Easy Christmas fudge recipe with simple ingredients and no candy thermometer required! Super rich & delicious.
This easy fudge recipe is rich with chocolate and is covered in crushed candy canes for the ultimate festive treat, perfect for the Christmas season.
Fudge is great for sharing in cookie boxes, giving as homemade gifts for a holiday party, or just sharing with friends and family over a cup of coffee! This classic holiday season treat is one you’ll make again and again.
Free from: Wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, fish, shellfish, crustaceans, mollusks, celery, corn, sesame, mustard, lupin, sulfites, and more
My family loves this fudge and we have been known to eat the whole tray in one sitting. It’s that good!
This recipe makes for a rich and decadent fudge that is based on my basic fudge recipe, just made special for Christmas time with peppermint!
Plus, this recipe is super simple to make and you don’t need a candy thermometer. In fact, there is no chocolate tempering at all. That makes it a super easy recipe that is basically foolproof.
Want more holiday recipes? Check out my classic dairy free fudge, vegan gingerbread cookies, or peppermint brownies!
Why You’ll Love this Christmas Fudge
- Rich and creamy
- Full of chocolate and peppermint in the fudge and on top
- Takes less than 10 minutes to mix up
- Super safe for schools and parties because it’s gluten free, dairy free, nut free
Traditional fudge recipes have you melt chocolate chips on the stove, tempering the chocolate which doesn’t always give good results.
This recipe uses cocoa powder in place of chocolate chips. This method gives much more consistent results. That makes this the easiest fudge recipe for making even if it is your first time making fudge.
- Cocoa powder: You can use either natural unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey’s) or Dutch processed (like Rodelle cocoa powder). There is even dark chocolate cocoa powder that you can use in this.
- Milk: Any type of milk works in this recipe, including dairy free milks! I generally reach for coconut milk when making this because I love the richness it brings. No, it doesn’t taste like coconut. You could also just heavy cream.
- Butter: You only need a few tablespoons.
- Powdered Sugar: This has cornstarch in it to help the fudge set in the fridge.
- Vanilla extract: A touch of vanilla helps to deepen the chocolate flavor.
- Peppermint extract: You only need a few drops!
- Candy canes: Any candy cane works. Just use a rolling pin to smash it into bite sized pieces to sprinkle on top. I like to use Yum Earth ones that are dye free.
- Salt: This enhances the flavor and strangely enough, makes it taste sweeter!
If you are allergic to milk, you can totally use non-dairy butter and dairy free milk in this recipe. In fact, I have a dairy free fudge that does just that!
If you are allergic to corn, make sure you use your favorite corn free powdered sugar and vanilla extract. My favorite brands are on my shop page.
Fudge is a type of candy and while you don’t need special candy equipment, having a few certain items in the kitchen can help making fudge.
First, a good pot is essential for melting the butter and milk. A thick pot will hold the heat better, helping the sugar and cocoa to melt together more quickly.
Next, you need a good pan to set the fudge in after making. I prepare a loaf pan because I like my fudge to be a little thicker. A 9x5 or 8x4 loaf pan works great here. However, if you only have an 8x8 inch square baking pan, that will also work. It just will be a little thinner.
You can use a wooden spoon or a metal spoon for mixing the fudge together in the pan. Something that is heat proof is best.
Finally, having parchment paper to line the pan with is essential. Otherwise the fudge will stay stuck in the pan! You can also use plastic wrap. Just something to help you get it out of there.
Prepare the Pan
This is just an overview of how to make fudge. For the full recipe, complete with ingredient measurements, please see the recipe card below. You can also use the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page.
Fudge making is really quick once things get cooking! It’s best to have all your ingredients measured out and ready to add to the pot when you need it. Having the pan ready is the most important part. Taking these few minutes of prep work at the start will save your fudge.
Prepare the pan by greasing it with a little butter and placing a sheet of parchment paper inside. I typically but mine to this shape so that the edges overlap and no fudge gets stuck on the sides of the pan. That makes for an easy removal when the fudge is done.
Next, scoop out and prepare all the ingredients into bowls and have them ready to go by the side of the stove.
Tip! It’s super important to sift the powdered sugar. Doing this extra step removes any lumps in the sugar so that no lumps get into the final fudge.
Finally, in a small bag or small bowl, smash the candy canes with a rolling pin into bite sized pieces. This will be sprinkled on top after making the fudge.
Now it’s time to make the fudge!
Make the Fudge
In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and milk together over a medium heat. Make sure you stir it often so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
When the butter and milk have come to a rolling simmer, it’s time!
First, add the cocoa powder and mix with the melted butter and milk. It may look lumpy but just keep stirring. This chocolate mixture should come together pretty quickly.
