Classic Vanilla Fudge (Old Fashioned Fudge Recipe)

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  • If you like old fashioned fudge, you need to try this Classic Vanilla Fudge recipe! Not only is it great for the holidays, but perfect all year round too!

    Close up of red tray with vanilla fudge

    You just can’t beat a good, classic fudge recipe. Especially around the holidays.

    I love all flavors and add ins, but sometimes you just need a classic vanilla. And there is no better fudge than homemade fudge!

    Make sure you PIN Classic Vanilla Fudge!

    Let me first say that making a classic or traditional fudge is hard. It seems so simple, but there is actually a lot of chemistry, patience and knowledge involved.

    stack of vanilla fudge

    But I don’t want you to be intimidated. With the right background, tools and instructions, anyone can make delicious fudge. And I am going to share all of my favorite tips with you!

    PRO TIP: Use a set pastry brush to wipe down the sides of pan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.

    There are a lot of fudge recipes out there. And many take shortcuts. Don’t get me wrong, I actually make several of the easy fudge recipes myself and they are very good.

    Overhead of vanilla fudge squares on a red serving platter

    Some use marshmallow cream, like my friend over at Shugary Sweets, and others use chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk, like my Christmas Coal Candy. Some even use whole milk, sugar and butter like my Peanut Butter Fudge.

    PRO TIP: Use a wooden spoon, sticky and thick concoctions like this are easy to stir and stick less to wood than metal or plastic.

    But I like to know how to make stuff from scratch and find that understanding the chemistry behind it can be quite enlightening.

    Hand reaching in to grab vanilla fudge square

    For vanilla fudge, or any traditional fudge recipe, you need to start with the mechanics. It is basically just melted sugar, but the sugar needs something to dissolve into.

    PRO TIP: Don’t scrape the bottom of the pan when pouring out the mixture, if anything scalded just let it stay there.

    For this you use light corn syrup, also a variation of sugar, and cream. The sugar melts and forms a soft ball, which is a stage of candy making. (See the chart below.)

    Candy thermometer on a saucepan of fudge
    StageTemperature Concentration
    Thread (syrup)230 to 234 °F80%
    Soft Ball (fudge)234 to 241 °F85%
    Firm Ball (caramel candy)244 to 248 °F87%
    Hard Ball (nougat)250 to 266 °F90%
    Soft Crack (salt water taffy)270 to 289 °F95%
    Hard Crack (toffee)295 to 309 °F99%

    PRO TIP: Use a glass or metal mixing bowl and don’t touch it! I tell you to put it on a cooling rack before pouring in the mixture because after you do, the bowl is SUPER HOT. Don’t touch! Also avoid using plastic, which can melt.

    Vanilla fudge simmering in saucepan

    Something to keep in mind, vanilla fudge doesn’t actually need to have white chocolate in it. Fudge requiring chocolate is a misnomer. While many fudges do have chocolate or dark chocolate, this isn’t required. However, this recipe does use white chocolate.

    PRO TIP: Use a stick of cold butter and wipe it on the parchment paper while flat, then place it into the 8×8 pan.

    The definition of fudge is “Fudge is a type of sugar candy that is made by mixing sugar, butter and milk, heating it to the soft-ball stage at 240 °F, and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency. In texture, this crystalline candy falls in between fondants and hard caramels. (Wikipedia).

    PRO TIP: Placing the bowl to cool on a cooling rack allows air to circulate around the whole bowl, helping the process happen faster and more even.

    Make sure to use a candy thermometer to heat your fudge to correct temperture. Failing to so will result be grainy instead of smooth, melt-in-your mouth.

    Vanilla fudge setting in a 8x8 square baking dish

    From here, we let it cool, but not too fast or else it can harden and crystalize again. It will be too hot to transfer straight to the tray, so let it come down a little in a mixing bowl.

    If you use glass, be mindful that it is hot and glass it hot, so you can easily burn yourself. BE CAREFUL!

    Then the fudge is transferred to it’s finally tray to harden fully into cuttable squares. The instructions may look long and tenuous, but they are really quite easy.

