How to Make the Best No-Bake Cookies

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Treats. Linda Larsen

No-bake cookies are very easy to make, and are a fabulous first recipe to get your kids started in the kitchen. But there are some secrets to making the best cookies. Follow the recipe instructions carefully and use these tips every time you try one of my easy recipes.

  • Assemble all of the ingredients before you begin. In fact, measure all of the ingredients before you start cooking. These recipes go together fast. When you're adding ingredients to hot syrups and melted mixtures, you don't want to stop to measure the next ingredient, because the recipe can be ruined.
  • Be sure that the sugar is completely dissolved when you are heating the sauce that starts some of these recipes before you add the thickening ingredients (peanut butter, cereal, chocolate). Most no-bake cookies start with a sugar syrup. If the sugar isn't completely dissolved, the cookies will be grainy. Scoop up a bit of the syrup (be careful - it's hot!) in a metal spoon and look at it carefully. You shouldn't be able to see any crystals.
  • When making syrups, especially in the microwave, be sure to rinse the spoon off under very hot water after each time you stir the syrup. The sugar crystals on the spoon could re-introduce crystals into the mixture when you stir it, and the whole thing could seize up, resulting in a grainy mess.
  • Follow cooking instructions to the letter. Every single time. Some of these recipes are simply mixed, then formed, while others are heated in the microwave or on the stovetop before shaping. Be sure that ingredients are melted according to the instructions before you continue.
  • If your kids are making these recipes, be sure they understand food safety, how to handle hot mixtures, and basic kitchen safety. And be sure they use hot pads and never, ever, lick a spoon containing hot syrup or use bare fingers to scrape off the spoon or knife. That's a really good way to burn yourself.
  • Use the back of a buttered spoon or measuring cup to press the mixture into the pan if you're making a bar cookie. The mixture can be very sticky and are usually hot, so don't use your fingers.
  • Store these recipes, well covered, at room temperature. If the cookies or the cookie mixture is very hot, you can put them in the fridge until they are cool, but the texture and flavor will be better if they are eaten at room temperature.