How To Fix Grainy Fudge in 6 Easy Steps

There are many different kinds of fudge and many different recipes for making fudge, and some folks even prefer their fudge a little grainy. But, if you happen to like your fudge with a smooth texture and your latest batch of the old-fashioned recipe has turned out grainy, here is what you can do to fix that grainy fudge.

To fix grainy fudge, follow these steps:

  1. Pour the entire grainy batch back into the saucepan. 
  2. Make a mixture of milk or cream and water, and add just enough to dissolve the fudge. 
  3. When dissolved, bring it to a boil and cook to the soft ball stage, or 234℉, without stirring. 
  4. When it reaches the soft ball stage, remove the saucepan from the heat and give it time to cool to 110℉ without stirring. It will take about 15 minutes to cool to that temperature.
  5. Then beat the fudge with a wooden spoon until it begins to set and no longer has a glossy finish.
  6. Pour the fudge into a prepared pan, and you’re ready to go!

That’s it! For the detailed process and additional tips, keep reading.

Anne James' Old Fashioned Hershey's Fudge Modified Recipe

Grainy Fudge Rescue

Wait! Before you get started, some people like fudge that’s a bit grainy. In fact, I’m one of them! I normally just eat the grainy batch of fudge and enjoy it tremendously. However, if you or the others who will be eating it like it smooth, proceed with the fix.

How to Fix Grainy Fudge

In this process, you are simply adding enough liquid to turn the fudge back into a liquid form and recooking it while taking care to follow those steps exactly to avoid again creating the problem that caused the fudge to be grainy.

Step #1: Pour Back Into Pan

If it’s already cooled quite a bit, don’t worry. Just scrape as much as you can back into the same pan you cooked it in.

Step #2: Add Liquid

We need to get some kind of liquid back in there to facilitate the fudge melting again and smoothing out.

This could take as much as one and one-half cups of a mixture of equal parts milk or cream and water. But, don’t add the liquid all at once, just pour a small amount each time and stir after each addition.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but just keep mixing the liquid into the mixture slowly until it begins to smooth out as it heats.

Step #3: Boil Until at Soft Ball Stage

We need to get it to 234℉, the soft ball stage, or else it won’t set up properly.

You either need to use a candy thermometer or use the soft ball method of testing. In case you aren’t sure how to do this, here is a video of me showing how it’s done:

Step #4: Cool to 110℉

Once the fudge reaches that magic number of 234℉, remove it from the heat and don’t touch it until it has cooled to about 110℉.

It’s very important not to stir it until it has cooled a bit, or else it will again be grainy. This is because stirring fudge while it is boiling and before it has cooled will cause the sugar to crystallize and become grainy.

This is one of those instances where we have to be aware of the science behind making certain foods. For a better explanation, take a look at what The Accidental Scientist has to say about it. He explains it much better than I can.

If I had been aware that cooking involves scientific principles, I might have been more interested in science as a student.

*Step #5: Beat It With a Wooden Spoon

Now it’s time for a bit of an arm workout. You will need to beat it continuously and thoroughly until it is starting to set and doesn’t have that glossy shine to it anymore. But no more than that, or it won’t pour at all.

Pro Tip: You will know when to stop stirring the fudge and quickly pour it into the pan, just at the point when you notice it is losing its shine and it just begins to thicken.

Step #6: Pour Into the Pan

Now, the moment of truth. Pour the mixture back into the pan at that perfect moment when it is starting to stiffen and can barely be poured. You may need to smooth it out a bit once it’s in the pan, this is perfectly fine.

It’s easy to let it cool a bit too much before trying to “pour” it.

In fact, sometimes, it’s less of a pour and more of a “glopping” of the fudge. That’s perfectly fine.

The fudge can still taste perfect, even if it doesn’t look calendar worthy!

Pro Tip: You can always lay a sheet of waxed paper on top of the fudge and use your hands to press the fudge into the pan. Or, better yet, just butter your fingers and spread the fudge out until it is an even layer in the pan.

Can I Reheat Fudge That Is Too Grainy?

You can reheat fudge that is too grainy. Just follow these steps, which basically involve adding more liquid to the fudge and following the recipe directions from the point of bringing it to a boil over medium heat. Here are the necessary steps:

To fix grainy fudge, follow these steps:

  1. Pour the entire batch back into the saucepan. 
  2. Add just enough of a mixture of milk or cream and water to dissolve the fudge.
  3. When dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil and cook it to the soft ball stage, or 234℉, without stirring.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat source and cool to 110℉ without stirring.
  5. Then beat the fudge with a wooden spoon until it begins to set.
  6. Immediately pour the fudge into the prepared pan.

Why Is My Fudge Gritty Anyway? 

If you had told me when I was younger that much of cooking is based on scientific principles, I would not have believed it.

But here I am, an experienced cook who realizes that certain scientific principles must be followed to cook certain things properly and to achieve the desired results. Fudge is one of those things.

The main reason fudge becomes gritty is because of sugar crystallization.

