Have you ever been in the mood for cookies, but didn’t want to turn on the oven?
Make a tasty treat in no time at all with a few basic ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now.
From cookie bars to marshmallow crispy treats to oatmeal clusters, the choices are endless when it comes to whipping up a quick and easy dessert.
And I’m more than happy to add to that list, with my cocoa butter balls recipe!
I was introduced to these tiny bite-sized sweets during my first holiday season with my in-laws. My mother-in-law grew up on the plains, and cereal was a common staple in their kitchens.
Quick oats, wheat puffs, and cornflakes were turned into decadent desserts, simply by adding butter, sugar, and other sweeteners like honey and maple syrup.
I remember sitting around the table that year while we shared stories and rolled cookie balls until my hands were coated in cocoa.
Little ones are sure to enjoy helping out in the kitchen, especially when they can make a tasty dessert all on their own.
But what they’ll really love is being able to use their hands to shape the dough… things might get a little messy!
Ready to get your hands dirty? Head to the recipe below, and let’s start rolling some cookies!
|24 small cookies||25 minutes|
Don't feel like turning on the oven to make dessert? Create a quick and yummy no-bake treat with just a few simple ingredients.
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups quick oats
- 1/8 cup cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup granulated Sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 cup water
- 1/2 cup Powdered sugar
- Combine all of the ingredients, except the powdered sugar, in a large bowl. Mix by hand or with a sturdy spoon until a uniform dough forms. Alternatively, mix ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until thoroughly combined.
- Shape the dough by hand into 24 small balls. Place on a plate or tray.
- Once all the cookies are formed, chill them in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until firm.
- When ready to serve, roll the chilled cookies in powdered sugar. Place on a serving tray and enjoy!
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Re-roll in powdered sugar when ready to serve.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep
Gather all of the ingredients you will need for this recipe: butter, quick oats, water, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar.
Step 2 – Make the Dough
Combine all of the ingredients except the powdered sugar in a large bowl. Mix by hand, or with a sturdy spoon. Stir until a uniform dough is formed.
Alternatively, mix the ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until thoroughly combined.
Step 3 – Roll
Roll the mixture by hand into small balls that are about 1/2 inch big. The yield will be around 2 dozen. They should hold their shape firmly, without drooping or falling apart.
If the dough is falling apart, mix in more water, a teaspoon at a time.
If it is drooping after shaping, chill the dough for about 20 minutes to make it slightly firmer, and try again.
Place the rolled cookies on a plate or tray.
Step 4 – Chill
Chill them for about 1 hour, or until they are completely firm. Keep them chilled until it’s time for dessert.
Step 5 – Roll in Powdered Sugar and Serve
When ready to serve, place the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll each cookie in the powdered sugar until completely coated.
Serve and enjoy!
A Handful of Scrumptious Fun!
Hand-rolled desserts are so much fun to make in the kitchen, especially when the kids are helping.
These no-bake cocoa butter balls will be sure to entertain anyone who makes this recipe. And they are an even bigger delight to eat.
Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. But they will surely be gone before the week is up!
These treats freeze very well – we’ve made a triple batch before, and stored them in the freezer.
Just wait to roll them in powdered sugar until you’re ready to serve. The coating will slowly dissolve if the cookies aren’t eaten soon after rolling them.
If you like this recipe, try our recipe for peanut butter and jelly balls. It’s another snack-worthy treat your kids will love. And take a peek at all of our other cookie goodies!
For healthier bite-sized sweets with no dairy or gluten, you don’t have to turn on the oven for our coconut dream truffles or cacao bliss balls!
Don’t forget to Pin It!
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published March 20th, 2015. Revised and updated September 6th, 2017, with additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Jennifer Swartvagher
Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.
37 thoughts on “Butter Balls – A Deliciously Simple No-Bake Cookie”
Ummm, I’m going to have to give these a try soon. I have been on the hunt for a butter cookie recipe that’s actually sweet enough for a while now. I know they exist because I’ve eaten them.
Looks like a foolproof recipe and one that is also vegetarian. I’ve not tried to my knowledge an unbaked cookie, but as the sugar is used for coating, I am assuming I could use something else, like cocoa powder?
I have never tried them coated in cocoa powder, but I imagine they would be good that way too.
I am looking for no cook cookie recipes, so this is helpful. I ran across a recipe months ago and wasn’t able to find it again when I needed it. So, I am going to bookmark this one. The combination of oats, vanilla and carob is one of my favorites. I will replace the butter with coconut oil and I will be good to go.
How quick and easy are these! Living in the UK, I’d never even heard of butter balls until now and I have to say, they look delicious!
I agree with everyone else these certainly look delicious! I am having my niece and nephew over this weekend and I was looking for a way to get them into the kitchen. I think this the perfect recipe to make with them because they can help me the whole way along without me having to worry about them around the stove or the oven. My aunt will certainly love these too as she is vegetarian, so it his something her kids can take home and share with their mom!
This is a great recipe to introduce kids to baking. Hope you have a great time!
I have never heard of these before, this is a really cool recipe that I am going to have to try. I have heard of no bake oatmeal cookies and they are delicious. I like that this recipe is so simple, it would be fun to make with kids.
The picture of the butter balls remind me of doughnut holes.
Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Like the reviewer before me, these really made my SO and I think of donut holes! Instant hunger there. I am usually not a fan of oat-anything, but they look so appealing and so easy to make that I might just be tempted to attempt them.
Nice. I bet they’re so easy to make and very fun to boot! I can’t help but feel excited for new ideas and recipes like this that I could use to cook with my kids. Our home is very activity-filled and sometimes I run out of ideas. Thanks for giving out great ideas consistently!
Wow! I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a treat that wouldn’t need too many materials and an require this use of an oven. This is probably it! I’m not much of a baker but even I could probably hack this out. I want to try it as early as possible *w*.
