The next time you need a quick no-bake dessert, try these crunchy haystack cookies!
They need just four ingredients and a couple of minutes on the stove.
Do you need to bring something to a potluck? Make these haystack cookies.
What about a Christmas party? Bridal shower? Birthday? Haystacks cookies.
There’s seriously no occasion they won’t be welcome!
They’re rich, chewy, and full of nutty, butterscotch happiness. Plus, that crunch is unbeatable.
Easy No Bake Haystack Cookies
Since their creation in the 1960s, haystack cookies have graced tables across the U.S.
And for good reason! They’re crazy easy and insanely good.
Traditional haystacks are made with butterscotch, peanut butter, chow mein noodles, and peanuts.
So they’re wonderfully crunchy and chewy and kind of addictive, to be honest.
But you can also make them with chocolate if you prefer. It’s totally up to you.
And trust me when I say the hardest part is waiting for them to harden!
- Butterscotch Chips- Butterscotch is sweet, caramelly, and nutty. And it makes a nice change from chocolate-heavy treats. That said, use any chips you like!
- Peanut Butter- Creamy, not crunchy, because it’ll stick better. And you’ll add extra nuts for crunch anyway.
- Chow Mein Noodles- The hay in our stacks! They’re wonderfully crunchy and make up the structure of the cookies.
- Salted Peanuts- They have to be salty. The salt adds much-needed balance to these sweet bites. Salt also makes other flavors pop, so every bite is mouthwatering.
How To Make Haystack Cookies
These haystack cookies are as easy as 1-2-3!
- Melt the butterscotch and peanut butter. You can do this in a double boiler, a heatproof bowl over water, or in the microwave.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Add the gently crushed noodles and peanuts to the butterscotch mixture and stir until everything is fully incorporated.
- Assemble, set, and enjoy! Use a fork or spoon to scoop and drop evenly-sized piles of the mixture onto a baking tray lined with wax paper.
They can be as big or small as you like. But the bigger they are, the longer they’ll take to set.
Let them sit at room temperature until they’ve hardened. Then enjoy!
- Parchment paper works just as well as wax paper. Do NOT use tin/aluminum foil. If you have a silicone baking mat, that will also work.
- Mix the crunchy ingredients into the butterscotch very well. Everything needs to be fully coated to stick together.
- Make them allergy-friendly! Substitute the chow mein noodles for a gluten-free version. And swap out the peanut butter and extra nuts with another nut butter or spread you enjoy, like cookie butter!
- Instead of a spoon or fork, use an ice cream scoop to make them even. Or use two spoons or two forks to keep your hands clean.
- Spray your spoon, fork, or ice cream scoop with cooking spray. This will make portioning much easier.
Haystack cookies are extremely customizable. You can add all kinds of things to make them even more delicious!
And there are hundreds of options! But here are my faves:
- Chocolate: Skip the butterscotch and use chocolate chips instead! Now, they’re chocolate and peanut butter, which is always a good idea.
- Or sub only half the butterscotch for chocolate.
- White Chocolate Marshmallow: Swap the butterscotch for white chocolate chips and marshmallows fluff for peanut butter. Then add extra mini marshmallows to the mix.
- Cookies and Cream: Skip the peanut butter and swap the butterscotch for a double portion of white chocolate chips. Then add crushed Oreo cookies instead of nuts.
- Bright Colors: Substitute the butterscotch chips for colored candy melts. Or use gel food coloring to dye white chocolate. That way, they can fit any holiday.
- Candy: Add your favorite candy to the “dough.” M&Ms, Snickers, Health, and Milky Way all work fabulously! Sprinkles are also super fun and festive.
- Cookie Butter: Switch out the peanut butter for cookie butter. This variation will require 2/3 cup corn syrup. You’ll melt it with the butterscotch chips and cookie butter.
- Coconut: Toasted coconut tastes amazing with butterscotch and peanuts. It adds an extra level of deliciousness that everyone will love.
- Pretzels: For more crunch and more salt! I recommend pretzel sticks, so they keep the haystack shape.
Why Are My Haystack Cookies Dry?
If your haystack cookies are dry, there’s a chance you burned the butterscotch mixture.
That’s why I like the double-boiler method – because you can watch it the whole time.
To make your own double-boiler:
- Add a couple of inches of water to a tall saucepan.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
- Add the ingredients you’re melting to a shallow heatproof bowl that’s wider than the top of the saucepan.
- Place the bowl over the simmering water, ensuring the bottom isn’t touching the liquid.
- Use an oven glove to hold the bowl and stir with a spatula until everything is melted and smooth.
- Carefully lift the bowl off the pot and wipe the steam/water from the bottom.
You can also use the microwave, but only in 20-30 second intervals. And be sure to stir between intervals.
If the mixture is beginning to look melty, pause before returning it to the microwave. Give it a minute, then stir, using the residual heat to finish the job.
If you still have lots of chunky chips, continue microwaving in 10-second intervals.
How to Store Haystack Cookies
To Store: Keep your haystacks in an airtight container at room temperature.
Use wax paper or parchment paper between layers of cookies to keep them from sticking.
These will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. But they are best if you eat them within 1 week.
Note: they’re better off in the fridge during the summer!
To Freeze: Freeze your assembled haystacks on a baking tray for 1-2 hours. When solid, place them in a freezer bag or airtight container.
They should lay flat.
Use parchment or wax paper between the layers, and they will keep for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to enjoy them, let them thaw at room temperature, uncovered.
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