Hershey’s rich cocoa fudge recipe from the ’70s & ’80s

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

Hershey’s rich cocoa fudge recipe from the ’70s & ’80s
© Glenn Price | Dreamstime.com

Hershey’s rich cocoa fudge recipe

This is the cocoa fudge recipe your grandmother used to make! It’s one of the most frequently requested recipes — in fact, dozens of vintage newspapers have featured reader letters asking food columnists for the directions. But though this recipe is popular, it is also very challenging.

The recipe first appeared on the Hershey’s Cocoa can label in the 1960s, then it was in the 1979 “Cocoa Cookbook,” the 1984 “Chocolate Treasury Cookbook,” and has since been used in many other cookbooks.


Hershey’s rich cocoa fudge recipe from the ’70s & ’80s

Vintage Hershey's rich cocoa fudge recipe from the '70s & '80s

Yield: 36 pieces or 1-3/4 pounds

This is the fudge recipe your grandmother used to make! It’s one of Hershey's most frequently requested recipes, but also is very challenging.


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa or Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • * Requires candy thermometer


  1. Line 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil.
  2. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in heavy 4-quart saucepan; stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full rolling boil.
  3. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water. (Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan.)
  4. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Do not stir. Cool at room temperature to 110°F (lukewarm). Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss. Quickly spread into prepared pan; cool completely.
  5. Cut into squares. Store in tightly-covered container at room temperature.


For best results, do not double this recipe. This is one of Hershey's most requested recipes, but also one of their most difficult. The directions must be followed exactly. Beat too little and the fudge is too soft. Beat too long and it becomes hard and sugary.

High altitude directions: Increase milk to 1-2/3 cups. Use "soft ball cold water test" for doneness OR test and read thermometer in boiling water, subtract difference from 212°F. Then subtract that number from 234°F. This is the soft ball temperature for your altitude and thermometer.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, qualifying purchases made via our links earns us a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 18 Serving Size: 2 pieces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 186Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 46mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 34gProtein: 1g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

ALSO SEE  Get the famous Can't Fail 5-minute fudge recipe, plus 10 more fast vintage fudge recipes

Hershey's rich cocoa fudge recipe from the '70s & '80s

Fudge recipe variations

Nutty rich cocoa fudge: Beat cooked fudge as directed. Immediately stir in 1 cup chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts and spread quickly into prepared pan.

Marshmallow nut cocoa fudge: Increase cocoa to 3/4 cup. Cook fudge as directed. Add 1 cup marshmallow creme with butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Cool to 110°F (lukewarm). Beat 8 minutes; stir in 1 cup chopped nuts. Pour into prepared pan. (Fudge does not set until poured into pan.)

MORE: Hershey’s chewy chocolate cookies (1983)

Peanut butter & Hershey’s cocoa fudge recipe (1975)

This is not an official Hershey’s recipe, but was submitted by Mrs. Frank Barton to the Cardunal Free Press in Carpentersville, Illinois, and published on June 10, 1975.


2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa
3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup crushed pecans (optional)


In large iron skillet or saucepan mix together, cocoa, sugar, salt; gradually add milk. Bring to a bubbly boil, on heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, without stirring to 234 degrees F or until a small amount dropped in cold water makes a soft ball.

Remove saucepan from heat, add peanut butter and vanilla slowly. Beat by hand until fudge starts to thicken and loses some of the gloss. Quickly spread fudge in buttered 8 or 9-inch pan to cool. Place pecan nuts on top if desired. Makes 3 dozen squares.

ALSO SEE  Two-tone fudge: Chocolate & butterscotch (1968)

Antique canister of Hershey's Cocoa

Vintage Hershey’s cocoa fudge recipe as printed in 1979

Vintage Hershey's cocoa fudge recipe 1979

ALSO SEE  Two-tone fudge: Chocolate & butterscotch (1968)

If you liked this post, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest, plus see exclusive retro-inspired products in our shop. Thanks for visiting!

More stories you might like

Check out our books!

25 Responses

  1. It is a must to let the fudge cool to 110’ so it won’t be grainy and wil set up to perfection!!
    This is the original Hershey Cocoa Fudge recipe

  2. I remember this recipe from the 1960’s. I believe my mom used evaporated milk since it was always in the house more so than actual milk.
    I remember it being hard but manageable to eat. It was shiny on top and dull underneath.
    It was so delicious and ruined me for fudge today which is soft.
    I’m quite sure she didn’t use condensed but I could be wrong.
    I did make it yesterday and used a cup of evap and the rest half n half.
    It came out delicious but softer than I remember.
    I would lessen the sugar a little as evap is sweet.

    1. I do exactly like it says but I use whole milk. I also add a little peanut butter and black walnuts to mine. My sister half’s the recipe if you don’t want to make a full batch but normally I do because I make At Christmas or on Valentines. Do you use a wooden spoon, I don’t ….never have, do you know why they suggest a wooden spoon?

  3. Taking forever to get to soft ball stage. Have no thermometer so doing water test. Had no problem getting to boil and reducing it to simmer even on electric stove. Has to be simmering an hour by now! If it makes it, may be midnight before done. Never made candy before. Very discouraging

    1. If you are not a very experienced candy maker. You must have a thermometer. My mother never did. But she never made it soft enough to eat after it dried beyond an hour.

      I have made it several times. In fact, I made it tonight. I forgot to stop stirring at the boil stage. Overstirring at the boil stage made it very taffy like. Still yummy though

      1. Have made this since the sixties….a little hint is to slightly butter the sides of your saucepan so the sugar crystals won’t stick and make the fudge crystaline. And don’t stop beating until it loses its gloss! Get a partner to help unless you like sore arm muscles.😁
        Sixty year old grandad….God bless!

  4. My mother made this plus the peanut butter fudge and brown sugar fudge her’s was perfect she always used her old class plates and used butter on the plates and put it in the fridge and kept in there for hours for Christmas. The fudge was outstanding loved it .

    1. Patty, what are “class plates”? Please explain what you mean by “she used butter on the plates and put it in the fridge”.


      1. I think maybe she meant “glass”. I also do the butter on the plate method not really sure why , it’s just how my mom always did it. Maybe so it doesn’t stick , I’m not sure.

  5. I have tried twice with the same result, it setting up in the pot. I follow temps exactly. Fudge is crunchy but tastes good. Apparently I am stirring too long but I only stirred 4.5 min the last time. What do I do?

  6. This recipe is fabulous, tastes just like the fudge my father used to make in the 70’s, brings back many wonderful memories! Unlike Dad, though, I use a stand mixer instead of a wooden spoon to beat it until it loses its gloss. It still takes 10 minutes or so on low to medium speed. You must act quickly and pour it into your already prepared pan..it starts to set up fast. I make a double batch in a six quart, high-sided stock-pot. The mixture greatly increases in volume as it boils and you don’t want a messy boil-over!

  7. This fudge is the best. Do NOT substitute ingredients ever. Low boil 234 degrees. Usually 1/2 hour. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Let it cool. Stir till it starts to lose gloss. Put into buttered pan quickly!

  8. This fudge takes me back to when I was 12 years old!! I just turned 78. I am never without
    Hershey’s Cocoa. I make fudge “when the mood hits”! I make hot chocolate by the cup several times a week. I am thankful that I am still well and healthy enough to make my own Hershey’s Fudge and Hot Chocolate!

  9. My mother could make this, my husband could make it too. Me? It either comes out as a weapon or ice cream sauce. Themometer or water, makes no difference. I just can’t do it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Because the fun never ends:

Join the fun

Don’t miss out on the latest and greatest vintage stuff!

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter here.