Holiday Recipe: Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

This time of year brings plenty of parties, which also means plenty of food. As a dietitian, people seem to assume I’m going to be the one bringing the fruit or veggie tray to every pitch-in I attend. Here’s the thing though. I love fruits and vegetables, but I REALLY love a good pitch-in.

Truth be told, dessert is my weapon of choice when it comes to holidays/parties/any excuse for me to bring food.

I’ve got quite a sweet tooth, believe it or not, and I love to bake. I’ll blame the sweet tooth on genetics, because that’s a thing, right? Events that allow me to share with a group of people are a beautiful thing because I can make my favorite recipes without having the entire thing to myself. That’s a dangerous situation even for someone who talks about nutrition all day every day.  Plus, I’m all about indulging every now and then. In fact, if I have learned anything as a dietitian, it’s that balance is key.

In my expert opinion, cookies are absolutely part of a balanced diet. Especially these cookies.

Chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies on green tea towel with spoon

My absolute favorite dessert contribution is a no-bake cookie. Before you roll your eyes and assume you know your way around a no-bake, hear me out. Your average no-bake cookie is dry, thick and mostly peanut butter. Not these. These no-bakes are heavy on the chocolate and almost (ALMOST) too fudgy to hold together. They melt in your mouth, and I challenge you to stop after eating only one.

Chocolate peanut butter oatmeal no bake cookies on wax paper quartz countertop

The recipe for these babies comes from my mom’s side of the family. My cousins and I actually fight over who gets to make them when we plan a gathering. We don’t brawl or anything crazy like that, but there is definitely a pretty intense game of dibs every year. Who doesn’t want to bring the star of the dessert table? I’m telling you, these cookies are simple, but they’re a big deal.

Stack of chocolate peanut butter oatmeal no bake cookies on quartz countertop

Recently,  I decided to let my cousin be the designated cookie-maker. Because I’m an adult. And also because I can just make them for my husband’s family, as they have become a regular request at their gatherings too. You might even say these cookies got me accepted into the family.

Just kidding, I think.

The best thing about this recipe is how easy it is. No baking! Only one pan gets dirty! Only 8 VERY basic ingredients! You get the point. Anyone can make these cookies.

Chocolate no-bake cookies pinterest image with spoon of peanut butter

Some Tips:

  1. DO NOT use natural peanut butter or almond butter or any alternative where the oil separates. Your cookies won’t set up and you’ll end up eating them with a spoon. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
  2. There’s not much wiggle room when it comes to boiling for 1-minute. I’m sure there’s a way to use a candy thermometer to find a more exact stopping point for cooking. Boiling for a minute always works for me. If you under-boil, you risk the cookies not setting up (in which case you just eat them with a spoon and move on). If you over-boil, they could be dry. 
Pan of warm chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies with spoon

So, this is the consistency you’re looking for before you start dropping these cookies. I usually start with 1 cup of oats, and add 1/4 cup at a time until I get this. Try to resist eating them straight from the pan.

Actually, leave a little in the pan on purpose and treat yo’self.

That’s it. Go get (no) baking!

Title image stack of chocolate no-bake cookies holiday dessert

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

Makes approximately 30 cookies (this will vary depending on size)
Prep time: 5 min
Total Time: 1 hr, 5 min


2 c white granulated sugar
½ c 2% milk
½ c cocoa powder, unsweetened
½ c (1 stick) butter
Dash of salt
½ c peanut butter (creamy or chunky, but do not use natural)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1½- 2 c  quick cook oats

  1.  In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, cocoa powder, butter and salt.
  2.  Bring to a boil and stir constantly. Boil for 1 minute only. Remove from heat, and stir in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.
  3.  Add 1 c oats. Slowly add another 1/4c at a time while stirring, until desired consistency (see image above).
  4. Drop with spoon onto wax paper and let cool approximately 1 hour.

These cookies are perfect for the holidays especially if you’re a procrastinator like me. I almost always have the ingredients on hand, and they’re super quick to throw together.

From a nutritional standpoint (I AM a dietitian, after all) – Yeah, these cookies are mostly sugar and fat, but they also have protein thanks to peanut butter, and fiber from the oats! So, we’ll call it even, for the sake of the holidays.

Do you like cooking or baking during the holidays, or does it stress you out? Let me know in the comments! Be sure to share this post too, for anyone else who may need a quick, but killer cookie recipe.

If you want to read more from me, or work with me on a 1:1 basis, check out my website and instagram. My goal is to help people improve their relationship with food and to live their healthiest lives. I’d love to help you, too!

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Holiday dessert chocolate peanut butter no bake cookies with oatmeal on tea towel

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