15-Minute Chocolate Walnut Fudge
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This 15-minute chocolate walnut fudge from Cook’s Illustrated is delicious and foolproof – and you don’t need strong arms or a burly assistant to stir it.
My grandmother was known for making the absolute best chocolate walnut fudge, but I remember it was always a BIG to-do. Traditional fudge is fickle. It must be heated and cooled to precise temperatures and then stirred “just so” to ensure success.
For my grandmother, it was a team effort. After stirring all of the ingredients together and heating the fudge on the stovetop, she’d recruit my grandfather to finish the job. He’d lift the big pot off the stove, place it in the sink over a cold water bath, and then tirelessly beat the fudge with a wooden spoon until the consistency was just right.
Together, they’d pour the fudge into a pan and then we’d all wait eagerly for it to set. As much as I love the old-fashioned fudge my grandmother made, I usually opt for something much simpler. This 15-minute chocolate walnut fudge from Cook’s Illustrated is delicious and foolproof – and you don’t need strong arms or a burly assistant to stir it. My family goes crazy for this stuff. Sometimes easy wins, right?
What you’ll need to make Chocolate Walnut Fudge
How to make Chocolate Walnut Fudge
Before we get to the recipe, a few words about the ingredients. It’s important to use good quality chocolate, as it affects the flavor and texture of the fudge. Baking soda reacts with the acids in the chocolate to alter the pH, which makes the fudge drier and firmer.
To begin, chop the chocolate and toss it with the baking soda and salt in a medium heatproof bowl.
Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Then set the bowl over a 4-quart saucepan containing 2 cups of simmering water.
Stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is almost fully melted and only a few small pieces remain, 2 to 4 minutes. Make sure to remove the fudge from the double boiler before the chocolate is fully melted. If the chocolate stays in the double boiler too long, there is the possibility of the chocolate separating and producing a greasy fudge.
Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the walnuts.
Transfer the fudge to a greased, foil-lined pan and spread into an even layer.
Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Remove the fudge from the pan using the foil overhang and cut into squares.
Store the fudge, tightly wrapped in plastic, in a cool place for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months. If the fudge is frozen, allow ample time for it to reach room temperature before cutting. The fudge will change texture and become drier the longer it is stored. Enjoy!
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- Baileys Chocolate Truffles
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares
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- Marbled Peppermint Bark
- Double Chocolate Biscotti
15-Minute Chocolate Walnut Fudge
This 15-minute chocolate walnut fudge from Cook’s Illustrated is delicious and foolproof – and you don’t need strong arms or a burly assistant to stir it.
- 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, best quality such as Ghirardelli, coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, best quality such as Ghirardelli, coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, pushing the foil neatly into the corners and up the sides of the pan, using two pieces if necessary to ensure that the foil overlaps all edges (the overhang will help removal from the pan). Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- Toss the chocolates, baking soda, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl until baking soda is evenly distributed. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Set the bowl over a 4-quart saucepan containing 2 cups of simmering water. Stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is almost fully melted and just a few small pieces remain, 2 to 4 minutes. (Make sure to remove the fudge from the double boiler before the chocolate is fully melted. If the chocolate stays in the double boiler too long, there is the possibility of the chocolate separating and producing a greasy fudge.)
- Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in the walnuts. Transfer the fudge to the prepared pan and spread into an even layer with the spatula. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Remove the fudge from the pan using the foil overhang and cut into squares. Store the fudge, tightly wrapped in plastic, in a cool place for up to 2 weeks.
- TO MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH: Line a 13 by 9-inch pan; double amounts of all the ingredients; and use a large heatproof bowl and Dutch oven containing 4 cups of simmering water for melting the fudge mixture.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The fudge can be frozen for up to 3 months. If frozen, allow ample time to let it reach room temperature before cutting. The fudge will change texture and become drier the longer it is frozen.
- Per serving (64 servings)
- Serving size: 1 square
- Calories: 72
- Fat: 4 g
- Saturated fat: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 8 g
- Sugar: 7 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 1 g
- Sodium: 23 mg
- Cholesterol: 2 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Hi! I have not been able to find the Ghirardelli unsweetened chocolate. Can you recommend another brand? I will be using the Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate bars.
Hi Janet, Guittard and Baker’s are also good options. 🙂
This went down well at my company potluck and was really simple. I think I might have pulled it off the heat a little too early but came out fine. I toasted the walnuts first as some others suggested but otherwise followed the recipe.
