Hershey’s Old Fashioned Rich Cocoa Fudge

  • Prep Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hrs 10 mins
  • Servings: 36
  • About This Recipe

    “This is a crumbly, sugary old fashion fudge….from the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa can. Cook time is cooling time. If you are having trouble with it “setting up”, you probably didn’t cook it long enough. I have learned (the hard way!) to not trust my candy thermometer and to use to soft ball stage water test to make sure it is the right temperature. Even under cooking it by 2-3° will result in a soft, sticky mess. It still taste good though. :)Some good suggestions from reviewers: (I highly recommend reading through all the reviews before making this fudge!)- don’t try to bring up temp too quickly- a large shallow saucepan works better than a deeper one”


  • 3cupssugar
  • 2/3 cupcocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoonsalt
  • 1 1/2 cupswhole milk, no substitute
  • 1/4 cupreal butter, no substitute
  • 1teaspoonvanilla extract
  • Directions

  • Line 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil; butter foil.
  • In large heavy saucepan stir together first three ingredients; stir in milk, with a wooden spoon*.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full rolling boil.
  • Boil without stirring, to 234 degrees F on a candy thermometer(or until syrup, when dropped in very cold water forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water). Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of pan. (This can take 20-30 minutes).
  • Remove from heat. Add butter & vanilla.
  • DO NOT STIR! Cool at room temperature to 110 degrees F (lukewarm). (This can take 2 to 2-1/2 hours).
  • Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens & loses some of its gloss. (This can take 15-20 minutes. It really works best if you have someone to ‘tag-team’ with.) It starts to look more like frosting than a thick syrup when it is ready.
  • Quickly spread into prepared pan; cool.
  • Cut into squares.
  • Store wrapped loosely in foil in the refrigerator.
  • *it is very important not to use a wire whisk or the fudge will not set up. Also just stir gently, even though the cocoa will stay floating on top, it will mix in as the mixture heats up.
  • Reviews

  • “this is the best Fudge recipe ever.My dad made this for many many years and taught me to make it. I have been making it now for about 50 years..It always takes my stove45 min at least to get it to the soft ball.Do not stir to much while cooking..We bring it to a small boil and keep it boiling. useONLY A WOODEN spoon..(.Check your candy thermometer before to see if it is accurate byboil water and see if it boils at exactly212. then you know if your candy thermometer is right.)We always also checked candy by dropping a small spoonful in a cup of very cold water when we thought it was done. it would form a small ball with your fingers. Then you knew it was done.We never let our set as long as these directions.Cooled in a pan of cold water about three to five min and then beat with a wooden spoon only till it loses its shine. This is no doubt the best candy in the world..my son gets ever year at Christmas time.. at his request.:) ..This is a hard candy to make but well worth the effort..”

  • “This is a hard recipe to do if you have never made candy before.The soft water test can be a little tricky because the ball has to come together first to make a true ball but at the same time not too hard in feel and touch because then the fudge can become hard and crumbly. Use cold water to test candy in for water test. We always add 1 TBSP Karo syrup to cooking potion to keep candy from turning too hard from over cooking. And 1/4 cup peanut butter when adding vanilla keeps it from being too sugary. pour on buttered dinner plate it does make it thin but so good this way.”

  • “This is a post script to my review.Add a big handfull of walnuts with the butter and vanilla at the end of the cooking portion not after it is cooled down as that will bring the temp down and make the fudge grainy instead of creamy.”

  • “My favorite fudge recipe since I was a kid – I do not like the easier marshmallow fudge. It is a little tricky, but well worth it. I finally bought a thermometer, but use the soft-ball test too. The slow boiling to proper temp is critical (don’t try to bring up temp too quickly). You have to learn to cool and beat to the proper stage also(practice makes perfect). My one tip would be to not use too small a pan- I use a 4 or 5 qu dutch oven so the fudge mixture is not too deep when cooking. This large pan also reduces the splatter.”

  • “My mother always made this.I was so excited to find the recipe on-line. I must say, following the directions to the “T” worked excellent.I used a candy and digital thermometer, and even tried the softball test when it reached temp.All three were in agreement.
    Soft Ball, take a small teaspoon of the fudge and drip it into the cold water.The cold water will set the fudge, remove the fudge and see if you can roll a soft ball in between your fingers.As for the Butter USE REAL BUTTER, Margarine will not work.Also when this recipe came out milk was Whole Milk.Im not sure the reduced fat versions will work.Electric Stove.Had my stove know set between 6 and 7.Add Butter and Vanilla at the end when removing from heat.Do not stir in till it has cooled.Good Luck”

  • “I make this recipe all the time and never have any problems unless the pan is too small and it boils over.I bring the fudge to a softball stage by testing it in cold water.No thermometer.After it reaches the softball point, I remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla and immediately begin stirring with a mixer. It takes approximately 10-15 minutes before i start seeing wrinkles in the fudge after that I know that it is almost ready to pour into the pan for cooling.Everyone wants me to make this, it is quite time consuming though.Total about an hour.I alsomake peanut butter fudge this way but instead of the cocoa I substitute 2/3 cup of peanut butter and add it at the end with the butter and vanilla.”

