Are you looking for a sweet treat that doesn't require the oven? These no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies are just the thing to satisfy your sweet tooth without having to heat up the kitchen from the oven. They are especially popular with kids, and always disappear quickly at our small group Bible studies.
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- Sugar: you can use granulated sugar, or half white and half brown.
- Cocoa Powder: use unsweetened cocoa. You can leave it out or substitute with carob powder if you want.
- Milk: I like to use whole milk, but feel free to use almond milk for a dairy free option.
- Butter: you do need butter in this recipe. Use coconut oil for a vegan option.
- Peanut Butter: this adds a delicious nut flavor! Substitute with almond butter if you're allergic to peanuts.
- Vanilla: this extract adds a hint of flavor.
- Salt: balances the sweetness.
- Oats: this is the binding agent that holds the cookie together. I prefer old-fashioned rolled oats for a chewier texture, but use quick oats if you prefer.
Why this recipe turns out perfect every time!
Many people complain that no bake cookies don't turn out. They're either dry and crumbly, or gooey and never set properly. My recipe should always turn out properly because it uses a digital thermometer to check the exact temperature of the mixture, rather than using a timer or guessing if the mixture is cooked enough.
The chocolate fudge part of the cookies must be cooked to 230 F. Less than that, and the cookies will be gooey and never set; more than that, and they will be dry, crumbly, and grainy. Now, you can make this treat without guesswork!
Why are these treats called preacher cookies?
Ladies would whip up a batch of these chocolatey treats when they knew the preacher was coming for a visit. The recipe took basic pantry ingredients and were ready to eat in less than an hour. The funny part is that these are actually my pastor's favorite cookie!
Why do no bake cookies not turn out sometimes?
Believe it or not, the ambient air temperature or humidity doesn't affect whether they will harden or not. It's all about the temperature of the cookie batter before the peanut butter, vanilla, salt, and oats are added. Basically, this first step is similar to making fudge.
It's super important to let the fudge cook until it reaches precisely 230 F on a candy thermometer. If you let the fudge get above 230 F, they will harden way too fast, and be super dry and crumbly. Yep, it's happened to me more than once.
Why aren't they hardening?
Chances are, you haven't cooked the 'fudge' (the liquid chocolate part of this recipe) long enough. It's extremely important to get the fudge to exactly 230 F when you're cooking it on the stove top. If you're stuck with a batch of gooey cookies, pop them in the freezer until hard, then enjoy. They'll still taste fantastic!
How long do they take to harden?
It takes about 35 minutes, or even up to 1 hour depending on how long the fudge mixture was cooked and the humidity in the room. If they weren't made correctly, or if it's too humid in your kitchen, they may not set properly at all. Make sure to use a candy thermometer!
Does the humidity affect them?
The humidity can slow down the hardening, or stop it altogether if it's really humid. If you are making this treat on a really humid day, boil the mixture a little bit longer--to about 235 or 240 F to encourage it to set properly. Don't let the mixture get too hot, though, or they will be dry and crumbly!
Do I have to use quick oats?
You can use either the old-fashioned rolled oats or the 1-minute quick oats for this recipe. It's simply a matter of personal preference. I like the old fashioned ones, because they are thicker and give the cookies a chewier texture.
How to Make
Measure out all the ingredients before you start.
Whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan.
Add the butter and milk and set over medium-high heat, then whisk continuously until the butter is melted.
Bring the mixture to a full boil, with lots of bubbles and steam. Insert a meat thermometer and cook the mixture until it reaches 230 F, which will take about 1-2 minutes.
Immediately remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Gradually add the oats to get the texture you're looking for. (Too many oats will make the cookies dry and unappetizing.)
Drop the mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with wax paper.
Let them sit at room temperature until they're fully set, which can take 35 minutes to 1 hour, depending upon the humidity. You'll know they're ready when you can peel the cookie off the paper easily without it breaking.
Enjoy them right away, or store them at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.
- Peanut Free: use almond butter, cashew butter, or even Nutella.
- Nut Free: make your own sunflower seed butter by grinding the seeds in a food processor. Use that in place of the peanut butter.
- Vegan: use non-dairy milk and coconut oil instead of the butter.
- Gluten Free: make sure to use certified gluten free oats.
- Dairy Free: use your favorite non-dairy milk, such as almond or coconut milk.
- Extra Chocolatey: double the cocoa powder to make it ½ cup (40g).
- Change up the texture by using different oats. Old-fashioned rolled oats have a chewier texture, while quick oats are less so. Do not use steel-cut.
- Don't have peanut butter? Grind roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds, or almonds in a food processor or blender to make your own.
- Use a thermometer (digital is preferred) to see if the fudge mixture is cooked enough. Otherwise, the cookies may not set properly.
- Messed up batch? Chill gooey ones in the fridge or freezer. Sprinkle dry, crumbly ones on ice cream.
- Store leftovers at room temperature for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Rolled Oats: these old-fashioned oats make these cookies so chewy.
- Saucepan: this heavy-based pot will cook foods evenly.
- Digital Thermometer: this one tool will guarantee a perfect batch of cookies.
- Wax Paper: keep your no bakes from sticking to the tray with this.
- Cookie Sheet: this spacious rimmed tray is my favorite!
Other No Bake Desserts to Enjoy
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No bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, also known as preacher cookies, are a fun dessert made with old fashioned oats, cocoa powder, and other pantry ingredients. These fudgy treats are an easy, gluten free dessert that kids love!
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar (346g)
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (20g)
- ½ cup whole milk (118 ml)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cubed (115g)
- ½ cup all-natural creamy peanut butter (128g)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 to 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (160-240g)
- Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or wax paper. Measure out all the ingredients.
- Whisk together the granulated sugar and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan until blended. Add the milk and butter and set over medium high heat, stirring constantly until all the butter has melted and it's evenly mixed.
- Bring the fudge mixture up to a full boil, keeping the pot uncovered. Insert a candy thermometer and let the mixture cook until it reaches 230 F, stirring frequently, then immediately take it off the heat.
- Stir in the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt until thoroughly mixed, then gradually add enough oats to get a thick and fudgy, but not dry, consistency.
- Drop the mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Allow them to harden at room temperature, about 35 minutes to 1 hour, then serve. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Guarantee a good batch by using a digital thermometer to see if the fudge mixture is cooked to 230 F. Otherwise, the cookies may be too gooey or too dry.
- Want a different texture? Use old-fashioned rolled oats for a chewier texture or quick oats for a smoother texture.
- Substitute the peanut butter with almond butter, Nutella, or homemade sunflower seed butter.
- Failed batch? Freeze gooey ones, and crumble up dry ones and sprinkle on ice cream.
- Store the cookies at room temperature for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: no bake cookies, chocolate oatmeal cookies, peanut butter
This recipe was originally published on June 22, 2018 and has been expanded with tips and helpful information.