Chocolate and Vanilla No-Bake Butter Balls – A Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on Feb 5 2014 - 4:40am by RetroRuth

Feeling lazy? Do you want to make a plate of cookies for this Valentine’s Day, but the thought of turning on the oven turns you off? Then have I got the recipe for you!


No-Bake Butterballs!


4.0 from 2 reviews
Chocolate and Vanilla No-Bake Butter Balls
  • ⅔ cup butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs water
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups uncooked Quaker Oats (quick or old-fashioned)
  • For Chocolate: Add 3 Tbs cocoa and 1 additional Tbs water
  1. Beat butter until creamy; add sugar and beat well. Add water, vanilla and oats; blend well. Chill.
  2. Shape into small balls. Roll in chopped nuts, colored sugar, chocolate shot or coconut. Decorate with gumdrops, candied cherries, chocolate pieces, cinnamon candies or pecan halves. Store in refrigerator.

This recipe is pretty much exactly what the name implies. You don’t have to bake them, and they are mostly just butter.


This is two batches of butter balls, one chocolate and one vanilla. The batch itself is pretty small, the finished cookies above are all the cookies from these two batches of dough.

Just a small note about the chocolate: After I added the cocoa, the dough was so dry that I had to add another tablespoon of water to get it to come together!


Toppings and dips!

This part actually went pretty fast. From beginning to end, two batches of these cookies took me about 20 minutes, and I even got a little fancy with them.


All that was left was the taste-test.


“Sweet! Candy!”

“Actually, these are no-bake cookies, but they are pretty much candy.”

“I’m going to eat the chocolate one first.”

“Knock yourself out.”


“This chocolate one is pretty good!”


“Yeah, it tastes like a Nestle Crunch Bar.”

“Odd. Okay, now the vanilla.”



“No good, huh?”

“This just tastes like butter and sugar with grit in it.”

The Verdict: Yes To Chocolate, No To Vanilla

From The Tasting Notes:

Mixed bag on this one. The vanilla cookies taste gritty, buttery and very sweet. Not much flavor in them. They aren’t unpleasant, but they aren’t anything special. If I was going to make these again, I would switch out some of the butter for peanut butter and add some chocolate chips. The chocolate cookies, on the other hand, were tons better. They tasted a bit like a Nestle Crunch bar, and were soft with a good texture. I guess the extra bit of water really did help!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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9 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Ae February 5, 2014 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Ooh! Great idea subbing out some of the butter for peanut butter! Sounds yummy! And maybe healthier?

  2. Lassie February 5, 2014 at 9:33 am - Reply

    This is something I MIGHT make at home, but if I was offered some at a potluck I might pass. I’m funny that way, I don’t like stuff that is fiddled and fussed with, by hand.

  3. dkzody February 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    my daughter made a similar cookie this weekend while we were on vacation. She used oats, peanut butter, agave, and chocolate chips. She did bake hers, however, and they were very good.

  4. Tipsykit February 6, 2014 at 2:40 am - Reply

    These are basically raw oatmeal cookie dough, minus the eggs and flour. What a weird recipe! I bet the vanilla ones would have tasted a bit better if you toasted the oats first.

  5. SnoKat February 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    My boyfriend has that same shirt as Tom! Yaaay geek-boys!

    I was wondering about adding finely chopped nuts as well as peanut butter and even rolling in coconut. Starting to almost sound like a healthy treat.

  6. Melissa February 6, 2014 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Butter balls. Oh, goodness. Someday when I’m bored, craving chocolate, and needing to use up some oatmeal – I’ll totally try this. Not scared.

  7. Erica February 6, 2014 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    Oooooh, grit is not good in cookies. I bet the extra water helped the sugar crystals dissolve more in the chocolate ones.

    Absolutely adorable decorations, though!

  8. Bridget from Refined Vintage February 6, 2014 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    I am definitely trying these, Chocolate for sure, and maybe the vanilla as you suggested with peanut butter added. Your fancy little cookie/candy looked very retro,just like the vintage recipe page.

  9. Beatrix February 28, 2014 at 11:05 am - Reply

    I wonder if using powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar would eliminate the ‘grit’?

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