no-bake-haystack-cookies

I had never heard of Hay Stack cookies until my friend Joanne mentioned she was picking up some oats to make some no-bake haystack cookies. Apparently, she makes them quite often for the family get-together. Everyone loves them, she says. So the next day I gathered up the ingredients she told me to get, and I made them in less than 20 minutes, and wow, they are good.
Theresa, one of my readers who makes these cookies, freezes them in October and serves them at Christmas time with excellent results. Thanks for the tip Theresa!

***See below the recipe for extra tips on making these cookies and links to more delicious no-bake cookie recipes.

no-bake-haystack-cookies
Print Recipe
4.58 from 19 votes

No-Bake Haystack Cookies

Prep Time3 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: chocolate, coconut, cookies, no-bake, oats
Servings: 22 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup unsalted, butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut

Instructions

  • In a medium sized pot on medium heat, stir together the sugar,cocoa powder, milk, butter and salt. Stir until mixture just starts to boil,reduce heat to low and stir 2-4 minutes until mixture looks well blended, but not dry. If mixture looks like its getting too dry, remove from heat or dribble in small bits of milk. Turn off burner, stir in vanilla and keep pot on the burner while adding oats and coconut all at once. By keeping the pot on the warm burner keeps the mixture from cooling off too quickly while mixing in oats and coconut. Stir really well, then with 2 spoons drop onto wax paper or parchment paper. Mixture will cool really quickly, so don’t dawdle.

F.A.Q. : Help my mixture is too dry!

Some reasons mixture may dry out while stirring could be –

  1. Pots with thin bottoms on a med heat burner will heat up and burn things very quickly.
  2. Gas and electric stove tops may heat differently, medium heat is a vague term, know your stove.

**TIP – If using sweetened coconut, cookies will be extra sweet, you may want to reduce sugar by 1/3 cup

**High heat will dry out mixture, adding a tablespoon of milk at a time may prevent total dry-out of mixture. Lower heat and lift pot from burner temporarily.

You’ll find lots of tips and substitutions left by readers in the comment section

More no-bake cookie recipes:

No-bake chocolate roll cookies

No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Rum Balls

Popular cookie recipes:

Quadruple OMG Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies
Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
Cranberry Hazelnut Biscotti
Coconut Meringue Cookies

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135 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe never fails me. If I’m feeling fancy I will brown the butter, toast the coconut, and add a tsp of Instant coffee then call them the adult version of haystacks 🤣

    1. Now that’s taking it up a notch or 3!! Awesome!

  2. 5 stars
    These are perfect.If you follow the recipe to the T.you can’t fail.
    If you fail baking isn’t your thing .

    1. LOL! you made me laugh 🙂 thanks

  3. 5 stars
    This is beyond delicious !
    I cut the sugar in half and it still turned out amazing! I didn’t boil it, only mixed everything under medium heat and it was perfect!
    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe

    1. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your recipe tip. It’s good to know that cutting the sugar still results in a tasty result.

  4. Followed to a T- mixture was to dry didn’t work! Was a flop!!

    1. Sorry it didn’t work for you. There are lots of tips on the post for making perfect haystacks. Hope these solutions help you.

  5. 1 star
    Our grade 7 Foods Class made this recipe today and it was a complete fail. The recipe was too dry and was unable to form “hay stacks”. It needed more “liquid”. Any suggestions to improvising it?

    1. Well that’s disappointing for the kids. So there’s many reasons why the mixture got too dry. 1. Stove was too hot, medium heat could be quite different on different stoves. 2. When you reach the boil point it should be a low boil, and if its getting dry at any point remove mixture from stove or add a dribble of milk. Don’t boil it until it’s dry. 3. Once everything is melted, then boil at ‘least’ one minute, and watch for any dryness. 4. Drop 1/2 cup cocoa powder to 1/3 cup, this might help too. There are a lot of tips on the recipe and in the comments also.

    2. I doubled the milk.. And added oats at i was stirring continuesely.. With burner off… Mine turned out amazing and added some peppermint extract

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious chocolatey goodness. Thanks!

    1. I totally have to agree on these!!

  7. I use chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder (or any flavour of chips lol) works great and my daughter loves it when I add peanut butter and s’mores bits
    Love to play with this recipe seems to work every time and great taste adventure

    1. Oh, those are fabulous ideas!! Thanks for sharing!

    2. Carol Anne says:

      How much chips/ bits do you use?

      1. Hi Carol, in this recipe we are using ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Hope this helps.

  8. 4 stars
    I halved the sugar (used 1/2 cup each of white and dark brown), used dutch processed cocoa, added 1/2 tsp of instant coffee powder, and forgot the vanilla. Delicious end result.

