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Evaporated Milk Fudge {No Marshmallows}

Creamy, rich squares of this evaporated milk fudge are pretty much impossible to resist. The easy recipe has that classic soft fudge texture and a sweet, buttery caramel taste. The perfect treat for sharing and gifting, especially around the holidays!

old fashioned fudge recipe with evaporated milk

Old-fashioned fudge recipe with evaporated milk (No Marshmallows)

Homemade fudge with evaporated milk is one of my favorite recipes because it’s just so, so good. It has a wonderful, luscious texture to bite into and then melts in your mouth.

It’s an old-fashioned recipe with plenty of evaporated milk, butter, and sugar cooked in a saucepan on the stovetop. And the best part is that you only need 5 simple ingredients!

This creamy fudge is so delicious all on its own, without any mix-ins to dress it up. Of course, I still feel tempted to make all sorts of customizations, and you can find a bunch of variation ideas below.

This old-fashioned fudge has won my family’s hearts with its fantastic texture and perfect balance of caramel and vanilla flavor. And if you enjoy classic fudge, I think you’ll love it too!

evaporated milk fudge ingredients

Ingredients

There are just 5 staple ingredients in this evaporated milk fudge recipe, and you probably have all of them waiting in your pantry! Please scroll down to the recipe card below for exact measurements.

  • Sugar: This easy fudge recipe uses 2 kinds of sugar, granulated sugar (aka white sugar or caster sugar) and light brown sugar.
  • Evaporated milk has less water content than regular milk and gives the fudge a rich, silky texture. You need a 12-oz can of evaporated milk.
  • Butter: Use salted butter for the best flavor or add a pinch of salt to unsalted butter.
  • Vanilla extract adds sweetness and a lovely vanilla flavor.

Kitchen tools

  • Heavy-bottom saucepan distributes the heat evenly and ensures the sugar caramelizes evenly.
  • Digital sugar thermometer is essential to check the temperature of the caramelizing sugar.
  • Wooden spoon to stir the fudge while cooking.
  • Electric mixer to beat the fudge.
  • Baking pan: You need an 8 in x 8 in / 20 cm x 20 cm square pan for pouring the fudge.
  • Parchment paper (baking paper) or aluminum foil to line the baking tin and prevent the fudge from sticking.
  • Sharp knife to cut the fudge into squares.
evaporated milk fudge recipe

How to make fudge with evaporated milk

Vanilla fudge with evaporated milk is pretty simple and tastes so amazing. Just make sure to prep your ingredients beforehand so you have everything ready.

#1: Prep pan

  • Lightly grease an 8 in / 20 cm square baking pan, and line with a parchment (baking) paper or aluminum foil sling for easy removal and cutting after the fudge has set.
  • If using foil, be sure to butter it generously so the fudge will come off easily.
step 3 melt butter and sugar

#2: Melt sugars and butter

  • Put the granulated sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, and butter into a large, heavy-bottom saucepan.
  • Place over low heat, constantly stirring, until the sugars have dissolved and the butter has melted.
step 3 bring to soft boil

#3: Bring to soft boil stage

  • Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil while stirring constantly.
  • Simmer the mixture until it reaches 241°F / 116°C (soft ball stage).
step 4 let cool and add vanilla

#4: Let mixture cool

  • Once the soft ball stage is reached, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool, undisturbed, to cool down to 230°F / 110°C. This will only take a few minutes.
step 5 beat fudge

#5: Beat mixture

  • Add the vanilla and beat it with an electric mixer (using medium speed) until the fudge thickens and loses its shine.
step 6 pour fudge and let firm up

#6: Let firm up

  • Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and smooth it into the corners. Let firm up at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
step 7 slice fudge

#7: Slice fudge

  • Once the fudge has firmed up, remove it from the pan. Use a sharp knife and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Enjoy!
fudge with evaporated milk

Tips for success

Here are a few tips and tricks on making the tastiest evaporated milk fudge without marshmallows! Read through them before you get cooking, and you’ll be making fudge like a pro!