Hello Jenn, could I try with coconut condensed milk please ? I have some in my pantry….
Hi Lola, I’ve never tried this with coconut condensed milk so it’s hard to say without trying it – sorry! If you try it, please LMK how it turns out!
Just had to take the minute to say this is probably THE BEST recipe for homemade fudge out there! The creaminess and texture rival the most upscale confectionery shops anywhere!! I humbly say this — considering myself a “ fudge snob”—- sooo many( candy companies and recipes) “ promise”— “few “ deliver.
PLEASE consider developing a vanilla fudge recipe and a peanut butter fudge recipe as well …. I have tried DOZENS and nothing hits the mark for the creaminess and buttery taste!
(. As a reference I have always held any fudge to the standard of fudge from “ The Original Fudge Kitchen “ founded by the Boogle Brothers. This shop is very popular at the New Jersey shore towns of Cape May, Stone Harbor, North Wildwood, Ocean City. You have definitely nailed their chocolate fudge!!!! Would love to see you recreate their vanilla and peanut butter! I have searched everywhere for a copycat 🥲 I believe if anyone can recreate this delight it would be you!)
Hello, Jenn. Thanks for the recipe. I’ve been making essentially the same recipe for years without the baking soda, so I want to try it and see its effect. I have a question though: your recipe says to use 1 TABLESPOON of vanilla, whereas the recipe I’ve used for years uses 1 TEASPOON. Just want to confirm that 1 TABLESPOON is, in fact, correct. Thank you.
Hi Sandy, Yes, the tablespoon is correct. I’d love to hear what you think of this version!
Excellent fudge, we all loved it. When I made it the second time, the surface had streaks of what looked like fat all over it. What did I do wrong?
Hi Dagmar, Did you by any chance use a different kind of chocolate this time around? It sounds like it could be something called chocolate bloom. You can read more about it here.
I made this recipe once before and it was such a hit with my 3 grown kids (me too lol)!
It turned out perfectly and I just finished making a double recipe. It’s still setting, but I was forced to scrape out the bowl😉 so I know it’s again delicious.
The only little hic is that when I set the recipe to metric, it shows the milk in grams and here it’s sold in mls. Not a big deal, just made sure I bought plenty and measured it in cups. So, a ‘mixed’ recipe, I measured the walnuts in cups, I bought the chocolate in bulk and that is sold in grams, lol. Nothing was exact but I found it so easy to sort of eyeball, pretty close to fool-proof in my book!
The only variation I made the first time and was so appreciated that I did so again is that before refrigerating it, I sprinkled the top with kosher salt then lightly pressed it in with a clean spatula.
This will forever be what I give to my kids instead of Easter eggs.
Thanks so much for posting it!
Hi Muriel, so glad you and your kids enjoyed the fudge! The reason that I show the sweetened condensed milk in grams is because that’s how it appears on cans here in the US. I researched it a little bit and learned that because sweetened condensed milk is so concentrated, It’s measured by weight versus a liquid measurement. Hope that clarifies!
Does this fudge need to be refrigerated to store it? Thinking about whether I could mail it across the ocean! Thanks!!
It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but it’s not something that I think would hold up well for shipping — sorry!
I made last night and it’s very good. My neighbor gave us his fudge which must have some raisins mixed in. Was wondering if I could add some to the 15-minute fudge without adversely affecting the recipe?
Sure, I think you could add some raisins to it. Sounds yummy!
Your recipes never disappoint so I’m anxious to try this! Can it be made without nuts? Thank you!
Hi Wendy, I like the texture the nuts provide, but you can make it without them; the fudge will just be a little denser. Please LMK how it turns out!
Just made today – haven’t tasted it yet but after putting in refrig. I noticed I forgot to put in 2 oz. Unsweetened chocolate – will that affect the taste?
Hi Patricia, it should be fine. 🙂
Thinking of making this for Valentine’s day with Valentine’s colored MnM’s mixed in instead of nuts. Do you think that would work?
Sure – hope you enjoy!
I made this fudge using black walnuts as a Christmas gift for my Dad… I’ve never made fudge before. It was spectacular!! Thank you for making my Dad happy and me look like a star! Delicious!!!
I have always made the simplified version of this fudge… chocolate chips, walnuts, condensed milk…and received rave reviews. I thought I would try this and even though I’m just scraping the bowl while the fudge sets I think I will leave out the salt next time.
