Grandma's Old Fashioned Fudge {Classic Stovetop recipe} (2024)

Everyone loves homemade fudge, but most recipes are poor imitations of the real thing. They focus on being easy instead of being good.

Yes, old-fashioned fudge requires a candy thermometer, some stirring time, and a little patience. But it’s not hard to make, and it’s worth the small amount of effort.

If your grandma made fudge, I bet it was just like this recipe. If you’re looking for more Christmas candies, I have a list of my favorites here!

Grandma's Old Fashioned Fudge {Classic Stovetop recipe} (1)

Old Fashioned Stovetop Fudge

How to make fudge the old fashioned way: just minutes of your time plus a few dollars of pantry ingredients gives you a candy shop quality homemade chocolate fudge perfect for gifting (or keeping!)

Prep Time 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time 7 minutes minutes

cooling 30 minutes minutes

Total Time 42 minutes minutes

Serving Size 16 squares


  • 2 quart saucepan

  • Candy thermometer


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder Hershey's is fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Combine all ingredients except butter and vanilla. In a 2 quart saucepan, combine the sugar, half and half, cocoa, salt, and corn syrup. Mix well with a whisk and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. While the fudge is cooking, butter a plate or baking dish for pouring the mixture into later.

    Grandma's Old Fashioned Fudge {Classic Stovetop recipe} (2)

  • Heat until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Let the fudge cook until it reaches 240 degrees, checked with a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer. Don't stir during the cooking process. Once the temperature is reached, immediately remove the pan from the heat.

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  • Place butter and vanilla on top and allow to cool. Place the butter and vanilla on top of the fudge and allow it to cool. Do not mix or disturb the pan. Let it cool about. 20 minutes until the side of the pan is warm but not hot to the touch.

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  • Mix with a hand mixer until fudge begins to firm up. Using a hand mixer on medium-low, beat the fudge for 1-3 minutes until it just begins to firm up and lose its shine.

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  • Quickly pour into a buttered dish, cool, and cut. Once the fudge changes texture, immediately pour it into a dish to set. Work quickly. It if is not pourable, just scoop it out and flatten in the best you can. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes and cut into one-inch squares.

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For whatever reason, this recipe does not double well.

Don’t attempt to make this without a thermometer!


Why didn’t my fudge set up? It’s gooey!

You undercooked it or under-mixed it. You can pour it back into the saucepan and cook it again, and it will usually turn out fine.

Why is my fudge grainy?

You stirred too much during the cooking process or stirred during the cooling process. Try dumping it back in the pot with a cup of water and trying again.

It’s too hard to cut!

You probably overbeat it. That’s okay. You can break it into squares for a rustic look. 😉

It tastes weird or burnt.

You probably used a pot that’s too big or is thin-bottomed, and your ingredients scorched. Unfortunately, there’s no fix for this. Invest in a nice-quality 2-quart saucepan. If you are really serious about candy making, copper is best. (I like all-Clad copper core for something more affordable.)

Grandma's Old Fashioned Fudge {Classic Stovetop recipe} (7)
Grandma's Old Fashioned Fudge {Classic Stovetop recipe} (8)
  • 2cupsgranulated sugar
  • 1/4cupcocoa powder(Hershey’s is fine! No need to look for a gourmet brand.)
  • 1/2teaspoonsalt
  • 2/3cuphalf and half
  • 1tablespooncorn syrup
  • 3tablespoonsbutter
  • 2teaspoonsvanilla extract
  • You’ll need a 2-quart saucepan for the fudge to cook properly
  • A candy thermometer or an instant-read digital thermometer will both work. But a candy thermometer is easier because you can leave it in the pot.

Storage and packaging

  • For gifting, line a tin with parchment or wax paper and store the fudge squares inside.
  • For eating at home, a plastic zip-top bag works just fine.
  • If your house is very warm, keep the fudge in the fridge.
  • You can freeze fudge for longer storage. Just cut it and pop it in a freezer bag.

Tips for Succesful Fudge

  • Use a good quality cocoa powder. Hershey’s is fine for this recipe.
  • You absolutely MUST have a thermometer. It is almost impossible to gauge how hot the sugar mixture is based on time or appearance.
  • Use a heavy-bottom saucepan so the sugar doesn’t scorch the bottom as it cooks
  • Keep a pastry brush and a small bowl of water next to the stove to brush down the sides of the pan, otherwise, you can get sugar crystal.
  • Work quickly once you beat the chocolate mixture; it will start to set up very quickly!
  • If you overcook or overbeat the fudge, it might be slightly dry and crumbly. It’s still delicious, and many people prefer it this way.

More old fashioned desserts you’ll love

  • Soft and Chewy Molasses Cookies
  • Chocolate Dipped Shortbread
  • Our favorite vintage Christmas cookies

Enjoy this recipe!

Grandma's Old Fashioned Fudge {Classic Stovetop recipe} (9)

Grandma's Old Fashioned Fudge {Classic Stovetop recipe} (10)Grandma's Old Fashioned Fudge {Classic Stovetop recipe} (11)

Grandma's Old Fashioned Fudge {Classic Stovetop recipe} (2024)


Is evaporated milk or condensed milk better for fudge? ›

Use Evaporated Milk- Make sure to use evaporated milk and not sweetened condensed milk. If you accidentally use sweetened condensed milk your fudge will be incredibly over the top sweet. Cut up the Butter– Before adding the butter in make sure to cut it into smaller pieces for faster melting.