    1. Oh! adding the coffee sounds like a nice touch to bring this up a notch, YUM! Thanks, I love helpful tips like this 🙂

  9. Follow the recipe next time

  10. achristmascarol says:

    Wait. You gave this recipe a 3-star rating but you didn’t even follow the recipe. The fact they didn’t turn out is on you, not the recipe.

  11. 5 stars
    They turn out great every time! My aunt used to have issues with the “set” when I was younger but these are together and not crumbly! Love them.

  12. Thanks for testing alternative ingredients, good to know which substitutions are possible.

  13. My niece calls them ‘Bear Poop’ cookies! Would like to find good recipe using stevia.

    1. That’s so cute, LOL. I don’t use stevia, so can’t help you there, but I’d be curious if you figure out something that works, 🙂

    2. I use ‘Truvia’ and reduce by 1/3 or more as a sugar substitute – works wonderful

      1. Thank you for the tip!

  14. shannondempsey@hotmail.ca says:

    Just a tip, yield is a good thing to note when writing up your recipe. That way readers don’t have to guess whether they want to double their batch or not.

    1. Thanks I added the yield 🙂

  15. i haven’t made these yet but I am wondering if I could use large flake oats rather that the quick oats?

    1. The quick oats are used because of the short cooking time when making these. Large flake oats usually take longer to cook.

    2. Use to make these all the time. Mom called them “Haystacks and Scratch Me Backs. When I moved to NB they were often referred to as “Frogs”. I can’t find Mom’s recipe and this one is much more sticky than what I remember. I did boil on low for the 4 minutes. Any suggestions? I keep them in the fridge, but they all stuck together. I used margarine instead of butter, could that be the problem?

      1. Hi Carolyn, I’ve only used butter in this recipe so I don’t know if its the margarine that’s the problem. Butter does harden more than margarine when its refrigerated. I will try to remember to use margarine next time I make these and let you know. 🙂

      2. Carolyn, I don’t go by the 4 min. I cook the mixture before the coconut and oats to a soft ball stage like you would making fudge, that way they aren’t mushy or sticky.
        Look up soft ball stage if you aren’t sure what I am talking about.

        1. Pat, Thank you for sharing your technique! Very helpful information for sure!

      3. This is a tried and true recipe at my house but I use shortening instead of butter and almond milk (or any I have on hand) so they can be dairy free. They are wonderful!

        1. Thanks for the substitution ideas! Very helpful.

  16. I just made a batch using my mom’s recipe. We call them candy cookies. My mom only ever made them at Christmas when I was a kid. I haven’t made them in a few years but had a hankering for them recently. Absolute nostalgia.

    1. Now there’s a more appetizing name! If you check out some of the previous comments you’ll see what I mean. Lol 😆

    2. Mom called them Candy Cookies too. She made them when there wasn’t much in the cubbart.

      1. Moms can be so resilient when they have to. 🙂

  17. Allison Van der Velde says:

    We called these dog turds growing up 😁 I’ve passed the tradition to my daughter and she loves them. She will now pass it on to her daughter.

    1. Well there’s another fun name! LOL

  18. Valinda B says:

    3 stars
    Made these for hubby. Didn’t have sugar, so used his splenda. He said it was okay, but they were crumbly. Said there was too much cocoa powder, and if I make it again I would use 1/3 cup instead of the 1/2 cup. He found the flavor too tart probably because of the cocoa.
    I would add more milk if I used the splenda again, since it’s a powder type of sugar, to maybe help it be more moist.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Comments like these are very helpful to bakers that are looking for alternatives 🙂

  19. 4 stars
    This looks similar to the recipe my mother used to make for us back in the mid-to-late 1950’s. The recipe disappeared over the years & was impossible to find in cookbooks. Thanks for listing it here! BTW, back then, because of the way they look, the cookies were called Buffalo Patties.😄
    Someone mentioned not having much success freezing these. Since they’re basically fudge with coconut & oats stirred in, I’m thinking if you follow the directions for freezing &, especially, for thawing fudge the results might turn out better. But that’s just a guess.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! This recipe is from a very old friend of mine. I tried them during a visit at her place and have been making them ever since.

    2. We call them cow patties 😀

      1. Now there’s a fun name LOL!

        1. Sherri Kirkpatrick says:

          Growing we referred to them as Cow plops lol. Did not have any impact on how many we ate strange as that seems now.

          1. Hahaha! That’s too funny 😂

  20. Roxy Shtepan says:

    So I used 1 cup of sugar & it was still pretty sweet! Defs recommend reducing the sugar amount from 2 to 1 cup.

