How to Make Fudge the Old-Fashioned Way

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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 fudge at local candy shops, but it’s also easy to make at home.

We’ll walk you through everything—yes, everything!—you need to know about making fudge. We’ll cover the ingredients, top tips and even troubleshoot some common mistakes if you run into 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’re watching 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 include mix-ins and toppings, like nuts, cookie pieces, marshmallows and hard candies.

What are the methods for making fudge?

The two most popular ways to make fudge are on the stove and in the microwave. For the 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.

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. In fact, 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-in. baking pans: You’ll need two 13×9-in. 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-in. pans with foil, greasing the foil with 4 teaspoons 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 (these are our favorite brands) until smooth. Fold in the marshmallow creme, pecans and vanilla. Spread 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-in. 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 fudge toppings, your sweet tooth is the limit! Feel free to experiment with other mix-ins and toppings if you don’t love chopped nuts and marshmallow creme:

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

How long does fudge last?

It depends. Most fudge will last for 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 that has gone past its prime is typically rock hard or soft and gooey. Pay attention to your add-ins, too. Nuts have a tendency to spoil, and pieces of cookie can get stale. Here’s more on how long fudge lasts.

How do you thicken fudge?

If your fudge won’t set, there are a few things that could have gone wrong. It’s possible that the mixture 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 the fudge 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 on the harder side, you can soften it by storing it on the counter rather than in the refrigerator. The warmer storage temperature should keep the fudge 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.

What is the soft ball test?

When making candy, there are a number of tests that 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 fudge 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.

Why isn’t my fudge setting?

If your fudge doesn’t set, it likely never got hot enough. In order to set up firm, fudge needs to reach at least 234°, as indicated by a candy thermometer. Check out these other common fudge making mistakes with tips on how to fix them.

Can I freeze fudge to make it set?

We wouldn’t recommend freezing your fudge to get it to set. Freezing can cause the fudge to cool unevenly and too quickly, messing up the texture of the fudge. 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.