With this simple recipe, anyone can make their very own stovetop vanilla fudge from scratch. It’s easy and fun.
The best part about making your own classic vanilla fudge is that the ingredients are in everyone’s kitchen. Why settle for store-bought when you could have homemade instead? This is one treat that’s worth every minute of preparation time.
How to make vanilla fudge
What you’ll need
- 2-quart saucepan
- candy thermometer or instant-read digital thermometer
- half and half
- corn syrup
- vanilla extract
Stovetop fudge making process:
Combine all ingredients except butter and vanilla. While this mixture cooks up take the time to butter a rectangular or square baking dish so you’re ready to pour the fudge when the time comes.
Keep an eye on the temperature! Don’t stir during the cooking process. This vanilla fudge cooks just to the soft ball stage, and it has to hit 240 degrees or it won’t properly set. If you have a digital thermometer, it can give you peace of mind to double-check the temperature of your sugar mixture.
Once you hit 240 degrees, remove from heat immediately. Give it a minute to settle down and then put the butter and vanilla on top.
Let it cool for about 20 minutes until the side of the pan is warm, but not hot to the touch. You should be able to hold your hand comfortably on the side.
Beat in butter and vanilla using a hand mixer on medium-low speed. The mixture will begin to firm up and lose its shine. This part can be tricky to gauge, but after a few times making fudge you’ll get the feel for it. Very suddenly the mixture will firm up and you must immediately pour it.
Let it firm in the dish and then cut into squares.
Tips for success
- This recipe makes fudge that is rich, creamy and delicious. Follow these steps to make the perfect batch every time:
- Use a heavy pan that distributes heat well or else your mixture may stick during cooking.
- To avoid problems with crystallization brush down any sides of saucepans using warm water before starting
- Never stir while boiling
- Always use a candy thermometer. Check to make sure it is reading temperatures probably by checking it with boiling water.
Most fudge problems are caused by one of two mistakes: either it’s undercooked or overbeaten. The good news? You can save both. (Sort of.)
- If your fudge just does not set and firm up, no matter how long you beat it, you probably never cooked it to 240. But you can just pop it back on the stove and cook it a bit longer. This probably happened because your candy thermometer isn’t calibrated quite right.
- If your fudge is brittle and crumbly, you might have overcooked it, but you more likely overbeat it. It will still probably have great flavor but will be a little hard. Some people prefer their fudge that way, so it’s no big deal.
- The sugar mixture will seem to darken as it cooks, but will still harden to an off-white color.
More classic candy recipes
- Homemade buttery caramels use canned milk for a slightly easier technique.
- Old-fashioned chocolate fudge is very similar to this technique but has less vanilla and adds cocoa.
Classic Vanilla Fudge
- 2 quart saucepan
- Candy thermometer
- 2¼ cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup half and half
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Combine all ingredients except butter and vanilla. Combine all ingredients except butter and vanilla. In a 2 quart saucepan, combine the sugar, half and half, salt, and corn syrup. Mix well with a whisk and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. While the fudge is cooking, butter a plate or baking dish for pouring the mixture into later.
- Heat until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Let the fudge cook until it reaches 240 degrees, checked with a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer. Don't stir during the cooking process. Once the temperature is reached, immediately remove the pan from the heat.
- Place butter and vanilla on top and allow to cool. Give the sugar mixture a minute to stop bubbling, then place the butter and vanilla on top and allow to cool at room temperature. Do not mix now or otherwise disturb the pan. Let it cool for about 20 minutes until the side of the pan is warm, but not hot to the touch.
- Mix with a hand mixer until fudge begins to firm up. Using a hand mixer on medium-low, beat the fudge for 1-3 minutes until it just begins to firm up and lose its shine. Do not overbeat, or the fudge will be too hard to pour.
- Quickly pour into a buttered dish, cool, and cut. Quickly pour into a buttered dish, cool, and cut. Once the fudge changes texture, immediately pour it into a dish to set. Work quickly. It if is not pourable, just scoop it out and flatten in the best you can. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes and cut into one-inch squares.
There are many ways to make vanilla fudge, but this simple stovetop recipe is the best. It’s easy and doesn’t take too much time or require any special equipment. The best part? You can use ingredients that you already have in your kitchen! This particular recipe makes rich, creamy, delicious vanilla fudge every time. So get out your spoon and high heat resistant rubber spatula because it’s time to cook up some sweet treats!