Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (2024)

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Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (1)

ByLindsay D. Mattison

Taste of Home's Editorial Process

Updated: May 05, 2024

    Homemade fudge can be a little fussy, but it's easy to make if you avoid these common fudge mistakes.


    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (2)

    Molly Allen for Taste of Home

    Bitter Taste

    If your pot heats unevenly, chances are good the sugars will burn, giving fudge an unpleasant, acrid taste that’s impossible to fix. This is often the result of a pot that’s too thin. Instead, invest in a heavy-bottomed, stainless steel pot to set yourself up for success.


    Grainy Fudge

    Does your fudge have a gritty or grainy texture? The sugars probably crystallized, a common mistake when making candy like fudge or caramel. 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.


    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (4)

    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). By the way, here’s how to make microwave fudge if you need a new batch in a pinch.


    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (5)

    TMB studio

    Too Soft or Too Hard Fudge

    The amount of time you cook fudge directly affects its firmness. Too little time and the water won’t evaporate, causing the fudge to be soft. Conversely, cook it too long and fudge won’t contain enough water, making it hard with a dry, crumbly texture. Pay attention to the timetable specified in the recipe, and you’ll get the hang of it after a batch or two.

    Here’s how to make homemade fudge step by step.


    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (6)

    TMB studio

    Oily Fudge

    Fudge is basically an emulsion between sugar, butter and milk. If the butter gets too hot, it can separate, causing the fudge to become oily on top. This is easy to prevent by monitoring the temperature with a candy thermometer, but separated fudge can also be fixed.

    To fix oily, hard or grainy fudge, scoop the fudge back into a pot with about a cup of water. Cook it over low heat until the fudge dissolves. Then bring the fudge back up to the temperature specified in the recipe and follow the remaining steps. The flavor may be slightly diluted, but the texture will be improved.


    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (7)

    TMB studio

    Sugar Crystals Formed

    It’s important to beat the fudge ingredients to develop the right texture, but you won’t get smooth, creamy fudge if you beat it when it’s too hot. Beating fudge when it’s still over heat creates sugar crystals, aka the grittiness you feel in the fudge. Instead, wait to pick up the spoon (our Test Kitchen loves using wooden spoons) until the fudge drops to between 110 and 113°F, about 15 minutes.


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    Rock Hard Fudge

    Beating the cooled batter is one of the crucial steps of fudge-making, but overbeating can turn fudge hard as a rock. Pay close attention to the change in appearance and only beat the fudge until it loses its glossy sheen. If you beat the fudge any longer, you might notice it start to seize, which tells you you’ve gone too far.


    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (9)

    TMB Studio

    Bland Tasting Fudge

    Your fudge will only be as good as the ingredients you use. Quality butter, chocolate chips and vanilla extract will create a luxurious base that will hardly need anything to amplify the sweetness. Beyond the basics, our Test Kitchen recommends mix-ins of equal quality. For example, if you want all-out with the best chocolate brands, do the same for any nuts, extracts or candies. You can make candy-shop quality fudge by toasting nuts before mixing into the fudge or making sure you’re not using last year’s peppermint sticks to crush into this year’s fudge. The fresher, the better!


    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (10)

    Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

    Complicated Fudge

    Fudge-making requires time and attention to detail, but some of our favorite fudge recipes use a shortcut: sweetened condensed milk. These recipes don’t require a candy thermometer or any specialized equipment, so they’re perfect for beginners or anyone running short on time.

    Originally Published: January 23, 2021


    Lindsay D. Mattison

    Lindsay has been a food writer, recipe developer and product tester for seven years. She’s a culinary school graduate who specializes in sustainable food and seasonal ingredients. She draws on her professional chef background to develop recipes and help home cooks gain confidence in the kitchen. When Lindsay isn’t writing, you’ll find her coo...

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (11)

    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (2024)


    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them? ›

    Too little time and the water won't evaporate, causing the fudge to be soft. Conversely, cook it too long and fudge won't contain enough water, making it hard with a dry, crumbly texture. Pay attention to the timetable specified in the recipe, and you'll get the hang of it after a batch or two.

    What to do with failed fudge? ›

    Options for what you can do with your unset 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.

    What not to do when making fudge? ›

    7 Common Mistakes to Avoid for Candy Shop-Worthy Fudge and Caramels
    1. Using the Wrong Pan. All candy and confections start by melting sugar. ...
    2. Stirring the Sugar. ...
    3. Not Using a Candy Thermometer. ...
    4. Leaving Out the Parchment Paper Lining. ...
    5. Skipping the Cooking Spray. ...
    6. Scraping the Pot. ...
    7. Using a Cold Knife to Slice.
    Dec 16, 2015

    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

    Can you fix over cooked fudge? ›

    For both problems, you'll need to melt the fudge back down to allow the sugar crystals to properly dissolve or to allow the overcooked fudge to soften up again. It may seem counterintuitive to cook overcooked fudge even more, but trust us, you just need to start the fudge over from scratch.

    What happens to overcooked fudge? ›

    Too cooked

    This fudge was cooked to a temperature of 118 °C (244 °F). At this temperature, the sugar is too concentrated and there is not enough water left to form syrup around sugar crystals. The result is hard and brittle fudge.

    Can you melt and reset fudge? ›

    Pop the grainy fudge back into the pan along with some water and a little cream and melt the fudge back down to a liquid and re-boil it to temperature. Heat slowly to begin with and make sure the mixture goes completely smooth before bringing it to the boil.

    What happens if you don't stir fudge? ›

    By letting the fudge cool without stirring, you avoid creating seed crystals. Stirring would help sucrose molecules "find" one another and start forming crystals. Stirring also introduces air, dust, and small dried bits from the walls of the saucepan—all potential seeds for crystal formation.

    Why did my fudge fail? ›

    If there is too much evaporation, when the cooking time is too long, there will not be enough water left in the fudge and it will be too hard. Conversely, if the cooking time is too brief and there is not enough evaporation, too much water will remain and the fudge will be too soft.

    What is the secret to smooth fudge that is not gritty? ›

    If the sugar crystals are not properly dissolved before cooling, they can create a gritty texture. 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.

    What does cream of tartar do to 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!

    Why did my fudge turn out like caramel? ›

    Fudge can turn into caramel due to overcooking or undercooking, incorrect temperatures, or wrong ingredients.

    Is evaporated milk or condensed milk better for fudge? ›

    Evaporated milk doesn't have sugar added. The sweetened condended milk is needed as no extra sugar is added to the fudge. If evaporated milk were used then the fudge would not be sweet enough and also would still be too soft unless the fudge is frozen.

    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.

    Can you reset fudge? ›

    In principle for traditional fudge you could re-heat it by adding more liquid so that the sugars dissolve. You would then need to evaporate the excess liquid (but don't exceed the soft-ball stage at 237 F/114 C) to recreate your supersaturated solution.

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

    Why is my fudge not hardening? Typically this happens when the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk do not cook long enough in the microwave. If those two ingredients are not entirely melted, the fudge will not set up correctly while chilling in the fridge.

    Can I freeze fudge to make it set? ›

    We like to set this fudge in the freezer to make it quicker! Once you add the fudge to your pan it will need just 30 minutes in the freezer to set.

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