This recipe for chocolate no bake cookies are the classic cookie you remember, made with or without peanut butter—even with or without oats. The naturally gluten free no bake fudge cookie recipe that never fails!
Why this is the best recipe for chocolate no bake cookies
This is the best recipe for making no bake oatmeal cookies because it has all the ingredients you’d expect, but replaces one old ingredient (peanut butter) with a new ingredient (chopped chocolate). Adding chocolate to the melted butter, milk, and sugar helps the cookies return to solid form once they cool.
Recipes for no bake oatmeal cookies made with butter, milk, sugar, cocoa powder and oats have been around forever. If you’ve tried making one of those “classic” recipes, though, they tend to be hit or miss because so many things can go wrong, preventing the cookies from setting.
Why won’t my no bake cookies set?
As I went down the rabbit hole of available recipes for no bake oatmeal cookies, I noticed something. Whatever the ingredients or method, some commenters swore that the recipe simply didn’t work as written.
This isn’t a recipe where you can use an objective measure to determine readiness, like a specific temperature on a candy thermometer, so it can be hard to guarantee success.
When you are making anything that is no-bake, you need at least a portion of the recipe to be solid at room temperature. If you cook the sugar mixture all the way to 240°F, the softball stage, so it will be solid at room temperature, the mixture turns crumbly when you add the oats.
And it’s very easy to overcook the sugar using that method. But if you under-cook the sugar, the cookies won’t set up.
The cookies in other recipes may not set up because there are just so many variables with in an otherwise simple recipe. There may be differences in air temperature and humidity, whether you’re using an electric or gas stove, how evenly it heats, and whether you’re using a heavy-bottom saucepan or not.
Foolproof Hack: how to make no bake cookies perfect every time
This foolproof recipe for chocolate no bake cookies has something that the other recipes don’t. There’s chopped chocolate melted into the cooked sugar before it cools.
Adding chopped chocolate to the cooked sugar and butter mixture provides insurance against the dangers of under-cooking the sugar. Chocolate will always be solid at room temperature.
This recipe calls for 4 ounces of chopped unsweetened chocolate. If you prefer a richer cookie, you can use up to 6 ounces of chopped chocolate without making any other changes.
How to add peanut butter to these chocolate no bake cookies
If you’re partial to making these cookies with some peanut butter, you can make them that way. Just add about 1/4 cup (64 g) smooth, no-stir peanut butter to the recipe when you add the chopped chocolate.
Adding peanut butter does add some depth of flavor to the cookies. You still need to include the chopped unsweetened chocolate, because that is what makes this recipe foolproof.
This recipe is naturally peanut-free because, unlike other recipes of its kind, it doesn’t rely on peanut butter to help the cookies set up as they cool. But even if you add peanut butter, you’ll still need to melt 4 ounces of chopped chocolate into the sugar and butter mixture, as called for in the recipe as written.
Ingredients substitutions and variations for no bake oatmeal cookies
Dairy-free no bake oatmeal cookies
This recipe can easily be made dairy-free by replacing the butter and the cow’s milk with dairy-free alternatives. For the butter, I recommend virgin coconut oil. For the milk, I recommend unsweetened almond milk.
I actually prefer to use virgin coconut oil in place of the butter, gram for gram, as I find it sets up even a bit firmer since it has less moisture than butter. Virgin coconut oil is the kind that’s solid at room temperature, and it’s solid at cool room temperature.
You can also use shortening in place of the butter or virgin coconut oil. I like Spectrum brand nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening.
The chocolate used is unsweetened chocolate, so it is much more likely to be dairy-free. Just be sure yours is, in fact, dairy-free.
How to make lower sugar chocolate no bake cookies
There is a fair amount of granulated sugar in this recipe. Cooking the sugar helps avoid using peanut butter as a stabilizer in the recipe.
When I tried making the recipe with 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar (300 grams), instead of the traditional 2 cups (400 grams). The cookies did set up, but they were a bit softer at room temperature.
A few minutes in the refrigerator, though, and they were fine. If you’re looking for quick and easy, chocolatey, chewy no bake fudge cookies that never fail you, go for the full 2 cups of sugar.
I’ve also tried cutting the granulated sugar in half and adding 8 ounces of chopped unsweetened chocolate. The cookies set up beautifully and tasted good, but they would be better with 4 ounces unsweetened and 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate.
Sugar-free chocolate no bake cookies
Since the sugar is cooked, you can’t use a sugar alternative. If you’d like to try using an unrefined sugar like honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar, it will require a lot of experimentation as the other ingredients will also have to be modified in ways I can’t predict.
How to make no bake cookies without oats
It does have a different texture, but the recipe works. The photo above is of the crisp rice cereal no bake fudge cookies.
They’re like a super easy version of Little Debbie Star Crunch, without with the cookie center. Let the cooked sugar and chocolate mixture cool for a few minutes, before adding it to the cereal tossed with cocoa powder to avoid a stale taste.
The cereal may still taste a bit stale, since the sugar mixture must be warm enough to be a liquid, but it’s not very noticeable. I’ve also tried using coconut flakes in place of oats, but the cookies don’t hold their shape at all.
If you’d like to try making no bake oatmeal coconut cookies, you can replace about 50 grams of the quick-cooking oats with coconut chips (not shreds). Just crush the larger coconut chips a bit in your hand first.
I use purity protocol oats all the time in my gluten free baking. But I’ve also successfully come up with substitutions for oats in gluten free baking of all sorts, if you are avoiding oats.
Chocolate No Bake Oatmeal Cookies
- 3 cups (330 g) 330 g certified gluten free quick-cooking oats (See Recipe Notes)
- ¼ cup (20 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)
- 8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter (or virgin coconut oil)
- ⅔ cup (5 ⅓ fluid ounces) milk
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
- Line large baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, place the oats and cocoa powder, and toss to combine. Set the bowl aside.
- In a medium-size, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the butter or coconut oil, sugar, milk, and salt. Whisking frequently, bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.
- The mixture will bubble quite a lot. Just continue to whisk. Allow the mixture to boil for a full 2 minutes, whisking frequently.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chopped chocolate and mix until the chocolate is melted, and the mixture is smooth.
- Create a well in the center of the oats in the large bowl and pour in the sugar mixture. Mix to combine well.
- The mixture will be thick but soft. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes to allow it to begin to firm up.
- Using a large ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop the cookie dough in 2 tablespoon portions onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1-inch apart from one another. Spread each gently into an approximately 2-inch round.
- Allow the cookies to set at room temperature or in the refrigerator. After about 30 minutes, you should be able to peel them off the parchment paper.
- Store the finished cookies in a sealed glass container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.