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

Home Recipes Candy Fudge

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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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

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    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.

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

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    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.

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

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    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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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (8)

    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.

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    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!

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    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

    Author

    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)

    FAQs

    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.

    Can I fix fudge that didn'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).

    What to do with failed fudge? ›

    My advice to you is to just pour it in a jar, call it something else delicious, and pretend you meant for it to be that way. The nice thing about my “failed” fudge is that it tastes absolutely delicious! A spoonful of the delectable treat will make you want for more. It's all in your perspective.

    What is the secret to perfect fudge? ›

    Valuable tips for successful fudge
    • Don't stir during cooking. Fudge can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave. ...
    • Avoid crystallization. During cooking, sugar crystals can stick to the sides of the pan. ...
    • Let cool before beating. After being cooked, the sugar must crystallize again to create fudge. ...
    • Beat the mixture.

    Why is my 3 ingredient fudge not setting? ›

    Why won't my 3 ingredient fudge set? This often happens when the condensed milk and chocolate chip mixture isn't hot enough to start. Everything must be completely melted before it is transferred to the pan to cool.

    How do I fix messed up fudge? ›

    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.

    Can fudge be melted and reset? ›

    Don't panic if your fudge is grainy, nothing is lost it just requires some more work. 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.

    Do you stir fudge when it's boiling? ›

    Avoid Stirring Once the Mixture Comes to a Simmer

    Another key part of a successful fudge texture is when you stir the mixture. Stirring the sugar and milk during the initial stages of cooking allows the sugar to dissolve. However, once the mixture comes to a boil, it's time to put the spoon down.

    How long do you boil fudge to get to soft ball stage? ›

    How long does it take to make fudge:
    1. about 18 min to reach boiling.
    2. about 40 minutes to reach soft ball stage.
    3. 60 minutes to cool.
    4. 28 minutes to beat in a KitchenAid (your time for this may vary)
    5. 4 hours to set.

    How to make fudge creamy and not grainy? ›

    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 should fudge look like after beating? ›

    The fudge is then beaten as this makes the fudge slightly crumbly rather than chewy. Beating the mixture encourages the formation of small sugar crystals, which leads to the crumbly texture. The crystals may not be noticeable in themselves but the fudge mixture will thicken and turn from shiny to matte in appearance.

    Why is my fudge like caramel? ›

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

    Will freezing fudge make it set? ›

    Lastly, to set fudge completely, put it in the freezer.

    How to fix dried out fudge? ›

    You have one option to make it soft, which is you have to put the fudge pieces in a plastic bag along with the paper towel or a bread slice. Secure the bag and leave it overnight, next day you will get a softened fudge.

    How long does it take fudge to set in the refrigerator? ›

    Let the fudge rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before placing in the refrigerator, uncovered. Refrigerate until the fudge is firm, about 2-3 hours (or overnight), before slicing and serving.

    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.

    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.

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