I made your wonderful recipe with black walnuts that I found, cracked, picked and lightly toasted. I gave some of this fudge to a lady who remembered her grandma’s fudge; a neighbor who asked “can you eat black walnuts?”; and saved the rest for us. It is now gone. We all agreed: that was the best fudge EVER! Smooth, tastes great, cuts nicely and, good after taste. So…..I found some more black walnuts and will make a second batch to serve my grandsons and their girlfriends when we (safely) get together over the holiday. That, together with my trout pate’, pumpkin pie, seriously special made from scratch chilli, cold sliced barbecue cooked turkey (not smoked, just cooked on the grill after an overnight “special” brine with turbanado sugar, rosemary leaves (but not stems), black pepper corns, and a less than the standard salt called for (which, because of the short time, was diluted) all in a twelve quart plastic tub which, on other occasions, I use for my artisan breads. So, it may not be a “traditional” Thanksgiving meal but it will be on a screen porch with heaters, beverages (hot and cold) and a lot of just good time. And, by the way, I used the Cook’s Illustrated grilled turkey recipe but put butter pats under the skin and olive oil on the skin. It made nice pan juices for gravy and the flavor was spectacular.
And your challah recipe, after a couple of false starts and after I finally got the braid down, was so good, both warm, cold and as french toast.
Your recipe was first rate. A couple of thoughts: I used a bit of whole milk to help get the residue from the bottom of the can of condensed milk. I used a wooden spatula to stir the chocolate to melt. I had hand picked black walnuts (use a glove or you will end up with stains that will make your hands, nails, etc. look like the appendages of death). I mildly toasted the walnuts in a small frying pan before adding them to the fudge. I like doing that with pecans, walnuts, almonds since it tends to add a bit more flavor to the candy. Your recipe is silent on this element. Also, my wife (my fudge Maven) said I should have used more nuts. Your recipe says one cup. I think a cup and a 1/4th or even 1/2 would be better if the nuts are first toasted.
I made this fudge for a lady who fondly remembered her grandmother’s fudge. I gave her a large box and she declared it Yummy.
I’d love to make raspberry flavored chocolate fudge. Can this recipe be modified to do so? I planned to omit the nuts.
Hi Melissa, To give these a hint of raspberry flavor, you could substitute the vanilla extract with raspberry extract. Hope you enjoy!
Can you make this fudge without nuts?
Hi Gretchen, The nuts give the fudge a nice texture but I’ve made it without nuts and it is still excellent – just a bit denser.
I’m getting ready to make CI’s 15-Minute Chocolate Walnut Fudge and wonder if I can omit the baking soda which I notice you said makes the fudge drier and firmer. I’m looking for a somewhat soft (but cuts into squares) and creamy texture. Would the baking soda not allow what I’m aiming for?
Hi Sandra, I’ve never made this without the baking soda so I can’t say how it would impact it, but I think this fudge is soft and creamy as is. Hope that helps!
Hi Jenn, in my supermarket in Switzerland I don’t recall ever seeing “bittersweet” chocolate – can I use just plain dark chocolate? As for unsweetened, I’ve never looked but imagine they must have it. Any possible substitutions for that, like cocoa powder?
Hi Audrey, Does your chocolate indicate percentages of cocoa liquor on the packaging. If so, you’re looking for 60% for the semi-sweet chocolate. And I would recommend sticking with the unsweetened chocolate assuming you can find it. Fudge is pretty finicky so I wouldn’t make substitutions if you can avoid it.
Amazing. A perfect holiday treat.
I have made this recipe several times. It always turns out perfectly. Thank you!
Can you describe the chocolate in terms of % please? I can see that the unsweetened bar says 100%, but what is the semisweet? Thank you.
Hi Lynnsey – semisweet should say about 60%.
What is the best way to finely chop the chocolate quickly and easily?
Hi Lida, Believe it or a not, a bread knife works really well. Check out this quick video. Hope you enjoy the fudge!
Thank you for this and for so many wonderful recipes!!
I’d like to make this for Christmas and my niece doesn’t like nuts (!!). Can I substitute unsweetened coconut? If so, should I mix it into the chocolate, layer it in the middle or put it on top? Thanks!
