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Should you put fudge in the fridge to set?

Quick Answer

It is recommended to refrigerate fudge for at least 2 hours after making it. This allows the fudge time to set up, become firm, and develop its texture. Fudge that hasn’t set will be soft, sticky, and unable to be cut or served.

What is Fudge?

Fudge is a type of confection made by mixing sugar, butter, milk, chocolate or other flavorings, and sometimes marshmallow creme. The ingredients are heated, boiled, and stirred until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, meaning it reaches a temperature of 234-240°F on a candy thermometer and drops of the mixture form a soft, flexible ball when dripped in cold water.

Once the fudge mixture reaches this point, it is removed from the heat, stirred and cooled slightly. This causes the fudge to thicken and lose moisture. The final step is beating the cooling fudge to incorporate air and achieve a creamy, smooth texture.

Why Refrigerate Fudge?

There are two main reasons why fudge should be refrigerated after making it:

To Accelerate Setting

Fudge sets and firms up through a process called crystallization. As the hot fudge mixture cools, the sugar wants to form sugar crystals. Beating the fudge as it cools encourages the formation of tiny, imperceptible sugar crystals throughout, which gives fudge its characteristically creamy and smooth texture.

Refrigerating fudge speeds up the crystallization process. The cold temperature causes the molten sugar mixture to solidify faster. If fudge doesn’t chill long enough, the sugar will remain dissolved in the fat and moisture and you’ll end up with soft, sticky fudge.

To Stabilize Emulsion

Fudge is an emulsion, which means it is a mixture of fat and water that would normally separate. In fudge, the fat comes from ingredients like butter and cream, while the water comes from milk and other liquids.

Heating the mixture allows the fat and water to blend together. But as the fudge cools, the emulsion becomes unstable. Fats solidify at warmer temperatures than water. Refrigerating the fudge gives the solidifying fat particles time to fully coat the water droplets and prevent them from leaking out. This produces a stable emulsion and gives fudge its characteristic richness and fine texture.

How Long to Refrigerate Fudge?

Fudge only needs to be refrigerated for a short time – about 2-4 hours. This gives the crystals enough time to form and the emulsion to set. Refrigerating overnight results in firmer fudge that is easier to cut.

Here are some refrigeration guidelines depending on the type of fudge:

Basic Creamy Fudge

  • Refrigerate beaten fudge for 2 hours before cutting into squares.
  • Allowing fudge to chill overnight results in firmer fudge that holds its shape better.

Fudge with Marshmallows or Nuts

  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before cutting to allow solid pieces to set up.
  • The extra ingredients can slow setting so the fudge needs more time to firm up.

Fudge Sauces and Puddings

  • Only requires 1-2 hours in the fridge since it’s meant to be spoonable.
  • Don’t over-chill or it will loose the soft, pudding-like texture.

Does Fudge Need to Be Refrigerated Long-Term?

While fudge only initially needs to be refrigerated for a few hours, you can store fudge in the fridge long-term if you want. The cold environment helps prevent spoilage and extend the shelf life.

Properly stored fudge can last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. To maximize freshness:

  • Wrap fudge in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container.
  • Store on a lower shelf to prevent temperature fluctuations from the door.
  • If fudge sweats or gets sticky, lightly re-wrap in fresh plastic wrap.

You can also store fudge at room temperature. At 70°F, it will keep for 1 week. The sugar acts as a preservative. Just be sure to keep it somewhere cool and dry. Warm, humid environments can cause moisture loss and texture changes.

Here is a comparison of fudge storage times:

Fudge Shelf Life

Storage Method Shelf Life
Room temperature (70°F) 1 week
Refrigerator (40°F) 2-3 weeks
Freezer (0°F) 6-12 months

How to Tell If Fudge Has Gone Bad

Although sugar prevents microbial growth, fudge can still degrade in quality over time. Signs that fudge has gone bad include:

  • Drying out – fudge appears cracked on the surface
  • Weeping liquid or condensation
  • Grainy texture – sugar has recrystallized
  • Mold growth – usually from inadequate storage
  • Unusual odors or flavors

If you see any of these signs, it’s best to throw out the fudge. Don’t eat fudge that has gone bad or developed mold.

Should You Wrap Fudge?

It’s highly recommended to wrap fudge before refrigerating it. Direct contact with air can cause the surface to dry out. Wrapping creates a protective barrier that locks in moisture.

Some fudge wrapping tips:

  • Place fudge in a shallow pan or platter before wrapping to maximize surface exposure.
  • Use plastic wrap or aluminum foil to completely cover the fudge.
  • Wax paper can also be used but may not seal as tightly.
  • Make sure the wrap adheres to the surface and doesn’t gap or billow.
  • Tightly cover all sides and gently press down.

You can refrigerate unwrapped fudge, but it will likely dry out quicker. Just be diligent about re-wrapping it if condensation collects.

Can You Freeze Fudge?

Absolutely! Freezing is a great long-term storage method for fudge. It stops ingredient deterioration nearly completely and extends shelf life.

To freeze fudge:

  • Let fudge chill in the fridge first so it sets up.
  • Cut into pieces if freezing in bulk or leave whole if freezing individual servings.
  • Tightly wrap each piece in plastic wrap or foil.
  • Place in freezer bags or airtight containers.
  • Press out excess air before sealing.
  • Freeze for up to 1 year.

Thaw frozen fudge gradually in the refrigerator. This prevents condensation from forming on the surface. Let it come completely to room temperature before unwrapping.

The only downside to freezing fudge is it can develop icy crystals or become grainy in texture after thawing. Adding corn syrup to your fudge recipe can help keep it smooth.

Tips for Making Fudge That Sets Up Well

Here are some tips to ensure your fudge sets up properly and becomes that perfectly smooth, sliceable consistency:

  • Cook to the right temperature – 234-240°F for traditional fudge.
  • Don’t overcook or you’ll lose moisture.
  • Add 2 Tbsp corn syrup to the recipe to control crystallization.
  • Let fudge cool to 110°F before beating it.
  • Beat for 5-10 minutes to incorporate air.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically while beating.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for firmer fudge.

Common Fudge Problems and How to Fix Them

Refer to this troubleshooting guide if your fudge doesn’t set up correctly:

Problem: Soft, sticky fudge

Solution: Fudge didn’t chill long enough. Refrigerate for longer, up to overnight.

Problem: Crumbly, grainy texture

Solution: Sugar crystals formed. Reheat fudge gently and beat again.

Problem: Hard, brittle fudge

Solution: Fudge overcooked and lost moisture. Add cream and reheat gently to soften.

Problem: Oily surface layer

Solution: Emulsion broke. Next time beat fudge longer to stabilize.


Refrigerating fudge after making it is essential for proper set up and texture development. A chilling time of 2-4 hours gives the fudge enough time to completely solidify from the cooled liquid state. Refrigeration also helps stabilize the fat and water emulsion.

While fudge only needs a short fridge time initially, you can store it refrigerated or frozen for long-term keeping. Take care to properly wrap fudge to prevent moisture loss. Follow these tips and your fudge will turn out perfectly set up every time.