  • “Oh! My! Goodness!Yummy!I made this with Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa and it was like heaven.My husband said it tasted like truffles from France.Though it was my first time making it, I didn’t have any problems.Patience is a virtue when making any kind of confection.I good thermometer is a must.”

  • “TIPS FOR NEWBIES MAKING THIS:I just made this for the first time yesterday. My first batch went..horribly. I ruined my pot and had to buy a new one.
    My second batch came out absolutely perfect! 1. Use the lowest heat possible, even if it will take a long time to reach a boil, you will not burn your fudge. 2. Use a candy thermometer, but don’t rely on it. Test for softball stage the old fashioned way (recommend searching for videos of this so you can see). My candy thermometer was off by about 20 degrees even though I tested it beforehand, and testing frequently for softball stage really helped. It did not take long at all to reach softball stage, maybe 12 minutes for me. 3. Cooling (for me) only took an hourThose were my biggest mistakes. Happy fudge making!”

  • “I am thrilled to find this recipe.When I was a kid, my mother used to make it, & it never turned out anything but perfect.She’d pour it into a glass pan, then cut into squares when it set up.The squares were about 1/2” deep, not like the fudge you see nowadays, at least that’s how she made it.The surface of the fudge was rather glossy from the butter.It is very important to follow the temperature guide.My mother made it without using a thermometer, & didn’t use a wooden spoon to stir it.I have never been able to make it to turn out like my mother’s, but I am experimenting, and I don’t think it should cool for as long as the recipe calls for.My mother died last week, and I wish I had told her that no fudge was ever better.I’d call this “gourmet” fudge when made correctly.I think Hershey’s probably stopped printing the recipe on the can because it is difficult to make.”

  • “Now THIS is fudge! I started making this as a teen (many moons ago) and my family calls it “the real fudge” as opposed to anything calling for marshmallows or any other flavor. It does really help to have an accurate thermometer and the corn syrup (1TB) should be used also. When made properly this fudge is not crumbly at all. The cocoa gives it a taste soooo much better than choc chips to us. Just give it a try and you’ll be hooked, too.”

  • “The marshmallow fudge may be my go-to when pressed for time but it isn’t REAL fudge.This recipe is the real deal, creamy,chocolatey deliciousness.To those who have problems I suggest using a good candy thermometer and the soft ball water test.Also it’s important to pan the fudge right on the cusp of “losing its gloss”Wait even a bit too long and it will crystallize in the panIf you follow the directions your reward is the perfect fudge!”

  • “I was so excited to find this recipe on this website.Decades ago, we always made this incredible fudge for the holidays.Then, it disappeared from the Hersheys Cocoa can and we have been unable to make this family favorite.We don’t believe that there is a fudge around that comes any where close to the taste of this fudge.It is one of a kind, a little tricky to make, but well worth the effort.It is the VERY BEST. We do add 2/3 cups crushed walnuts to make it perfect for our tastes.”

  • “Worst recipe instructions ever. Didn’t work and tasted horrible.. My grandmother used to make fudge, and this is not how. Don’t waste your time.”

  • “I loved this fudge since I was a kid, I am 63 now and still enjoy making it, I will pass on what my mother told and I always followmake sure to keep sugar low in the panif any gets to high on the sides and doesn’t dissolve it will cause a chain reaction and make it grainy, if she was correct or not I do not know but I haven’t had grainy fudge”

  • “great reviews will heed”

  • “This is the exact recipe my grandma uses for frosting on grandpas fav. chocolate cake.I always thought that the frosting tasted like fudge but grandma would just smile and said “But isn’t it good?”I believe she didn’t boil it long enough to make it truly set up but I have tried it and my kids pull all the frosting off the cake and leave the cake behind.I can’t believe this is a fudge recipe!Now the frosting recipe I have from her that I have been making can become a pan of fudge frosting!Great recipe!”

  • “This was my first few times making fudge. This recipe was so very easy!!!!!!!!It came out perfect. I do recommend using the thermometer…..the first batch didn’t quite come out…it wouldn’t harden….so I got a thermometer today and VIOLA……it is perfect yummmy fudge.”

  • “This is the fudge recipe my Mother made every year during the holidays – so yummy!! And, everyone (family and friends) always asked her to make her fudge for gifts…and she always did. She also made peanut butter fudge and divinity, but this on-the-cocoa can fudge recipe was All-Time #1 Favorite! She’s gone now, so I shall take up the reins and make Mother’s Hershey’s Cocoa Fudge! I will surprise everyone this year with this “love gift”.Thanks for sharing! God Bless!”

  • “Don’t know what happened, but I tried this recipe twice.The first time it came out like chocolate lava rocks.My husband said maybe we can sell them as the national candy from Hawaii :-O
    The second batch was not much better.When I started to beat it, almost instantaneously it started to harden, but the recipe said it could take 20 minutes!Before I could get it into the buttered pan, it had already begun to harden up.I had to pound it down into the pan with my fist to get it flat in the pan.Just tried to cut it.What a mess.Won’t do this again.”

  • “it was excellent. Be meticulous about the directions. Cook it until you get that soft ball, then stop. It did not take as long to cool and set as the recipe said and it was amazing. Just like I remembered it.”

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    Hershey’s Old Fashioned Rich Cocoa Fudge