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 (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!
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.
- 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.
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.
#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.
#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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Beat mixture. Add the vanilla and beat it with an electric mixer (using medium speed) until the fudge thickens and loses its shine.
- 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.
- 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
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!