So, what’s the consistency? I imagine it’s something akin to a chewy thick ‘cookie’ style? Have you ever attempted to bake them as well to get a crisping effect? I have so many questions!!!
Butter Balls have a very chewy consistency. I have never tried baking them, but I would think the butter would melt and they would not crisp well.
That’s so cool. I’ve never thought about making no bake cookies and these look super simple. Although I do wonder if you’d taste any noticeable clumps of butter when you eat these? Does it just melt into the rest of the ingredients?
I have never had any issues with butter clumping. Everything just melds together for a delicious experience.
This can be done with eyes closed literally… my, its so easy, simple even, i ought to fix this in my schedule, if not this coming weekend, next weekend, ooh my, i can hardly wait to try and probably add my own variations and twists to this wonderful recipe…this i have to ace 😉
These look so easy and delicious! I like that there aren’t many ingredients, and I won’t have to worry about turning on the oven. I have everything I need, other than the quick oats, so I’ll have to add those to my shopping list and give this recipe a try soon!
This recipe looks so simple. I always looking for a dessert that requires less time for me but looks like I spent all day on it. I think this may be the one. I’m definitely going to give this a try when I get home.
This looks so good! I love baking and I love when I find a simple recipe that doesn’t require actually using the oven. I would probably only coat some in powdered sugar and experiment with others. I wonder how it would taste in cinnamon sugar, or dipped into dark chocolate. Thanks for the recipe; I’m going to try this for sure 🙂
While I’m sure these are great any time, this is the perfect recipe for this time of year. I really don’t like heating up the whole kitchen when it’s already hot out, so these treats will work out great. They’re one of my favorite goodies anyway. Of course, I don’t think I’ve met too many butter cookies that I don’t like.
I’m sharing this with some friends and posting a link on a baking forum. Those guys will be happy for another guide to “baked goods” that don’t require turning on the oven!
This is the first time I’ve heard of Butter Balls. What I want to know is are the quick oats cooked, since the recipe itself didn’t clarify that. Also, I would like to experiment with this by adding candy pieces to it just to make it more interesting to eat. I’ll have to get one of my relatives to help with taste testing.
The quick oats are uncooked.
One of my favorite desserts and they’re really easy to make! They’re very sweet, my father used to buy those for me from the store when I was little but after a while I found how to actually make them myself. They taste really good when you make them at home.
Please say thank you to your mother-in-law for this! I loved this recipe because it’s so simple and the kids can help me. As you said, I have all the ingredients already, so I’ll just go ahead right and do them right now. I’ll let you know tomorrow how they turn out.
No bake cookies? Why have I never heard of this before. Though I have made no bake cheese cakes before. This recipe would have been a great help during the heat waves of the summer. We have plenty of oats in the house and I have been eating them for breakfast. Now I know what else I could do with the oats.
Oh my God! You guys never seize to amaze me with your wonderful recipes. Everyday I find here recipes that I would never find on m y own online. I can’t wait to try this recipe. It looks so easy and delicious. I might just have to make a batch for the husband and kids, and one JUST FOR MYSELF. 😀
When I saw “no-bake cookie” in the title I thought the cookie would still be cooked, but just not in the oven. Such was my surprise when I saw that it requires no cooking, just mixing. This is a cookie enthusiast’s dream!
I suppose the recipe is open to experimentation, but I wonder how these would fare with some chocolate chips, whole oats, or almonds included. I guess I’ll have to try all of them to quench my curiosity.
Another thing I’m curious about is what I could use to substitute the cocoa in the recipe, in case I don’t want the butter balls to be chocolate flavored. Perhaps using flour would prove good?
I have never made these without cocoa, but I don’t think flour would work well. Maybe you could try cinnamon sugar or other seasonal spices. I wonder if you could change up the recipe to make gingerbread or spice balls.
Great recipe! I am a preschool teacher and always looking for recipes to try with my class. These will do quite nicely for the Christmas festivities. Thanks!
This is such a fun and easy recipe to make with kids.
That is exactly why I posted this to a baking forum that I like to visit. It was to share another recipe that would be great for making with little ones. I figured it would be perfect for getting them started in the kitchen since it is simple and seems foolproof (and there is no chance of getting burned).
I remembered this post from back when it was still hot out, but I had to find it again, because these would also be perfect for Christmas. Butter and sugar.. what’s not to love?
With Christmas fast approaching, I stocked up on all of the ingredients! The kids cannot wait to get started.
Got to love it, the simplicity of no bake cookies, and I’m sure these cookies are to die for. I’ve been looking for something new to try in the cookie world and I think you just introduced me to it.
Shame that I’ve noticed this recipe today and not yesterday – I don’t have enough time to make those delicious cookies, but I’ll cook them the next week! I’ve never heard about them before. I love how little ingredients you need in order to prepare them. One question – why is cocoa two times on the list? Sorry if I’m being daft, I’m legitimately puzzled!
I’m still learning about cooking, and this blog is really helpful 🙂
When I first read the no bake cookie my eyes (and stomach) went directly to this recipe, at first I didn’t really get the cookies for summer thing, but I get it now, imagine how refreshing this cookies must be? my mouth just watered. And also, it has basically all my favorite ingredients on it, I need to give this a try, I’m organizing a family reunion in 15 days, and this recipe matches perfect for the occasion.
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
This looks so delicious and is so easy to make.
I will make them next time the kids have their friends over.
They will love it!
These were always out at Thanksgiving and Christmas in my grandparent’s home, and tins of these (homemade, of course) were given as Christmas presents. I’m glad to see this recipe; my grandmother was one of those ladies who never shared her recipes, and now that I live across the country from my family, I can make these for my friends. Lovely!