Traditional Vanilla Fudge

Traditionally made vanilla fudge is a marvel. If I were forced to pick my favourite type of sweet food, it would be traditional vanilla fudge. The texture and taste of fudge made using a traditional recipe (sugar, milk, cream and butter) is truly second to none. It is both crumbly and smooth, tastes like heaven on tongue and can be modified in an almost inexhaustible number of ways. For instance, this Christmas I made a rather large amount of Scotch whisky fudge which was absolutely delicious.

This isn’t the most convenient way to produce fudge, but it is the best. It’s a bit of a pain, since one has to stand over the cooker continuously stirring for around half an hour. However, the texture it produces is incomparably good when placed next to fudge made with condensed milk. Besides, that tat isn’t real fudge – this is and it’s incredibly bad for, something we’ll be ignoring for the foreseeable future.

If you’re going to embark on this wonderful traditional vanilla fudge making journey, I advise each and every one of you to invest in a good quality sugar thermometer. Believe it or not, cooking involves rather a lot of chemistry. Sugar, for instance, behaves differently as it gets hotter. In this case the sugar needs to be heated to exactly 115C or 239F. At this point it crystallises in a certain way, this is known as the soft-ball stage. Apparently this is because when it is dropped in water it forms a soft ball of fudge.

This recipe for traditional vanilla fudge has received praise from everyone who has eaten it, whisky or no whisky. Oh and by the way, if you wanted to create your own variation simply remove the vanilla essence and add up to 50ml of your chosen flavouring. I’ve never added any more, but I suspect that this would change the composition of the fudge a little too much.

Vanilla Fudge

Makes 50+ pieces


• 250ml milk

• 50ml double cream

• 350g sugar, preferably caster

• 100g butter, salted or not

• 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Grease and line a cake tin of your choice, I used a rather large square one (roughly 20cmx10cm).
  2. Put the milk, cream sugar and butter in a fairly large, heavy based, pan. Heat slowly and stir continuously.
  3. Bring to the boil, keep stirring, and cook until it has reached 115C or 239F on a sugar thermometer. At this point remove it from the heat, continue to stir.
  4. After a couple of minutes add the vanilla, continue to stir for a further 5 minutes. Pour the fudge into the cake tin and leave to cool. Do not put it in the fridge.
  5. Once it has cooled, turn it out and cut into your desired size and shape. It will last for a few weeks if kept in an airtight container.

Cost: Vanilla fudge is a pretty simple treat and its price reflects that fact. The entire batch, which will make up to seventy pieces, set me back a mere 80p – not bad at all, very frugal!

120 thoughts on “Traditional Vanilla Fudge

  1. thelittleloaf

    Ooh yum, I absolutely love fudge. I don’t have a sugar thermometer but am thinking of investing as there are so many sweets and caramels I’d like to try making. I love chocolate fudge or with chunky add-ins, but it’s hard to beat a plain vanilla fudge.

    1. frugalfeeding

      A sugar thermometer opens up a whole new world of sweet making, even though I’ve not really explored it too much as of yet. I’ll probably do a recipe for chocolate fudge sometime fairly soon :D

  2. Conor Bofin

    My mum has made fudge as Christmas gifts for decades. Hers (as everything one’s mother cooks) is the best possible fudge. She made some for our family this Christmas just gone and resolved that it was the last time she would be doing it. (She is 81). It looks like I will have to step up from here on. Your photography is beautiful, as I reckon is your fudge.
    Lovely post,

  3. Juls

    Damn you sir, I sit here with half a cake and a bunch of cookies and muffins and I’m staring at all the fudge thinking that it is all I want in the world right now. Its meant to be the time to LOSE my post-Christmas waist not double it!

  4. Michele Kearns

    Your fudge sounds and looks delicious. I would love to try it but being lactose intolerant, my system will not tolerate anything stronger than skim (fat-free) milk. It will however, tolerate the whiskey ;-)

  5. spree

    Simple ingredients – the kind the “older generation” grew up with – make for some of the most soul-satisfying desserts don’t they? Just a few basic ingredients, carefully tended, have produced a rusticly beautiful treat. I love your top photo – the strong low light of winter coming in the window, the warm beauty of the golden fudge, the worn cutting board – something very timeless about this scene – which perfectly supports your recipe. So nicely done!

