How to Make Fool-Proof Fudge (2024)

Fudge is high on the list of our most popular homemade candies. It's a splendid gift from the kitchen and an indulgent treat for any occasion — and it can be pretty easy to make. It comes in lots of variations, too. Along with the usual sugar, butter, and dairy, fudge can be flavored with dark chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, marshmallow, maple syrup, nuts, and even pumpkin.

How to Make Fudge

The trick to good homemade fudge is to cook the ingredients to the right temperature to form a sugar syrup, and cool the mixture properly so the texture of the fudge turns out smooth and firm, but soft enough to cut. Here's how to make fudge on your stovetop and in your microwave.

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Stovetop Fudge

For this step-by-step demo, we'll use this recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge.

VIDEO: Old-Fashioned Fudge

Watch as we show you how to make a classic stovetop fudge recipe. You'll even see how to test the candy mixture for doneness without using a candy thermometer.

Tip: No double-dipping! Always clean the mixture off the dipping spoon thoroughly between tests. You don't want to inadvertently stir sugar crystals into the fudge to make it gritty.

Equipment

Here's what you'll need to make fudge from scratch on your stovetop.

Saucepan: Choose a heavy, straight-sided metal saucepan that holds about twice the volume of your fudge recipe. A heavy pan distributes heat evenly so the ingredients are less likely to scorch when they boil at high temperature. Using a large saucepan gives the ingredients room to expand when they boil.

Candy thermometer: Use a candy thermometer (try this $11 Target best-seller) that clamps onto the side of the saucepan. Why? Candy-making is a science as well as an art, and relies on exact temperatures to make ingredients — especially sugar — behave properly. A candy thermometer is the best way to ensure your ingredients are at the right temperature in each stage of making fudge; many candy thermometers are marked with the recommended temperatures for each kind of candy you make.

Wooden or silicone spoon: Choose one with a long handle for stirring.

Baking dish: This is the pan your fudge will cool in after it cooks. Use the size recommended in your recipe, otherwise a larger pan produces thinner pieces of fudge, and a smaller pan produces thicker pieces. To keep the fudge from sticking to the cooling pan, line it with non-stick foil or parchment paper, or coat it with cooking spray, butter, or a neutral oil.

Pastry brush (Optional): For oiling the sides of the saucepan and the cooling pan.

Long knife: For slicing the fudge neatly after it cools.

Top Tips for No-Fail Stovetop Fudge

1. Follow Directions

The key to making smooth and creamy fudge is to follow the directions exactly. Use an accurate candy thermometer and allow the mixture to reach the temperatures called for in the recipe before moving to the next step. Add each ingredient in the order listed by the recipe.

2. Oil the Saucepan

Some candy-makers like to coat the sides of the saucepan with butter or oil before they even start cooking any kind of candy because it helps prevent boil-overs and keeps sugar crystals from sticking to the sides.

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3. Know When and When NOT to Stir

Stir the ingredients to dissolve the sugar until the mixture comes to a boil. If your recipe uses milk, stirring will keep the mixture from curdling. But once it reaches about 236–238 degrees F/113–114 degrees C (the "soft-ball" stage), do not stir it or even shake the pan. Why? Stirring at the wrong time causes the sugar to form large crystals. That's the "graininess" that inexperienced fudge-makers complain about. Smooth fudge, on the other hand, has tiny sugar crystals that melt on the tongue.

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4. Cool Correctly

When your fudge reaches 236–238 degrees F/113–114 degrees C, it's done; you should remove the pan from the heat so it won't continue to cook. If your recipe calls for adding butter, you can place it on top of the fudge now so it can start melting, but do not stir.

No thermometer? No problem. To test the boiling mixture for doneness, drop a bit of it into a bowl of cold water. If it forms a ball that is soft enough to flatten between your fingers, the mixture is ready for cooling.

