Easy Fudge Recipe

No need to head to the candy store. We'll show you how to make fudge that's rich, creamy and decadent.

Fudge is one of our all-time favorite treats. It’s sweet, simple and makes a perfect gift, especially around the holidays. You can typically find it at local candy shops, but it’s also easy to learn how to make fudge at home.

We’ll walk you through everything—yes, everything!—you need to know about making fudge. We’ll cover ingredients, top tips and even troubleshoot some common mistakes if you have any issues. You’ll be ready to whip up our best fudge recipes in no time. Ready to get started?

What is fudge?

At its simplest, fudge is a dense, soft candy. Traditional fudge is flavored with chocolate, but you can utilize pretty much any flavor, such as peanut butter, pumpkin or even birthday cake. And if you want to watch your sugar intake, try our Sugar-Free Chocolate Fudge.

What ingredients are in fudge?

Fudge requires three essential ingredients—sugar, butter and milk—but most recipes also include chocolate or some kind of flavoring. It’s also common to add mix-ins and toppings, like nuts, cookie pieces, marshmallows and hard candies.

What are the methods for making homemade fudge?

The two most popular ways to make fudge are on the stove and in the microwave. For the old-fashioned stovetop variety, like the recipe below, you’ll heat your ingredients, cool slightly, stir in the mix-ins, then refrigerate until firm. For a microwave fudge recipe, you’ll zap the ingredients until they’re melted, stirring occasionally, then refrigerate until firm.

How to Make Fudge, Step-by-Step

This recipe for Triple Chocolate Fudge comes to us from Linette Shepherd of Williamston, Michigan. “This recipe makes more than enough to share with family and friends. It’s the ultimate yummy gift!” she says.

Editor’s Tip: Homemade fudge can be a little fussy, but it’s easy to make if you avoid these common fudge mistakes.

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 4-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 package (11-1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips
  • 2 jars (7 ounces each) marshmallow creme
  • 4 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Tools you’ll need

Luckily, fudge doesn’t require a lot of fancy tools or gadgets. You likely already have everything on hand! And no sweat if you don’t have a specific candy thermometer. A clean meat thermometer works just as well.

  • 13×9-inch baking pans: You’ll need two 13×9-inch pans for this recipe, lined with greased aluminum foil.
  • Heavy Dutch oven: You’ll use a Dutch oven to heat and combine the sugar, milk, salt and butter.
  • Candy thermometer: A candy thermometer will help keep the texture of your fudge creamy and thick rather than too hard or too runny.

Directions

This recipe yields 19-1/2 dozen pieces.

Step 1: Prepare your pan and boil the ingredients

Line two 13×9-inch pans with foil, greasing the foil with 4 teaspoons of butter.

In a heavy Dutch oven, combine sugar, milk, salt and the remaining butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 234°F (soft-ball stage).

Step 2: Add mix-ins

Next, remove the mixture from the heat. Stir in the chopped German chocolate and the chocolate chips until smooth. Fold in the marshmallow creme, pecans and vanilla. Spread the combined mixture into prepared pans.

Step 3: Cool and serve

Refrigerate for one hour or until firm. Using the edges of the foil, lift the fudge out of the pans. Discard the foil and cut the fudge into 1-inch squares. Store whatever you don’t serve right away in airtight containers.

Fudge FAQs

What are the best toppings for fudge?

When it comes to toppings, your sweet tooth is the limit! Experiment with other mix-ins and toppings if you don’t love chopped nuts:

  • Crushed candies
  • Sprinkles
  • Glazed bacon
  • Dried fruit
  • Peanut butter or Nutella swirl
  • Cookie crumbs
  • Cereal

How long does fudge last?

It depends. Most will last one to two weeks when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also prolong the life of your fudge by storing it in the fridge or freezer. Fudge past its prime is typically rock hard or soft and gooey. Pay attention to your add-ins, too. Nuts tend to spoil, and pieces of cookie can get stale. Here’s more on how long fudge lasts.

How do I thicken fudge?

If your fudge isn’t setting, a few things could have gone wrong. The mixture possibly wasn’t cooked to the right temperature or beaten long enough. To fix it, you can try to thicken the mixture with powdered sugar or mix-ins. Or, return it to the stove, add about 1-1/2 cups of water and reheat until the mixture is once again at the soft-ball stage. Remove from heat and continue with the directions as noted.

Is there a way to soften fudge?

If your fudge is hard, you can soften it by storing it on the counter rather than in the refrigerator. The warmer storage temperature should keep it a bit softer. But keep an eye out—hard fudge is a sign that your candy might be past its prime.

What makes fudge grainy?

Sugar crystals. The best way to avoid them forming in your fudge is to resist the temptation to stir your mixture once it boils. Wait until you remove the mixture from the heat to stir in the chocolate.

Can you make fudge without a candy thermometer?

Yes! If you don’t have a candy thermometer, use a digital instant-read thermometer instead. It won’t clip to the pan, though, so you’ll have to hold it in place.

What is the soft-ball test?

When making candy, some tests can help cooks ensure that their mixture has reached the right temperature and consistency. (This is especially helpful if you’re working without a candy thermometer). For fudge, you’ll want to use the soft-ball test.

When you think your mixture is at or near the 234° mark, drop a small amount of the hot candy mixture into cold water. Once cool (and removed from the water), the ball should flatten immediately and run over your finger.

Can I use condensed milk for fudge instead of evaporated milk?

Not for this recipe. “I would not use sweetened condensed milk in place of the evaporated milk,” says Alicia RookerTaste of Home‘s recipe editor and tester. “The sweetened condensed milk has a much higher sugar content.”

Why isn’t my fudge setting?

If your fudge isn’t setting, it likely never got hot enough. For it to get firm, fudge needs to reach at least 234°, as indicated by a candy thermometer.

Can I freeze fudge to make it set?

We wouldn’t recommend freezing your fudge to get it to set. Freezing can cause it to cool unevenly and too quickly, messing up the texture. Instead, let your fudge set on the counter until it reaches room temperature and then store it in the fridge.

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Katie Bandurski
As Senior Shopping Editor, Katie connects Taste of Home readers with the best gifts, deals and home products on the market. An avid foodie and a holiday enthusiast, Katie is an expert at cultivating meaningful moments. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and watching Christmas movies.