  6. Cara

    Okay your description alone has me sold on vanilla fudge (something that I have never tried!) <–I know, probably illegal. Ever considered having your own cooking show? Or writing a cookbook? You have a great way with words, Frugs (ha, what *is* your name?)

  7. lil' vegan

    You have such beautiful images, and I love the step-by-step. You’ve just convinced me that I need to invest in a better camera as well ;) Keep up the great work! You just got a new subscriber.

  8. Eva Taylor

    I doubt it would last a couple of weeks even in a tightly sealed container, but it’s the thought that counts! I love how simple this fudge is; here in North America we like to complicate our fudge by making it something it isn’t (peanut butter, really?) This really is it.

    1. frugalfeeding

      It does, I did it at Christmas. I try not to make things up. In fact it lasted for about 3 before it all got eaten and it was perfectly fine. It doesn’t need to be made into something weird. This is perfect, as is perhaps a little extra kick from some whiskey or rum.

  9. CorkAndSpoon

    Oh, yummy! I love fudge. I used to have to drive up to New Jersey for work real close to the beach and we’d always stop by the Fudgery on the boardwalk. The folks working the fudge on the marble table top even broke out into song once (slightly disconcerting at the time, but I got over that quickly lol) ~Ruth

  10. Terry

    Hi Nick,
    Love the blogs. Just tried this fudge recipe and have to admit I seem to have failed. Yards thermometer and still doesn’t seemed to have worked. Carefully measured ingredients and heated on low for a long loong time stirring continually. Eventually reached soft ball stage and followed the rest of instructions but seems very glossy and hasn’t set even though cold :-(

  11. bitsandbreadcrumbs

    I’ve never had vanilla fudge, only chocolate, but this looks so delicious and of perfect fudge consistency! I also love the idea of adding your own flavorings…the possibilities seem endless. Great post! BTW, I just tagged you for 10 questions in my last post…answer if you like! :)

  12. Bob Vivant

    I love vanilla fudge, dare I say, better than chocolate fudge. The fudge bug bit me over the holidays but my results were inconsistent. I ended up with a few trays that were too soft. There’s a bit of an art to it isn’t there. Can’t wait to try your version!

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  14. chamila

    hi there :) am so tempted by your traditional fudge but i have a few questions before trying it out. Hope u can help me.

    1. is it necessary to use double cream? (many recipes require only milk)

    2. I read some tips on perfect fudge that when adding the vanilla, do not stir it until the mixture has cooled down. I dont see this in ur recipe.

    3. No need to add extra butter or salt at same time as vanilla?

    thanks. Am waiting for your reply before starting. Ull be my guide :) kz only ur fudge looks good compared to the various 25 websites ive read. :)

    1. frugalfeeding

      Hi, since you asked so nicely I’ll reply immediately!

      1: Nope, but it gives it a bit more richness and flavour
      2: It doesn’t really matter, I maybe eave it a couple of minutes
      3: Nope :D

      It really is a delicious fudge.

  15. fudge lover

    After my 2nd attempt, beautiful fudge came out. First time around I didn’t use sugar thermometer and this is where I went wrong. Very easy recipe. Did half vanilla and half cinnamon and raisin. Will try making it with alcohol next time.

  16. narf77

    Not so long ago recipes like this would have made me sad…”no fudge for me… :(“…but now I have my secret weapon…coconut cream! Makes the best fudge this side of the vegan peacos and we vegans can enjoy scrumptious vanilla fudge along with the rest of the population call coconut cream our mediator ;)

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    1. Admin Post author

      Sorry! I didn’t realise that would happen! I had to take some posts down and am putting them back up again! Sorry! I’m trying to stop it :D

  18. Victoria Straker Cook!

    I am using your delicious fudge recipe to make with the girls in the final year at my daughter’s prep school on Sunday as part of a sweet making workshop. I am having a piece right now with a cup of tea before the weekend onslaught begins. Thank you!

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  20. Di

    Just made the fudge, but didn’t have cream so used all milk. Also we did beat the mixture fairly vigorously after taking it off the heat, as other recipes suggested. Anyway, it has set perfectly and tastes great. What difference would the cream make, other than adding a creaminess? !! What other flavouring would you try? Could I have added cocoa powder for a chocolate fudge ?

    1. frugalfeeding

      Glad it turned out well – I need to re-photograph it soon. The cream just adds a little extra fat and a slightly better texture/richness, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve made it with whisky before, which worked really well. I don’t know about cocoa powder… experiment! :D

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