When the fudge cools to 110 degrees F/43 degrees C, beat the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until it's no longer glossy. Then you can stir in the nuts, or any other extra flavorings, and transfer it to the cooling pan.

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5. Don't Scrape the Pan

When you're transferring the warm fudge from the saucepan to the cooling pan, don't scrape the sides or bottom of the saucepan or you may introduce unwanted sugar crystals into your finished fudge.

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How to Make Microwave Fudge

To make fudge in your microwave, you'll need a large microwave-safe bowl, a wooden or silicone spoon, and the pan your fudge will cool in. Microwave fudge recipes usually include sweetened condensed milk as an ingredient because it is already a sugar syrup, and you're simply melting in other ingredients to make it into fudge.

Learn the difference between condensed milk and evaporated milk

This video for Crispy Tiger Fudge shows you how to make fudge in your microwave:

Easy Fudge for Beginners

For first-time candy makers: Look for recipes that call for corn syrup, marshmallows, or marshmallow crème. These ingredients prevent crystallization of sugar into large grains, so the texture of the fudge will remain smooth. Also, recipes using cream or condensed milk are less likely to curdle than regular milk.

  • Mocha Fudge is made with corn syrup and is flavored with coffee.
  • Walnut Maple Fudge uses mini marshmallows as an ingredient.
  • Aunt Teen's Creamy Chocolate Fudge has marshmallow crème in the mix.
  • Raspberry Truffle Fudge uses heavy cream and condensed milk.

How to Store Fudge

You can store fudge in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks, or in the freezer for up to three months. For best results in the fridge, cut fudge into pieces first and separate layers with waxed paper, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap. If you're going to store fudge in the freezer, cut the fudge into pieces and wrap them up individually, then store in an airtight, freezer-safe container. You can thaw fudge overnight in the fridge.

Fun with Fudge

Try these different variations on a fudge theme.

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Microwave Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Fudge: The recipe title says it all. Easy microwave peanut butter fudge is topped with melted chocolate and swirled with the edge of a knife to create a two-toned treat. You can also use this technique for making swirled white and dark chocolate fudge.

Chef John's Christmas Miracle Fudge: No-cook fudge for vegans made with coconut oil and honey. Watch the video to see how this clever recipe comes together, and get a smart tip for cooling this super-fast fudge in a silicone ice cube tray.

Pumpkin Fudge: A pumpkin-flavored fudge to munch while waiting for The Great Pumpkin to rise up out of the pumpkin patch.

Cherries and Chocolate Fudge: A microwave fudge recipe that'll crush the holiday food-gift competition.

Creamy Peanut Butter Fudge: While this popular stovetop fudge doesn't say to use a thermometer, you can certainly use one if you want to make sure you hit the right temperatures. Lorna gets great results without one, but you'll want to read her complete review to get her no-fail tips.

Related

  • Best Holiday Fudge Recipes to Make and Share
  • 5 Ways to Turn Homemade Fudge Into Wow-Worthy Gifts
  • Get More Homemade Fudge Recipes
How to Make Fool-Proof Fudge (2024)

FAQs

What is the secret to perfect fudge? ›

Valuable tips for successful fudge
  • Don't stir during cooking. Fudge can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave. ...
  • Avoid crystallization. During cooking, sugar crystals can stick to the sides of the pan. ...
  • Let cool before beating. After being cooked, the sugar must crystallize again to create fudge. ...
  • Beat the mixture.

What is the key to successful non grainy fudge? ›

The key to successful, nongrainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking. The recipe calls for heating the ingredients to the soft-ball stage, or 234° F, then allowing it to cool undisturbed to approximately 110° F.

How to make fudge creamy and not grainy? ›

By cooling the fudge prior to agitation (like in the recipes included in this article), on the other hand, you'll get much smaller, finer sugar crystals and a finished fudge with a smooth, creamy texture. Cool the mixture until it reads 120° F on the thermometer—no stirring. This can take 1 to 1/2 hours.

