Preacher Cookies


Preacher cookies came about in the early 1900s and quickly became a staple in the southern United States and parts of Canada. Since then, their popularity has grown and spread to other areas of North America. These delicious treats are commonly served at weddings, funerals, and some baptisms. They are a tasty way to comfort those who are going through a rough time. You will learn more about them from reading this article than you ever imagined!


These Classic No-Bake Cookies only require a few simple ingredients and are incredibly easy to make. Loaded with peanut butter, oats, and cocoa powder, these cookies are perfect for an easy dessert!

Several no-bake cookies on a piece of parchment paper.

Do you have a favorite cookie? One that you absolutely love and could probably eat the entire batch if you’re left alone with them? Besides a good chocolate chip cookie, I’ve always loved no-bake cookies.

Whenever we were kids and we wanted something sweet, my mom would whip up a batch of these cookies. And to be honest, we hardly ever waited for them to cool completely before we dug in.

One thing that I love about these cookies is how easy they are to make. You can prepare a batch in about 15 to 20 minutes, then all you have to do is wait for them to cool. 

And the best part? You probably have everything on hand to make these right now! And even if you don’t, once you make a batch you’ll make sure to have everything on hand for next time. Trust me.

The ingredients needed to make classic no-bake cookies in different bowls and measuring cups on a gray surface.


Before you get started making the cookies, I suggest getting all of your ingredients ready and measuring them out. This will make the process go much smoother, and the quicker you get everything combined after the mixture has boiled the better the cookies will turn out.

Here’s a quick overview of exactly what you will need:

  • Butter: I prefer to use butter in this recipe because it tastes better. I have tested it with margarine though and it does work just fine.
  • Milk: Any kind of milk will work in this recipe! I typically use whole milk, but 2%, 1%, skim, or even a non-dairy milk like almond milk will work.
  • Granulated Sugar: To sweeten the cookies and help them set up.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: This adds a delicious chocolate flavor to these cookies. Natural unsweetened or Dutch-process cocoa powder both work great.
  • Peanut Butter: I recommend using a no-stir creamy peanut butter like Jif or Skippy. Crunchy peanut butter is fine too!
  • Vanilla Extract: For a little flavor.
  • Quick-Cooking Oats: I find that quick-cooking oats work best in this no-bake cookie recipe because they’re smaller and not quite as chewy.
The butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa powder in a large saucepan after it's been melted together and boiled for one minute. A rubber spatula rests inside the saucepan.


To start, line a couple of large baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

Next, combine the sliced butter, granulated sugar, milk, and cocoa powder in a large saucepan and place it over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, bring the mixture to a rolling boil and allow it to boil for one minute.

Now here’s another important thing, set a timer for exactly 60 seconds once the mixture comes to a rolling boil. In other words, the top is completely covered in bubbles. If you boil it too long, the no-bake cookies will turn out dry and if you don’t boil it long enough they won’t set properly. Timing is very important here!

The no-bake cookie mixture in a large saucepan after the peanut butter and vanilla has been mixed in. A rubber spatula rests inside the saucepan.

The finished no-bake cookie mixture after the oats have been mixed into it.

Once the timer goes off, remove it from the heat, and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla extract until it’s nice and smooth. Add the quick-cooking oats and stir them in until all of the oats are coated with the mixture.

Then, use a cookie scoop to scoop the mixture and drop cookies onto the prepared baking sheets. I like to use the back of the cookie scoop or a spoon to flatten each one out a bit so they cool faster.

The cookies will be very soft at first, but will continue to set up more as they cool. Mine usually take about 20 to 30 minutes to fully set up, but they’re delicious warm too!

Several no-bake cookies on a piece of parchment paper. A cookie with a bite taken out of it is leaning on top of another cookie.



The main reason that chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies don’t set up is because the mixture did not boil long enough. Make sure to wait and set your timer once the mixture comes to a rolling boil. In other words, the top is completely covered in bubbles. If you set the timer too soon, then the cookies may not set up.

If you’re cookies don’t fully set up after 2o to 30 minutes, you can place them in the refrigerator to help them firm up. Some readers have also mentioned that they will microwave a few cookies at a time for a few seconds and this helps them to finish setting up too.


