Mom's Easy Fudge Recipe from The Food Charlatan (2024)

This no-fuss marshmallow fluff fudge recipe is for chocolate purists! It is smooth, creamy, and decadent, and you can’t have just one piece! I will show you EXACTLY how to make this simple fudge recipe so that you cannot fail! Originally published December 12, 2012.

Mom’s Fudge Recipe is no fuss!

For some families, Christmas goodies means cinnamon rolls. For some it’s toffee and candy. Eric’s family does cookies. My family growing up did this:

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Boom. Straight up, no messing around chocolate fudge. (This was one of the first recipes I posted on the blog back in 2012. Check out this picture from yesteryear, yikes!)

And by “no messing around” I mean no nuts, no peanut butter, no peppermint, no swirls, no fuss. Just pure semi-sweet, melt in your mouth goodness. (I have nothing against fudge-embellishments by the way. But sometimes you just can’t beat the classic.)

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We made it every year in December. We would all hover over the stirrer (usually my mom) making sure they didn’t mess anything up. (Our faith is inspiring.) Then as she poured the completed fudge into the pan we would all make non-subtle comments about making sure not to do a too-good job scraping (so that we could attack the pan with our fingers of course).

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She always poured a little bit into a small bowl, presumably so that it would set up faster for us. We never waited though. (I mean, have you eaten warm fudge?) My sister Nikki has been known to consume an entire batch of this fudge in a 12 hour period.

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Most of the time we would give it away to friends and neighbors, which is of course a very effective way to spread Christmas cheer. One time it backfired on us though. We brought a plate of fudge for some friends and left it on the doorstep, figuring they would be home in a few hours. They came back from vacation a week later with an entire colony of ants on their porch. Nothing says Merry Christmas quite like a pest infestation.

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But don’t think about that. Just think about dreamy, creamy, not-too-soft yet not-too-dry, non-crunchy, beautiful fudge. And go make this right now because it seriously takes like 15 minutes.

I’m about to give you ONE THOUSAND details for this recipe. Fudge is simple, but it is still candy, and it’s easy to screw up if you are not particular about the small stuff. You might think I’m being nit-picky, but I’m just trying to be thorough. Check the 300 comments that have been given over the past 10 years: mixed with the hundreds of glowing reviews, there are also a lot of commenters with sad, dry, crumbly fudge. I’m here to make sure this doesn’t happen to you!

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This crumbly mess is what happens to fudge when you don’t follow your own nit-picky fudge instructions because you were trying to take a hundred process shots for how to make this fudge. Don’t be like me!

What is fudge?

Fudge is your Christmas dreams come true. It’s a soft and tender American chocolate candy that starts with cooking sugar, butter, and milk, then adding chocolate and vanilla. My Mom’s fudge, based on the classic Kraft recipe, includes marshmallow creme for the dreamiest fudge you ever tasted. Fudge is usually cut into small (or large) squares and is a popular treat sold by the pound in those cute little towns with darling storefronts and antique shops that are so fun to wander through. It usually costs a pretty penny, but you can make it yourself at home with just a few simple ingredients.

Why is fudge called fudge?

No one really knows for sure, but “fudge” is another word for “mess up.” Legend has it that someone “fudged” a batch of caramels, but accidentally discovered a softer sweet treat in the process. Now we do it on purpose. It’s kind of like the accidental discovery of penicillin, only…maybe not quite as good for your health.

Easy Fudge Ingredients

Let’s dig in to the details, folks. First and foremost: The best fudge starts with high quality ingredients! I cannot stress this enough!! Recipes always say this, right, and you always ignore it? But it actually matters for fudge. Candy making is no joke, and if you start with crappy ingredients, your fudge might not even turn out. Here’s an overview, quantities are listed in the recipe card below.

  • Butter. Salted butter is what I always use, but unsalted works fine too.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Evaporated milk. Get the full fat kind. This ain’t no diet fudge. Found in a can on the baking aisle.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips. Buy the best brand you can afford. I always use Ghirardelli or Guittard. Nestle works okay. Great Value from Wal Mart is a definite NO (avoid basically any generic brand.)
  • Marshmallow creme, also called marshmallow fluff. Found in a tub on the baking aisle.

