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Brown Sugar Fudge, the old fashioned way

Brown Sugar Fudge. This recipe uses an old fashioned method and just a few ingredients to produce a creamy, caramel flavoured fudge you’ll absolutely love.

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge close up photo on a white plate

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge

This recipe was inspired by a reader who evoked a childhood memory of mine.

Sonja emailed me to ask if I had a recipe for brown sugar fudge. Unfortunately I did not, but I had a niggling feeling that I knew it from years ago.

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge on a wooden cutting board

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge

The mystery was solved when she said in a follow-up email.  “The version I am after was super simple – just 5 ingredients. Evaporated milk, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and salt.

The original source of the recipe was the label on the can of Carnation.” I recognized that recipe immediately. 

Back in the 70’s, when Sonja also first remembers this recipe, Carnation brand evaporated milk printed recipes on the reverse side of the label on its cans.

Back in my very early days of cooking and baking, I remember clipping those labels with the recipes off of the can. I can even now visualize a small square of fudge that was pictured on the label with that recipe.

Those labels and other hand written recipes, I remember storing in a small yellow plastic recipe box. I’m sure there would be a treasure trove of ideas if I was ever to find it again.

I am absolutely certain I had that fudge recipe label stored in that box over 40 years ago.

It took no time to find the recipe from several sources online, once I had the additional details.

Several failed fudge attempts during that time, also come quickly to mind. With six kids in the house though, even bad, crystallized fudge was worth eating. None of it was wasted.

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge cooled and set in 8 inch pan

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge

Temperature is key for perfect Brown Sugar Fudge

Back in those days, people still routinely relied on the soft ball stage test for candy making. A small spoon of the boiling candy would be dropped into ice cold water.

If the ball was firm but still able to be squeezed between your fingers, it was done.

That, of course, was a very imprecise way of judging the proper temperature. I’ll bet there were as many fails as successes using that method. 

The solution for a far more precise way of ensuring a smooth creamy, non-grainy fudge is to use a decent candy thermometer. Or any heat safe thermometer that can reach about 240 degrees F.

A digital food thermometer can easily be purchased quite inexpensively these days. I’ve now added one to my Amazon Store.

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge boiling in pot

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge at the correct temperature.

The correct temperature for the boiling fudge is 236-238 degrees F. As soon as I hit the 236 mark, off the heat it came.

I could not have been more pleased with the result! My final cooled fudge was smooth, creamy and had great caramel flavour. It was irresistible!

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge close up photo of a single piece of fudge

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge

I’m sure you know someone who would appreciate a surprise treat of this delicious fudge. With the Holidays fast approaching, its a great, inexpensive idea for gift giving too. 

Looking for Christmas cookie inspiration?

If you liked this recipe you many want to check out this great collection of No Bake Cookies that was incredibly popular during our last Holiday season.

20 no bake cookies for Christmas

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Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge close up photo on a white plate
Yield: 64 squares

Brown Sugar Fudge, the old fashioned way

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Brown Sugar Fudge. This recipe uses an old fashioned method and just a few ingredients to produce a creamy caramel flavoured fudge you'll absolutely love.


  • 2 cups​ firmly packed ​brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk 
  • 1/2 cup butter (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts (roughly chopped with a chef's knife) (Optional)


  1. Lightly grease an 8x8 inch pan and line it with parchment paper. (The size is important, see note)
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter slowly over medium low heat. 
  3. Add the white sugar, brown sugar and evaporated milk. Increase heat to medium.
  4. Bring to a gentle gentle, constant boil. 
  5. Cook until the mixture reaches between 236 and 238 degrees F. Stir only very occasionally, perhaps just a couple of times. Over-stirring can cause crystallization of the sugar and your fudge will seize.
  6. As soon as the mixture hits the correct temperature, remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Quickly but gently stir in the vanilla extract.
  8. Allow this mixture to remain at room temperature until lukewarm. Do NOT try to speed this process up by placing in the fridge or freezer.
  9. When cooled to lukewarm, beat the fudge mixture with a wooden spoon until it loses its glossy appearance and begins to thicken more.
  10. Stir in the nuts at this point if you are adding them.
  11. Pour evenly into the prepared pan. 
  12. Leave for several hours to set until firm.
  13. Lift the fudge out of the pan using the parchment paper and transfer it to a cutting board. 
  14. Cut into 64 one inch squares, or larger if you prefer. 
  15. Store in an airtight container. I do like to refrigerate mine once it is cooled completely and cut.
  16. If freezing fudge, cut the batch into 4 equal squares, and wrap each one tightly with plastic wrap before placing in an airtight container to freeze. This will allow you to take out one or two of the larger pieces and then cut them into portions as needed.


I used light brown sugar in this version and the fudge had plenty of caramel flavour when finished.

I use salted butter but do not add any additional salt to the recipe. If using unsalted butter, you may add a pinch or two of salt if you like.

Do not confuse evaporated milk for sweetened condensed milk. This recipe uses undiluted evaporated milk, measured straight from the can.

If adding nuts, you should toast them beforehand for best flavour and crunchy texture. Simply place them in a singe layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, turning them over at about the halfway point.

This recipe is meant for an 8x8 inch pan. Using a larger pan will produce pieces of fudge that are too thin. The measurements for a 9x9 pan are:

2 1/2cups​ firmly packed ​brown sugar

1 1/4 cups white sugar

1 1/4 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp butter

1 1/4  tsp vanilla extract

The instructions do not change.

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Rock Recipes a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. Our product recommendations are almost exclusively for those we currently use or have used in the past.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 63Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 5mgSodium 17mgCarbohydrates 9gFiber 0gSugar 9gProtein 0g

The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.

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Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

I did what you recipe called for and its almost cool but not thinking up like your video. HELP WHAT CAN I DO ASAP

Tobi Martin

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

I made this last night and was sad to see this morning when I went to cut it into squares that the sugar crystallized and it looks like the butter puddled & set to the bottom. Still tastes great but not gift worthy, sigh! Back to try it again.


Tuesday 15th of December 2020

So dissapointed in this! Tried 3 times, first time didnt use thermometer but brought to soft ball, didnt set. 2nd time used thermometer pulled at 236 scorched on bottom and had burnt black sugar floating around. 3rd time cooked on med low to 236 barely stirring with wooden spoon to prevent scorch, never set came out crystally

Denise Freitas

Friday 11th of December 2020

Just completed a batch for a friend. I'm sure it will be delicious since it is similar to my caramel cake frosting. Some notes: if you are preparing this recipe on an electric stove, especially a glass top, low or simmer is the only temperature you can use (or was in my case). I scorched the first batch using medium low as indicated in the recipe. Err on the side of caution and go low, low, low. :) Also, I stirred the caramel about every minute, just to ensure that it didn't burn. I used a small, enameled cast iron dutch oven and used both a digital thermometer and a clip on to measure the temp. On low, it took a LONG time to reach 236. But, it will be enjoyed and worth the effort.


Thursday 19th of November 2020

Follow-up: It did set up! Fast! Still in the saucepan! It's too solid to put in the baking dish now, so I'm scooping it out into baggies. I think stirring, even with great restraint, made it curdle, and not stirring it made it burn. Even scorched and bagged, it will do nicely for bedtime sugar cravings.

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