Sugar crystallization is necessary to make fudge and must happen for fudge to thicken. But the sugar crystals must remain small for the fudge to have a smooth texture.

If you are interested, take a look at what The Accidental Scientist has to say about it. He explains it much better than I can.

So, to keep the sugar crystals from becoming too large and making the fudge gritty or grainy, here are a few things to do and a few things not to do.

How to Avoid Grainy or Gritty Fudge

If you follow these guidelines, your fudge should be smooth and creamy.

1. Only Cook Over Medium Heat

Fudge must be brought to a boil over medium heat and kept at medium heat. Fudge must not be cooked over high heat.

2. Do Not Stir In Sugar Crystals

If sugar crystals form on the side of the saucepan while the fudge is cooking, do not stir them into the fudge.

3. No Stirring While Boiling

Once the fudge has come to a boil, do not stir it.

When the cooking process is finished and the temperature of the fudge reaches the soft ball stage, remove the pot of fudge from the heat and allow it to cool to 110℉ without stirring.

4. Allow To Cool Before Stirring

After the fudge has reached the soft boil stage or 234℉, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to 110℉ before stirring.

I have repeated myself because this is a very important step. From the time the fudge comes to a boil until it has finished cooking and has cooled to 110℉, do not stir it.

Stirring during this time can cause the fudge to be grainy.

5. Stir Until It Begins To Thicken

Once the fudge has cooled to 110℉, stir with a wooden spoon constantly just until it begins to thicken and is no longer glossy, then pour it into the prepared pan.

You will notice these two things happening at just about the same time.

  1. The fudge will begin to take on a dull finish.
  2. Its consistency will begin to change from a liquid to a firmer substance.

At that point, it is important to work quickly to pour or spoon the fudge into a prepared pan.

6. Stir With A Wooden Spoon

Always use a wooden spoon when making fudge for these reasons:

  • Wooden spoons absorb the heat and help to cool the fudge when that final beating and cooling is taking place.
  • The handle of the wooden spoon will stay cool and will not burn your hand.
  • Wooden spoons are non-reactive and will not affect certain foods in the same way metal does.
  • Wooden spoons are more gentle and will not scratch the surface of your cookware.
  • Food just tastes better when stirred with a wooden spoon. I have no idea why. It just does.

How Do You Make Fudge Smooth?

There are a few steps in the fudge-making process that primarily determine whether the fudge will be creamy or grainy. Here are those steps:

  • When cooking the fudge, it must be brought to a boil and cooked over medium heat. It must not be cooked over high heat.
  • Fudge should not be stirred once it has come to a boil.
  • If sugar crystals form on the side of the saucepan while the fudge is cooking, they must not be stirred into the fudge.
  • When the fudge has reached the soft boil stage or 234℉, it must immediately be removed from the heat and allowed to cool to 110℉ before it is stirred. If you leave it on the heat source too long, it will become overcooked quickly.
  • Once the fudge has cooled to 110℉, it should be stirred constantly with a wooden spoon until it begins to thicken and is no longer glossy, then quickly poured into the prepared pan.

If all of these steps are followed correctly, there is a good chance the fudge will be perfectly smooth.

How Do You Keep Fudge From Crystallizing?

Actually, the process of making fudge involves causing the sugar to crystallize. That is what makes the fudge form a firm candy that holds its shape without becoming hard.

The trick is to keep the crystals small. It is when something goes wrong, and the sugar crystals are too large that the fudge becomes grainy.

The only way to keep the fudge from forming large crystals is to follow the directions exactly and be sure to follow these steps:

  • Cook fudge only on medium heat.
  • Do not stir any sugar crystals that form on the side of the saucepan into the fudge.
  • Do not stir fudge once it has come to a boil, and do not stir again until it has cooled to 110℉.
  • After the fudge has cooled, beat or stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens and has a matte finish.

Why Does My Fudge Crumble When I Cut It?

The main reason some fudge crumbles after it has cooled is that it has been overcooked.

Even though fudge was made for many years without a candy thermometer by using the cold water method to test to see if it has reached the soft ball stage, the most reliable method is to use a good candy thermometer and cook each batch of fudge to exactly 234℉, and to immediately remove it from the heat once it reaches that temperature.

If left on the burner just a few seconds too long, it can become overcooked very quickly.

Why Is My Fudge Too Runny?

If your fudge turns out too soft, is runny, and refuses to set properly so it can be cut, more than likely it was not cooked quite long enough.

If you rush the process and the fudge only reaches 233℉ or lower, then it will be too soft to cut, and you will probably have to either cook it some more or go ahead and get the spoons out to eat it with.

One other thing that can cause your fudge not to set properly is the weather. If it is raining while you are making the fudge or if it is too humid, chances are good that the fudge will not set just right.

I wrote an article covering this called How To Fix Fudge That Didn’t Set (3 Methods). Be sure to check it out!

How Can I Fix Runny Fudge?