Easy Fudge Recipe Substitutions

Can I use sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk?

No! They are not the same. Like, at all. Don’t ever exchange them in any recipe. Good grief.

Can you use marshmallows instead of marshmallow fluff for this simple fudge recipe?

Ah, I see. YOU ARE TRYING TO CHEAT. You want to use regular marshmallows instead of marshmallow creme.

I get it, I get it. Maybe marshmallow creme is tough to find where you live. Maybe you just had a baby and can’t leave the house, but you NEED some fudge and all you have are minis. Or maybe you’re just being SUPER lazy and have no excuse.

Here’s the thing. While fudge made with regular marshmallows CAN turn out okay, I don’t recommend using them unless you’re desperate. Marshmallows are coated in cornstarch to keep them from sticking to each other in the bag. In fudge, the cornstarch dries out the fudge and makes for a not-quite-as-smooth texture. The older the marshmallows, the drier and tougher your fudge will get. Regular marshmallows should be a last ditch effort for fudge. So get your booty down to the store and buy the real stuff, if you can get your hands on it!

If you do plan to use marshmallows, it’s best to use a kitchen scale to weigh out 7 ounces of marshmallows (the amount in a tub of marshmallow creme) rather than relying on cup measurements.

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Best Fudge Recipe Tips

These are the basics of what you need to know to make awesome fudge. Tons more details below:

  • Have all your ingredients measured out before you start making the fudge.
  • Use high quality chocolate.
  • Use marshmallow creme, not mini marshmallows.
  • Use a heavy-bottom pot.
  • Line your pan with parchment paper.
  • Don’t get any sugar crystals on the side of the pan or on the spoon.
  • Stir the whole time, 5 minutes, or until a thermometer reaches 234-236 degrees F.
  • Pour the fudge into the pan but don’t scrape the edges of the pot well. I will explain everything below!!

How to make Fudge

First, have EVERYTHING completely measured out and ready to go before you even turn your burner on. Fudge moves fast, so we need to be totally prepared! You might think that the top photo is what “everything ready to go” looks like. It’s not!

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One of these things is not like the other…In the second photo, I’ve peeled off the top of the marshmallow creme. I’ve measured out 2/3 cup evaporated milk. I’ve lined my pan with parchment paper. I’ve even torn open my bag of chocolate chips and spilled them artfully over the counter. (okay fine, you can skip that step.) I know you feel like I’m being bossy, but I promise, you do not have time to do this stuff later!

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Now, about that chocolate. Here is an example of what NOT to buy. Do you see how the red package calls these “baking chips”? Guys, don’t do it. If you buy low quality chocolate, the chips will not melt all the way, and you will end up with chocolate chunks in what is supposed to be smooth, dreamy creamy fudge. My sister used crappy chocolate one time, and someone asked her if it was “chocolate chip fudge.” She just said yes, haha. But don’t be like that! Aspire higher! Use the best quality chocolate you can find. Ghirardelli, Guittard, and Lindt are all great brands.

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Next we’re going to talk about your pot. Yes, this really does matter! You need a heavy 3-quart pot. That means when you pick it up, it should feel HEAVY. Give it a swing! Sometimes people call these “heavy bottomed pans.” Can you see how thick the bottom of this pan is compared to the thickness of the edges?

A cheap thin pan will heat your fudge unevenly, creating “hot spots” and causing it to scald. This leads to dry, crumbly fudge. The pan quality REALLY CAN BE the difference between perfect fudge and failure fudge. Trust me!

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Next step on prepping: take the time to remove the foil seal from the top of your marshmallow jar before you get cooking. Sometimes they can be stubborn and you need two hands (you won’t have two hands later). I prefer Kraft jet-puffed, but that’s more for ease of opening than how it affects the fudge, I’ve used generic with good results. Later we will be warming this in the microwave so make sure ALL the foil comes off! Go ahead and stick the tub in the microwave now to hang out until you need it.

