Hershey's rich cocoa fudge recipe from the 70s & 80s - Click Americana (2024)

Hershey's rich cocoa fudge recipe from the 70s & 80s - Click Americana (1)

  • Categories:1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Featured stories, Vintage Christmas, Vintage dessert recipes
  • By The Click Americana Team
  • Added or last updatedDecember 10, 2018

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Hershey’s rich cocoa fudge recipe

This is the cocoa fudge recipe your grandmother used to make! It’s one of the most frequently requested recipes — in fact, dozens of vintage newspapers have featured reader letters asking food columnists for the directions. But though this recipe is popular, itis also very challenging.

NEED FUDGE TROUBLESHOOTING HELP? SEE: The ultimate guide for making perfect fudge like your grandma used to make

The recipe first appeared on the Hershey’s Cocoa can label in the 1960s, then it was in the 1979 “Cocoa Cookbook,” the 1984 “Chocolate Treasury Cookbook,” and has since been used in many other cookbooks.

Don’t miss some popular variations on this fudge below the recipe card!

Hershey's rich cocoa fudge recipe from the 70s & 80s - Click Americana (2)

Vintage Hershey's rich cocoa fudge recipe from the '70s & '80s

Yield: 36 pieces or 1-3/4 pounds

This is the fudge recipe your grandmother used to make! It’s one of Hershey's most frequently requested recipes, but also is very challenging.


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa or Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • * Requires candy thermometer


  1. Line 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil.
  2. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in heavy 4-quart saucepan; stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full rolling boil.
  3. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water. (Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan.)
  4. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Do not stir. Cool at room temperature to 110°F (lukewarm). Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss. Quickly spread into prepared pan; cool completely.
  5. Cut into squares. Store in tightly-covered container at room temperature.


For best results, do not double this recipe. This is one of Hershey's most requested recipes, but also one of their most difficult. The directions must be followed exactly. Beat too little and the fudge is too soft. Beat too long and it becomes hard and sugary.

High altitude directions: Increase milk to 1-2/3 cups. Use "soft ball cold water test" for doneness OR test and read thermometer in boiling water, subtract difference from 212°F. Then subtract that number from 234°F. This is the soft ball temperature for your altitude and thermometer.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield: 18Serving Size: 2 pieces
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 186Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 46mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 34gProtein: 1g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

ALSO SEEGet the famous Cannot Fail 5-minute fudge recipe, plus 10 more fast vintage fudge recipes

Hershey's rich cocoa fudge recipe from the 70s & 80s - Click Americana (6)

Hershey’s Rich Cocoa Fudge recipe variations

Nutty rich cocoa fudge: Beat cooked fudge as directed. Immediately stir in 1 cup chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts and spread quickly into prepared pan.

Marshmallow nut cocoa fudge: Increase cocoa to 3/4 cup. Cook fudge as directed. Add 1 cup marshmallow creme with butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Cool to 110°F (lukewarm). Beat 8 minutes; stir in1 cup chopped nuts. Pour into prepared pan. (Fudge does not set until poured into pan.)

MORE:Hershey’s chewy chocolate cookies (1983)

Peanut butter & Hershey’s rich cocoa fudge recipe (1975)

This is not an official Hershey’s recipe, but was submitted by Mrs. Frank Barton to the Cardunal Free Press in Carpentersville, Illinois, and published on June 10, 1975.


2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa
3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup crushed pecans (optional)


In large iron skillet or saucepan mix together, cocoa, sugar, salt; gradually add milk. Bring to a bubbly boil, on heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, without stirring to 234 degrees F or until a small amount dropped in cold water makes a soft ball.

Remove saucepan from heat, add peanut butter and vanilla slowly. Beat by hand until fudge starts to thicken and loses some of the gloss. Quickly spread fudge in buttered 8 or 9-inch pan to cool. Place pecan nuts on top if desired. Makes 3 dozen squares.