What is the secret to good fudge? ›

Tips for Making Fudge
  • Monitor the Temperature with a Candy Thermometer. If you end up with soft fudge that turns into a puddle in your hands or hard fudge that is a bit reminiscent of a crunchy candy, improper temperature is likely to blame. ...
  • Avoid Stirring Once the Mixture Comes to a Simmer. ...
  • Beat Thoroughly.
Mar 8, 2023

Why is my old fashioned fudge not hardening? ›

The main reason is that your Fudge has not reached the optimum temperature. If your mixture only reaches 110 or 112 degrees Celsius it will always be soft. That's why we recommend investing in a sugar thermometer. Another reason your Fudge is not setting is that the ratio of liquid to sugar is too high.

What is the secret to non grainy fudge? ›

Once a seed crystal forms, it grows bigger and bigger as the fudge cools. A lot of big crystals in fudge makes it grainy. By letting the fudge cool without stirring, you avoid creating seed crystals.

Why won t my condensed milk fudge set? ›

Fudge Didn't Set

If your fudge turned out super sticky, or it didn't set as it cooled, it probably never got hot enough. This mistake is super easy to avoid if you use a candy thermometer and cook the fudge to the temperature specified in the recipe (usually between 234 and 239°F).

Why won't my condensed milk fudge set? ›

It sounds like your fudge simply wasn't heated enough. Fudge is basically a superconcentrated syrup, and it sets when sugar dissolved in the water (from the butter and milk) comes out of solution as the mixture cools and forms crystals.

Do you stir fudge while it is boiling? ›

Brush the sides of the pan with a wet brush at the beginning of cooking to dissolve sugar crystals stuck to the sides. Never stir the mixture during cooking or sugar could crystallize again. The mixture may seize and become grainy. Use a candy thermometer or conduct a cold water test to check if the fudge is done.

What makes high quality fudge? ›

You have to control two temperatures to make successful fudge: the cooking temperature AND the temperature at which the mixture cools before stirring to make it crystallize. Confectionery experiments have shown that the ideal cooking temperature for fudge is around 114 to 115 °C (237 to 239 °F).

When should you not make fudge? ›

Humidity can cause fudge to boil over in the pan or stay soft when set, so try to avoid working on humid days if at all possible. If waiting for a less humid day isn't feasible, you'll need to boil your fudge at a slightly higher temperature than usual — or just order some delicious fudge from Wockenfuss!

Can I fix fudge that didn't set? ›

OPTION 3) Sieve together some powdered sugar and cocoa powder, and gradually work this into your unset fudge until it reaches the consistency of dough, then roll out and cut into squares, or shape into balls and then roll in powdered sugar (roll the balls in icing sugar, not yourself).

Can you fix fudge that didn't harden? ›

How can you fix soft fudge? Put it in a microwave safe bowl that is large enough that it won't boil over. Reheat it to the boiling point and cook for about 3 more minutes. Then you can beat some powdered sugar into it if this doesn't make it set.

How do you firm up homemade fudge? ›

If your fudge is soft or runny, it probably didn't come up to a high enough temperature while it was cooking. Put it back into the saucepan and add 1–2 US tbsp (15–30 ml) of 35% fat whipping cream. Stir the fudge as it heats, but only until the sugar in the chocolate is completely melted again.

What happens if you boil fudge too long? ›

The ingredients for fudge are combined and cooked to 234 degrees, cooled to 110 degrees without stirring, then beaten until creamy. Candy that isn't cooked long enough will end up too soft; overcooking makes fudge crumbly or hard.

How long do you boil fudge to get to soft ball stage? ›

How long does it take to make fudge:
  1. about 18 min to reach boiling.
  2. about 40 minutes to reach soft ball stage.
  3. 60 minutes to cool.
  4. 28 minutes to beat in a KitchenAid (your time for this may vary)
  5. 4 hours to set.

What went wrong with my fudge? ›

If your fudge is tough, hard, or grainy, then you may have made one of several mistakes: You may have overcooked it, beaten it too long, or neglected to cool it to the proper temperature.

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

Evaporated Milk Vs.

Sweetened condensed milk also has 60% of the water removed, but contains 40% sugar. Due to the big flavor difference, they cannot be substituted for each other. Always double-check which can you grabbed off the grocery store shelf to be sure it's the ingredient you're looking for.

Can I use sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk in fudge? ›

I suggest sticking with the regular version and skipping the fat-free kind. Make sure that you grab a can of sweetened condensed milk and NOT evaporated milk. Sweetened condensed milk is thick and sweet and will give you the proper consistency for this fudge.

Should I use condensed milk instead of evaporated milk? ›

While we don't recommend substituting condensed milk for evaporated milk or vice versa, you can make your own condensed milk when you're in a pinch. Simply heat together 1½ cups of sugar and one can of evaporated milk until the sugar has fully dissolved.

What happens when you use evaporated milk instead of condensed? ›

For the most part, if you find yourself without condensed milk on hand, you can substitute an equal amount of evaporated milk. The consistency will be the same, but since evaporated milk is unsweetened, you'll need to add sweetener to match the recipe's intended flavor profile or to suit your personal preference.


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