Yes, absolutely! Once the cookies have cooled completely, you may freeze them in a freezer bag or freezer-friendly storage container for up to 3 months. When you are ready to enjoy the cookies, place them on the counter and let them come to room temperature. 


You may used old-fashioned rolled oats in these cookies, but they will be chewier. I recommend using quick-cooking oats if possible or pulsing the old-fashioned rolled oats in a food processor 2 or 3 times to break them down. 

A stack of several no-bake cookies.


  • Make sure to gather your ingredients and measure everything out before you get started with these cookies, it will make the whole process much smoother!
  • After you remove the mixture from the heat, work quickly to stir in the remaining ingredients and scoop the mixture. If you let it sit for too long, the cookies may turn out dry.
  • For cookies that are perfectly round and uniform in size, I highly recommend using a cookie scoop!

Preacher Cookies (Gluten Free No-Bake)

Preacher Cookies are naturally gluten free no-bake cookies loaded with chocolate, oats, and a touch of peanut butter for the perfect emergency sweet fix. These cookies are so quick and easy, they can be whipped up in minutes when an unexpected guest, or preacher, arrives at your door!

a stack of preacher cookies with a bite taken out of the top one

Many claim this cookie recipe to be one of their first experiences with “baking.” No bake cookies have definitely endured the test of time with me. Countless batches were made at the hands of my sisters and I growing up.

After transitioning to a gluten free diet years ago, I was delighted to realize Preacher Cookies, like my Halloween-inspired No Bake Spider Cookies and gluten-free rice krispies treats, require no special adaptations to become a gluten free no-bake cookie recipe! Even more, these cookies can easily be transformed into a dairy free or vegan version as well. See below for the easy modifications.


Like I said, Preacher Cookies are ideal for making treats in a flash! All the ingredients are commonly on hand and they can be prepared in little as 10 minutes start-to-finish!

  • Butter – I always have unsalted butter on hand, but salted butter may be used by omitting the salt from the recipe.
  • Sugar – Use granulated sugar, or for a bit of a spin, use 50 / 50 blend of sugar and brown sugar.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Salt
  • Milk – For best results use at least 2%, but whatever you have on hand will work, as well as non-dairy milk.
  • Peanut Butter – Creamy or crunchy, or substitute any preferred creamy nut butter, such as almond butter.
  • Quick Oats – For a gluten free no-bake cookies recipe, be sure to use certified gluten free oats.
  • Vanilla Extract


images showing how to make preacher cookies recipe
  1. Since this recipe comes together so quickly, it’s best to have your ingredients measured out and prepared beforehand. Place the sugar, cocoa powder, butter, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan. Measure out the peanut butter, quick oats, and vanilla. Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and set aside.
  2. Bring the sugar / butter mixture to a full boil over medium heat. Once it begins to boil, cook and stir constantly for 1 minute. It’s best to set a timer to be very precise.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in peanut butter, oats, and vanilla.
  4. Use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to quickly drop the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool and harden, then enjoy!


To make gluten free no-bake preacher cookies, be sure to use certified gluten free quick oats. While all oats are naturally gluten free, they are commonly processed on equipment shared with wheat products. Certified GF oats are guaranteed to be safe to consume, if you can tolerate oats.

To make dairy free or vegan cookies, substitute dairy free milk, such as almond milk, and use plant-based butter, such as Earth Balance butter sticks. Omit the salt from the recipe if using vegan butter because it tends to be a little saltier than traditional butter.

a stack of no bake cookies with red string tied around them



No bake cookies fail to harden when the mixture hasn’t boiled long enough. Typically I cook the butter / sugar mixture about 5 seconds over just to be sure they set up. Do not cook over that, though, or the cookies will become dry and crumbly.

To ensure they harden, first have the mixture come to a full, rolling boil over medium heat. Set a timer for 1 minute and then remove from the heat. Like peanut brittle, the timing is essential for having the cookies set properly.

If they don’t harden, after cooling completely, either refrigerate or freeze them to set them up. They will have to be stored in the fridge or freezer to stay firm, though. They may be enjoyed cold and are still amazing!


Yes. If you only have old fashioned rolled oats on hand they may be used in the same amount. However, I believe the texture to be better with quick oats because the ingredients meld together more.


No. You can also enjoy preacher cookies without peanut butter. Simply leave it out and continue with the recipe.