ALSO SEETwo-tone fudge: Chocolate and butterscotch (1968)

Hershey's rich cocoa fudge recipe from the 70s & 80s - Click Americana (7)

Vintage Hershey’s rich cocoa fudge recipe as printed in 1979

Hershey's rich cocoa fudge recipe from the 70s & 80s - Click Americana (8)


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  • Categories: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Featured stories, Vintage Christmas, Vintage dessert recipes
  • Tags: 1970s, 1970s christmas, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1980s christmas, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, candy, desserts, fudge, hershey's, homemade food gifts, marshmallows, peanut butter, recipes, Vintage chocolate, vintage christmas candy recipes, vintage dessert recipes
  • Added or last updatedDecember 10, 2018
  • Comments: 38 Comments

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Comments on this story

38 Responses

  1. It is a must to let the fudge cool to 110’ so it won’t be grainy and wil set up to perfection!!
    This is the original Hershey Cocoa Fudge recipe


  2. Best fudge ever! My mother taught me how to make it .. It’s worth it!


  3. instead of 3 cups of sugar, can I use 2 cups? I’m afraid it will be too sweet.


    1. No. It will be too bitter. I tried cutting the sugar by 1/2 cup and the bitterness was still too strong.


  4. I remember this recipe from the 1960’s. I believe my mom used evaporated milk since it was always in the house more so than actual milk.
    I remember it being hard but manageable to eat. It was shiny on top and dull underneath.
    It was so delicious and ruined me for fudge today which is soft.
    I’m quite sure she didn’t use condensed but I could be wrong.
    I did make it yesterday and used a cup of evap and the rest half n half.
    It came out delicious but softer than I remember.
    I would lessen the sugar a little as evap is sweet.


    1. I do exactly like it says but I use whole milk. I also add a little peanut butter and black walnuts to mine. My sister half’s the recipe if you don’t want to make a full batch but normally I do because I make At Christmas or on Valentines. Do you use a wooden spoon, I don’t ….never have, do you know why they suggest a wooden spoon?


      1. Yes my mother made this but instead of butter she would add peanut butter

  5. Taking forever to get to soft ball stage. Have no thermometer so doing water test. Had no problem getting to boil and reducing it to simmer even on electric stove. Has to be simmering an hour by now! If it makes it, may be midnight before done. Never made candy before. Very discouraging


    1. Boil not simmer……


    2. If you are not a very experienced candy maker. You must have a thermometer. My mother never did. But she never made it soft enough to eat after it dried beyond an hour.

      I have made it several times. In fact, I made it tonight. I forgot to stop stirring at the boil stage. Overstirring at the boil stage made it very taffy like. Still yummy though

      1. Have made this since the sixties….a little hint is to slightly butter the sides of your saucepan so the sugar crystals won’t stick and make the fudge crystaline. And don’t stop beating until it loses its gloss! Get a partner to help unless you like sore arm muscles.😁
        Sixty year old grandad….God bless!

    3. Stir until it comes to a boil, then stop stirring and let it continue to boil until it gets to the softball stage. Don’t turn the heat down. Hope this helps!


  6. Should the butter be melted when its added? Otherwise it seems like you should stir the butter in?


  7. No follow exactly


    1. Anyone ever have it over puff rice? My mom Would pour it over puff rice and it was amazing!!


  8. Does it take awhile for the fudge to cool to 110?


  9. My mother made this plus the peanut butter fudge and brown sugar fudge her’s was perfect she always used her old class plates and used butter on the plates and put it in the fridge and kept in there for hours for Christmas. The fudge was outstanding loved it .


    1. Patty, what are “class plates”? Please explain what you mean by “she used butter on the plates and put it in the fridge”.



      1. I think maybe she meant “glass”. I also do the butter on the plate method not really sure why , it’s just how my mom always did it. Maybe so it doesn’t stick , I’m not sure.

  10. I have tried twice with the same result, it setting up in the pot. I follow temps exactly. Fudge is crunchy but tastes good. Apparently I am stirring too long but I only stirred 4.5 min the last time. What do I do?


    1. I realized my thermometer was off–can you check the temp?


  11. This recipe is fabulous, tastes just like the fudge my father used to make in the 70’s, brings back many wonderful memories! Unlike Dad, though, I use a stand mixer instead of a wooden spoon to beat it until it loses its gloss. It still takes 10 minutes or so on low to medium speed. You must act quickly and pour it into your already prepared pan..it starts to set up fast. I make a double batch in a six quart, high-sided stock-pot. The mixture greatly increases in volume as it boils and you don’t want a messy boil-over!


  12. Thanks so much my recipe was getting faded! I have from back of cocoa can


  13. This fudge is the best. Do NOT substitute ingredients ever. Low boil 234 degrees. Usually 1/2 hour. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Let it cool. Stir till it starts to lose gloss. Put into buttered pan quickly!


