15 No-Bake Dessert Recipes for a Cool Summer Kitchen

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik, Nila Jones, María del Mar Sacasa]

We've been having a bit of a heat wave here in Los Angeles, and when the thermometer shoots into the 90s, I can hardly bring myself 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 15 of our favorite no-bake desserts, from a five-minute fruit mousse and cheesecake several ways to a chocolate cake you can make using only a microwave.

Fruit Desserts

Light and Easy 5-Minute Fruit Mousse

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[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.

Get the recipe for Light and Easy 5-Minute Fruit Mousse »

Summer Strawberry Pie

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[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.

Get the recipe for Summer Strawberry Pie »

Easy Icebox Strawberry Shortcake

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[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

Our 5-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.

Get the recipe for Easy Icebox Strawberry Shortcake »

No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

In my opinion, no-bake cheesecakes have just about the best ratio of work to deliciousness around. It only takes 20 minutes of work to make this festive dessert, which packs a filling of cream cheese, lemon juice and zest, confectioners' sugar, and whipped cream into a graham cracker crust. A layer of apple jam (warming it up in the microwave doesn't count as cooking, right?) and whole fresh strawberries provide the finishing touches.

Get the recipe for No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake »

Strawberry Sorbet

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[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 2 cups of strawberry purée.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Sorbet »

The Best Strawberry Ice Cream

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Most ice creams are made with an 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.

Get the recipe for The Best Strawberry Ice Cream »

Other Desserts

Easy No-Bake Cheesecake

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Like I said, I'm a huge believer 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. Try serving the cake with a variety of fresh fruit.

Get the recipe for Easy No-Bake Cheesecake »

No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake

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[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.

Get the recipe for No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake »

No-Bake Chocolate-Nutella "Cheesecake" Verrines

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[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 I'd recommend whipped cream, crushed Oreos, and toasted hazelnuts.

Get the recipe for No-Bake Chocolate-Nutella "Cheesecake" Verrines »

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

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Many no-bake, stovetop-only cookie recipes go to great lengths to avoid telling you the simple truth: These 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.

Get the recipe for No-Bake Cookies With Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Chewy Oats »

Homemade Star Crunch

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[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.

Get the recipe for Homemade Star Crunch »

30-Minute Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream

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[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.

Get the recipe for 30-Minute Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream »

Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie

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[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.

Get the recipe for Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie »

Better Than Snickers Milkshake

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[Photograph: Autumn Giles]

If I were stuck with one kind of dessert for the rest of my life, I'd give serious consideration to rich, thick, refreshing milkshakes. I love a classic chocolate or vanilla shake, but when I want something more special I 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.

Get the recipe for the Better Than Snickers Milkshake »

Microwave Rocky Road Sponge Cakes

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[Photograph: Ideas in Food]

If you're on board for the idea that microwaving isn't really cooking, check out this sponge cake made with whipped egg whites, sugar, flour, chocolate, walnuts, bourbon, and more. We blend mini marshmallows into the batter to give the cake that classic Rocky Road flavor and to lighten the crumb.

Get the recipe for Microwave Rocky Road Sponge Cakes »