No-Bake Cookies: Perfect for this time of year! Rich peanut butter, chocolate, & hearty oats. Made in less than 10 minutes!
School is about to start (if it hasn’t already in your area!), and so our minds are naturally turning to cookie recipes. There’s nothing quite like welcoming your kids home from their first day with a plate of homemade cookies. Try making my fluffernutter cookies, soft chocolate chip cookies, or funfetti cookies. I promise it will be a treasured memory for them, and for you too!
But it’s still so hot and muggy. I’m having a hard time thinking about turning the oven on right now!
Enter this perfect no-bake cookies recipe. It’s the perfect solution!
These cookies whip up in less than 10 minutes. They’re loaded with hearty oatmeal, peanut butter, and chocolate. So rich & fudgy, and just the perfect kind of afternoon treat for a warm day. Serve them with a tall glass of cold milk- they just can’t be beat.
But as quick and simple as they are, they can be a little bit fussy. I’ve made them over and over again, learning along the way, so read on for all my best tips and tricks to guarantee your no-bake cookie success!
WHAT ARE NO-BAKE COOKIES?
We call them no-bake cookies because they’re shaped like cookies and they snack like cookies, but really they are peanut butter chocolate fudge with oatmeal stirred in.
They’re made on the stovetop, very quickly stirred together and cooked to just the right temperature, for a texture that’s soft and almost creamy, but firm enough to hold a nice shape and be handled easily.
This version is extra chocolate-y, extra peanut butter-y, and loaded with chewy oats, for a hearty texture that makes a wonderfully satisfying afternoon snack.
HOW TO MAKE NO-BAKE COOKIES
This recipe comes together so fast, you really gotta be ready. I suggest gathering all your ingredients ahead of time, and having them pre-measured out, so that when the moment hits for the next step you are good to go. There’s really no time for dilly-dallying here. The success or failure of your peanut butter no-bake cookies can literally come down to mere seconds!
STAGE 1: STARTING THE COOKING PROCESS
Start by placing sugar, a couple little blobs of corn syrup (this is just to prevent crystallization; it’s completely optional), butter, cocoa powder, and milk in a medium pot.
Cook this mixture at first over low heat, until the butter is melted. Whisk it up until it’s smooth, and let it cook slowly, until the sugar has dissolved.
You can tell whether the sugar has liquefied just by placing a drop or two on your fingertip, then rubbing it against your thumb. If it feels gritty or grainy, it’s not quite there yet. It should feel silky-smooth.
STAGE 2: BOILING THE MIXTURE TO THE PERFECT TEMPERATURE
Once the sugar has melted, turn up the heat to get a rolling boil started. And make sure your peanut butter, oats, and salt are measured out and ready to go! This is the stage where things can get dicey!
When the pot is at a full boil (it should be bubbling up furiously, not just around the edges of the pot but all the way to the middle) start watching the temperature. It needs to be nearing soft ball stage, which starts at 235 degrees F. I’ll talk about that more in-depth below!
You should be hitting that crucial stage after about 1 to 2 minutes of hard boiling. At that point, PROMPTLY remove the pot from the heat and quickly stir in the peanut butter, oats, and salt.
Do this right away! No faffing around- you need to be aware of carry-over cooking here.
Carry-over cooking is the idea that the temperature will continue to increase, for several minutes after the food is no longer exposed to a heat source. Expect your no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookie mixture to continue to get a few degrees hotter as you’re stirring in the final ingredients and scooping it out.
STAGE 3: ADDING THE FINAL INGREDIENTS & SHAPING THE COOKIES
Once the peanut butter, oats, and salt go in you’ll notice the mixture beginning to stiffen up right before your eyes. If you’ve done everything right to this point, it should be thick enough to scoop, and when you drop it onto the sheet it should puddle out just enough to form a cookie shape, maybe with a little bit of encouragement on your part.
I use a 1.5-tablespoon scoop to form the cookies. To me, that’s just the right size. The cookies end up at about 3 or 4 luscious bites each.
If you don’t have a cookie scoop, here’s a link to buy one: cookie scoop. Mine was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made as a baker- I use it a ton!