Open your can of full-fat evaporated milk and measure out 2/3 cup into a liquid measuring cup, and have your vanilla nearby with the teaspoon ready to go. All your ingredients should be really close to the stove, within arms reach. Once the fudge making starts you can’t leave. Get ready to holler at anyone in the house in case the doorbell rings or something. Trust me, I’ve done my fair share of fudge-hollerin.

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One last thing: line your 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper before you get started. Fold the corners and tuck them in nicely. You can pour it straight into the pan if you want, but it’s so much easier to cut the fudge into clean slices if you can lift it out of the pan with paper. Now, if you plan to eat the whole thing by yourself, row by row, slicing little pieces for yourself every time you pass through the kitchen, then I have no judgment to pass on you, and you also can totally skip the parchment. No need to spray the pan.

Whew! Now that we’ve gotten through all our prep, we can actually get to fudge making.

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  1. Start by adding the butter and melting it over medium heat. As it melts, coat the edges of the pan clear to the top with the butter. This will help prevent sugar crystals from forming on the edges of the pan.
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2. Once the butter is mostly melted, slowly pour the sugar into the center of the pan as carefully as you can, making sure to not get any sugar on the side of the pan. With a long wooden spoon, draw the butter in from the edges toward the center, going slowly all the way around the pan until the edges are moistened.

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3. Add the evaporated milk and turn the heat up to medium high. Stir to mix evenly, but avoid touching the sides of the pan with your spoon. And let’s get this out of the way:

4. Bring your butter-sugar-evap-milk mixture to a boil, STIRRING GENTLY AND CONSTANTLY. Bubbles showing on the edges of the pan is not enough. Light bubbles must be coming up from the center of the pan, even when you swipe your spoon across the pan.

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5. Immediately set a timer for 5 minutes, and turn the heat down to medium so that you don’t burn your fingers off. It should be boiling the full 5 minutes. STIR GENTLY AND CONSTANTLY. If the boil isn’t constant or starts to die a bit, the heat is too low and you need to turn it up a smidge. Keep stirring. Your hand may feel like it’s on fire at times. In fact, your arm might fall off from stirring this much, but you’ll be glad you burned some calories when you realize how much of this fudge you’ll be eating.

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Here is what the boiled mixture looks like after 5 minutes. It is lighter and foamier.

Another way to check for doneness is to use a candy thermometer, removing from the heat once the temperature reaches 234-236º F. My mom never did this, and I don’t either usually. But if you are nervous, 234-236 is the temperature you are shooting for. If you cook it to a higher temperature, your fudge will turn out dry and crumbly.

Be ready the last few seconds before the timer goes off, all the next steps happen very quickly!

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6. As soon as the timer rings, turn off the burner and move the fudge pot off the heat. Immediately add all the chocolate chips at once. Stir with your wooden spoon until all the chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth. If you have chunks in this mixture, you will have chunks in your fudge, so be sure to stir until they melt completely.

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7. Put your marshmallow creme in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds (no lid! no bits of foil! Ignore the “do not microwave this container” warning!) Watch it and take it out when the mallow rises about a bit over the lip of the container.

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This step makes scooping the mallow creme out of the container like 10x faster, but you can skip it if you just love struggling with a spatula and getting marshmallow up to your elbows.

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8. Add the marshmallow creme to the chocolate mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until mostly incorporated, then add the vanilla and stir until everything is even in color and well-blended.

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Once you don’t see any more marshmallow swirls, STOP STIRRING. The fudge will start to set as soon as it starts cooling, even right there in the pot, so get a move on.

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9. Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and gently shake it to help the fudge settle in. Do no touch the top of the fudge or spread it with a spatula. It should be gorgeously ridged on top, like this:

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DO NOT scrape out the pot well! You will just be covering the top of your beautifully rippled fudge with already-crumbly-dried-out-edge-of-the-pan-bits. Don’t ruin the top of your fudge. I don’t even use a spatula, just the same wooden spoon I used to stir.

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Once all the smooth liquid fudge is in the pan, get a spatula and carefully scrape all the remaining fudge into a small bowl. Then by golly, have at it with a spoon. Treat yoself. Everyone else has to wait hours to try this fudge, but not you, oh no. This bowl is a special treasure that no one else even has to know about.

