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Chocolate No Bake Oatmeal Cookies Without Peanut Butter

July 9, 2021
At a Glance

Summary

If you want to make no bake cookies, but only with a no-fail recipe and method, this is the no bake oatmeal cookie recipe for you. You can even substitute rice cereal for the oats or add some peanut butter, but these cookies are naturally peanut-free.

Categories

Prep / Cook Time

5 minutes / 2 minutes

Rating

 5/5 (24 votes)
Chocolate No Bake Oatmeal Cookies Without Peanut Butter

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!

Stack of 3 chocolate oat cookies on white paper

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.

Sugar, milk, salt, chocolate, butter, gf oats and cocoa powder on black table

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.

Metal mixing bowl with brown chocolate and oat mixture and a white spatula

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.

Ingredients for no bake oatmeal cookies, chocolate being poured into a bowl, raw cookie dough in a bowl, and cookie portions on white paper

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.

Wet chocolate oat cookies on white paper on tray

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.

No bake oatmeal cookies made with crisp rice cereal instead of oatmeal. No peanut butter.

How to make no bake cookies without oats

If you’re avoiding oats, even gluten free oats, you can replace them in this recipe. I’ve made them successfully with 4 cups (120 g) puffed gluten free rice cereal in place of the quick-cooking 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.

Stack of 4 chocolate oat cookies with the top broken in half

Stack of 4 chocolate oat cookies 315x315

Chocolate No Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate no bake cookies, gluten free no bake cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 24 cookies
Author: Nicole Hunn
This recipe for chocolate no bake cookies are the classic cookie you remember, made with or without peanut butter—even with or without oats.
Print Recipe Save Pin Recipe

Ingredients 

  • 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)
  • cup (5 ⅓ fluid ounces) milk
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Originally published on the blog in 2016. Recipe clarified slightly, many photos, video, and most text new. About the oats: To make the equivalent of quick-cooking oats, I pulse certified gluten free old fashioned rolled oats in a blender or food processor a few times. To replace the oats entirely, try with 4 cups (120 g) puffed brown rice cereal in place of quick-cooking oats. Just be sure to cool the sugar mixture for at least 10 minutes or until no longer hot to the touch before pouring it into the cereal, or the cereal will taste stale as the cookies cool. If you’re not gluten free, you don’t need to use certified gluten free oats. Regular quick-cooking oats work.
  • Frannie
    July 15, 2021 at 10:33 PM

    I love your recipes! I tried these today. I bought the wrong kind of oats. I got quick cooking steel cut oats and the results were catastrophic. The oats never softened and they were hard and chewy. I’m buying the rolled oats tomorrow and trying again!5 stars

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 16, 2021 at 8:24 AM

      Oh no, Frannie! Steel cut oats, even if they’re “quick cooking” are not fit for anything but making oatmeal, and they take a long time at that. I’m sorry you learned that the hard way.😊

  • June
    July 13, 2021 at 4:46 PM

    Better Than Cup4Cup flour has potato starch in it so that won’t work for nightshade free. Would Arrowroot starch or cornstarch work best to replace potato starch in any blend?

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 13, 2021 at 5:23 PM

      Yes, I’m suggesting that you try replacing potato starch with arrowroot in the Better Than Cup4Cup blend, June. I can’t promise it will work, but using that blend gets around the potato flour issue.

  • Elle
    July 13, 2021 at 6:27 AM

    These taste great, but I found that when adding the oats they turned crumbly as you described in the text. I followed your recipe precisely (used coconut oil rather than butter), but it seemed to me that the fudge mixture set too fast to allow proper mixing. I do live in a cool climate so have issues with room temp for fermenting or bread proving, so next time I might try keeping the pan over a low heat until everything is well combined.
    Love your recipes though!

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 13, 2021 at 8:23 AM

      Hi, Elle, it sounds like you cooked the sugar too much. Yes, I’d definitely try lowering the heat quite a bit. It’s better to err on the side of undercooked sugar than overcooked. Undercooked sugar will mean that the cookies don’t set up as solid, but they’ll still be cookies. Overcooked, well you saw that. :)

  • June
    July 12, 2021 at 4:52 PM

    I bake for people with celiac disease and love all of your recipes that I have tried. I have had people ask if I do nightshade-free baking which means not using potato starch which is a nightshade. I wonder if I can substitute corn starch or arrowroot starch for the potato starch and which one would work the best. Also some recipes call for potato flour. Would sweet potato flour work as a substitute?

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 12, 2021 at 6:29 PM

      That’s tough, June. You may be able to substitute arrowroot for potato starch, but there is no substitute for potato flour. And if you eliminate it entirely, your baked goods really won’t brown. I’ve tried. But rather than making mock Better Batter, which calls for potato flour, I’d go with my “Better Than Cup4Cup flour,” which is probably my favorite all purpose gluten free flour of all—and it does not call for potato flour. Hope that helps!

  • Jackie
    July 11, 2021 at 9:12 PM

    Can you substitute quinoa flakes for the oats? GF oats are not available in WA

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 12, 2021 at 10:51 AM

      Hi, Jackie,
      No, definitely not. Quinoa flakes are way to fine and soft. Please see the heading titled “How to make no bake cookies without oats” for full information. And if the issue is availability, not tolerating oats, I’d recommend ordering certified gluten free purity protocol rolled oats online.

  • Caroline
    July 11, 2021 at 2:55 PM

    Hi, these look lovely! Just a query – in the blurb at the start of the recipe you say they can be made ‘with or without peanut butter’ but there is no mention of it in the ingredients or notes. Would they take the place of one of the existing ingredients? Thank you

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 11, 2021 at 7:34 PM

      Please see the heading in the recipe about adding peanut butter, Caroline. Sounds like maybe you just clicked jump to recipe, but it’s in the text of the post!

  • Cristina
    July 9, 2021 at 3:40 PM

    I can’t see the recipe. The page is cut over advertisement and directions are covered up. I don’t know what it is

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 9, 2021 at 6:45 PM

      If you’re using an older model cell phone that has a very small screen, some ads can unfortunately cover content. It’s unavoidable as per Google’s own rules, as they specify a minimum ad size. I recommend your pulling up the post on a desktop or laptop, or a larger device if possible.

  • Emilie
    March 13, 2017 at 6:40 PM

    Does using coconut make it taste like coconut? My kids don’t like the taste.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 13, 2017 at 6:44 PM

      You don’t use coconut, Emilie. It’s just coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil has a mild coconut taste. Feel free to use butter as directed in the recipe instead.

  • Sylvia Moore
    April 20, 2016 at 2:13 PM

    Made these tonight as soon as I saw the recipe. Yummy! Not sure if there will be any left for the kids in the morning! Used milk chocolate as I didn’t have any unsweetened chocolate.
    I presume you add the butter to the sugar and milk.

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