After about 20 to 30 minutes, your no-bake oatmeal cookies should be cooled enough to enjoy! You’re looking for a soft, creamy texture and a slight velvety sheen. This is the no-bake cookie ideal!
TEMPERATURE IS EVERYTHING!
As I mentioned earlier, this recipe can be a little fussy. If you don’t hit the exact right temperature, it can really affect the outcome of your cookies. In a nutshell:
- if the mixture gets too hot, your cookies will be dry and crumbly, and
- if it doesn’t get hot enough, they might not set up.
Hence, you want to be dilligent, work quickly, and keep a close watch on the thermometer.
I find a thermometer to be crucial when it comes to candy making. They’re only a few dollars to buy and they store easily. Here’s a link, if you don’t already have one: candy thermometer.
So, in order for your cookies to set up you’re targeting the soft-ball stage. But I am picky when it comes to looks and I really love that slight velvety shine, and I’ve found that to get that you really want to be on the lower end of soft ball stage. So that means absolutely no higher than 235 degrees.
Bearing carry-over cooking in mind, I found the perfect temperature to be 230 degrees F. This is actually on the higher end of the thread stage.
Now, I’m not sure if this means my thermometer has wandered out of calibration or what, but after probably close to 10 practice batches, this seemed to be the sweet spot for me (no pun intended). Take it for what it’s worth and know that you might need to experiment for yourself, knowing that anything close to 235 will most likely yeild reasonable success.
IF THEY ARE TOO DRY
You may notice that as you are scooping your cookies, they are not puddling out into the perfect cookie shape. You can flatten them slightly with the back of your scoop, but as they cool and set up they might not be perfectly soft and creamy.
To me, they’re still dang good and I will happily eat them regardless.
But if they seem at all dry and/or crumbly, this can most definitely be attributed to a too-long, too-hot cook. Be sure to aim for the lower end of the soft-ball stage of candymaking, which would be around 235 degrees F (or even a degree or so lower, to account for carry-over cooking).
IF THEY WON’T SET UP
If your cookies still haven’t set up after 30 minutes or so, if they are too soft to come off the baking sheet without bending or falling apart, or if they are way too sticky and shiny, this is because they weren’t cooked long or hot enough.
It’s possible you could scrape them back into the pot and try again (I haven’t tried that personally so I can’t say for certain), aiming for a slightly higher temperature, but I have found that they may be ok if you just leave them out overnight, uncovered.
Sometimes that’s all they need is just a little additional time to dry out. You might even want to aim a low fan on them to speed up the process!
ARE THESE HEALTHY?
This recipe is naturally egg-free, and if you use gluten-free oats, it’s also gluten-free.
If you’d like to try for a dairy-free version, use vegan butter and milk products that can sub 1:1 for regular dairy.
For those who have a peanut allergy, try substituting sunflower seed butter.
For more specific info, check out the nutritional info in the recipe card below.
HOW TO STORE
Just pop these into an airtight container and they should keep for at least a week at room temperature, if not longer.
These do not have to be kept refrigerated, as they are basically candy and have a high enough sugar content to inhibit microbial growth. That said, if you do choose to keep them in the fridge, it’s not a problem, and will probably extend their shelf life a little longer.
You can also freeze them if you like. Place them in an even layer on a tray, and once they’re frozen solid they can be transferred to a zip-top bag. They’ll thaw quickly at room temp.
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- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (44 g) corn syrup , (light or dark), optional
- 1/2 cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup (162.67 g) milk, (whatever kind you keep in your fridge; I used lowfat)
- 1/2 cup (43 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, (regular OR Dutched; I used regular)
- 1 cup (258 g) peanut butter
- 2 cups (468 g) oatmeal*
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) kosher salt
- Place the sugar, corn syrup, butter, milk, and cocoa in a medium pot over low heat.
- Once the butter has melted, whisk the mixture and allow it to continue cooking, slowly, until the sugar has completely melted (it should not feel gritty when you rub a drop between your thumb and forefinger).
- When all the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the mixture to come to a full, rolling boil.
- Boil the mixture until it reaches the soft ball stage (approx. 235 degrees or slightly lower), or about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Immediately remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter, oatmeal, and salt.
- Drop 1.5-tablespoon sized scoops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and allow to cool/harden for 15 to 30 minutes.