When the cocoa powder has fully melted into the wet ingredients, add the sugar, vanilla and peppermint extract, and salt all at once.
Now it’s time to stir! You need to constantly stir this. You may think your arm is going to fall off, but think of this as a workout before all the yummy fudge you will enjoy. The fudge will seize up on you if you stop stirring and you don’t want that to happen in the pot!
After a few minutes of constant stirring, it should transform from lumpy to smooth and delicious fudge.
When the fudge is done, it’s time to quickly transfer it to your prepared pan. Pour it slowly and using a rubber spatula, you can pat it into the corners, but don’t try to spread it. That will pull on the paper and cause a mess.
Sprinkle your crushed candy canes on top and pop it into the fridge to set for at least 4 hours. Slice it and enjoy!
In place of peppermints, you can sprinkle some festive sprinkles on top of the fudge before it sets in the fridge.
The secret to perfectly sliced fudge is cold fudge. If you try to cut fudge too soon after making it, it won’t hold any shape.
Make sure you have a sharp knife. Press down in a single push to cut the fudge - don’t rock the knife back and forth. Clean the knife after each swipe for totally clean edged.
Sometimes the peppermint pieces get in the way and you can gently press them out of the way.
For the loaf pan, I typically cut the fudge into 1x1 inch pieces. For the 8x8 square pan, I try to make the pieces about 1.5x1.5 inches.
Keep mixing! The butter will melt into the sugar if you keep mixing. If after a few minutes of constant mixing it isn’t turning into fudge, you can add a splash more of milk to the hot pot. That should help smooth things out.
Nope, you don’t need one. Unlike traditional fudge, this recipe doesn’t remper the chocolate. That means it is way easier to make and doesn’t need a thermometer.
No double boiler is required. You just need a good pot to melt the butter and milk together on the stove.
How to Store
This fudge keeps best in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
While you can store this on the countertop, because the chocolate isn’t tempered, it will soften at room temperature and become more like frosting. I recommend keeping it in the fridge for best results.
More Christmas Recipes
- Heavy pot
- heat safe spoon
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- parchment paper
- Loaf pan or 8x8 pan
- Rolling Pin
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup cocoa powder Hershey’s recommended
- ⅓ cup butter dairy or dairy free
- ¼ cup milk coconut, soy, or dairy recommended
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-4 drops peppermint extract make it as pepperminty as you like
- Pinch salt
- ¼ cup candy canes crushed
- Prepare the pan by greasing it and lining it on all sides with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Prepare the ingredients. Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl to remove any lumps. Scoop out the cocoa powder and prepare the correct amount of butter and milk. Set these aside. Crush the candy canes in a bowl using a rolling pin. Prep all the ingredients so that when the fudge is being made, everything is ready to go and you don’t have to stop.
- Melt the butter. In the large pot, melt together the butter and milk. Let it come to a simmer over medium heat. Make sure to stir this frequently so that the butter and milk don’t scald on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the cocoa. Now, add the cocoa powder to the butter mixture. Using your heat safe spoon, begin to mix constantly until all the cocoa is incorporated into the butter mixture.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Now, add the sifted powdered sugar, salt, and both the peppermint and vanilla extract. Remove the pot from the heat as you stir. Mix this until smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes of constant mixing. If you have sifted the powdered sugar, it should become smooth more quickly. If after several minutes it is still dry and crumbly looking, you can add a splash more of milk.
- If you were to add any extra ingredients for different flavor variations, now is the time to mix them in quickly.
- Put in the prepared pan. Quickly but carefully transfer the fudge to the prepared pan. Using a spatula you can gently press the fudge into all the corners. Don’t work the fudge too much at this stage. It is already starting to set and you want to see that beautiful ribboned top on the fudge. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top and gently press them into the fudge so they will set in the chocolate.
- Chill. Let the fudge chill for 30 minutes at room temperature. Then, place the fudge in the fridge and let it chill for at least 3 hours.
- Slice the fudge. To slice the fudge, make sure that it has chilled for at least 3 hours, 6 or more hours being preferred. Gently pull on the parchment paper to remove the fudge from the pan. Place the fudge on a cutting board and using a sharp knife, cut the fudge into the desired size and shape. Wipe the knife clean with each pass for best results. Serve and enjoy!
- Allergy Substitutions
- If you are allergic to milk, you can totally use non-dairy butter and dairy free milk in this recipe. In fact, I have a dairy free fudge that does just that!
- If you are allergic to corn, make sure you use your favorite corn free powdered sugar and vanilla extract. My favorite brands are on my shop page.
- How to Store
- This fudge keeps best in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
- While you can store this on the countertop, because the chocolate isn’t tempered, it will soften at room temperature and become more like frosting. I recommend keeping it in the fridge for best results.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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