Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and 9 Other Treats You Should Never Bring to a Bake Sale

Even if you're famous for your zucchini bread, those hidden veggies might stop shoppers in their tracks—and so could these other bake-sale no-nos.

1 / 10
Nataliya Arzamasova/shutterstock

Peanut butter cookies

Or anything at all with nuts! Especially if kids will be shopping at your bake sale, it’s just not worth it to offer treats containing peanuts or tree nuts. How would you feel if your sale caused a potentially deadly allergic reaction? If you do go ahead and bring a nutty treat for whatever reason, be sure to label it clearly, noting exactly what kind of nuts are in your recipe.

2 / 10
Nataliya Arzamasova/Shutterstock

Treats with surprise ingredients

Maybe your favorite recipe is naturally nut-free, but contains an unexpected ingredient (like these black bean brownies). Since you never know what someone could be allergic to, and you may not be present to answer questions, it’s best to label your treat accordingly. It’s probably OK to bring treats with these ingredients, but just be extra transparent about what they are and what they contain.

3 / 10

Raw cookie dough

Admit it, you like to eat uncooked dough at home—or at least lick the spoon. But you probably know it’s not a good idea. And it’s definitely not a good idea to bring it to a bake sale, even though it might be a good money-maker. You don’t want your sale to get a reputation for serving up salmonella or E. coli to the whole community!

4 / 10
Pronina Marina/Shutterstock

Blueberry pie by the slice

Fresh, fruity berry pie is definitely delicious, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to stain fingers, faces, and clothing. Like other treats that are messy, or just look like they’ll require a ton of clean-up, this one isn’t likely to sell very well. Stick to less colorful pie fillings, and treats that don’t require a knife and fork to consume. For the same reason, avoid powdered sugar and super-saturated colored frosting. And be careful how you package any treat with frosting. No one wants a slice of cake with plastic wrap clinging to the icing.

5 / 10
Ilja Generalov/Shutterstock

Cookies with raisins

One bake-sale customer described raisins as “soul-crushing fake chocolate chips—the biggest disappointment ever!” If you want your customers to leave your bake sale with their souls happy and intact, use real chocolate chips instead of dried-up grapes! Or try one of these 10 recipes for bake sale treats that will fly off your table. Another bake-sale tip: Put out a donation jar for anyone who wants to support your cause, but can’t eat your treats.

6 / 10
Oleksandra Naumenko/Shutterstock

Carrots and ranch dip

Most people are not coming to a bake sale for healthy snacks. Know your audience: If you’re selling at a sporting event, where families are spending a whole day and vending machines are their only food source, then you can clean up with healthy items like string cheese (kept cool), yogurt parfaits, veggies, protein balls, and so on. At an after-school fundraiser, a polling place, or a concert, people will expect brownies, cookies, and other yummy treats.

7 / 10
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Lemon curd tarts

Unless you’re hosting your bake sale inside an ice rink, baked goodies with curd, custard, or pudding elements aren’t a good idea. When they sit out at room temperature, they will inevitably get mushy or runny, or separate and look unappealing. Stick with treats that can hold up to being on display for several hours, like this updated version of crispy cereal bars.

8 / 10
Nataliya Arzamasova/Shutterstock

A treat only a mother could love

Appearances matter! Your fudgy coconut-oat no-bake drop cookies may taste amazing, but if they look uncomfortably like the poop emoji, guess what? No one’s going to take a chance on their fabulous flavors. The same goes for cute themed creations that require a super-steady hand with a piping bag or assembly with tweezers and dental floss.

9 / 10
Stepanek Photography/Shutterstock

The same old chocolate-chip cookie

Your bake sale needs variety, so try to make sure you have some. Even mixing white chocolate and butterscotch chips with your milk-chocolate ones will add a little something different to your bake-sale table. If you have a committee of bakers, you might check in with each other to see what everyone’s bringing, so you can offer a nice assortment of sweet treats and goodies: Cakes, bars, and cookies; chocolate and fruity; with frosting and without; and so on. Find out the tips to baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

10 / 10
Teerasak Ladnongkhun/Shutterstock

An over-packaged treat

It’s nice to offer wrapped treats; many customers will prefer this, so they can save the treat for later. However, too much fancy packaging will cut into your profits. Or your customers could feel they’re getting more style than substance. Additionally, stickers, bows, or bunches of cellophane on top of your treat make it hard for potential buyers to see what you’re offering. So keep your wrappings simple and your goodies readily visible.

Catherine Holecko
Catherine Holecko is a contributor to’s Advice and Culture sections, where she writes about parenting, relationships, and pets. You can also read her work online at Highlights, Parents, and Verywell, and listen to her daily podcast at Catherine earned her BA in English at the University of Pennsylvania.