I’m sure you have a very good reason for wanting to go bakeless. Maybe your stove is broken. Maybe you don’t even have a stove.
Maybe you’re making them for some nostalgic reason or because you’re cooking with rambunctious children and are trying to avoid second-degree burns.
Or maybe you just want a quick way to produce a sweet and simple treat.
Those are all excellent reasons to ditch the eight- to ten-minute cooking intervals and go straight to making no-bake cookies.
What You Need for Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
Of course, if you’ve done no-bake cookies before, you know they aren’t exactly cookless.
You will need some kind of heat source, whether it be a stove, a hot plate, or a microwave–something hot enough to make this mixture boil.
You’ll also need parchment paper (waxed will do in a pinch), a large pot, a timer, a wooden spoon to stir with, whatever size cookie scoop you prefer (or a big spoon), and about fifteen minutes to make the magic happen.
And though it’s optional, a candy thermometer is also a helpful tool for great no-bakes. More about that later.
Here are the ingredients:
- 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
- 3/4 cup (180g) creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
- 3 1/4 cups (295g) quick-cooking oats
The process goes fast, so have all of your ingredients measured out and ready to go before you start.
Making the Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
- Put the butter, sugar, and milk in the pot over medium heat and let them melt, stirring occasionally with the wooden spoon.
- Meanwhile, line the counter (or a couple of cookie sheets) with parchment paper.
- Once everything in the pot is melted and stirred, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil.
- Then turn your timer to about two minutes.
- When time is up, immediately remove the boiled mixture from the heat.
- Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla.
- Stir in the oats.
- Using the cookie scoop, plop the soft cookie mix onto the parchment paper.
- Let set until they cool and harden, between 15 and 40 minutes.
Storing Your No-Bakes (if they last that long!)
Either leave these goodies out in an airtight container for three to four days, or store in the refrigerator for a week.
If you made a bunch and have a need to freeze, use a good freezer bag or container, and they will still be tasty for up to three months.
Although making no-bake cookies are a fairly simple process, there is a bit of chemistry involved. The recipe’s sugar is what give the cookies their consistency, and it needs to crystallize before it will harden.
That crystallization happens during the boiling process.
Unfortunately, if the sugar mixture doesn’t boil long enough or hot enough, the sugar won’t crystalize, and the cookies will remain gooey. However, if you boil the mixture too long, the cookies will be hard and crumbly.
One way to avoid both of these extremes is by using a candy thermometer during the boiling process.
Put the thermometer in the mixture while it’s boiling by clipping it to the pot, making sure the thermometer is not touching the pot’s bottom.
When the mixture reaches the soft ball candy stage—somewhere between 235° and 240°F (112° to 115°C)—it’s ready to be removed from the heat.
If you don’t have a thermometer, try using the ice water method.
Have a small bowl of iced water next to the stove, and once your mixture has boiled for about two minutes, drop a little bit of it into the water. If you can grab the mixture and form a soft ball, your sugar mixture is ready.
The peanut butter no-bake cookie is itself a variation of its more popular cousin, the chocolate no-bake, but it also has its own variations including a microwave version, healthier versions, and variations on the theme.
If you’re going completely stoveless on this, the microwave is also a viable heat source.
Put the first three ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl, put in the microwave (on high) for two minutes. Stir, and then microwave for another two minutes before continuing on with the recipe.
Keep in mind that, like ovens, some microwaves run hotter than others, so adjust accordingly.
Healthier Versions of Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
It goes without saying that healthier ingredients will make healthier cookies and without compromising on the taste.
For instance, instead of using regular peanut butter, you can try a natural brand, a powdered PB, or almond butter.
Instead of whole milk, you could use 2%, skim, almond, or soy.
And instead of sugar, you could use honey, maple syrup, or even coconut oil (though the amount will be different).
One blogger even boasts of a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan version of the cookie. Not only that, his healthy version only uses three ingredients!
Sprucing up these cookies is a fairly easy affair and can be done by adding any number of items. Please keep in mind though, these cookies are already pretty sweet, so either go easy or adjust the original recipe to include a little less sweetener.
Chocolate: For everyone’s favorite treat combo, you can either drizzle chocolate over the cool, finished cookies; press a few mini-chips into each as cookies cool; or add a Hershey’s Kiss atop each cookie, peanut-butter-blossom style.
Candy: If these cookies aren’t festive enough, you make try adding sugar crystals, mini-M&Ms, or other little candies. Like the chocolate, these items should be added after cookies have cooled a bit to keep additions from melting into an ugly mess.
Fruit: Raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries would make a great addition to this cookie and could be added when you add the oatmeal to the boiled sugar mixture.
Nuts and Other: One easy variation in this category is using crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy, but any chopped nut would pair well including walnuts, pecans, or almonds. Chia and flax seeds would also serve as wonderful ways to change up the recipe, and even make these cookies a little healthier!
Is your sweet tooth fired up yet? Good, then hop to it, and happy baking—I mean no baking!