These rich no bake brownies are made with just 3 ingredients. Chocolate cookie crumbs may seem ordinary, but they can do some amazing things!
If you have a batch of crispy chocolate wafer cookies and a can of sweetened condensed milk on hand, you're just moments away from these no bake brownies. Unlike traditional brownies, they actually travel really well.
Pack them up to bring to your friend's BBQ, or for a picnic at the beach. They won't mind. Neither will you when you see how easy they are to put together.
These are not sink-your-teeth into them chewy or fudgy brownies, though. If you love the cookie crust of a no bake pudding pie, for example, think of these brownies as the bar equivalent. The perfect no bake summertime treat!
What cookie crumbs do you use?
Unlike most recipes on this blog, this can be made gluten free, just as written or gluten-filled by just switching out the cookies for crispy, conventional chocolate cookies. The one thing you don't want to do, though, is to make this recipe with tender, chewy cookies.
As long as we've been making cookie crusts here on the blog (which is basically since the early, ugly photo years of 2009, 2010, 2011, and part of 2012), we've been making them with crunchy, crispy cookies. When you make a cookie crust, you typically make it by adding melted butter to dry cookie crumbs. And dry cookie crumbs come only from crispy cookies, which begin with much less moisture.
Try to use chocolate cookies for this recipe for the richest chocolate flavor. But even if you use graham crackers, these will still be brownies since you're mixing in melted dark chocolate.
You can, of course, crumble any cookie at all. I like to use a simple blender to crush cookies into the perfect crumbs, but of course, a food processor will work as well.
But if you crumble a chewy cookie like our chewy chocolate wafer cookies, your cookie crumbs will have the texture of fresh brown sugar. It's a lovely texture, but just not right for this recipe.
This recipe relies upon having the sweetened condensed milk and melted chocolate provide most of the moisture. That way, everything combines perfectly and sets in a way that makes the brownie dough clump nicely.
How to make no bake brownies
The most classic no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies rely upon cooking the coconut oil and sugar until they boil for 2 minutes before adding the mixture to the rest of the ingredients. The cooked sugar is what provides most of the stability for the cookies as they cool.
In this recipe, the cookie crumbs are held together with sweetened condensed milk (which has already been cooked and reduced) and melted chocolate. The melted dark chocolate really helps, since it is solid at room temperature. If you were to use milk chocolate, the brownies would not set as firmly, since milk chocolate is much softer at room temperature.
Be sure to prepare the pan properly before mixing the ingredients, since the mixture will begin to stiffen up quite quickly. You want to turn the mixture out into the prepared pan, scatter it evenly and then begin to apply as much pressure as you can.
I like to use a bench scraper or cake turner to apply even pressure in different places all over the top of the brownies. You could also place another quarter sheet pan on top of the parchment paper covering the brownies, and press down evenly on that as well.
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: All three of the main ingredients in these no bake brownies either have dairy, by their nature or could have dairy, depending upon your source. But good news! I believe that you can make dairy-free substitutions for each.
I've successfully made our crispy chocolate wafer cookies dairy free by using vegan butter (see that post for more details and alternatives). If you're using store-bought cookies, read the ingredients carefully or perhaps choose a brand like Enjoy Life that makes products that are all dairy-free.
For the sweetened condensed milk, you can make your own dairy-free sweetened condensed milk. Plus, I've actually seen canned dairy-free sweetened condensed milk in the natural foods section of my local grocery store made by the brand “Let's Do Organic,” for one. The brownies may not set up quite as well with dairy-free condensed milk, but the recipe still works.
The melted chocolate you use will also have to be dairy-free (as will the optional chocolate chips, if you choose to use them). That should be relatively easy, though. Scharffen Berger bittersweet dark chocolate, for example, is gluten free and dairy free.
Egg-free: Although there are no eggs in this recipe as it's written, if you need to be egg-free, be vigilant about the ingredients in the crispy cookies you use to make cookie crumbs.
No Bake Brownies (3 Ingredients)
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3 cups (about 15 ounces) finely ground crispy chocolate gluten free cookie crumbs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
10 ounces sweetened condensed milk
Line a quarter sheet pan (9 x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet) with unbleached parchment paper or greased aluminum foil, and set it aside. Place the chopped chocolate in a small, heat-safe bowl and melt it either in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, or above a simmering pot of boiling water. Set the melted chocolate aside to cool briefly.
In a large bowl, place the finely ground cookie crumbs, optional salt, and optional chocolate chips, and mix to combine. Create a well in the center of the cookie crumbs, pour in the sweetened condensed milk and melted chocolate, and mix to combine. The mixture will be very thick, more like dough.
Working quickly, turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet and, with very wet hands, press it into an even layer. It may require a bit of muscle. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator until set (about 30 minutes). Remove from the pan and slice into 15 equal squares. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator (or the freezer for longer storage).
Originally published on the blog in 2012. Photos, video, most text all new. Recipe largely unchanged (tweaked slightly for clarity; chopped pecans replaced with chocolate chips).
i keep reading it over and over and I’m still confused about the cookie crumbs. are you using a g.f “Oreo” sandwich cookie? if you are do you crumble the whole cookie filling and all?
Nicole Hunn says
You can use any sort of crunchy cookies, Nickie. I do sometimes use Gluten Free Joe Joe’s, which are an Oreo-type cookie, and I give them a spin in a blender, filling and all!
William Lucas says
In the email, you mention that you can even use Trader Joe’s Joe-Joe’s. Do you scrape the filling out before crushing the cookies?
I can’t do chocolate due to the caffeine. I’ve switched to Australian carob. Any directions to replacing chocolate with carob?
Nicole Hunn says
I’m afraid I really don’t know that that would work, Lisa. I honestly can’t even think of what else to suggest. Sorry!
Do you scrape the frosting out of the gluten free Joe-Joe’s before grinding into crumbs?
Nicole Hunn says
Actually, no, Tracy. I never do! I just grind them up, filling and all.
Thank you Nicole I will have to experiment, I can’t do coconut or sugar. But all your recipes look so yummy I share your blog and recipes with all my GF Friends!
This looks great and the wafer cookies look awesome as well, I will be trying this soon!!
That is interesting. I’ve never heard of a no-bake brownie, gluten free or otherwise. I may have to try it. I’m in the mood for something lemony though. :-)
JoAnn C says
Oh my, two chocolate treats in one week. Makes me weak. Or, maybe it’s just the heat. These would be lovely with vanilla ice cream.
I know, right, JoAnn? These really are right up your alley. :)