If you realize right away that your fudge is too runny and isn’t going to set, you can try one of these methods:

Method One: Add Confectioners Sugar

Add a small amount of confectioners sugar at a time and stir it into the fudge until it reaches the right consistency.

Method Two: Add A Cornstarch Slurry

Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and stir that mixture into the fudge. This should help the fudge to set up so that it can be cut.

Method Three: Cook Again Until It Reaches Soft Ball Stage

Follow these steps to cook the runny fudge until it reaches the soft ball stage:

  1. Put the runny fudge back into the saucepan, add a small amount of milk, and stir it in well.
  2. Bring the fudge to a boil over medium heat, and do not stir the mixture after it comes to a boil.
  3. Cook the fudge over medium heat until it has reached the soft ball stage.
  4. Follow the rest of the original recipe to cool the fudge to 110℉ without stirring, then beat it with a wooden spoon until it begins to set and is no longer glossy, but has a dull, matte finish.
  5. Pour the re-cooked fudge into a prepared pan or dish. It should be perfect this time.

Either of these methods should help your fudge to set well enough to cut, even if it isn’t exactly like a batch that turned out perfectly, and the taste should not be affected, even though the confectioner’s sugar method could make the fudge a little sweeter depending on how much you have to add.

Read More: Simple 4-Step Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.

Fudge 101

To master making an advanced fudge recipe, it helps to know what fudge exactly is and where it came from.

Fudge is a creamy candy cooked to the soft ball stage until the sugar has crystallized. Even though it is creamy and melts in your mouth, it is firm enough to hold its shape. 

According to Wikipedia, “Fudge is a type of confection that is made by mixing sugar, butter, and milk, heating it to the soft-ball stage at 240℉, and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency. In texture, this crystalline candy falls in between fondant icing and hard candy.”

There are many different kinds of fudge.

  • The old-fashioned Hershey’s cocoa fudge.
  • An old-fashioned cocoa fudge that is made by adding Karo syrup.
  • A “no-fail fantasy fudge” recipe, which is made by bringing a mixture of sugar, butter, and evaporated milk to a full rolling boil and cooking for exactly 4 minutes and then adding chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, vanilla extract, and nuts, and then pouring the mixture into a prepared pan.

The information in this section, however, is concerning the original Hershey’s old-fashioned cocoa recipe.

Read More: 5 Best Chocolates for Melting (And How to Use Them).

Where Did The Old Fashioned Recipe Come From?

The story goes that the first fudge was made by a candy maker in Baltimore, Maryland in 1886. That first batch was a “mistake” that she made when a batch of caramels she was making on Valentine’s Day crystallized. 

But, the old-fashioned recipe we are familiar with, although I was unable to determine its exact origins, was first printed on the label of the Hershey’s Cocoa can sometime around 1914.

That original recipe is the one many of us still use today, but it is tricky and is affected by many different things, including the weather. If you stir it too much or too little, if the ingredients are not measured just right, if you cook it too long or not quite long enough, or if the weather is too humid, then the fudge either doesn’t set or is too hard.

As a result of the difficulty a lot of people have with making old-fashioned Hershey’s cocoa fudge, there have been many changes to the recipe over the years.

Some folks add Karo to reduce the chance of crystallization and there are some recipes that call for condensed milk and marshmallow fudge, but for many people, including me, these “foolproof” recipes result in a fudge that tastes more like firm cake frosting than fudge and just do not have the flavor of the original fudge recipe.

As for me, I’ll take the old recipe any time. If it doesn’t turn out right, I’ll eat it anyway. Sometimes a spoon is required, sometimes a chisel, but it is still the best.

How I Make It

Just in case you don’t happen to have the old-fashioned Hershey’s Cocoa Fudge Recipe, I’ll share my copy with you here.

Hershey’s Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Sugar
  • ⅔ cup Cocoa
  • ⅛ teaspoon Salt
  • 1½ cups Milk
  • ¼ cup Butter or Margarine
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, thoroughly combine sugar, cocoa, and salt; then stir in milk.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Boil without stirring until the fudge reaches the soft ball stage, or 234℉. (Bulb of the thermometer should not touch the bottom of the saucepan.)
  4. Remove from heat; add butter or margarine and vanilla extract; do not stir.
  5. Cool at room temperature to 110℉, then beat until the fudge thickens and loses some of its gloss.
  6. Quickly spread in a buttered 8- or 9-inch square pan; cool.
  7. Note: For Marshmallow-Nut variation, increase cocoa to ¾ cup and cook fudge as fudge. Add 1 cup marshmallow creme with butter or margarine and vanilla. DO NOT STIR, cool to 110℉, and beat 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of broken nuts and pour into the pan. (Fudge does not set until it is poured into the pan.)
  8. Makes 3 dozen squares.

Note: If you live in an area that is over 1,000 feet above sea level, adjustments must be made to the length of cooking time.

And here is a video of me making it. By the way, Hershey recommended this video on their website!

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss How To Fix Fudge That Didn’t Set (3 Methods).

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page.

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