Fudge Icing Recipe

For as long as I remember, this Fudge Icing has been a special part of my Grandmother Verdie’s recipe collection.


Fudge Icing Recipe | ©addapinch.com

She’d make it each year to top my sister’s Chocolate Pound Cake Grandmother would make her for her birthday.

While the Chocolate Pound Cake was just delicious on its own, it didn’t hold a candle to when it was topped with her fudge icing.


Maybe that’s why I have this obsession with chocolate.

Fudge Icing Recipe | ©addapinch.com


I will tell you though, this fudge icing is thick and rich – and heavenly! I make it while the chocolate pound cake is cooling and then begin pouring  the fudge icing over the top once it is ready. By the end, I do end up having to just spoon bits of the fudge icing onto the cake it gets so thick.

But oh my word! Just look at that piece of perfection up there!



Chocolate Pound Cake Recipe | ©addapinch.com

Be sure to make this cake WITH the fudge icing soon. It is perfect for celebrations, reunions, picnics, taking on camping trips and just about anything else you can imagine.

Oh yeah – and it works like a charm for those instances when one child is jealous of another’s birthday party.

Believe me, I speak from experience.


Yield: 12

Fudge Icing Recipe

Total Time 10 minutes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Fudge Icing goes perfectly on so many desserts. Get this heirloom fudge icing recipe that is sure to become a family favorite
4.48 from 17 votes
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  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick salted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Mix sugar, cocoa powder, and milk together in a large saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until large bubbles form and reaches a hard boil. Boil one minute at a hard boil. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.
  3. Beat with a wooden spoon until thick and smooth.
  4. Pour over cake. It will harden as it cools.


This icing hardens quickly. I prefer to use it as a poured icing as photographed or poured onto a sheet cake. I would not recommend using it as a spreadable frosting on a layered cake.

All images and text © Robyn Stone for Add a Pinch


This Fudge Icing also works perfectly on so many other desserts! Here are just a few ideas:

Fudge Brownies Recipe

Chocolate Marble Squares Recipe

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Practically just about anything you would use a ganache on, you can now use this fudge icing recipe. You won’t be sorry!

Robyn xoxo

71 comments on “Fudge Icing Recipe”

  1. This looks fantastic!

  2. O h my gosh! You are killing me! What and awesome recipe! Fudge icing!! I need to make a cake just so I can pile on this frosting. YUM!

  3. Pingback: Chocolate Pound Cake Recipe - Cooking | Add a Pinch | Robyn Stone

  4. Robyn,
    The icing and cake look delicious. Pinning.

  5. To me, there is nothing like a big hunk of fudge with walnuts. Fudge icing? I surrender. Those skinny jeans are going to have to stay put in the closet. 😉

  6. I only ever want to eat this for the rest of my entire life. OH.MY.GOSH.

  7. Oh Robyn! My mouth just totally started watering.

  8. Thank you so much for this fudge icing recipe. I have been looking forward to it since yesterday’s chocolate pound cake post. I am so making this poundcake and frosting today. Thanks again.

  9. Just gorgeous. It sort of reminds me of the “icing” on Hostess cupcakes, only real, and infinitely more delicious. I’m excited!

  10. Can’t wait to try this! It looks amazing!

  11. So gorgeous! I love home made icings 🙂

  12. Thanks for sharing. My grandmother also made this and it is nice to have an exact recipe. If we went to see them when someone was close to having a birthday she would ice any flavor cake you wanted. I always chose chocolate chip cake. 🙂 If you cook the icing a little longer, it makes great fudge!

    • Please tell me how much longer you cook icing to make as fudge….My mom made this fudge recipe adding peanut butter at end for all our birthdays…I absolutely love it love it!…But I fail every time I try, and we lost mom in January and I would love to keep this tradition going. If someone could just tell me how long I cook the icing…I can’t seem to follow the “until a soft ball forms”…I need exact or approximate time for cooking. Thank you so much!

      • I would imagine it’s almost the same as no bake cookies! I haven’t tried it yet but I have made no bakes!

    • Jayne: Soft ball stage is easy. Fill a cup half full of water. Drop teaspoon of hot, cooking fudge into cup. Try to form a soft ball using your fingers in the water. If it won’t form a ball, toss that water out and try again in a couple of minutes with fresh water. I have been making fudge since I was a little girl (I am now 71), and I can do it blindfolded. You can also add a couple of heaping tablespoon of peanut butter at the end before you beat it. So good—
      I use evaporated milk. This cake looks wonderful.