  • Pan size: Use a saucepan or pot that holds at least 3 quarts / 3 liters. The fudge will expand and climb up the sides of the pot during the boiling stage.
  • Wear oven gloves: The fudge mixture gets incredibly hot. Stir the mixture carefully to avoid splashing yourself. I recommend wearing oven mitts while stirring.
  • Boil the fudge: When boiling the mixture, it may seem like the temperature is stuck around 220°F / 104°C for a few minutes. Be patient though, it will eventually move and then increase rapidly.
  • Beat the fudge: Beating the fudge as it cools ensures that tiny sugar crystals form, and the texture becomes soft and smooth. Just be sure to wait until the mixture has cooled to 230°F / 110°C. If the fudge is mixed too soon, large crystals will form instead.
  • Let cool at room temperature rather than putting it in the refrigerator. Fudge needs to cool slowly and steadily. Placing it in the fridge can cause cracks.
evaporated milk vanilla fudge recipe

Troubleshooting

Why is my evaporated milk fudge dry and crumbly?

Hard, cracked, and crumbly fudge means that the syrup was overcooked and there was not enough liquid left for a soft texture.

To salvage the fudge, break it into pieces and heat in a saucepan with 1/4 cup / 60 ml evaporated milk. Bring to a boil, constantly stirring, until the fudge has melted.

Let the mixture cook until it reaches 230°F / 110°C (but not higher!), then proceed with the recipe as described.

My fudge is too soft and won’t set. What did I do wrong?

If the fudge is too soft and won’t set, the cooking temperature was likely not high enough to concentrate and caramelize the sugar.

Return the mixture to a saucepan with about 2 tablespoons evaporated milk and bring to a boil, stirring continuously, until the candy thermometer reads 230°F / 110°C.

Then cool and beat the fudge as indicated in the recipe instructions. You may need to stir for 10 to 15 minutes before the fudge begins to set.

Can I make evaporated milk fudge without a candy thermometer?

Yes, you can make this creamy fudge recipe without a candy thermometer. Instead, drop small amounts of molten sugar mixture into a glass of cold water.

If the fudge is ready, the sugar will ball together and feel like a soft, pliable ball when handled.

Please note that this method is less precise. A digital candy thermometer really is the best way to guarantee perfect fudge.

easy fudge recipe evaporated milk

Variations

This is a wonderful recipe to customize to your needs and taste. You can get really creative with the add-ins!

  • Different extract: Use only 1 tsp vanilla extract and add 1 tsp peppermint extract, 1 tsp rum extract, or 1/4 tsp almond extract.
  • Sprinkles: Cover the bottom of the pan with 2 to 3 tablespoons sprinkles before pouring the fudge into the pan.
  • Chocolate: For evaporated milk chocolate fudge, add 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips when beating the fudge.
  • Candy cane: Top the fudge with crushed candy canes for a festive touch.
  • Nuts: 1 cup of chopped nuts makes a tasty addition to this no marshmallow evaporated milk fudge. Try walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or almonds.
  • Dried fruit: Fold in 1 cup dried cranberries, raisins, dried blueberries, or dried cherries into the fudge before pouring it into the pan.
  • Cookies: After beating the fudge, stir in 1 cup of your favorite crushed cookies. Shortbread, Oreos, or gingersnaps taste delicious.
easy fudge with evaporated milk

Storage instructions

How to store evaporated milk fudge

Store your fudge in an airtight container on the counter for up to 2 weeks or in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

The recipe doesn’t have to be refrigerated, but it will dry out if left exposed to air (even in an airtight container). I like to put plastic wrap directly onto my cut fudge to prevent that.

Freeze evaporated milk fudge

Vanilla fudge freezes beautifully! Just wrap it in layers of plastic wrap and tin foil to protect it from freezer burn. It will keep for about 2 months in the freezer.

