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Why Won't My No Bake Cookies Harden?

Updated on November 23, 2012

Consistently Getting The Right Consistency

It has been my experience, as less than a culinary expert, that the best of recipes can turn out disastrous results, even when all steps in the cooking process are followed to a tee. While there are many great cooks out there, the rest of us who consider ourselves less-than-perfect in the kitchen are forced to leave the results of our culinary efforts to chance. And, so, we rely on simple recipes, with few ingredients, that are easy to make. If there is one such recipe - especially where desserts are concerned - it is for the no bake cookie...or so one would think.

I am the mother of a toddler. I don't have a lot of time for cooking or baking, let alone doing much of anything else besides taking care of my sweet little one. My husband and I are on a budget. So, when it comes to food cravings of any kind, we usually have to work with whatever ingredients we have on hand. Since I enjoy baking (or, experimenting with baking - whatever those who are subjected to my sweet concoctions want to call it), I usually keep some sweet-tooth staples around, like sugar, cocoa powder, sticks of margarine, chopped nuts, etc. My latest baking fad has been no bake cookies, since they are quick, delicious, require no time in the oven, and are great for alleviating chocolate cravings. My daughter enjoys them too, of course! They are perfect for kids.

One of the biggest problems I have encountered when making no bake cookies is that it's sometimes difficult to get them to harden properly. Sometimes, they don't harden at all! After making several batches of these scrumptious little morsels, all with different results, I have discovered some variables that play a role in whether my cookies will set well or not. Here are a few tips:

1. Use the right kind of milk

First, the type of milk I use in the cookie base makes a difference. Whole milk makes for a much better consistency than skim milk or 1% milk. I can only assume that this is because of the fat content of the milk. Whole milk is naturally more creamy than its reduced fat counterparts, so it adds to the overall texture and flavor of the cookies. (Fortunately, since my daughter is less than two years old, I keep whole milk around all the time.)

2. Measure very carefully

Second, the amount of milk mixed into the base makes a big difference. I have found that too much milk makes the base a little too runny, and the cookies will not set the way they should. Using correct measurements is key. Since I don't often need to make two or three dozen cookies at a time, I tend to cut some of my recipes in half. Making sure that my measurements are exact is essential.

3. Bring to a full rolling boil before timing

Third, different no bake cookie recipes call for different boiling times. Some require that the cookie base be boiled for one minute, while others call for two or three minutes. In my experience, one minute is sometimes not enough to get it to the right consistency. All of the ingredients need the right amount of time to melt together properly, so be sure to follow your recipe as well as your instincts on this. If your cookie base seems too thick or not mixed well enough, it probably needs a little more boiling time. Also, an important trick I have learned is to make sure that the cookie base comes to a full rolling boil before beginning to time it. If the timer starts too soon, the base will not thicken enough.

4. Use peanut butter or a peanut butter substitute

Last, while peanut butter is a key ingredient in many no bake cookie recipes, there are some recipes out there that do not require the use of peanut butter. I have found, however, that it naturally adds a thicker consistency to the cookie base. Of course, peanut allergies are sometimes an issue. In this case, using a peanut butter substitute may be helpful. For information on peanut butter alternatives, and other peanut substitutes, you can visit This site also sells the brands that are mentioned, which makes it a great one-stop-shop.

My favorite no bake cookie recipe, so far, has been the following from I usually cut this recipe in half and it still makes almost two dozen cookies.

A good thing to remember with no bake cookies is that they require no eggs. Why is this a good thing, you wonder? Well...this creates a perfect opportunity for that member of your household (usually me, in my case) who always likes to "lick the bowl" before tasting the finished product to do just that without fear!

I hope these few tips will help those who are on the quest to make the perfect no bake cookie, like me. Happy baking!


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    • profile image

      Kristi 2 years ago

      I make these all the time. I've used 2% and skim. The amount of time I boil the sugar mixture determines the hardness of the cookies. Too long and they crumble, too little and they won't harden.

    • Jenixon profile image

      Jen 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Susan! Yes, I'm sure there must be a way around having to use whole milk when it's not readily available. We usually keep whole and skim around, but I can't stand the taste of whole milk on my cereal! :) I'm sure that once my daughter gets past the whole stuff, I'll have to figure something else out too. I just made a batch of the cookies last night that turned out perfectly! Please let me know what else you find out there regarding the milk issue. I would love to know too!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I was going to make something the other day and the recipe required whole milk and all I had in the house was 1% so I didn't make the recipe. I may have to research what to do in this case as I'm sure there must be a way to get around it.

      Enjoyed your first hub and wanted to say Welcome to HubPages.