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.

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? ›

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).

How do you know when fudge is beaten enough? ›

After letting the fudge cool, it's time to beat it. It is important to stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to thicken and its surface starts to look dull or matte. Now is the time to stop beating and pour the fudge into a mould.

What is the key to successful non grainy fudge? ›

While you ultimately want crystals to form, it's important that they don't form too early. The key to successful, nongrainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking.

How to rescue fudge that won'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).

How to make fudge creamy and not grainy? ›

Grainy Fudge

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.

Should you stir fudge while boiling? ›

Don't stir!

Once the fudge reaches soft-ball stage on the candy thermometer, remove from the heat and let the temperature drop to 110°F. Keep that spoon or spatula out of the pot until this happens. If you stir too early in the process, you'll make the sugar crystals too big and end up with grainy fudge.

What makes high quality fudge? ›

Candy that isn't cooked long enough will end up too soft; overcooking makes fudge crumbly or hard. High-quality fudge has many small crystals. If the process of crystallization begins too early, fewer crystals form and they become much larger.

What happens if you over stir fudge? ›

Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has come to a boil, do not stir it. If you do, the sugar can crystallize, giving your fudge a gritty texture.

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!

How long should I beat fudge for? ›

Allow the fudge mixture to rest until the temperature registers between 150°-160°. Once the desired temperature is reached, beat the ever-loving stuffing out of the fudge. Two to three minutes of hardcore mixing (by hand). This is where you earn the right to eat half of the batch.

How do you keep homemade fudge from being grainy? ›

To avoid this, ensure that you stir the fudge mixture consistently and remove any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan using a wet pastry brush.

How do you get fudge to soft-ball stage? ›

Without a candy thermometer, you can achieve this with what is called a “cold water method”. Fill a small glass with ice and cover it with water until it is ice cold.. Drop your hot sugar syrup into the ice water. When it clumps into a soft ball, it is the correct temperature.

Why won't my 2 ingredient fudge set? ›

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.

Why did my fudge fail? ›

If the fudge is very soft and slightly chewy then it is possible that it did not quite cook to soft ball stage and next time the mixture should be cooked to a slightly higher temperature (soft ball is 112-116c/235-240F and a sugar or candy thermometer can help).

What gives fudge its firm texture? ›

The key to creamy, luscious fudge is controlling crystal formation. If the sucrose (table sugar) crystals are small, the fudge will feel creamy and smooth on your tongue. But if the crystals are large, the fudge develops a crumbly, dry, or even coarse texture.

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!

What makes fudge firmer? ›

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. If you don't heat your fudge to a high enough temperature, you'll end up with a soft product.

Can you beat fudge in a stand mixer? ›

Pour the mixture over the chocolate, being sure to shake, not scrape, the mixture from the pot. Set aside to cool for 10 to 12 minutes. (This prevents a grainy consistency.) Using the clean wooden spoon or a standing mixer on low speed, stir or beat the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.

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