How to rescue fudge that won't set? ›

It sounds like your fudge simply wasn't heated enough. ... If it's overcooked (resulting in grainy fudge) or undercooked (resulting in poor setting) all you really need to do is add a bit of cream, reheat the fudge to the target temperature, and let it set again.

Do you stir fudge when it's boiling? ›

Avoid Stirring Once the Mixture Comes to a Simmer

Another key part of a successful fudge texture is when you stir the mixture. Stirring the sugar and milk during the initial stages of cooking allows the sugar to dissolve. However, once the mixture comes to a boil, it's time to put the spoon down.

What does cream of tartar do in fudge? ›

Cream of tartar is used in caramel sauces and fudge to help prevent the sugar from crystallizing while cooking. It also prevents cooling sugars from forming brittle crystals, this is why it's the secret ingredient in snickerdoodles!

How to stop fudge from being grainy? ›

Grainy Fudge

If the melting sugar splashes onto the sides of the pan, it turns back into crystals and causes the fudge to seize up. To avoid this issue, swirl the pan instead of stirring it with a spoon. You can use a wet pastry brush to wipe down any sugar that sticks to the sides of the pot.

What to do with failed fudge? ›

OPTION 1) Depending on how runny it is, you can either use it as a frosting for cakes, or a sauce for ice-cream. OPTION 2) Freeze it overnight. Cut it into squares. Cover each square thickly in melted chocolate, ensuring no part of the fudge is exposed.

What happens if you boil fudge too long? ›

Too cooked

The result is hard and brittle fudge. To save the fudge, put it in a saucepan with 45 to 60 ml (3 or 4 tbsp.) of 35% cream and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely melted. Then let it boil without stirring until the thermometer reaches 114 to 115 °C (237 to 239 °F).

What makes fudge smooth? ›

For first-time candy makers: Look for recipes that call for corn syrup, marshmallows, or marshmallow crème. These ingredients prevent crystallization of sugar into large grains, so the texture of the fudge will remain smooth. Also, recipes using cream or condensed milk are less likely to curdle than regular milk.

How do you beat fudge? ›

Once the fudge has cooled, you can choose to make the fudge easily, or you can “elect the way of pain”. Stirring fudge by hand is hard, tiring, and can break your wooden spoon. Fudge can be beaten successful with a mixer. It is okay to stop the mixer periodically (it won't set immediately like ice cream does).

Why did my fudge turn out like taffy? ›

If the temperature is too low, the fudge will be too soft and sticky, and if it's too high, it will turn into a hard, crumbly mess. The ideal temperature to cook fudge is between 232-234 degrees F (111-112 degrees C).

Why does fudge fail? ›

Homemade Fudge Doesn't Always Set

If your fudge doesn't firm up after a few hours, you either have too high an amount of liquid to sugar, or your mixture hasn't reached the soft-ball stage. Using a candy thermometer can help home cooks avoid this problem.

Should you put fudge in the fridge to set? ›

The ratio of chocolate to condensed milk needs to be just right, otherwise you might end up with fudge that is too soft or too hard. Do not freeze the fudge to set it. Best way is to just be patient for a couple hours and set it in the fridge. If your fudge hasn't set, then you've gone wrong somewhere else.

Why won't my 3 ingredient condensed milk fudge set? ›

Why won't my 3 ingredient fudge set? This often happens when the condensed milk and chocolate chip mixture isn't hot enough to start.

How do you cut fudge so it doesn't crumble? ›

Put both knives into a large measuring cup, add boiling water onto the knives, and before cutting the chocolate or the dessert into pieces, wipe the knife with a towel. The warm knife will easily cut through without cracking.

Why does my fudge crumble when I cut it? ›

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.

What is the best pan to make fudge in? ›

Secondly, the pot's material should allow for good heat distribution hence your top choice should be copper cookware or a pot with a copper core. Copper's exceptional heat conductivity offers unparalleled temperature control, an asset when working with finicky ingredients like sugar.

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