No-Bake Desserts For When You Just Can't

Dessert is the most important meal of the day, but let's be honest. Getting it right is tricky, and it can be a huge time investment. Real life doesn't always allow for that, and there's no reason to feel guilty if you just don't feel like baking. That goes double for the summer months — who wants to turn the oven on when the house already feels like one? Fortunately, there are a ton of no-bake desserts out there for when you just can't.

Oreo bars

Who doesn't love Oreos? Not only are they great right out of the package, but the combination of crunchy cookie and creamy center makes them perfect for forming the crust of a delicious, no-bake dessert.

If you're looking for something heavy on the chocolate, check out this recipe from Hot Chocolate Hits for a ridiculously delicious chocolatey treat. Oreos and a bit of butter form the crust, but you can use any sandwich cookie. (A blonde version of this, perhaps with caramel instead of dark chocolate? Yum.)

If you're the kind that likes to sneak a bite of cookie dough, try this recipe for Oreo cookie dough bars from Mariah's Pleasing Plates.

Ice cream cakes

There's no way you can go wrong with an ice cream cake, and when it comes to this delicious dessert, the sky's the limit. If you're not sure where to begin, Unsophisticook has a wonderful recipe that starts with a base of ice cream sandwiches.

Mariah's Pleasing Plates has another great example of what you can do with an ice cream cake — like this Samoa ice cream cake that tastes just like your favorite Girl Scout cookie. A cinnamon graham cracker crust with cookie dough ice cream, vanilla ice cream, and toasted coconut makes this the perfect example of what you can do with a simple concept.


What? Smoothies for dessert? Absolutely! Who said smoothies can only be a quick morning treat? Here are a few ideas that are going to convince you that whipping up a few smoothies isn't just a tasty way to finish off the day.

The Big Man's World has an amazing recipe for a healthy, creamy, and sweet smoothie with all the taste of a cinnamon roll but none of the bad stuff. Made with sweet potato, cinnamon, and coconut whipped cream, it's a tasty dessert smoothie you can experiment with.

If you still aren't convinced a smoothie is going to satisfy your dessert craving, take a look at this cake batter smoothie, courtesy of Le Creme de la Crumb. With a healthy helping of cake mix along with milk and vanilla yogurt (or ice cream) and topped with sprinkles, it takes delectable, sweet smoothies to a whole new level. There are plenty of options for the chocolate-lover, too, like this Black Forest smoothie from The Chunky Chef.

Rice Krispie treats

Rice Krispie treats might be the stuff of a childhood summer afternoon, but they don't have to stay that way.

Averie Cooks has shared a recipe for chocolate peanut butter Kit Kat crunch bars, and they're basically an elevated Rice Krispie treat that uses peanut butter and brown sugar (but no marshmallow) for the base of the bar, then tops it with melted chocolate and Kit Kats. You should also try The Domestic Rebel's Galactic Crunch recipe, which calls for some Milky Way bars and a chocolate candy coating. The Beantown Baker has a version of the old favorite that uses a layer of caramel, chocolate, marshmallows, and coconut to recreate the taste of a Samoa cookie in no-bake, Rice Krispie treat form.

Strawberry shortcake

You're probably already thinking about the kind of strawberry shortcake you got as kid; it's easy to toss a handful of strawberries on some cake shells that came right out of the package, but you're an adult now. You can make easy look so much more difficult.

Prairie Californian has an amazing take on strawberry shortcake that will take your dessert game to a whole new level. With a graham cracker crust layered between whipped heavy cream and strawberries, this "cake" is topped with a drizzle of chocolate, garnished with more strawberries, then left to sit overnight for the perfect light, fruity dessert that'll definitely look like it took way more than 20 minutes to put together.

Food Lion has another awesome idea for a strawberry shortcake dessert. This strawberry shortcake trifle is served in individual cups, bowls, or even Mason jars, and calls for strawberries, vanilla poundcake, and cheesecake pudding, all brought together with a dash (or more) of whipped cream. And, if you just can't bear to think of a strawberry shortcake dessert without those light and airy dessert shells that show up in the grocery store during the summer months, Averie Cooks suggests this recipe for a strawberry shortcake smoothie that blends those dessert cups with milk and strawberries for a simple but tasty reimagining of an old favorite.

Fruit fool

Fruit fool is an old British dessert that goes back centuries, so it's not surprising that it doesn't require any baking. What might be surprising is just how delicious it can be, whether you opt for a more traditional recipe or you decide to give this one a little bit of an update.