On the other hand, you can also add more peanut butter if you are looking for a more pronounced peanut butter taste. Adding 1/3 cup gives a more subtle hint of peanut butter, but up to 2/3 cup may be added.


Yes. If you prefer another type of nut butter, or have an allergy, you may use creamy almond butter, cashew, or sunflower seed butter.


Give no-bake preacher cookies your own personal spin by adding some of the suggestions below!

  • Coconut: Omit the peanut butter and add 1/2 cup shredded coconut.
  • Mocha: Add 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder to the cocoa powder.
  • Double Chocolate: When adding the oats and peanut butter, stir in up to 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips. They will harden as the mixture cools, giving a more robust chocolate taste.
  • Sweet & Salty: Before the cookies harden sprinkle tops with flaky sea salt.

No-bake cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to a week. To store longer, or if it is particularly humid, store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Preacher Cookies {No Bake}

These No-Bake Preacher Cookies may have been in our family for years, but they are still melt in your mouth delicious every time you make them! 

You’ve probably heard of these cookies or even tasted them at a barbeque or potluck. It’s an oldie but goodie recipe, and SO easy to make. 

Stack of No Bake Preacher Cookies with text overlay

One reason Preacher Cookies are my favorite is the irresistible combination of chocolate and peanut butter. But I’m not the only one who loves them – these tasty treats are one of my most-requested cookies to take to parties.

And as a mom whose children always requested things at the last minute, these no bake cookies were a lifesaver for class snacks, bake sales and team dinners. They also make for an easy afternoon snack.

Why Are They Called Preacher Cookies? 

While I can’t verify 100%, I’ve heard in days gone by preachers would often show up unexpectedly at congregation member’s homes. The lady of the house would feel compelled to serve a little treat to the visiting clergyman.

These cookies were an obvious choice because they are easy to make, don’t require baking and are made with pantry staples.

If you are new to the recipe you may call them no-bake cookies or no-bake oatmeal cookies. Even local grocery stores have started stocking their bakery racks with these.

But save your money – the grocery store version is NOWHERE NEAR as good as the homemade ones! Frankly, if you were to try the store-bought preacher cookies before you had the homemade ones, you probably wouldn’t even like them. 

ingredients labeled for no bake preacher cookies

Ingredients for No Bake Preacher Cookies 

Salted Butter 

Granulated Sugar

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – this is my favorite high-quality brand


Peanut Butter – I would recommend the smooth kind only because I haven’t tested this recipe with crunchy.


Quick Cooking Oats

Kitchen Tools Needed: 

  • Mixing Bowl 
  • Measuring Cup
  • Saucepan
  • Baking Pans 
  • Wax or Parchment Paper
  • Cookie Scoop or spoon

How To Make the Best Preacher Cookies

Step 1 – Go ahead and line your baking pans or cookie sheets so they are ready to drop the cookies on. 

Step 2 – Start by adding the oats, peanut butter, and vanilla to a bowl and set aside. Don’t mix these just yet.

image on the left is oats and peanut butter in a bowl. the image on the right is the butter and sugar mixture in a pot.

Step 3 – Grab your favorite saucepan and mix together the butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa powder. 

Step 4 – Bring the ingredients to a rolling boil and let them boil for 1 minute.

Step 5 – After one minute, take the pan off the stove and stir in the oat mixture you set aside earlier. Stir quickly until everything is mixed together.

cookie mixture boiling on the left. adding the oats and peanut butter on the right.

Step 6 – Drop the cookies onto the baking pans using a cookie scoop or two spoons. 

Step 7 – Let the cookies cool and set up before serving. If they aren’t setting up as quickly as you would like, pop the tray in the refrigerator for a couple of minutes. 

No Bake Preacher cookies on parchment paper with mixing bowl behind it

Tips for Making, Storing, and Freezing

  • Have all your kitchen gadgets out and ready, along with your ingredients measured. This cookie recipe goes pretty fast once you get started.
  • Set a timer so you don’t overcook the butter and sugar mixture. Your cookies will be crumbly if you boil too long.  
  • Store cookies in an airtight container in the fridge once they have cooled. 
  • To freeze, place cookies in a single layer in a freezer bag. If you have more than one layer, add parchment paper in between the layers. 
  • To thaw, allow the cookies to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.

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