  13. Hi Robyn

    Can I use a hand mixer instead of a wooden spoon.

  14. Pingback: American Made Giveaway Week {Day #5} - Cooking | Add a Pinch | Robyn Stone

  15. Be careful when stirring this while it’s boiling. It popped out onto my hand, and boy did that hurt! Ouch!

  16. Just made it, deeeeelish! It’s going over a chocolate bundt, assuming I don’t just eat it all by the spoonful!

  17. I just made this and the cake was a bit dry and for some reason the frosting was crumbly when it cooled?? 🙁

    • I had the same issue with the icing, You are suppose to use the icing when its quite warm to my understanding . Letting it cool in the pan causes it to cool unevenly thus giving it a crust, at least that was my experience. I should have just poured it over the cake right away.

  18. My grandmother use to cook this icing in a cast iron skillet and pour over a yellow cake in 2 layers always wonderful.

  19. I had such a hard time with the icing. I tried it twice and failed both times. Maybe I need a little more detail on this icing. First time it burnt and second time it clotted up so quickly like fudge and it wouldn’t stay on cake.

  20. Tastes good, and I salvaged it i followed the directions exactly and I was barely able to get it on top of the cake before it solidified. When you safe boil until thick, that is way too vague. Then removing from heat and stirring more it immediately became too thick. And I did follow the directions – it took about ten mintes from start to finish. I was hoping to pour it on and have it drip and drape over the sides. Instead it is a thick layer on top so I sprinkled pink sugar over it and iced the sides pink as well with icing I had. So, as I saud, I managed to salvagethe cake, but this recipe requires exact time/temp/candy thermometer to be sure you stop before it is too thick. Please add more details for future followers!

  21. You have to look at this recipe as you do fudge. My mother in law and I made this and if we would have let it boil and harden much longer it would have turned into fudge. You need to get ice water in a cup and drop it in there and see when it turns to a fudge consistency get it off the stove and let it sit and thicken. IT will thicken in about five minutes. She returned it to boiling and only let it on there for about 3 minutes and then took it off and let it set up. if you want more of a smoother consistency you need marshmallow.

  22. DELICIOUS!!!!! I’m 17 weeks pregnant and “needed” some chocolate!!! Made the chocolate pound cake (first one I’ve ever made!) and the icing- wowzers!!! It’s delicious! I think I cooked the pound cake just a little too long- but overall- wow. It reminds me of my grandmothers house and REAL CAKE. after reading some of the comments I’m beginning to understand that some people either have a knack for baking or they don’t. I thought the recipe was perfectly self explanatory and so nice without the added stress of temperatures and thermometers! But call me old fashioned- I was taught by a family that “eye-balled” measurements 😉 thank you for this site! Can’t wait to come back and cook more 😉

  23. I don’t know what I did wrong but it came out runny.. I followed the instructions but when I put it back on the stove after adding butter/vanilla, I couldn’t get it to the “thickened” stage before removing it from heat and beating until more thick. I may have overcooked it by trying to get it to thicken 🙁

  24. I thought this was going to be the first recipe from this website I didn’t have success with. It took awhile to thicken but then was perfect! I poured it over cupcakes and though I made quite a mess, the clean up was well worth it! This is my new go to icing for everything! I really need to stay off this website! I just keep finding more great things to make and I am supposed to be reducing my sugar intake but can’t resist these tempting treats!

  25. I have a dairy allergy and was able to substitute the milk with almond milk and the butter with vegan butter and I loved how it turned out:)

  26. I just made this. While it was very easy and delicious, mine had a gritty texture. Did anyone else experience this? Is there a way to get rid of this or this is the way the frosting is supposed to be? The flavor is amazing so I’m hoping that next time maybe if I cook it a little longer on the stove, it may get rid of the grittiness. Any input would be super appreciated!! Thanks again!!!

    • Mine wasn’t gritty. Did you keep stirring it after taking it off to make sure it was well mixed?