When it’s time to enjoy, thaw it on the counter or in the fridge before serving.

evaporated milk fudge

Evaporated Milk Fudge Recipe

Yield: 32 pieces
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Creamy, rich squares of this evaporated milk fudge are pretty much impossible to resist. The easy recipe has that classic soft fudge texture and a sweet, buttery caramel taste. The perfect treat for sharing and gifting, especially around the holidays!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups / 300 g / 10.5 oz granulated sugar (white/caster sugar)
  • 3/4 cup / 150 g / 7.3 oz light brown sugar
  • 1 can (12 fl oz / 370 ml) evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup / 150 g / 5.3 oz salted butter, cubed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Prep pan. Lightly grease an 8 in / 20 cm square baking pan, and line with a parchment (baking) paper or aluminum foil sling for easy removal and cutting after the fudge has set. If using foil, be sure to butter it generously so the fudge will come off easily.
  2. Melt sugars and butter. Place the granulated sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, and butter into a large, heavy-bottom saucepan. Place over low heat, constantly stirring, until the sugars have dissolved and the butter has melted.
  3. Bring to soft boil stage. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Simmer the mixture until it reaches 241°F / 116°C (soft ball stage).
  4. Let mixture cool. Once the soft ball stage is reached, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool, undisturbed, to cool down to 230°F / 110°C. This will only take a few minutes.
  5. Beat mixture. Add the vanilla and beat it with an electric mixer (using medium speed) until the fudge thickens and loses its shine.
  6. Let firm up. Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and smooth it into the corners. Let firm up at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
  7. Slice fudge. Once the fudge has firmed up, remove it from the pan. Use a sharp knife and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 99Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 36mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g
evaporated fudge no marshmallows

More holiday treats

Fudge and truffles are great treats to make and take as gifts! Here are a few more delicious recipes for you to try this holiday season. They are easy and yummy, too!

Linda

Monday 10th of June 2024

I had a half of a can of evaporated milk left over and was looking for a recipe. This one worked great! Just halved all of the ingredients. It was a little challenging with the small amount to get an accurate temp…so used an instant read thermometer which helped. Turned out great!! Thank you!

Jeanette Shameli

Monday 22nd of April 2024

I have tried this recipe twice and did exactly what the recipe said. Both times however, when the fudge was 10 degrees below the soft ball stage it started to burn and seize up. Such a waste of time and ingredients

Linda

Monday 10th of June 2024

@Jeanette Shameli, Mine started to turn brown, so I turned the heat down and it fixed the problem. Hope this helps.

Cyna | Country Hill Cottage

Friday 26th of April 2024

Hi Jeanette! Sorry You hand an issue. If fudge burns before reaching soft ball stage, the heat was likely too high. I am also wondering what type of pan you were using. Ideally, you want to cook the sugar in a heavy bottom pan because it distributes the heat evenly. A pan or pot with a thin bottom won't distribute the heat evenly and can burn the sugar.

Debbie McCann

Wednesday 14th of February 2024

Hi! Delicious recipe . I’ve been looking for it forever! Thank you.

Cyna | Country Hill Cottage

Sunday 18th of February 2024

Thank you so much for your kind review, Debbie!

Lisa

Sunday 17th of December 2023

Can a sugar substitute like Splenda or trivia be used instead of proper sugar to make it diabetic friendly please?

Cyna | Country Hill Cottage

Monday 18th of December 2023

Hi Lisa! I don't think that Splenda or Truvia would work because they caramelize differently than sugar. Sorry about that.

Kathleen

Wednesday 13th of December 2023

Is there an easy way I can save my fudge that hasn’t set.?

Cyna | Country Hill Cottage

Thursday 14th of December 2023

Hi Kathleen! If the fudge is too soft and won’t set, the cooking temperature was likely not high enough to concentrate and caramelize the sugar.

Return the mixture to a saucepan with about 2 tablespoons evaporated milk and bring to a boil, stirring continuously, until the candy thermometer reads 230°F / 110°C.

Then cool and beat the fudge as indicated in the recipe instructions. You may need to stir for 10 to 15 minutes before the fudge begins to set.

I hope this helps you out!

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