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10. Let your pan of fudge cool to room temperature before cutting into it. The fudge needs to set for several hours before it is ready to be lifted out and sliced, otherwise it will crack when you move it. If you’re leaving it in the pan you can cut into it while it’s warm, it’ll just be soft-set instead of firm.

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11. Once it is totally cool, slice and serve! Store on the counter covered with plastic wrap. Do NOT store fudge in the refrigerator. It dries out super fast. I only cut pieces from the block of fudge as they are needed. The longer already-cut pieces sit out, the more dry they become. If you are only using part of the fudge, only cut what you need. If you are cutting the entire block for a party or to distribute on Christmas plates, wait until right beforehand to cut the pieces.

The easiest way is to grab the edges of the parchment paper and pull the entire block out of the pan. Use a long, sharp knife and cut several rows in one direction (wiping the knife between slices), then turn the block 90 degrees and cut more rows in that direction to make small pieces. The size of the pieces can be adjusted to however big or small you like. Remember that this fudge is rich and a little goes a long way! I usually cut fudge into rows of 7×7 to give me about 49 pieces of two-bite fudge.

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Marshmallow Fudge Recipe FAQs

How many mini marshmallows equal a jar of marshmallow creme?

4 cups of mini marshmallows (or 40 large marshmallows) equals about one 7-ounce tub of marshmallow creme. But wait, why are you asking this?? There are no marshmallows in this recipe!

Why is my marshmallow fluff fudge grainy?

You’ve heard one bad apple ruins the bunch, but in this case, it’s one rogue grain of crystallized sugar.

Fudge is super-saturated with sugar. Fudge has more sugar molecules inside its buttery-goodness than technically “fit” inside. You crammed all those sugar molecules inside by getting the mixture hot over a stove, so the fats could absorb more and more of the sugar. The fat should keeps absorbing until every speck of sugar is dissolved, if you do it correctly.

If your fudge is grainy, it means some sugar crystals remained in your mixture even after heating. These handful of crystals act like a ladder, allowing other dissolved sugar molecules to climb out of the liquid and adhere to the crystalline structure, similar to the way rock candy grows into crystals when water evaporates. Crystals = grainy.

Here’s how to avoid grainy fudge:
– Coat your whole pot with melted butter before adding the sugar. This makes it tougher for sugar to stick to the edge of the pot.
– Melt the butter slowly and add the sugar very carefully to the center of the pot, without getting ANY on the sides. If you accidentally get some on the side, carefully douse it with the butter and evaporated milk mixture to make sure it doesn’t crystallize (which would then form those “ladders” of sugar crystals, making grainy fudge)
– Avoid getting sugar crystals on the upper edge of your wooden spoon. If you see dry sugar on your spoon, make sure to douse it with the liquid in the pan before you’ve reached a boil.
– Make sure you pour the hot mixture into a prepared pan that is completely dry and clean (and preferably lined with parchment). Water introduced at this point will ruin your whole batch of fudge.

How do I fix fudge with marshmallow fluff that didn’t set?

Okay, here’s the hard truth. Fudge can be sensitive. Think of it like your favorite, but occasionally-weepy, holiday relative. Every season it’s something new: the humidity, the altitude, the barometric pressure (for reals).

This recipe is very forgiving, as far as fudge recipes go. But it’s still fudge. The butter mixture you stirred for so long needs to reach 234-236º F to set properly. (This takes about 5 minutes! I NEVER use a candy thermometer for fudge and neither does my mom).

If your fudge doesn’t set (become hard), it likely didn’t reach 234-236º F. Although I’ve personally never had fudge that didn’t set, I’ve read that you can put all the fudge right back in the pan with a tablespoon or two of evaporated milk and reheat it all back up, using a thermometer to make sure it hits 234-236º.

If your fudge just won’t set, don’t throw it away! You have a few options.