Hi Dee, You won’t get as much texture with the coconut, but it should work. I’d mix it into the chocolate. I’d love to hear how it turns out!
thanks for getting back to me. my concern was that it wouldn’t set but I did mix it in, only 1 cup. it set beautifully and it wasn’t too sweet. I also like that this is a softer fudge. delish!!
I would love to make this and add a layer of peanut butter fudge on top. Do you think that would work, and do you have a recipe for peanut butter fudge?
Hi Karen, I do think you could add a layer of peanut butter fudge on top of the chocolate. I don’t have a proven recipe for peanut butter fudge, but this one looks good and has strong ratings. (Please keep in mind that I haven’t tried the PB fudge.) I’d love to hear how it turns out!
Can you use all dark chocolate?
By dark chocolate, are you referring to the semi-sweet or the unsweetened chocolate? If you’re referring to the semi-sweet, I think it may work, but I wouldn’t recommend all unsweetened chocolate. That said, if you have access to both of types of chocolate, I would stick to the recipe as is; fudge is pretty finicky and if you can avoid adjusting the recipe, you’ll get the best results.
Would white chocolate work here? If so, any modifications to the other ingredients? Thanks!
Hi Monica, While it may work, I’m not 100 percent sure, so I’d probably look specifically for a white chocolate fudge recipe — sorry!
Another winner Jenn. Quick, easy and delicious. Glad you mentioned about taking it off the heat before being completely melted, not sure I would have known to do that otherwise. This little piece of decadence will make the perfect addition to a hostess gift over the Christmas season:)
I made this fudge last week & oh my sweet baby Jesus it’s fantastic!!!! It was easy & I secretly had to hide some away just for me. This is my go to fudge from now on, thank you for sharing!
Hi Jenn. This looks like fun to make! I saw a few people mention that roasting the nuts added something and was wondering if I could use roasted and salted nuts. Or would it be too much salt? Thanks.
Hi Jan, I think you could, but I’d eliminate the salt from the fudge recipe so it doesn’t get too salty. Enjoy!
Can use semisweet chocolate chips instead of finely chopping bar chocolate?
I wouldn’t recommend it, Kira — sorry!
Hi Jen – I followed the recipe for a double batch, keeping the water in the pan at a simmer and removing the bowl from the heat when there were still small pieces of chocolate; then I stirred the mixture off of the heat, but the chocolate still seized a bit. I’ve spread it in the pan and placed it in the fridge, but I think that I’ve ruined it. All that chocolate! Will I be able to fix the mixture if it isn’t right after refrigeration and, if so, what would the procedure and proportions of added liquid be for this particular recipe?
Hi Marna, Is it possible that some of the water from the double boiler got into chocolate mixture? That’s the only thing that might make it seize (water is the enemy of melted chocolate). Or if you used chocolate chips instead of chocolate bars, that would cause a problem. How did it turn out?
It tastes delicious (I toasted the walnuts & I think that’s key to the wonderful roasted nut taste) and it does seem smooth when cut & tasted, but there are small globs & tiny rivulets of congealed fat on the top (even after letting it sit at room temp all day) that look unappealing. I don’t want to have to redo the entire batch, but I’d like to figure out a way to minimize the appearance of the little bits of congealed fat on the top, as I want to package this for Christmas gifts. By the way, I have a couple of thoughts about why this might have happened: (1) I toasted the nuts to a golden brown & although I let them cool for about 10 minutes before they were stirred into the melted chocolate, maybe they were still too warm and raised the heat of the chocolate mixture just enough to cause it to seize a little bit; or (2) instead of all semi-sweet chocolate bars, I used 1/2 semi-sweet & 1/2 60% dark chocolate bars (+ the unsweetened per the recipe), because I wanted a truly dark chocolate end-product, so maybe there was something about the 60% dark chocolate that caused the mixture to respond differently to the heat; or (3) I live at high-altitude (6,000 feet) and, although I can’t think of why this would make a difference with this particular recipe, all sorts of crazy things can happen with recipes at high altitude. I know this is due to some error that I made – I mean, candy-making is basic science and no one else has had this problem. I have had 100% success with all of the other recipes that I have tried from your site, Jenn, and I’ve used many of them. Any ideas about: (1) what I can do to smooth out the top and get rid of the little specks of fat and/or (2) how I can prevent this from happening again?
