Real fudge

19 Apr

Real fudge - the classic Nestlé recipe (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

When I was in primary school in the late 1980’s, I created my first recipe book. It was a “reporters notebook”, ringbound, with a model posing as a cowgirl on the cover (I cut it out of a magazine).  It had an index, featuring basic recipes like meringues, cheese scones, pecan nut cookies and fudge – the recipes were all hand written, complete with hand drawn full colour pictures galore.

To my horror, I recently discovered that I had lost that recipe book. I wanted to make the featured recipe for fudge – a recipe that I had found on the wrapper of a Nestlé condensed milk can many years ago. I frantically searched for the book, but no luck. It must have fallen through the cracks of my very unorganised book shelves, or maybe somewhere in the garage, or upstairs where I recently tried to clean up some office space. The point is, I hope it is still somewhere in my house, temporarily hiding from me. I’ll hopefully find it when it is time to move house again in a few years.

Then I found the original Nestlé fudge recipe online, thank heavens. It was exactly as I remembered, simple and old-fashioned. It had a quote at the top: “I have lost and found this recipe so many times I am finally committing it to Zaar. From Fair Lady, May 14, 1986”. It was the right one.

So here we go: I’m sharing this recipe as one of my all-time favourites. It is proper fudge, the real deal, melt-in-the-mouth. Save it!


  • 1 (385 g) can condensed milk
  • 500 ml (2 cups) sugar
  • 25 mlgolden syrup
  • 75 ml water
  • 60 g butter
  • 5 ml vanilla essence


  1. Put sugar and water into a large heavy saucepan.
  2. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add the butter and syrup and stir until the butter has melted.
  4. Add the condensed milk and stir until it comes to the boil.
  5. Boil very slowly on low heat, stirring every minute or 2, until soft ball stage (the mixture will darken to a deep caramel colour and will start to form sugary crystals on the sides, sounding like sand when you scrape it).
  6. Remove from the stove, add the vanilla and beat it with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes until it starts to thicken (beating the fudge will ensure a great texture when completely cooled)
  7. Pour into a greased pan and leave to cool.
  8. Cut into squares when cold.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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40 Responses to “Real fudge”

  1. Eva Noble April 19, 2012 at 12:25 #

    I remember making this when I was little, I have sent it to my family overseas :). Since you’re amazing infinding old recipes, will you be able to track down the original toffee recipe on the Lyle’s golden syrup tin (not the treacle toffee one)

    • The Food Fox April 19, 2012 at 12:43 #

      Hi Eva, I looked online and could only find the treacle toffee recipe. Maybe you should email the kind people at Lyle’s? They have a contact page you can fill out with your query. Hope you find it! x

  2. Taryne Jakobi April 19, 2012 at 12:53 #

    Yip! Indeed this is the same recipe I have been using for x-number of years 😉 Soooo delish- thx for the reminder

    • The Food Fox April 19, 2012 at 13:50 #

      Wonderful Taryne! Amazing how many memories this brings back, huh? 🙂

  3. Amanda Dreyer April 19, 2012 at 13:47 #

    Hi Ilse, you have made me a very happy girl! Same recipe as from my youth, off the Condensed Milk can!! i have been searching for it for many years.Fudge is my ultimate indulgence but I have yet to find the taste of this recipe in any other fudge I have ever eaten. The secret of course is in the Lyle’s Golden Syrup. I am off to the shops to buy the ingredients RIGHT NOW!!

    • The Food Fox April 19, 2012 at 13:51 #

      Hahaha, that is great to hear Amanda! Enjoy your batch of fudge!!

  4. Rayna April 20, 2012 at 18:44 #

    This looks great, but I don’t think the stores here sell golden syrup. Is there something else I could maybe use instead?

    • The Food Fox April 24, 2012 at 12:26 #

      Hi Rayna
      I’m sure you could use your favourite maple syrup or caramel syrup, should have very close to the same results!

  5. JehanP April 20, 2012 at 19:48 #

    I make a version of this and absolutely love it! Anything with condensed milk can’t be all bad.

    • The Food Fox April 24, 2012 at 12:27 #

      I agree Jehan! I’ll drink the condensed milk straight from the can. 🙂

  6. Fi May 11, 2012 at 21:25 #

    Another childhood flashback! I’ve been making this fudge since I was about ten years old(that makes it a REAL long time!) Now, do you have any good crepe recipes? My crepe recipe keeps letting me down…

    • The Food Fox May 11, 2012 at 21:32 #

      If you’re talking pancakes, yes, I use Philippa Cheifitz’s recipe using buttermilk. Fool proof and light as air. I won’t post about it soon, but you can find the recipe in her book “Lazy Days”. Perfect for crepes or pancakes.

  7. Fi May 11, 2012 at 21:46 #

    I’ll try that, thanks! I’m sure my mom has that book.