– If it’s really thin, use it as a fudge sauce over ice cream. Or spread it on top of Nana’s Fudge Brownies! Or honestly, just forget serving it to guests and go at it with a spoon.
– If it’s thicker but still not set, try adding some powdered sugar, roll into balls, and dip in chocolate for fudgy truffles.
– You can also just let it sit overnight, uncovered and unrefrigerated. The “gooey mess” will harden over time, becoming more brittle than is ideal, but still delicious, and less messy than unset fudge.
– You can also try putting the fudge in the fridge and see if chilling will help it set.

If your fudge is always runny and you live in a high altitude, consider stirring the fudge mixture on the stove for 5 minutes and 30 seconds to give the mixture time to heat all the way. Or you can use a candy thermometer as you boil the fudge mixture, removing it from heat once it reaches 234-236º F.

How long does fudge take to set?

Fudge needs to set for several hours before it is ready to be lifted out and sliced, otherwise it will crack when you move it. If you want it to slice up into nice square pieces, you’ll need to let it cool completely, to room temperature. Of course, if you don’t care about nice-looking pieces, it’s safe to eat as soon as it’s cool enough not to burn your tongue (good luck waiting that long).

Is fudge a dessert or candy?

Fudge is a type of sugar candy (also known as a confectionery–start calling it that if you want to be like a fancy Victorian person with a top hat). It’s called a sugar candy because it starts with cooking sugar and other ingredients to a soft ball stage. It basically splits the difference between a completely soft sugar candy, like fondant, and a much firmer, chewy sugar candy, like caramel. If you want to serve it as dessert though, I highly doubt anyone will complain.

What is traditional fudge made of?

Traditional or “old-fashioned” fudge doesn’t include marshmallow creme; it’s based on sugar, butter, milk, and cocoa or chocolate (like this recipe), but it’s harder to get the texture and consistency just right. It’s based on crystallizing sugar. Delicious, delicious sugar.

How to Store Fudge

How long does fudge last?

Technically fudge lasts 2-3 weeks on the counter. It would never last that long at my house, because it’s just too tempting to cut off “just a little piece” every time you walk by. Amazing how all those little pieces add up to “whoops, guess I need to make more fudge!”

How long does fudge last in the fridge?

Fudge shouldn’t be kept in the fridge at all. Don’t do it!! It will become dry and crumbly because all of the moisture will be drawn out. I promise it’s ok to leave it on the counter!

If you do want to make it ahead of time and save it for later, then I recommend freezing it (see instructions below).

How long does fudge last unrefrigerated?

Fudge is good on the counter for 2-3 weeks. It shouldn’t be refrigerated; keeping it on the counter is the best way to store it.

Can you freeze fudge?

Yes you can! I do this every year at Christmas time. Seal the whole block (not cut pieces, if possible) in a ziplock. Take it out when you need it and let come to room temperature on the counter in the same bag. Do not try to slice until it’s completely room temperature. It will keep in the freezer for about 2 months if well sealed!

Oh, fudge.

Well, that’s all folks. The capstone course on fudge-making. You deserve a diploma. Thanks, Mom, for teaching us your fudge making ways. I hope this simple fudge recipe brings you as much happiness as it has brought my family over the years! Merry Christmas to all!

More candy recipes to make for Christmas!

  • Penuche Fudge Recipe << Brown sugar version of today’s fudge!!
  • Nana’s Famous Fudge Brownies << ALL THE FUDGE guys.
  • Caramel NougatPecan Roll << This is truly one of my favorites! So unique.
  • Here’s another great Christmas recipe you will love: Candy Cane Brownie Trifle! It’s a HUGE reader favorite! And personal favorite of mine, I’ve been making it for years.
  • Homemade Peppermint Bark << so easy.
  • The Best English Toffee << from my Aunt Shirley
  • Oreo Truffles << 4 ingredients!
  • Hot Fudge Sauce << pour this on everythinggg
  • Holiday Chex Mix << now THIS is a classic.
  • Dessert Charcuterie Board << add fudge to your board!
  • Chocolate Covered Oreo Fudge from Barefeet in the Kitchen
  • Pineapple Fudge from Mom on Timeout
Mom's Easy Fudge Recipe from The Food Charlatan (2024)
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