We have made the standard type of these for years, using a recipe similar to this one 3-Minute No-Bake Cookies.

A problem we have sometimes is that the sugar will not set (I think). The cookie should be slightly crumbly and have a granular(?) texture.

However sometimes the cookies will not set properly. The cookies remain gooey and will not harden even after a day or two.

As far as I can tell, the same recipe is followed each time. Possible variables might be boiling temperature (by eyeball, not using a thermometer), the timing of removing the heat and adding the oats, or the humidity (we are in a high (70%) RH area, so some ingredients might be affected).

Also we use Nestle Nesquik instead of cocoa. Also margarine instead of butter.

I would appreciate any insight as to why this may be happening.


There is one additional difference from the recipe. We mix the boiled mixture with the oats in a separate bowl, rather than adding the oats to the boiled mixture in that pot. Possibly the cooling time is an issue.


After further experimentation, the best result was obtained by using a Dark Chocolate cocoa powder (which I presume has a higher cacao content, although the products I used did not state any percentage). Even the result of other milk chocolate cocoa powders was not as good.

UPDATE 12/19/22

Finally got around to making another batch. This time they came out almost perfect. Only two changes from the previous method.

  1. Heat sugar/milk combo really slowly. Maybe 4 (where 5 is Medium), and leave there until the margarine cube on the top is melted. Then raise the temp. just enough to keep it boiling. (cherylee50 mentioned this, thks). In my recipe, then boil for 6 min.

  2. Use a full 8 oz. marshmallow creme per the recipe. I was using only 7 oz. as that is the jar size these days.

  • 15
    I don't know if this is your problem, but Nesquik isn't even close to a substitute for cocoa.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 7:09
  • 2
    The margarine could be a lot softer than the butter as well. Try it I've with the proper ingredients (I assume there's no allergy or similar reason to make these substitutions) and see what happens
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 7:47
  • 4
    The recipe calls for "butter or margarine" Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 11:30
  • @Jolenealaska The Nestle Quik seemed like a possibility as it has many ingredients, but regarding this problem it is random about 75% OK/25% NG. So over time not consistent unless their ingredients have changed. The Nesquik we don't use for anything else, so it can sit in the cupboard for months, which is why I wonder if the humidity is getting to it.
    – user3169
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 3:44
  • 1
    @Sue Yes you are correct. This is why I was concerned about some other factor like boiling temp/time or humidity effect on ingredients or something else that keeps the sugar from crystallizing. They will remain gooey for hours sometimes, but at other times the sugar will crystallize in less than 1 hour. Also I added one additional point to the question.
    – user3169
    Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 22:46

5 Answers 5


I have had thsee problems too. Here is what I found. Margarine has changed over the years. Do not use it for no bakes, use butter. Cocoa is prefer for no bakes. As far as the gritty, or crystallized taste, do not scrape sides of pan when stirring and cooking. Crystals on the edge of the pan start a crystallization in the whole batch when stired inot the pot. It's an old fudge making tip, and no bakes are similar to fudge.


This is what I found to work every time. I always use real butter, not margarine, and real cocoa, and I only add just enough milk to make a thick "mud". Just follow your regular recipe as usual , but only put enough milk in to be able to stir your mixture. Bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly to ensure your sugar melts evenly so it won’t be grainy. Bring to a full rolling boil for one minute and you should have perfect no-bake every time.

  • "Bring to a slow boil" turned out to be a great idea and helped as I mentioned in my edit to my question above. Thanks.
    – user3169
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 21:52

Margarine should be fine - as noted by James, it's called for in the recipe (and the recipe says margarine or butter, not vice versa.)

The huge difference between the recipe and what you are doing (as pointed out by Jolene) is using Nesquick (which is mostly sugar and a little cocoa and a long string of other ingredients) for baking cocoa.

The recipe difference from the "standard recipe" I grew up on is no peanut butter.

Boiling temperature is not critical - "boiling for 3 minutes" is called for, not a particular temperature. Essentially, make sure everything is dissolved/liquified, rather than any "candy-making" transformations.

  • We never used peanut butter so I don't know what impact it makes. While the cocoa/Nesquick is a big difference, I am not sure if that is causing my problem.
    – user3169
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 3:47

No matter how careful I am about not over boiling the sugar mixture I always seem to do it, causing a very dry no-bake cookie. My solution is to scrape all the cookies back in the pan and add enough milk to be able to stir it over low heat. When the liquid is all incorporated I re-scoop the cookies onto the cookie sheets. This always does the trick. I harden them in the fridge and they are nice and moist and creamy.


I notice that some peanut butter or butter have slightly higher fat contents, which in return affects the consistency of the cookies: I found a layer of oil seeping through my wax paper after having used a cheaper peanut butter. And those cookies were soft and "less set". I also appreciate Beez' comment above about scraping the side of the pan, which I would take note next time.

  • Finally, the main improvement points were scraping the side of the pot and using better chocolate powder, and not using powdered chocolate drink mixes.
    – user3169
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 20:38

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