Published: December 12, 2017 · Modified: December 8, 2022

Hershey’s Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge is the only real chocolate fudge in my opinion.  It’s made with pure unsweetened Hershey’s cocoa and with each creamy bite you experience nothing but that pure rich cocoa flavor.  No corn syrup, chocolate chips, or marshmallow creme. Just pure cocoa goodness!!

Hersheys Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge.

Hershey’s Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge is without a doubt my all-time favorite chocolate fudge.  Why?  Because cocoa fudge doesn’t contain any corn syrup, chocolate chips, or marshmallow creme. What you get is the pure taste of rich bittersweet cocoa.

Cocoa fudge is not your typical 5-minute fudge on the stove.  It’s a little more involved.  In fact, I’ve had friends, relatives, and followers tell me they’ve flopped this fudge too many times and finally gave up on trying to make it.  But guess what?  Most of them really didn’t flop this fudge.  They just gave up too soon!

I’ve made this fudge for decades and when I first started making it, I too pitched a few batches.  But after a few “so-called” flopped batches, I was determined to get it right!!  After all, Hershey’s cocoa isn’t exactly cheap and neither is sugar.  After I finally realized what I was doing wrong, I realized those “so-called” flopped batches didn’t flop after all.

With that said, I want to walk you through the steps of making this insanely delicious fudge today, and if you’ll follow along and read my tips, I promise that you can make perfect cocoa fudge!!

After reading my tips and instructions, if you are still afraid of making this fudge, or if you’d rather have an extra sweet fudge made out of chocolate chips, feel free to make this Chocolate Fantasy Fudge recipe.  However, I promise that if you follow my tips and try making this fudge just one time, you will be hooked for life.  It’s that good!

Before we get started, allow me to elaborate on testing this candy.  I test many different candy recipes in cold water, including some fudge recipes, but this is one candy recipe that does not test well in cold water for me, due to the thinness of the cooked candy.  The candy should form a soft-ball when dropped into cold water but it doesn’t.  It dissolves into the water, even when has reached a soft-ball stage.  Therefore, I advise using a candy thermometer for this recipe.

Pro tips for making Hershey’s Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge

  • You need to make sure your candy thermometer is accurate.  To make sure your candy thermometer is accurate see my post on how to Calibrate Candy Thermometers.  An expensive candy thermometer doesn’t always ensure accuracy.  A cheap $5.00 candy thermometer can sometimes be more accurate than a more expensive one.
  • You need a heavy-bottomed pan.
  • Don’t use an iron skillet.  I don’t advise using an iron skillet.  I know that back in the day, an iron skillet was used to make this fudge, but many home candy makers back in the day overcooked this fudge and it turned out hard, and grainy.  An iron skillet gets very hot.  Also back in the day, many people relied on the cold water test for this fudge which again, is not reliable.

I’m going to show you how to make perfectly creamy rich cocoa fudge, and the only hard part about this fudge is beating it until it gets thick after cooking and cooling it.  I’ll admit that takes some elbow grease!

Are you ready?  Let’s get started…

Cooking Hershey’s Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge 

  1. Add 3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa, 3 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 cups milk to a heavy saucepan.
  2. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat until it comes to a bubbling boil.  This could take up to 5 minutes.
  3. Once the candy comes to a boil, stop stirring and clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan.  Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 234 degrees on a candy thermometer.  This takes about 10 to 12 minutes, (12 on my stove), but yours could be different.  Note:  This is where you might think it’s undercooked but trust me it’s not.  The candy will be very thin!!  This is normal!!  
  4. Remove the candy from the heat.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is CocoaFudgeCollage1-680x680.jpg

Cooling the fudge

  1. Once you remove the pan from the heat, place it in a sink of very cold water.  I toss a few ice cubes in the water.
  2. Add 1/2 stick of butter, cut into pieces, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  DO NOT STIR OR MIX IN THE BUTTER!
  3. Allow the candy to come to almost room temperature.  The candy will still be rather thin, dark, and very shiny at this point.
  4. Remove the pan from the water.

Beating the fudge

Now comes the hard part… beating…beating…and more beating.  Yep…this is the only difficult step of the recipe.  You need a good wooden spoon and a little elbow grease.  Here are my tips for beating the fudge.

  1. I like to beat it for about 30 seconds and stop for 30 seconds.  I keep doing this until it gradually starts to change from a shiny gloss to more of a less glossy but satiny look.  The change is subtle and the fudge will start to lighten a little in color.  There’s no need to constantly beat the fudge.  Beat it and let it rest…beat it and let it rest.
  2. As soon as it starts to lose most of the glossy appearance and looks more like the picture on the bottom left below, nuts should be added if using, and it should immediately be spread into a prepared dish.
old fashioned cocoa fudge.

What size dish should I use when making this candy?

Hershey's old fashioned cocoa fudge.

In the picture above I used an 8 x 8 dish.  The result is thicker pieces of fudge.

In the picture at the top of this post, I used a 9 x 9 dish.  This makes a thinner fudge.  So it’s really up to you whether you want nice thick pieces or thinner pieces of fudge.

Can I freeze this fudge?

This fudge freezes beautifully.  Make sure it’s in a sealed container.  I place wax paper between the layers to prevent them from sticking together.  Thaw on a countertop a few hours before serving, or thaw in the refrigerator if you like to eat it cold.

If you love the old fashioned fudge recipes without the added marshmallow cream, check out my recipe for Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Fudge.

If you make this recipe, please give it a rating and leave a comment to let me know how it turned out. I love to hear from you!  🙂

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Hershey's Cocoa Fudge.

Hershey’s Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.6 from 26 reviews
  • Author: Cindy Gibbs @ My Country Table
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 30
  • Yield: 20 1x
  • Category: Candy
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: American


This rich and delicious fudge is made of pure unsweetened corn syrup, chocolate chips or marshmallow creme. Just pure goodness!


Units Scale
  • 3/4 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional


  1. Line an 8 inch square baking dish or pan with foil. Allow the foil to hang over the sides. Lightly grease the foil with butter.
  2. Add cocoa, sugar, salt and milk to a medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. This will take up to five minutes. Once mixture comes to a boil, continue cooking without stirring until mixture reaches 234 degrees on a candy thermometer or forms a soft ball in cold water.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer pan to a sink with at least two inches of cold water. Add the butter and vanilla but do not stir. Allow pan to set in cold water until mixture reaches room temperature.
  4. Remove pan from cold water. Using a wooden spoon mix to incorporate the melted butter and vanilla. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to lose its shiny glossy appearance and starts to take on a satiny sheen appearance. This can take a while. See notes below the recipe.
  5. Add nuts if using, and immediately spread fudge into the prepared dish. Allow to sit for at least an hour before cutting into pieces.
  6. Store in a candy tin or airtight container.


  • Parchment can be used in place of foil. There is no need to butter parchment paper.
  • Yield depends on size of cut pieces.
  • Here’s my tip for beating this fudge. Beat for about 30 seconds. Give yourself a break for 30 seconds and beat again. This is one fudge that will tire your arm. It will slowly change from a shiny gloss to a more satiny sheen. The change will be subtle. Be ready to add your nuts immediately, if using, and spread in dish.