    • Fi May 21, 2012 at 15:28 #

      Today’s post on the caramel banana pancake tart (looks awesome!) reminded me to thank you for recommending Philippa Cheifitz’s pancake recipe – they came out perfectly! We had then for breakfast filled with scrambled egg and bacon.

      • The Food Fox May 21, 2012 at 15:47 #

        I’m so happy to hear that! Philippa is such an icon – LOVE her books.
        Your breakfast pancakes sound scrumptious!! Now you are making me think of more savoury fillings. Maybe some spinach and ricotta with crispy bacon…

  8. erikavermaak May 13, 2012 at 08:15 #

    I too grew up on this fudge and I guess I’m double your age…. To this day it is the only recipe my Mom and her daughters uses. Nothing else beats it 🙂

    • The Food Fox May 14, 2012 at 12:21 #

      I’m sure you are NOT double my age, Erika! 🙂 So glad to hear that there are others that love good old-fashioned SA recipes – nothing beats it. xx

  9. Emily September 18, 2012 at 11:29 #

    Could this be made with a sugar substitute, such as Canderel?

    • thefoodfox September 18, 2012 at 11:46 #

      Hi Emily, I’m not sure – I haven’t tried it yet! But I’ve cooked with Canderel Yellow before and the results were always amazing, especially with baking. Please try it and let me know! 🙂

  10. Jeanne @ Cooksister June 10, 2013 at 15:12 #

    OMG – Mamma se fudge!! My mom made this in alternate years (chocolate fudge in the other years) for Christmas presents when I was little – and yes, it came off the back of a condensed milk tin wrapper 🙂 Thanks for passing along the recipe 🙂 Gorgeous shot too.

    • thefoodfox June 12, 2013 at 12:43 #

      Thanks so much Jeanne! The memories that these bring to mind are just endless!! Good ol’ times. 🙂

  11. Sam June 10, 2013 at 16:27 #

    This really dies look like the real deal, and I can’t wait to whip up a batch. I may play around with adding a few things. Divine.

    • thefoodfox June 12, 2013 at 12:41 #

      Thanks Sam! 🙂 Yes, these are totally addictive…

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    • thefoodfox March 10, 2014 at 11:53 #

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  18. BARBARA LEEUW January 25, 2015 at 13:26 #


    • thefoodfox June 29, 2015 at 14:03 #

      Awesome, Barbara!

  19. Madelyn March 24, 2015 at 18:33 #

    Hi, this looks so yummy….if I want to also make it a chocolate fudge, how much chocolate would I add and what kind, semi-sweet, milk,etc? Thank you!

    • thefoodfox June 29, 2015 at 14:02 #

      Hi Madelyn, I’ve never added chocolate to this recipe, but I assume that you’ll be able to add it right at the end. Choose whatever chocolate you love, melt it and stir it in right at the end of the process. Enjoy!

  20. Keri July 9, 2015 at 08:40 #

    I want to hug you right now…..slightly odd, but I REALLY DO!! When I was a kid, our neighbour made the best fudge ever. She had an enormous bowl that she would use to cook it in the microwave. Microwave ovens were big inside in the 80’s and her bowl was big! We would all watch to make sure the contents didn’t bubble over.

    I have made the recipe a number of times since (as a grown up), but my microwave is too small for the bowl that this bubbly goodness requires.

    Long storey short, my recipe has vaporised, disappeared into the mess of kids stuff and general junk in my house….or ended up in the bin. Who knows, but I couldn’t ask my mom for the 3rd time to email me Andy’s Fudge recipe again.

    Thanks for the recipe, the best fudge recipe on the planet!! Keri

    • thefoodfox August 25, 2015 at 14:06 #

      Hi Keri, so happy to hear your story! Happy fudge making. 🙂

  21. Joey March 31, 2018 at 17:09 #

    My recipe is also divine, differs little bit from yours, instead I use 4 and a quarter of sugar, 1 cup of milk 250 ml instead of water, and 125g of butter or margarine, I’ll try yours also, thanks Joey

    • thefoodfox April 11, 2018 at 11:29 #

      Thanks for your feedback Joey! Yours sounds great too! x

  22. lindie November 5, 2018 at 13:53 #

    I was wondering how long do you cook your fudge? Do you wait till everything is melted then start the count down? My first batch came out like toffee my second batch came out ok, but it looks like it had little black spots in it. It wasnt too crumbly but it was very dark

    • thefoodfox December 23, 2018 at 07:44 #

      Hi Lindie, it all depends on your stove top’s temperature and the type of pot that you’re using, but it takes about 25 minutes. You should stir all the time to prevent it burning, because the high sugar content tends to burn easily. A low simmer is perfect. If your fudge is like soft toffee, you can return it to the pot and melt over low heat, then continue to cook until the sides turn to a soft fudgey consistency.

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