    1. Thanks for this tip! Sometimes we have to improvise with what we have 😊

      1. Do you know how many people it can serve

        1. You could get about 24 cookies from this recipe.

      2. I use a double boiler to get my ingredients close to a boil, simmered for 4 minutes directly on the cook top and returned the pot to the double boiler while spooning. It keeps everything from ovrrcooking which will lead to the mixture drying out (STICK TO 4 MINUTES, TOO LITTLE OR TOO LONG WILL NOT WORK). Also do not overcook them or it won’t turn out, they will be dry. the trick is to work quickly but don’t try to speed anything up, timing is everything.

        Also my husband recently went gluten free, so I used GF oats, it didn’t change a thing

        1. Thanks for sharing all these great tips! Timing is everything so that the mixture doesn’t dry out. You explained it better than I could 🙂 I will have to try this with the gluten free oats, my daughter is also going gluten free. Thanks for stopping by!

        2. Just as an FYI….All oats are gluten free….

          1. Mermaid Mom says:

            Actually not all oats are gluten free—mostly as some are processed in areas where there is gluten. For celiacs, this really matters

      3. Faye Dourtte says:

        I changed the coconut for ricekrispies, and wow they were excellent.

        1. I love rice krispies! I’ll have to try that next time.Thanks for the tip 🙂

  21. Pingback: Favourite Christmas Cookies - A Net in Time
  22. How many cookies does this recipe yield? Thank you

    1. Good question! I’ve never counted them, please let me know if you make these. 😊

      1. 5 stars
        i got 24 nice size cookies, has anyone made these with stevia or compatible sugar replacement?

        1. Good question! I hope someone can give their tips on this.

  23. Wondering if you can reduce the sugar to one cup if you’re adding sweetened coconut flakes? Not sure if it would set the same.

    1. Sweetened coconut would make the cookies extra sweet, try reducing the sugar by a 1/4 cup.

  24. 5 stars
    My hubby has been asking me to make these so I went out and bought the stuff and WOW!!!! They’re so delicious. The only hard part was waiting for them to cool so we could enjoy!

    1. I know right! I never get a chance to see if they freeze well, they always disappear too quick.

      1. These are a big time favorite in my family, I grew up eating them when my grandmother made then and my kids are all teens and twenty somethings now and ask me to still. The one thing I can say is they don’t freeze well at all, they get sticky and never really recover I’ve tried because I make about twenty batches every Christmas for various friends and family members

        1. Thanks for letting me know how well they freeze! I guess some things are not meant to be frozen.

          1. 5 stars
            You’re welcome, At very least they are quick to put together, it makes the fact they can’t be less frustrating. Also, as my husband reminded me last night, you can also do these subbing half the coconut for toasted slivered almonds (he has made more than his fair share over the years) and shredded coconut works best for them holding their shape.

          2. I’ll will certainly have to try these variations, thanks for the ideas! And I thinks it’s awesome that your husband is so comfortable in the kitchen when it comes to baking 😉

          3. Theresa McRae says:

            I freeze these all the time in an air tight container with no problem at all. I make them in October and freeze them until Christmas time. Never had an issue.

          4. Thanks Theresa! I’m going to add this tip to my post 😊

        2. I have never had a problem freezing these. If you make them so that they aren’t too fudgy they work perfectly for months in the freezer.

          1. Thanks for taking the time to respond!

  25. How long do these stay good for?

    1. I’m lucky if they last 3 days here, beyond that I wouldn’t know. 😊

    2. They can stay up to 3 months frozen 🥰

      1. Thanks for that info! I like to freeze anything I can, but have never tried with this recipe.

  26. 5 stars
    Turned out perfect, a childhood treat! Kept heat at very low simmer after coming to a boil stirring for the 4 minutes. Thanks for the tip on turning burner off and keeping the pot on it, kept mixture from getting dry while spooning out, used a heavy bottom pot.

    1. Thanks for sharing your process! Glad it turned out yummy!

  27. Followed this recipe to a T, except I didn’t add salt because my butter was salted and let me tell you, these are just as you remember from childhood when people still called these haystacks!! Decadent and melt in your mouth worthy! Will be making these for years to come! A huge hit and guarentee crowd pleaser if you need to bake for others! Besides being super easy and quick to throw together, they are the perfect no bake cookie for summertime when the last thing you want to do is turn on your oven! Thanks so so much!

  28. Hannah Bruce says:

    5 stars
    Amazing! I love these, they can cheer me up any day anytime!

  29. They are really good, I also was wondering if you can eat them with letting them sit and cool off?

    1. Absolutely! You can certainly eat them the next day and even the day after that if you still have some left that is.

  30. 5 stars
    I’ve made these three times now, so good!

    1. Awesome! Glad you like it. Lately I`ve been using this batter for broccoli and mushrooms, its been a hit with my family.

      1. Anita Stanich says:

        I don’t know why but mine turn out so dry. Any ideas why?

