How To Fix Runny No-Bake Cookies | The Best Way

To fix runny no-bake cookies, boil your mix longer. Don’t start the timer for your butter, milk, cocoa, and sugar mixture before it starts boiling or before reaching a full, rolling boil. Instead, start the timer after the mixture is fully boiling. This will give the cookies a chance to set after mixing.

Making cooking with perfect consistency takes practice. In this article, I will explore different ways you can adjust the recipe to make sure your no-bake cookies come out just right.

No Bake Cookies on Parchment Paper

How To Prepare Your No-Bake Cookies Properly

No-bake cookies come with a relatively simple recipe. You don’t need many ingredients, and you don’t have to worry about baking the cookies. The key to having them come out just right is to follow the recipe in order without taking shortcuts or getting impatient.

The first part of your recipe includes butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and milk. You should mix those together over medium-high heat and stir. You want to wait until that mixture is at a rolling boil before you start timing. This means you have more than a few bubbles showing up; they should be bubbling all across the surface.

A common mistake among many beginners is that they only bring the mixture to a simmer (when the edges of the pot start to bubble). You want a full boiling pot with bubbles forming in the middle of the mixture for the best results.

Once the mixture reaches that rolling boil, let it keep boiling for one to two minutes. This is the time you need for the sugar to caramelize, so you get the right consistency for your cookies. 

At that point, you can kill the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Scoop the cookies onto parchment paper, and give them thirty to forty-five minutes to set.

How Long Does It Take for No-Bake Cookies To Harden?

It takes between 30 and 45 minutes for no-bake cookies to harden if you leave them on the counter. If you want to speed up the process, you can put them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or in the freezer for ten to fifteen minutes.

If you have waited for that long and the cookies still haven’t hardened, you may need to go back and make an adjustment. You might need to boil for longer to make sure the sugar has long enough to cook in with the rest of the mixture.

How Do You Know if You’ve Boiled Long Enough?

If you have a candy thermometer, you can use that while boiling. You want the temperature to reach between 235 and 240 degrees Fahrenheit (113-116 degrees Celsius). Once it hits that point, your mixture is ready to remove from the heat, and mix in your oats, vanilla, and peanut butter.

The candy thermometer method is ideal because, ultimately, the internal temperature determines whether you’ve applied enough heat to caramelize the sugar at the right level. Cooking for too long, or cooking at too high a temperature, takes you past the point you want to reach. Similarly, not boiling for long enough or at high enough a temperature gets you runny no-bake cookies.

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can still use the timer and boiling process to make sure you boil for long enough but not too much. This may require some trial and error when you are first starting, but as you get a feel for the timing in your kitchen, this can become a reliable recipe you know well.

This is a similar process to making fudge. You may want to check out this article: How To Fix Fudge That Didn’t Set (3 Methods).

How Can You Thicken No-Bake Cookies?

Cookie thickness is a little different from density. You can have thick, runny cookies just as you can have less dense but dry cookies. If they have the right consistency, you may still want to thicken them. However, you can have thick cookies that still come out runny.

Sometimes your cookies set, but you don’t get as dense or thick a cookie as you would prefer. In this case, an easy way to add some heft to your no-bake cookies is to add more oats. This provides a little more thickness and texture to your end result here.

Boiling for a bit longer will also lead to a thicker cookie, but you run the risk of it becoming too dry. If the cookie sets at the level you boil it, adding oats to the mixture will usually be a safer way to thicken it while keeping the no-bake cookies moist.

What if My No-Bake Cookies Are Too Crumbly?

Just as you might not boil your initial mixture for long enough, you can run into problems if you boil for too long. Make sure you set your timer for one to two minutes after the mixture has reached a rolling boil. Sometimes two minutes will be too long; many recipes call for exactly one minute.

No-bake cookies don’t take long to prepare. Stay by the stovetop while your timer runs so that you’re ready when it’s time to take it off. Too little time boiling keeps your cookies from setting, but too much will leave them dry and crumbly.

If you only boil for one minute and the cookie still comes out crumbly, you may be setting the heat too high. Aim for medium-high heat—you may need to lower it a bit if your cookie is crumbly after just a minute of boiling time. This will keep the sugar from caramelizing too quickly. You may need to adjust that level depending on how well or poorly your stove top heats up.

Can You Reheat No-Bake Cookies?

You can reheat no-bake cookies. If the cookies aren’t setting properly, you may need to go back and boil the mix a little longer. Doing so will ensure they’re ready to harden. 

Preparing no-bake cookies requires some trial and error before you learn to get them just right. Fortunately, the recipe is easy and flexible enough to allow you to play with it. Adding more oats or boiling for a little longer can make the difference in getting the cookies to set just how you want them.

Can You Put No-Bake Cookies in the Freezer to Set?

You can use the freezer to help your no-bake cookies set. Plan to freeze them for just five to ten minutes, then check on them. If that doesn’t do the trick, you probably need to go back to boil them longer.

If you use the freezer to set the cookies, make sure to keep them on a cookie sheet, ideally with parchment paper. Keep them spread out as well to keep them from running together before they have a chance to set completely. 

Also note that, when you use the refrigerator or freezer to help no-bake cookies set more quickly, you’ll change the taste and consistency just a little. As you practice with the recipe, you should pay attention to the differences you get with each approach. 

Should You Use Quick Oats or Slow-Cooking Oats in No-Bake Cookies?

Most kinds of oats will work for a no-bake cookie recipe. The oat type shouldn’t be the reason the cookies are too runny or too dry. However, it’ll impact the texture and mouthfeel of your cookies. None is wrong, but you’ll almost certainly prefer one kind over the others.

A bowl of oats with a scoop

Some recipes will insist on quick oats, while others recommend traditional oats. The choice, ultimately, comes down to a matter of tastes. After all, you want a cookie you can enjoy for the taste and texture you get. Here’s a short breakdown of the differences among the oats you might use.

Quick Oats

Most of the recipes you find will recommend quick oats for your no-bake cookie recipe. These oats are smaller and finer than the other types, so they give you a lighter, softer texture than the other types. If you don’t want your cookie to be chewy or crunchy, quick oats will provide you with the texture you want.

Traditional/Slow Oats

Traditional oats are a bit bigger than quick oats. They’ll give you a chewier cookie than you get with quick oats. If you like a chewier, slower-eating cookie, traditional oats may be a better ingredient. If you prefer lighter cookies, opt for quick oats instead.

Rolled Oats

Rolled oats are bigger and firmer than the other types. Using rolled oats in a no-bake cookie will make it crunchier than the other types of oats provide. For fans of crunchy cookies, this can work well. Otherwise, you should use one of the other types of oats.

Final Thoughts

The biggest reason your no-bake cookies are runny is that you don’t boil your mixture for long enough. Fortunately, no-bake cookies are a pretty forgiving recipe. You can go back and boil it for as long as necessary.

Experiment a bit, and before long, you’ll have perfect cookies every time. Once you find the right techniques for your kitchen and your palate, you’ll have a go-to recipe you can enjoy any time.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss 5 Best Chocolates for Melting (And How to Use Them).

Anne James

Anne James has a wealth of experience in a wide array of interests and is an expert in quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, mixing drinks (bartending), and making jelly. Anne has a professional canning business, has been featured in the local newspaper as well as on the Hershey website, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is. With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass. Amazingly, she doesn’t need to reference many resources due to her vast wealth of experience. She IS the source. Anne wants nothing more than to pass on her extensive knowledge to the next generations, whether that be family or anyone visiting her website, her YouTube channel, or survivalfreedom.com.

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