Kitchn Love Letters

After Years of Failure, I Finally Found the Perfect No-Bake Cookie Recipe

updated Feb 12, 2021
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no bake cookies are spead out on white parchemnt paper
Credit: Patty Catalano

Fudgy, peanut buttery, oatmeal-packed no-bake cookies are my idea of the perfect afternoon treat. Trouble is, they’re notoriously difficult to get right. Sometimes they’re so soft they fail to set, while other times they’re dry and crumbly. What gives?

After stirring and scooping dozens of no-bake cookies, I finally gained cookie clarity, thanks to Kitchn’s No-Bake Cookie recipe, created by Food Editor, Meghan Splawn. If you, too, are ready for no-bake cookie perfection, let me introduce you to the most foolproof recipe there is.

Credit: Patty Catalano

More Candy-Making than Cookie-Baking

No-bake cookies always sound easy enough: Cook a mixture of cocoa powder, sugar, butter, and milk on the stovetop until it boils and bubbles; pour into a bowl of peanut butter and oats and stir until combined, creating a fudge-like texture that binds the cookies together; scoop the cookies into two-bite mounds and cool at room temperature until set.

The thing is, it’s almost impossible to know when to remove the syrup from the heat — especially if you’re relying on visual cues alone. It was only once I followed Meghan’s recipe, which has you use a candy thermometer to gauge the syrup’s temperature, that I was able to pinpoint the exact moment to pull the syrup from the stove. As soon as I started thinking about the process as candy-making rather than cookie-baking, as Meghan suggests in the recipe, I was able to produce perfect no-bake cookies every single time.

Credit: Patty Catalano

If You Make These No-Bake Cookies, a Few Tips

  1. Use a candy thermometer. Most no-bake cookie recipes instruct you to bring the chocolatey syrup to a boil and then boil for a certain number of minutes. The variation between stovetop heating elements as well as differing definitions of a boil or a simmer can make all the difference in the texture of the cookies. Eliminate the guesswork and rely on a candy thermometer instead.
  2. Adjust the final temperature based on your preferences. Cooking the sugar syrup to 230°F will give you a sturdy cookie that sets but is still tender on the tongue. In my house, we store the cookies in the fridge and eat them cold. I’ve discovered that cooking the syrup to 220°F gives the cookies a slightly softer texture with more chew when eaten cold.
  3. Use instant oats. While the recipe calls for old-fashioned oats, I prefer to use 1-minute or instant oats instead. These oats are the same as the old-fashioned oats, but they’ve been steamed and dried to speed up the cook time. The instant oats give the cookies a more tender texture, but if you love the chew of oatmeal, stick with the old-fashioned variety.