        1. There’s a few things you can try. As soon as mixture starts to boil lift pot from heat and turn temp down low, return pot to burner while stirring in the cocoa powder then turn burner off. While pot is still on burner stir in oats. You could also add a tablespoon of milk when you see it getting dry. Hope this helps.

          1. Joanne Morgan says:

            getting too dry would be from losing too much moisture when they are boiling. Probably boiling too hard or too long. or both. I wonder if it would be okay to cover or do you have to continually stir them? MANY years ago, in HomeEc, we were told to add 2 or 3 clean marbles and they will do the stirring for you. Haven’t tried it, but if the teacher said so, it must be true. lol. The school cafeteria served these at lunchtime. My husband says he used to call them Worm Cookies because of the coconut.

          2. The marble idea sounds very interesting, although I wonder if chipping would occur with the marbles.

  31. Daniel McNary says:

    First of all, mix the cocoa powder in with the sugar. Second, dont boil for 4 minutes, the sugar gets too hot. Mix the oats and the coconut in once the mixture reaches a boil. Other than that the recipe works.

    1. Thanks Daniel for the extra tips!

      1. Susan Taylor says:

        I followed the recipe to a tee, no changes, and they were perfect!!

        1. Thanks for stopping by! Glad you liked them!

    2. Joanne Morgan says:

      When I make Scotcheroos, I only boil my sugar/water for 1 minute. It won’t set up if I don’t and if I did them any longer, they would be too dry, I would think. Although coconut will keep things moist longer.

      1. Thanks for the tips Joanne! There are so many variables when cooking and baking. The amount of dry and wet ingredients, if not exactly right and the temperature of the stove burner make all the difference when making these cookies. Thanks 😉

    1. Sorry you found them dry, that could have happened by over cooking or not using minute or quick oats.

      1. Or too many quick oats…. I usually leave out 1/2c of the oats because I like mine on the softer side

        1. Thank you! Another great tip!

    2. I can only guess why this would have happened for you. Maybe the mixture was cooked too long on the stove or temp was a bit too high or the type of oats used absorbed too much water. I’m sorry this happened for you. I know too well how disappointing it is when something doesn’t turn out.

  32. Hope Thiessen says:

    5 stars
    These cookies are FANTASTIC. I had lost my recipe for these cookies years ago. This recipe is perfection. No adjustments needed. SO SO SO good. Thank you!

    1. I’m glad you like them! It’s a favourite here too.

  33. 5 stars
    Perfect! I tried another recipe last month and this is the best tecipe….,moist, chewy! Thank you.

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe! Glad you like it.

  34. These oats cookies look delicious! 🙂

  35. When i read the title I was like ‘What? Cookies and no baking? That sounds impossible’ 😀 I must try these. Thank you.

  36. SHoppers Gossip says:

    Looks yummy. I will give it a try. Thank you for the recipe.

  37. WanderlustBeautyDreams says:

    I have to try this recipe. I love any kind of cookie and this looks so delicious.

  38. This looks so yummy!

  39. This looks yummy! I never seen one of these before but i would love to make one soon. Thanks for the info!

  40. Francisco says:

    These look delicious! Will try them out this weekend

  41. thanks for sharing this, very lovely no bake recipe as I love cookies & this definitely fit my sweet tooth. cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  42. Stephanie says:

    SO easy! definitely putting this on my list to make for our work party next week!

  43. My mon makes these at Christmas time (along with many other chocolates). However, she calls them something different and I don’t remember what right now. All that matters is I love them and I’m glad she only makes them once a year.

  44. Ashli Ferguson says:

    oh yeah my husband would love these!

  45. I love anything no bake. These cookies look delicious!

  46. Crickette, The Things I Have to Say says:

    I can’t beliebe these are no-bake. I think I will give these a try… they look delicious.

  47. Traci Edwards says:

    I have had something similar to these before, so good!

  48. Vasundhra says:

    5 stars
    OMG I’m drooling! These no-bake cookies look delicious and pretty easy to put together. Thanks for the recipe!

  49. Jimmy John says:

    never heard of such delicious looking treats! thanks for the recipe! i now have to try them!

  50. elly paunoska says:

    Looks yummy must try this thanks for this idea.

  51. Hey guys my name is Kevin and I rate theses cookies

  52. Jenn Campsall says:

    I searched by image and these looked the best!! They looked chewy and that’s what I was looking for!!! They are delicious and made a ton 🙂

    1. Glad that you liked them as much as we do! I’ve been so busy baking for Christmas, it smells great around here 🙂

  53. Kim Sechrist says:

    5 stars
    Really nice batch! Thank you!

    1. Glad you enjoyed them! One of our favs around here.

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