  14. This fudge takes me back to when I was 12 years old!! I just turned 78. I am never without
    Hershey’s Cocoa. I make fudge “when the mood hits”! I make hot chocolate by the cup several times a week. I am thankful that I am still well and healthy enough to make my own Hershey’s Fudge and Hot Chocolate!


    1. There’s nothing like childhood memories to make us feel young again! Thanks for sharing your story and your love of chocolate! I’ll be making some Hershey’s fudge tomorrow. 🙂


  15. My mother could make this, my husband could make it too. Me? It either comes out as a weapon or ice cream sauce. Themometer or water, makes no difference. I just can’t do it!


  16. No other fudge comes close to this. Ive tried all kinds from candy stores in the Smokies and its just not the same.


  17. Waste of money and time, I’ve made fudge before. Followed the recipe exactly how it said and at the end I added the butter and let it sit till it reached room temp. It was a hard ball when I went to mix it so then I heated it back up on low. Turned to sand now I have to throw it out.


    1. Just in case you want to try again, figure out your altitude and don’t throw it out if if hardens. Add some liquid either water or milk and re-heat it and bring it to temp again. As long as you don’t burn the chocolate you can always re-liquify it and do it again. Don’t let it sit after taking off heat. Start stirring and stirring until it loses shine and starts thickening, then pour in pan.


    2. Don’t cool TO room temp. Take it off the heat, add butter & vanilla and let it set in the room and cool to 110° F. (lukewarm). Then, beat with a wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss. Quickly spread into prepared (buttered) pan; cool completely. Cut into squares.


  18. This is the recipe my mom taught me to make fudge with, it came from this really old cookbook that her mother gave to her.. This brings back so many memories. I have not made fudge in a few years because of health problems, but I intend to make some this Christmas with my Granddaughter. This is the best fudge ever, especially the peanut butter.


  19. My mom always put the pan in the sink with cold water and beat it. Never failed. Followed recipe exact.


  20. I follow this recipe exactly and it turns out great. MUST use whole milk. When I add the butter, I don’t add the vanilla, as it just boils off. I wait until it cools to just below 120, then add vanilla and do the beating with a wooden spoon thing.
    My question is: is there a way to make this orange chocolate fudge? Like, adding orange zest at some point, or orange extract instead of vanilla? I love orange chocolate, but I don’t know how the citrus/acid would impact the chemistry. Thanks!


  21. I have been making this fudge he since I was a teenager since I have always had a sweet tooth. I am now a fudge snob and compare all others to this recipe & consider them not “real” fudge.
    Not to discourage anyone from trying this recipe, but I have made it for more than forty years and still find it challenging. Nevertheless, when it turns out good, nothing can compare! Please give it a try, follow the recipe exactly. Never use a metal spoon while stirring. I find that the soft ball test in ice water works better than a thermometer & is more accurate. I can never let it cool to 110 deg., but it still turns out fine! I never use foil but just a buttered dish. I hope you love this recipe as mush as I do, it is one of my all time favorites & is a classic!


  22. My dad made this fudge for years. Well, I made it tonight and it turned out perfectly. Yes, it was hard to wait for it to cool to 110, but it was worth the wait. I added walnuts like dad did. Excellent.


  23. Something that always is failed to be mentioned; your altitude has a big effect on candy making. Recipes are written at sea level. High altitude makes a huge difference in when the sugar actually reaches soft ball stage. It is like minus a degree every 500 miles above sea level you are. The easiest way to figure is to boil water with a thermometer and see what temp the water boils at where you are and then subtract that number from 212, the difference must be subtracted from the recipes called for temp. And the current weather pressure can also effect that. Most days, where I am, water boils at 200 so I subtract 12 from the recipe. Some days I have found water boils at 190 so I subtract 22. I make fudge all the time and have never gotten sugar above 220 before the ice water test ( which I always use ) shows it ready. Chocolate fudge is always the hardest for me, I have to simmer it because it always boils over if I turn the heat up and it takes 1 1/2 hours at least to cook it. I never wait for it to cool down, I start stirring with a lifting motion to get air and help it cool down. I watch for the shine to go and feel it thicken and then pour in pan and refrigerate. It always sets, but sometime softer than other times. Hope this helps people out!


  24. My mom used to make this when I was a child. I agree, it is the best! Nothing else compares. I tried it many years ago, but it turned out grainy. It still tasted good, but I was in high school at that time. Haven’t made it sense, but may give it a try for Christmas gifts this year.


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