    Angle view of vanilla fudge squares

    More fudge recipes:

    Rocky Road Fudge Recipe
    pile of fudge on a bronze cooling rack
    Quick 10-Minute Rocky Road Fudge uses sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, walnuts, marshmallows and flaky sea salt.
    Christmas Fudge (Almond Fudge)
    pile of christmas fudge
    There is no better classic fudge recipe than this Christmas Fudge! Basically an almond fudge topped with festive sprinkles, it's perfect for cookies trays!
    Easy Peppermint Fudge
    Close up of a stack of peppermint fudge
    Peppermint Fudge is an easy fudge recipe using sweetened condensed milk and white chocolate. Perfect for holiday cookie trays and parties!

    Questions you might have about how to make vanilla fudge:

    Why isn’t my fudge white?

    Traditionally made fudge won’t be white for a simple reason, you’ve toasted the sugar and vanilla extract is brown.

    There are recipes that use marshmallow fluff or sweetened condensed milk that will give you fluffy white fudge.

    Close up of vanilla fudge for Pinterest

    Can I use clear vanilla?

    You can use clear vanilla or even vanilla flavoring, just keep in mind neither of these are real vanilla extract.

    Do I have to use a candy thermometer?

    Scroll up and read my several paragraphs on why a candy thermometer is imperative. The answer is yes, always yes.

    When you make fudge hacks, it isn’t that big of a deal, but when you are making it the old fashioned way, you really do need one. Too little heat and it will be mealy, too much and it will be burnt and won’t set correctly.

    Can I use heavy whipping cream instead of heavy cream?

    Despite being used interchangeably quite often, there is a difference.

    Heavy cream has a 36% milk fat while and whipping cream is only 30%. Heavy cream is better for stabilized homemade whipped cream and thickening sauces because it has a higher milk fat and thicker texture, but only slightly.

    How do I store fudge?

    I like to store fudge in the refrigerator, chilled, but this also dries it out faster. It can be kept at room temperature to prevent that from happening.

    How long is fudge good for?

    Homemade fudge is good for about a week before it starts to dry out and get all brittle. And if you love fudge like me, it will be gone way before that!

    Old Fashioned Vanilla Fudge for pinterest

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    Making fudge at home doesn’t have to be challenging or time consuming. With basic knowledge of how fudge is made you’ll be a fudge making expert in no time!

    Pile of vanilla fudge on a red plate
    Print Recipe
    3.97 from 33 votes

    Classic Vanilla Fudge

    This Classic Vanilla Fudge recipe is perfect for the holidays! Add it to your cookie trays or gift to an old fashioned fudge lover!
    Prep Time5 mins
    Cook Time30 mins
    Cooling Time10 hrs
    Total Time10 hrs 35 mins
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: vanilla fudge
    Servings: 64
    Calories: 61kcal



    • Using a cold stick of butter, grease a large piece of parchment paper and then line an 8×8 square baking pan. Set aside.
    • Place the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a large glass or metal mixing bowl. Set that mixing bowl on a cooling rack. The mixture will be super hot and you won’t want to touch the moping bowl after you transfer the mixture. The cooling rack allows air to circulate all the way around the bowl, cooling faster.
    • Add heavy cream, sugar, light corn syrup, white chocolate and salt into a medium heavy saucepan.
    • Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved, approximately 10 minutes.
    • Increase to medium heat, bringing to a low boil. Do not stir or mix any longer. Attach candy thermometer and continue to cook without stirring. Allow candy thermometer to come to 240 degrees (soft ball stagand continue to cook for 1 minute. This can take 10-15 minutes, so be patient.
    • Carefully pour mixture into mixing bowl with butter. Do not scrape the bottom of the pan in case any of the sugar scaled to the bottom.
    • Whisk butter and pure vanilla extract into the mixture. It will be bubbly and hot. Be careful!
    • Allow to cool at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before mixing well and then transferring to the prepared and lined square dish.
    • Use a small offset spatula to quickly spread fudge to sides of pan and smooth top. Allow to further cool before covering and chilling in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
    • Lift parchment out of the square dish and cut into 1-inch pieces.
    • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
    • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!


    Calories: 61kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 22mg | Potassium: 7mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 87IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg
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