April 24, 2014

Real Old Fashion Homemade Fudge (No Cheating)

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to make old fashion homemade fudge and it always ended up as a syrupy sloppy mess (we call this “hot fudge” lol.) It’s so disappointing because I really love old fashion homemade fudge, so I finally got my grandmother to break down and tell me how she does it.

See, my mom makes good fudge, but she cheats. She uses Marshmallow Fluff and chocolate chips. I don’t want that fudge, or fudge that uses corn syrup or evaporated milk. I want my grandmothers’ old fashioned Hershey’s cocoa fudge. You know, the hard old fashion homemade fudge that melts in your mouth and makes your eyes roll in the back of your head; That fudge. So here it is, the recipe and the secret – leave it alone!

Old Fashion Homemade Fudge Recipe

What You Need:

  • 3 TBSP. Hershey’s Cocoa
  • 3/4 c. Milk
  • 2 1/2 c. Sugar (not confectioners or powdered, but granulated)
  • 1/4 c. (4 TBSP.) Butter – softened, but not melted(not margarine)
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Pinch of Salt

What You Do:

  • In a large saucepan (if it’s too small it will boil over leaving a mess, try a 3-4 qt. pan) whisk together the cocoa, sugar and salt.
  • Get rid of the whisk and grab a wooden spoon.
  • Slowly stir in the milk (keep stirring with one hand, pour slowly with the other)
  • Set the heat to medium high and bring to a boil – don’t stop stirring.
  • Once it’s boiling turn the heat to medium-low and stop stirring.
  • Let it boil for about 15 – 20 minutes and fill a large mouth glass with water and ice. Don’t Stir
  • Lightly grease an 8×8 dish (or similar size) and go sit down so you’re not tempted to fiddle with the fudge!
  • Dip a little of the mixture up with a spoon and drop it into the glass. Don’t Stir
  • Try to form the dropped mixture into a ball, if it doesn’t stay let the mixture cook for 5 more minutes. DO NOT STIR
  • Try again with the mix in the ice water (get new ice water if the water is cloudy). If it still isn’t forming a ball leave it and check again in 5 minutes. DO NOT STIR
  • Continue checking every 5 minutes until a soft ball forms (you’ll know because it will feel like a piece of wet play dough, holding shape) DO NOT STIR
  • When you have a soft ball, remove the saucepan from the burner and add the butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR
  • Let the saucepan sit at room temperature for 20 minutes – go take a bath, wash your hair, paint your toenails – just leave it alone!
  • Roll up your sleeves and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it starts to look more matte than glossy. This takes some elbow grease, stick to it and consider it your workout for the day!
  • As soon as most of the gloss is gone quickly pour the fudge into your dish.
  • Let it cool and cut it into pieces.

If it doesn’t come out the way you wanted, try again. This is an acquired recipe, it may take a few tries but the key is to leave it alone! It’s tempting to stir and scrape, but resist the urge and you’ll have yummy fudge. Keep at it until you make the perfect old fashion homemade fudge, and you’ll be able to make it time and time again.

(these are not my photos – I swear I’m getting around to taking some soon!)


  1. I had been looking for the recipe that my Grandma Smith used to make her famous old fashioned fudge. I tried the reprinted version of the Hershey’s version of which while I was able to set it up correctly it had 2/3 cup of cocoa that made it too bitter. I also tried to use a candy thermometer of which did not work out for me with the first recipe. I had decided the next time I would use only 1/3 cup, but then I found this recipe that called for only 3 Tablespoons of cocoa and less sugar and milk. This was more like what Grandma’s fudge look like (not as dark as with using the 2/3 cup of cocoa) and your instructions worked out PERFECTLY for me. The only thing I may change is waiting the full 20 minutes after the addition of the butter and vanilla. The texture immediately changed from glossy to matte after the full 20 minutes, but then it become hard to stir and was sticking to my pan. I added a little milk and was able to stir enough to pour in my pan….I just cooled it and cut a piece…YUM…just like Grandma’s!! ♥♥♥ Thanks so much-I will work with my final finishing stir time (also loved your comical instructions too!) :) Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Yes Queen Keys-this also is like my Grandma used to make…with NO standard measurement devices too! Talk about an expert…I would also suggest maybe bumping the milk up to 1 cup since you had to add the milk to remove the stuck mixture and reduce your wait time to 5-10 minutes after your fudge test ready and you have added your butter and vanilla. I like nuts in my fudge and if you add them, do so right before you start stirring your mixture (Grandma did this). Amber, your instructions are perfect. I am sure with practice and a few adjustments (my gas stove actually has my fudge ready in 15 minutes vs 20 minutes on med-low heat) everyone here can enjoy their happy memories of this delicious hard old fashioned fudge.

  2. After the step where it says bring to a boil you never say to stop stirring and let it boil for 15 min. Not specifcally at least. If i didnt read this recipe 20 times over i wouldnt have cought to stop stirring it! Ok recipe .. Still havent gotten there.

  3. I just made this recipe for the first time and it turned out just like I remember fudge tasting as a young girl. This was so easy. I always depend on a candy thermometer b/c I am not good with the water and ball thing. Thank you for sharing your recipe – it does melt in your mouth!

  4. Mine came out like chocolate toffee and chocolate dust. And it took forever :( I really wanted some fudge

  5. I’m going to try this recipe tomorrow and I want to add nuts. At what stage should I do that? I don’t want to get a perfect consistency going and ruin it with nuts.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. My family has been searching for my great grandmother’s fudge recipe, but to no avail. I just finished up my first batch and it turned out perfectly. We’re all now convinced this was the recipe she must have used (or something very close), everything is the same as we remember about hers from the ingredients, method, taste, and texture. Really great recipe!

  7. Molly Martin says:

    ThankYou For Sharing This. I Have Looked,And All I Found Were The Cheating Ones. I UsedTo Watch My Dear Old Mother Make This Exactly the same way. Testing it was the most fun. And the taste is like no other. Now I can pass it on to my daughter.

  8. Louise Simms says:

    I’m so glad I found this recipe! Thank you so much! My Nana used to make these when I was a kid (she placed no stock in condensed milk), and I’ve been looking for it everywhere. I’ve always tried to copy it, and never got the consistency right. They even came out as good as hers – though she’ll never admit it. :)

  9. this was harder than i thought! after letting it cool for 2o min i stired and waited untill it wasnt glossy anymore but suddenly the whole thing just turned all mushy and it was very hard to stir it was so stiff and alot of it was burned and i cooked to the given time 15- 20 min and let it cool for 20 min. i dont understand but i guess fudge does take more than once to get it right. maybe next time this recipe will work but this turned out really bad!

    • Are you using an electric stove? If so, then it was cooking at too high a temp for those 15-20 mins because electric burners retain heat. If you do not have access to a gas stove you can try preheating a second burner to transfer your fudge to for the simmering stage.

      • I used an electric stove top. For medium high, I let cook on 6.5 until it came to a boil. Then
        I turned the burner down to 3.5 and stopped stirring. Once the temp reach the soft ball stage, I removed from burner and let sit for 20 minutes. Hope these hints help!


  1. [...] when you search for that the first thing that comes up is a recipe from All Recipes. Under that is my recipe for Old Fashion Homemade Fudge over at Parent [...]

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