No-Bake Dessert Recipes | Serious Eats


[Photographs: Vicky Wasik, Nila Jones]

When the thermometer shoots into the 90s, we can hardly bring ourselves to turn on the stove, much less fire up the oven. Fortunately, we’ve got a solid repertoire of no-bake (or no-cook-at-all) desserts that are refreshing to eat and mercifully cool to make. If you’re struggling with the heat or just want some easy, delicious sweets, check out 17 of our favorite no-bake desserts—whether it’s a five-minute fruit mousse, a cheesecake multiple ways, or a chocolate cake you can make using only a microwave.

Light and Easy 5-Minute Fruit Mousse

[Photograph: Nila Jones]

This dessert isn’t just no-bake; it’s also incredibly simple. It takes barely five minutes to make this mousse—all you have to do is whip up frozen fruit, sugar, and egg whites in a food processor until smooth and fluffy. We used raspberries here, but you can go with whatever fruit you’d like.

Light and Easy 5-Minute Fruit Mousse Recipe »

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The Best Strawberry Ice Cream

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Most ice creams are made with egg custard, but that much richness overpowers the flavor of fresh strawberries. We use half-and-half and corn syrup instead, which stay out of the way of the purée of perfectly ripe uncooked strawberries. Just as the ice cream is about to finish churning, we add in little chunks of strawberry macerated in sugar and booze.

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Easy No-Bake Cheesecake

[Video: Serious Eats Team]

We’re huge believers in no-bake cheesecakes. This basic recipe uses a subtly sweet filling of cream cheese, heavy cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. You can use a traditional graham cracker crust, but aromatic Biscoff are even better. If you’re looking for a no-bake cheesecake that’s bold and fruity, try this version with freeze-dried fruit.

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No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake

[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

The basic no-bake cheesecake technique is easy to adapt to make your own. This version gives the dessert a triple dose of chocolate—we mix melted bittersweet chocolate into the filling, replace the graham crackers in the crust with chocolate wafers, and dust the cheesecake with cocoa powder.

No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe »

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No-Bake Chocolate-Nutella “Cheesecake” Verrines

[Photograph: Nila Jones]

Essentially a mini chocolate cheesecake in a glass, this party-friendly dessert is made with a crushed Oreo crust and two different cheesecake fillings. The first filling is flavored with pure chocolate, and the other is made with Nutella. You can use your imagination garnishing the cheesecakes, but we recommend whipped cream, crushed Oreos, and toasted hazelnuts.

No-Bake Chocolate-Nutella “Cheesecake” Verrines Recipe »

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Strawberry Sorbet

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Our simple strawberry sorbet is made with just four ingredients: strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, and a pinch of salt. The citrus brightens up the berries and the salt makes the flavors pop. The recipe is easy to scale—just be sure to use 1/4 cup of sugar for every two cups of strawberry purée.

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No-Bake Cookies With Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Chewy Oats

[Video: Serious Eats Team]

No-bake cookies are nothing more than a type of fudge and should be treated as such, which means using a good digital thermometer instead of iffy timing estimates. Once you’ve got that, there’s absolutely no reason to fear making such easy, summery treats. Our recipe gets extra flavor from the lactose in milk, which develops toasty, toffee-like flavors when browned on the stove, and a mix of dark and milk chocolates. Don’t worry: The dark chocolate flavor will be subtle, keeping the cookies kid-friendly.

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Summer Strawberry Pie

[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

We love the rich, jammy flavor of a baked strawberry pie, but leaving the oven off is the way to go if you want to keep the strawberries as fresh-tasting as possible. Our no-bake strawberry pie fills a graham cracker crust with strawberries two ways: blended into a purée and macerated in sugar.

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Homemade Star Crunch

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Whether you grew up with the original Little Debbie treat or not, these crunchy and chocolaty stovetop delights will scratch your cookie itch when baking feels out of the question. Start with a simple caramel of sugar and water, then add chilled cream, and simmer briefly. When that mixture has cooled, add a handful of chopped milk chocolate—which gives the cookies their fudgy quality—and Rice Krispies, then portion and flatten. Waiting for the inviting “batter” to set is the hardest part of the whole process.

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30-Minute Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

When we were figuring out how to make our strawberry ice cream, we turned to Philly-style ice cream for inspiration. Because it doesn’t have any eggs, it stays light and fluffy and has a strong, clean dairy flavor. Without the eggs, it turns icy fast, so plan on eating the whole batch the day you make it.

30-Minute Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream Recipe »

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Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie

[Photograph: Lauren Weisenthal]

This no-bake pie is all about the juxtaposition of sweet and salty—the crust is made of crushed pretzels and the filling is a mix of vanilla ice cream and peanut butter. We top the pie with more peanut butter and a sprinkling of crushed pretzels or salted peanuts before freezing and serving.

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Easy Icebox Strawberry Shortcake

[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

Our five-ingredient strawberry shortcake recipe makes baking biscuits super easy, but this recipe makes things even easier by replacing the biscuits with graham crackers. To make the dessert, we layer the crackers with whipped cream and a mixture of strawberries and orange juice before refrigerating overnight.

Easy Icebox Strawberry Shortcake Recipe »

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Better Than Snickers Milkshake

[Photograph: Autumn Giles]

If we were stuck with one kind of dessert for the rest of our lives, we’d give serious consideration to rich, thick, refreshing milkshakes. We love a classic chocolate or vanilla shake, but when we want something more special, we break out this recipe. The milkshake gets all the flavors of a Snickers bar from caramel ice cream, peanut butter, chopped peanuts, and cocoa powder.

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Microwave Rocky Road Sponge Cakes

[Photograph: Ideas in Food]

If you believe microwaving isn’t really cooking, check out this sponge cake made with whipped egg whites, sugar, flour, chocolate, walnuts, bourbon, and a few other ingredients. We blend mini marshmallows into the batter to give the cake that classic rocky road flavor and to lighten the crumb.

Microwave Rocky Road Sponge Cakes Recipe »

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No-Bake Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Thanks to the combination of Greek yogurt, whipped cream, and meringue, this no-bake cheesecake has an airy, mousse-like texture. Make sure to look for Greek yogurt that contains nothing but milk and active cultures, since other kinds that are thickened with gums or pectins tend to have a high moisture content that will destabilize the cake. The light, tangy filling pairs best with a bittersweet crust made with dark-chocolate cookie crumbs or chocolate graham cracker crumbs. Here, we used the wafers of our homemade Oreos.

No-Bake Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Recipe »

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Creamy Whipped Greek Yogurt

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This light and airy whipped Greek yogurt takes all of five minutes to make. We first strain Greek yogurt of any of its excess moisture before combining it in a stand mixer with cream, a sweetener like golden syrup or honey, a pinch of salt, and rosewater or vanilla extract. After chilling, you’re left with a creamy whipped yogurt that’s perfect in parfaits or as a topping for pound cake.

Creamy Whipped Greek Yogurt Recipe »

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Ultimate Strawberry Popsicles

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

These bold summer Popsicles are bursting with fruit flavor, thanks to the addition of fresh strawberries, strawberry jam, and freeze-dried strawberry powder. Both store-bought and homemade jam work, and you can also use frozen strawberries if you don’t have fresh ones. With the ingredients coming together easily in a blender, the hardest part of making this recipe, hands down, is waiting for the fruity mixture to freeze.

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