Hi Marna, I don’t think the nuts or the bittersweet chocolate would cause the streaks of fat (not sure about high altitude). It is more likely that the chocolate was overheated. Was the bottom of the bowl possibly touching the water? It’s hard to say if it can be fixed without seeing it. Could you send me a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org? Thx!
This fudge is a very tasty treat perfect for the holiday season. I doubled the recipe because I wanted some without walnuts (my son is allergic to walnuts but my husband and I love walnuts). So I put peanuts I had roasted in one half and walnuts in the other half of the fudge mixture (two separate pans). After sampling both versions my husband and I were astounded that the peanut fudge tasted much better than the walnut version. In fact we could hardly taste the walnuts whereas the roasted peanut fudge was amazing. We wondered whether it was due to having roasted the peanuts and not the walnuts. So I made another batch – and guess what? The walnut flavor came to life! I know you have recommended toasting nuts in other recipes Jenn and you are definitely correct for this recipe too.
I highly recommend this recipe and well, yes, this fudge is truly 15 minute fudge because it only lasts for 15 minutes (unless you hide it!!).
Wow Thank you Jennifer! I had a sweet tooth today and gave this a try. I cannot imagine any fudge tasting better than this! And for it to be so easy just amazes me! Im favorite part might be the texture…Love how there is no grit and how smooth this one is! Am so happy with this! You are the best! Luanne
Very Rich , more so than we thought…
We could only eat a few..
Like most of your easy recipes….
Thanks for your sharing what you create…
This was great! I had a surplus of condensed milk in my cabinet and thought I would try this! It’s just as good as the fudge you can buy at Disney world!
This really does take 15 minutes. I did this the other night just for a treat. It keeps great in the refrig afterwards.
I added the walnuts and it was great. Try this for a treat.
Could you use mini marshmallows either instead of or in addition to the nuts?
Hi Alison, Yes definitely – Cook’s Illustrated actually has a similar “Rocky Road” recipe that calls for 1 cup salted peanuts, 1 cup mini marshmallows, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
This looks easy and good. Thanks Jen
Besides walnuts what are other alternative items we can substitute with? Any advice is much appreciated.
Hi Jane, any other nut will do. You could also try broken up pretzels or white chocolate chips. (Let the mixture cool a little bit before adding the chocolate chips, so they don’t melt.) Enjoy!
Hi dear, thank you for your wonderful recipes. I tried this and it was little dark for my taste ( my family loved it ) is there a way to do this with milk chocolate and caramel?
Hi Afsoun, I think you could get away with milk chocolate here, but it’s important to still include the 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate; if not I think the fudge would be too sweet (and think the addition of caramel might make it cloyingly sweet).
Although Valentine’s Day is over, I couldn’t resist making this fudge! This is so easy, even easier than my old Fanny Mae fudge recipe. I believe I have a new favorite fudge recipe. Thanks for sharing!
Could I use coconut milk instead of condensed milk?
Hi Leah, Unfortunately sweetened condensed milk is a must here. Sorry!
What does the baking soda do in this recipe? I am just curious.
Good question– it’s kind of science-geek stuff, but it reacts with the pH of chocolate to make texture more firm and dry.
My identical recipe appeared in the Baltimore Sun newspaper in 2002. It is so simple to make and extremely delicious. Pecans can be substituted for the walnuts.
Hi I love your website and recipes, thank you!
But considering our family has tree nut allergies can I just eliminate the walnuts? Would you suggest adding a different ingredient? Or just leaving plain fudge.
Thank you, Janine! The nuts give the fudge a really nice texture but I have made it without for my nut-averse daughter and it is still excellent – just a bit denser.
Can I leave the nuts out and can I use butter instead of spray to grease the foil? Thanks
Hi Deborah, Cooks Illustrated recommends using the nuts to ensure the fudge has the right density, and I agree that they give the fudge good texture. That said, I have made the recipe without nuts for my daughter, and there were no complaints :). And I think a very light coating of butter would be fine.
If you are having a middle of the night fudge craving and you only have milk chocolate chips, you will not be disappointed. Great recipe, Jen!
Just remember that chocolate chips are made to not melt so you really have to stir like crazy to make sure it is smooth.
This looks like my kids would love to both make and eat it :)! Could I use chocolate chips? Or any tips for chopping the chocolate ? (I don’t have a food processor).
Hi Innessa, I recommend using bar chocolate if possible. You can just break it up with your hands or use a sharp knife.