Traditionally, fool is a bit of sweetened fruit that's pureed and stirred — but not completely stirred — into heavy whipped cream. Joy of Baking has some tips and tricks for some classic types of fool, like strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry.

If you want to use some classic British flavors, try this recipe for rhubarb fool from Epicurious, or this one for gooseberry and elderflower fool from Slimming World. Both are extremely traditional flavors that are bound to have your guests asking for the recipe.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you can spiff this one up into something ultra-modern, too. Coffee lovers absolutely must try this recipe for mocha fool with crunchy amaretti from Chatelaine. If you're in the mood for something that tastes of all that's good about the summer months, try this pina colada fool from One Sweet Mess.


Cheesecake can be a pain to make, but there are a ton of no-bake recipes to make sure you never ever make cheesecake any other way.

For something light and farm-fresh, try this recipe for coconut cream goat cheese cheesecake from How Sweet It Is. You won't regret it. Even if you aren't a fan of goat cheese, the graham crackers, cream cheese, and coconut blend perfectly with the goat cheese for an awesome flavor that might be your secret dessert weapon.

If you aren't a fan of coconut, either, try these pink lemonade cheesecake parfaits from Cravings of a Lunatic. Or, if you're thinking something chocolate is the way to go, you can't go wrong with this Nutella cheesecake from My Baking Addiction because it's literally impossible with chocolate, Oreos, and Nutella in the mix.


Chances are good that you probably haven't thought about pudding since you were 10 years old. That's a shame, and there are lots of reasons to consider pudding a legitimate, grown-up dessert.

BBC Good Food has this incredible offering that combines a little sweet with a little salty for a near-perfect combination. You'll wonder why you never tried salted caramel popcorn pudding before. The hot mocha pudding recipe is slightly more calorie-friendly. Serve this cocoa-and-coffee pudding with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and you're never going to think about store-bought pudding cups again.

Spoon University has a knock-off recipe of another amazing pudding, too: the banana pudding from New York City's Magnolia Bakery. Combine fresh bananas and vanilla wafers with some vanilla pudding mix, and you'll have a creamy, crunchy dessert that's not terrible for you and tastes like you put an amazing amount of effort into it.


Sometimes you don't want to sit down to a big dessert, but you're craving something tasty to finish off the evening. Try these bite-sized truffles for a guaranteed-to-go-quickly dessert that's perfect for setting out on the table.

If you're in the mood for something with an undeniable elegance, try these Earl Grey and lavender chocolate truffles from Saveur. The hint of lavender makes them an ideal earthy, subtly floral after-dinner treat that's a welcome departure from most sweet desserts.

If you're looking for something sweet, though, If You Give A Blonde A Kitchen has a couple no-bake truffle recipes that might become a go-to treat. It doesn't have to be your birthday for you to enjoy a batch of birthday cake truffles, an easy combination of flour, cake mix, and sugar surrounded by a hard chocolate shell. She's also perfected a recipe for tiramisu truffles that call for a center of ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese, all covered with a chocolate shell.

Bourbon balls

Bourbon balls are another great dessert if you're looking for a bite-sized treat for an adult-only gathering. There are a ton of variations for this super-quick treat, but if you're looking for a basic, traditional bourbon ball, The Baking Pan has a great one. It's light enough on the liquor so as not to be overpowering, but it still has the kick you're looking for. The vanilla wafers and nuts pair perfectly with the bourbon, and they're mild enough to be a hit with people who aren't even bourbon drinkers.

For a sweeter variation on this old favorite, try the pecan praline bourbon balls from Ann's Entitled Life. These call for butterscotch instead of chocolate and pecan sandies instead of the more traditional vanilla wafers for an entirely different taste built around the same concept.

Cookie dips

If you've never experimented with cookie dips, your life is about to change. Wishes and Dishes has this recipe for a red velvet Oreo dip that's ideal for pretty much any cookie you can find. Part red velvet cake mix, part cream cheese, and part powdered sugar, you're probably already thinking it sounds amazing. It is. Crush some Oreos on top and you have the perfect centerpiece for a dessert platter of cookies.

They also have a recipe for a monster cookie dough dip, basically a spreadable dip containing everything that is sweet and wonderful about cookie dough. Serve it in the center of a platter with things like pretzels. This cream cheesy, peanut buttery dessert will keep everyone coming back.

There's no reason that a birthday cake has to be the only dessert for that special, once-a-year day, either. This cheesecake cake batter dip from Wine and Glue is exactly what a party needs before, during, and after the cake gets served. Plate this one up with some animal crackers or vanilla wafers, then sit back and relax.