Skip to Content

Why Is My Fudge Not Setting Properly?

Why Is My Fudge Not Setting Properly?

Share this post:

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one of these links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you love fudge as I do, you’re probably eager to indulge in some. And if you’ve decided to try to bake your own for the first time, you’re likely hoping for a delicious outcome.

Creating tasty fudge at home is a delightful adventure. However, like many before you, you may run into some issues getting it to set just right.

Why is your fudge not setting up properly, though? Is there anything specific that you can do to prevent this from happening?

Keep reading to learn the common reasons why your fudge isn’t setting. I’ll also share some practical tips to whip up the most mouthwatering fudge you’ll ever taste!

Temperature Issue Is Often the Culprit

Don’t worry. We’ve all been right where you are now. You’ve followed the recipe step-by-step, measuring everything carefully as you go, but ended up with a gooey fudge.

Why does this happen?

When your fudge isn’t setting as it should, the culprit is typically the baking temperature. If your fudge is sticky or overly gummy, it likely wasn’t cooked to a high enough temperature.

First-time bakers often underestimate the importance of heat when baking. They cook it for what seems like a good amount of time, but they usually take it off of the heat source too early.

See, a fudge is a concentrated syrup. It sets when the sugar content dissolved in the water cools and forms crystals. So, if you miss the suitable temperature, it messes up the sugar concentration, making the fudge sticky.

You want to cook the syrup at a heat between 234° and 237°F (112° to 113°C) to achieve the right concentration. I’d also recommend using a candy thermometer to gauge the heat.

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, there’s another way to check if your fudge is cooking correctly. You’ll need iced water and a tiny piece of the baking fudge.

Drop the hot piece of fudge into the cold water. It should form a soft ball that flattens easily between your fingers. Repeat the cold water test every two minutes until you get the desired texture.

How to Rescue Unset Fudge

Adding Water To Measuring Cup

If your fudge isn’t setting right even after spending several hours in the refrigerator, you might be at a loss for what to do.

But don’t throw it out just yet! There are ways to fix a fudge that hasn’t been cooked to a high enough temperature.

You Can Cook It Again

If you think you messed up the temperature, try remelting the fudge.

  1. Grab the fudge from the fridge and scrape it back into your cooking pan.
  2. Once in the saucepan, add 1 1/2 cups of water and stir the fudge over low heat until it dissolves.
  3. Adding water can dilute the flavor, so you might need to add more flavoring to get your desired taste.
  4. After properly dissolving the fudge, increase the heat to medium and let it boil.
  5. Avoid stirring to prevent sugar crystals from forming and use a wet pastry brush to wash the sides of the pan to keep things from foaming.

Maintain the heat specified in your recipe, typically between 234℉ to 237℉. Once cooked, take it off of the heat source and follow the cooling instructions. 

If you can cool and beat the fudge as you’re supposed to, you may have just salvaged the fudge that didn’t turn out right the first time.

You Can Make Fudge Desserts

Of course, not everyone has the time to cook an unset fudge again. If this is your case, you can try making desserts with it.

You can reuse a runny fudge as cake frosting or ice cream sauce. Serve it over a scope of your favorite ice cream flavor and sprinkle some crushed candy cane to taste.

I, for one, prefer rolling the fudge into balls and freezing them overnight. By the morning, I’ll have delectable truffles for dipping!

What About Hard Fudge?

Chunks Of Fudge

Another familiar issue when making fudge is when it turns out too hard. When this happens, it can only mean something goes wrong while you’re cooking.

A soft fudge happens when you cook it with too little time for the water to evaporate. Conversely, cook it longer, and the fudge becomes a rock-solid block.

Unfortunately, there’s not much remedy to this hitch. So, if your fudge turns out too hard, you’ll likely have to throw it out or appreciate it for what it is.

Fudge Ingredients and Cooling

It’s important to note that ingredient mistakes can make a difference when making fudge. Even something as simple as measuring an ingredient wrong could throw things off.

Remember: the fudge recipe has been carefully crafted with precise measurements. Simple missteps can mean having a different result entirely!

That said, always take a moment to review the recipe and follow it faithfully. Avoid rushing the steps, especially through the measuring process!

Besides ingredients, improper cooling is another common culprit that leads to fudge disasters. Many underestimate the importance of cooling and end up with a soft, boring treat.

Allow the fudge ample time to cool down before beating. Then, let it sit at room temperature or in the fridge for three to twelve hours before serving.

5 Beginner Tips for a Successful Fudge

Are you having issues with your fudge? Here are five handy tips to remember for the next batch:

1 – Stirring While Cooking

You can make fudge on a stove or in a microwave. In both cases, you want the sugar and cream to boil by gentle stirring. Once boiling, refrain from stirring again until cooked.

That’s because sugar crystals can stick to the sides of the pan while boiling. If you agitate the mixture at this stage, the crystals could fall in and make your fudge grainy.

Some recipe suggests stirring the mixture continuously until the heat reaches 234℉. Don’t do it. This vigorous stirring can cause curdling or breaking, and a recipe for an oily confection!

2 – Beating the Fudge Correctly

Beating the fudge allows the sugar to crystallize. Letting the chocolate cool for a while creates smaller crystals, giving the fudge that creamy and smooth texture we all love.

If you forget to beat the fudge mixture, the crystals won’t form properly, and your fudge won’t set. Conversely, overbeating can make your fudge hard.

Beating the fudge a little too soon can be a problem, too. Without time to cool, the sugar crystals formed will be larger, turning your fudge grainy.

3 – Heating the Pot Evenly

Uneven heating can cause considerable harm to your fudge. It often occurs when using thin cooking pans or pots, resulting in cold and heat spots.

The heat spots can burn the sugar in your mixture, which gives an unpleasant, bitter taste that’s practically impossible to fix. Use a heavy-bottomed, stainless-steel pot or pan to avoid this hitch!

4 – Watching the Heat

Another reason why you should monitor temperature is to prevent the fudge from overheating. If the heat rises above what’s recommended, the butter can separate, turning your fudge greasy.

You can easily prevent this problem with a candy thermometer. Dissolving a greasy fudge in low heat and mixing a cup of water can improve the texture.

5 – Opting for Easier Fudge Recipes

Marshmallow Fluff

There are lots of “quick fudge” recipes that don’t follow the standard fudge-making techniques. Opting for recipes using marshmallow fluff or condensed milk can offer a no-frills experience.

Quick fudge recipes not only save time but are also more forgiving for first-time bakers. Granted, not all fudge enthusiasts consider these quick fudge recipes similar enough to the real deal, but that’s up to you to decide.

Many folks appreciate the convenience of easy-made fudge recipes. If you find making it in the old-fashioned way difficult, looking into the quick fudge recipes is a solid choice.


How long does it take for a fudge to set?

A fudge usually takes three hours to set after boiling and mixing. For the best results, let your confection sit for the entire night before serving. 

How do you fix a dry fudge?

To fix a dry fudge, you need to rehydrate it. You can do this by letting the fudge sit inside an airtight container with a bowl of water it can absorb overnight.

Why does fudge stay soft?

A fudge will stay soft if you don’t give it enough time to cook. The mixture will have too much water, preventing the fudge from setting regardless of how long you leave it in the fridge.

Final Thoughts

Now you know what to watch out for when making a delightful fudge treat! Incorrect temperature, stirring timing, and cooling time are all factors that can impact whether your fudge sets properly.

If you find old-fashioned fudge recipes tedious, try your hands with other delightful fudge recipes!

Share this post: