A few readers requested I share my no-bake cookie recipe on the blog sometime. Which, of course, gives me an opportunity to make and eat more cookies, so I promised I would.
These no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies are probably my all-time favorite and one that ALWAYS reminds me of summer in the Midwest.
Related: 15 Easy No-Bake Desserts
Growing up, once our air conditioner was turned on for the summer, we no longer would use the oven. So, no-bake cookies were the only way to go if you wanted to make cookies.
Over the years when I’ve posted about these cookies, I’ve seen them called by other names. My favorite is “cow patty cookies.” Lol.
My grandparents had a cattle farm we visited as a lot as kids so … I get it. Tell us in the comments if you call these by another name.
Although no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies are pretty simple to make, they can be a little bit finicky. So I’m sharing my tips to make these foolproof.
Why didn’t my no-bake cookies set?
Likely, you didn’t boil the mixture long enough. You want the butter, milk, sugar, and cocoa mixture to boil for 2-3 full minutes and reach between 190°F-200°F.
If you don’t boil them for long enough, they will turn out gooey and will not set.
How do you fix gooey no-bake cookies?
Freeze them. Once you have added the peanut butter and oats, the only option to fix gooey no-bake cookies is to freeze them so they will hold together enough that you can eat them.
It might not be perfect, but it’s not the end of the world and they will still be delicious!
Why are my no-bake cookies dry and crumbly?
This means you boiled the mixture too long. The sugar got too hot (above 200°F) so it began to harden. This is a good thing if you want to make homemade candy. But for no-bake cookies, you want to boil the mixture for 2-3 minutes until it reaches between 190°F and 200°F.
A candy thermometer is best. But honestly, I don’t usually use one when I make no-bake cookies—I just set a timer during the boil period. And it’s best to err on the side of under boiling the mixture rather than over boiling.
You can freeze soft, gooey cookies. But once the mixture is hard and crumbly, your cookies are basically ruined.
Substitutions you can make to this recipe:
- Peanut butter can be swapped for any nut butter, like almond butter.
- Dairy milk can be swapped for any non-dairy milk, like soy milk.
- You can make this with quick oats instead of old-fashioned oats, but I prefer the texture of old- fashioned oats.
- You can also swap the oats out for sliced almonds or a mixture of nuts and unsweetened coconut flakes if you want these to be grain-free.
- Vanilla extract could be swapped for any cooking extract (like mint extract) if you want these to have a chocolate mint flavor. You may want to adjust the amount. I would use less mint extract than vanilla since it’s a stronger flavor.
No-Bake Cookie Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
I like to already have my peanut butter and oats measured out in separate bowls or containers. It’s good to have them ready to go, because once it’s time for them, you better have them ready.
Other No-Bake Desserts:
- No-Bake Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
- Bakery-Style Giant Rice Krispie Treats
- No-Bake Banana Cream Pie
- No-Bake Key Lime Pie
- Easy 3 Ingredient Fudge
- No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie
- No-Bake Caramel Apple Cheesecake
Will aluminum foil work for no-bake cookies?
I usually spoon no-bake cookies onto parchment paper, but you could also use aluminum foil or wax paper instead.
For a reasonable option, you could also spoon these onto a baking mat, even though you will not bake them after (they just need time to set, then you can remove them from the mat).
These no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies are so easy, fast, and addictive. Enjoy! xo. Emma
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- ¼ cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup peanut butter (creamy)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups oats (old-fashioned)
- sea salt (optional)
- I like to already have my peanut butter and oats measured out in separate bowls or containers. It's good to have them ready to go because once it's time for them, you better have them ready.
- In a medium pot, begin melting the butter over medium heat. Just before it's all melted, add in the milk, sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon if using.
- Stir this together so it's well combined. Now, turn up the heat. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, begin a timer. Allow the mixture to boil for a full two to three minutes. If using a candy thermometer, you want the mixture to reach between 190°F and 200°F.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and peanut butter.
- Once the peanut butter is mixed in, stir in the oats.
- Quickly spoon the mixture into small mounds on parchment paper, topping with a little sea salt if using.
- Peanut butter can be swapped for any nut butter, like almond butter.
- Dairy milk can be swapped for any non dairy milk, like soy milk.
- You can make this with quick oats instead of old-fashioned oats, but I prefer the texture of old-fashioned oats.
- You can also swap the oats out for sliced almonds or a mixture of nuts and unsweetened coconut flakes if you want this to be grain-free.
- Vanilla extract could be swapped for any cooking extract, like mint extract if you want these to have a chocolate mint flavor. You may want to adjust the amount, like I would use less mint extract than vanilla as it’s a stronger flavor.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated, using Spoonacular, for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.
We always called these preacher cookies. Quick and easy to make if you happen to get an unexpected drop in from the church preacher.
Any harm in using crunchy peanut butter? And is an oily peanut butter like Jif preferred over an all natural one?
I love emma’s recipes, especially this one! I come back to this one time and time again. Easy to follow, easy to double or even triple- her format is clean crisp yummy and delicious with the cutest esthetic to look at
My husband’s favorite cookie and I use this recipe every time!
This is probably the recipe I make most often from our blog. 😉
Have a question as I’m not really a baker. When it says butter do you mean like margarine or salted butter like land o lakes or unsalted?. Thanks
Just made these today. So easy, I almost feel guilty… like I should put some flour on my face! 😂
I enjoy your site and I’m disappointed. I want to try some of your recipes but cannot print them for my files. The heading and ending show up but the details or over-written and unreadable. Hope you can fix that.
So sorry about this! I’m not seeing the error on my end. Could you email us at support AT abeautifulmess DOT com and let me know which browser you’re using?
I love these! We would call them dinosaur dirts 😊
Dinosaur dirts! I love that! Lol
When I was a kid we would add coconut and call them mud and worms
I grew up in Pennsylvania and we called these Cocoa Ball Cookies!
As I’m currently staring down a heat index of 105 degrees in the next few days, this no bake recipe is ideal! I love to make things at home so not having to use the main oven is great. Thanks for this!
I know what I’m stress eating the month of December…
Thanks for sharing this recipe it looks great! What are your thoughts about range hoods? I’m trying to decide if I should get one.
Just made these -DELICIOUS!!!! And soooo easy!
Omg if you have more no-bake “baking” recipes, pleeease share them!! <3
I made these today and good gracious I need to make them all the time! Like, seriously, I need them in my house at all times. Thanks so much for the recipe!
I tried those earlier this week, and we love them. Thanks for the recipe.
This is the same recipe that I’ve been using for years. The first time I made them by myself was for a speech class in high school. A teacher down the hall was allergic to peanuts and had to go home because of this recipe.
For the past year or so I’ve been making these vegan by subbing coconut butter and oat milk and they taste just as good. Also, I’ll sometimes add a tiny amount of Cayenne pepper for a bit of heat.
No wheat flour + no bake cookies = all round yay! With a wheat allergy, it’s hard to come across no-bake recipes that also don’t taste a bit like dust. can’t wait to give this a try with a big batch! I’m definitely throwing in some shredded coconut for extra yum, because peanut butter and coconut … how can you not?
The Sorted Hats
Why is there a bottle of syrup next to the ingredients there?? Secret ingredient possibly?? What’s the scoop?