plastic wrap individually and store them in an airtight container.

8. Make them thick! I use two scoops per cookie (2 Tablespoons) Thick cookies have the best texture once set.

 

How is this recipe different than the classic no-bake cookie recipe?

This recipe uses less butter and slightly more milk. It also includes cream of tartar,  less oatmeal and a  longer, no-stir cooking time. The use of a thermometer  ensures a perfect set every time! These simple changes create an improved no-bake cookie that still retains that classic, old-fashioned flavor.

FAQs

What happens if I don’t get to 230-243 F. within the 2 minutes? If you get to 230-234 quicker than two minutes you can reduce the heat to lower the temperature so that it stays in that range. If after 2 minutes you still haven’t reached 230 then it’s ok to cook it a tad bit longer, but try to increase or decrease your heat so that it reaches between 230-234 close to the end of 2 minutes. Once the mixture comes to a full boil it will already be very hot so it won’t take long.

What if I don’t have a thermometer? Run to the store and pick one up. They really come in handy and are about $5 at Walmart or Amazon. It really is the best way to ensure your mixture gets hot enough, without having to guess & pray using the counting method.

Can I add salt? Since I use salted peanut butter I skip the salt. You can add it if you’d like.

Can I replace some of the butter with coconut oil? Yes, you can, but this will result in a softer set cookie, with a slight oiliness. Butter is best.

Are no-bake cookies gluten-free?  You can use gluten-free oats. Make sure it’s 1-minute quick-cooking oats.

Can I use low-sodium, high potassium peanut butter? Sure whatever creamy brand you like to eat will work.

How many calories are in this cookie? Check the calorie counter in the recipe card to see calories, protein, calcium, cholesterol, and other recipe info.

Why did my no-bake cookies not set? Be sure that you reach at least 230 F on your thermometer. Also if your kitchen is very humid, that may result in a softer set.

Can you make no-bake cookies without parchment paper? Yes, you can place them on wax paper or a Silpat mat.

Will no-bake cookies set on foil? Yes, they will.

Can I make no-bake cookies without peanut butter? The peanut butter is used for flavor and to help thicken the no-bake cookies and make them creamy. It’s an essential ingredient. However, you can change up the type of peanut butter used and go for almond or cashew butter if preferred.

 

Happy no-bake cookie making!

 


easy no bake cookies

Get the Recipe: No Bake Cookies

5 from 10 ratings
The best no bake cookies with a secret ingredient! So smooth and dense!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 3 mins
Servings: 18 cookies

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup whole milk, warm
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 cups 1-minute Quick-cooking oats
  • 1-2 tablespoons whole milk

Instructions
 

Let's Prep!

  • Read over the entire recipe. Line two baking sheets with wax or parchment paper. Measure out all of your ingredients. Have your thermometer,  timer, and large cookie scoop ready. (This recipe is about timing, and having everything ready to go helps)

Let's Make No-Bake Cookies!

  • In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, and cream of tartar until no lumps remain. Set aside
  • In a large, deep non-stick skillet melt butter over medium-low heat.
  • Stir in milk.
  • Pour sugar mixture into skillet and stir using a rubber spatula.
  • Stir until all sugar has dissolved, being sure to scrape down the sides of the pot. Increase the heat if needed but do not simmer. (I check for granules by rubbing the mixture between my fingers. If it feels smooth, you're ready to move on to the next step. For the next step, get your thermometer and make sure your timer is ready for 2 minutes.)
  • Once the sugar has melted, increase the heat to a rolling boil over medium heat while continuing to stir. (A rolling boil means the middle should have large rolling bubbles and not just simmering)
  • As soon as the mixture has come to a full rolling boil, set the timer for 2 minutes.
  • Insert a thermometer and cook the mixture until it reaches 230-234 F.  Do not stir. (You have 2 minutes to reach this temperature, so adjust your heat up or down.)
  • Once the 2 minutes is up and you've reached the temperature between 230-234, remove from heat and quickly stir in peanut butter and vanilla extract, if using.
  • Once incorporated, quickly stir in the oats just until combined.
  • Next, stir in 1-2 tablespoons of milk until the mixture is creamy.
  • Using a mini cookie scoop, drop two scoops per cookie onto the prepared pans.
  • Allow the cookies to sit until room temperature and set, (about 30-45 minutes)
  • Store completely cooled cookies wrapped individually in plastic wrap and placed in an airtight container. The taste gets even better the n next day!

Video

Cuisine: American, southern
Course: cookies, Dessert, Snack
Tried this recipe?Mention @divascancook on Instagram or tag #divascancook.