    • I know this is a late response, but regarding the gritty texture of frosting: you likely had sugar crystals on the interior wall of pan. After candy/icing cooks, if sugar crystals get in the mix then it recrystallizes the whole batch. To prevent, moisten a pastry brush and brush any crystals back down into melted mixture, then continue to cook. Good luck & happy baking!

    • I had the same gritty problem and I followed the direction exactly. Do you think using confectioners sugar would solve the problem?

      • Hi Catherine,
        I don’t use confectioners sugar in this icing. It sounds like maybe some sugar remained on the sides of saucepan, which can cause the icing to crystalize. I can’t be sure that is what happened, but I hope this helps. xo

  27. i tried to make this sugar free and used Trivuia and never really got very thick. Tastes wonderful but never thickened up at all. I ended up pouring onto SF cake and put in fridge..we’ll see what happens..Love the flavor tho so thanks for posting. I agree with other comment about “boil until thick” is not a good instruction. How long should it take to thicken? Maybe because if used “fake” sugar?? who knows…..

  28. This icing would be awesome poured over a Boston Cream Pie, But im going to try the Pound Cake recipe first, Thanks for Sharing…

  29. Making fudge or fudge icing is a chemical reaction – don’t expect the same results if you use a sugar substitute. As in fudge making, if there are any stray sugar crystals on the side of the pan when you finish cooking and they find their way into the mixture, it will cause a chain reaction of crystallization and a gritty texture in the final product. Several ways to advoid this are to butter the sides of the saucepan before cooking, wipe the sides down with a damp paper towel after the sugar has dissolved, or cover during initial cooking stage so that the steam dissolves any sugar crystals clinging to the sides. I had good results with this recipe, although I used a lower temperature because my stove heats unevenly and a candy thermometer to make sure I didn’t end up with chocolate syrup. It’s easier to me to pop in a candy thermometer and check the temp for soft ball stage than to struggle with trying to reclaim or recook an unusable mess.

  30. I have looked for this recipe for a very long time. My mother used to make one like this and it was my Dad’s favorite! My children and nephews request it often.

    I remember her having issues with the grittiness a time or two and I think having it come out perfect every time just takes a lot of practice. It always tasted great to me!

    Can’t wait to try it to see if it truly is the one she made.

    I sure hope it is!

  31. I have tried this type of recipe several times and the icing never thickens like fudge. Please help!!! It is always to runny.

    • Reduce the milk to 1/2 cup

    • Hi. I always fill a larger pot with ice water after I take the icing off the stove. I place the hot pot inside the ice water and let the icing re-granulate. Then when my cake is ready, I hear it back up to desired thickness.

  32. I have everything I need to make this right now

    except whole milk. Can I use half and half instead?

  33. I made this icing last night but doubled it since I was making a half sheet cake. Like the others have said it didnt get thick while boiling. I let it bubble quite a while and it was still too thin….. after I took it off the stove and let it sit only then did it thicken…and quickly… when it got to a consistency that was good I poured it over my half sheet cake.

  34. Thank you so much. This is one recipe I failed to get from my Kentucky-born mom, and I’ve always been sorry. (I think the fact that I didn’t have it is the main reason my children don’t really care about cake.) Ingredients and photo, it looks exactly like what I remember. (I see a lot of “soft ball test” in the comments, which you don’t mention, and which I was going to use anyway, because it’s fudge.) I am going to make this soon (not today, today is Pi Day, so the house is filled with apple pie.)

  35. This was great. I was worried about the soft ball stage but it worked for me. I have made fudge before so I knew it would thicken as it cooled. I help it cool by putting cool water in sink and put pan in halfway and continued to beat it. Thanks

  36. Okay, what did I do wrong because mine never thickened and now I have hot fudge sauce?

    I boiled as directed, added butter and vanilla, boiled again. There is no time to boil the second time, but I boiled for over 4 minutes and it never thickened.

  37. Mine didn’t harden well at all. I ended up having to put it back on the stove to cook for another minute before it was thick enough to even stay on the cake! It’s pretty humid here, though, so that may have been the problem? Super sweet, but it was good!

  38. The previous version of this recipe was sooo much better. It used to say to boil until thickened after adding the butter and vanilla. This version makes it way too runny and never does thicken properly.

  39. Hi, Sherry…just wanted to say I am olden (78) and I grew up on this icing…my mom made it, I’ve made it for my family and it is actually the only Icing on the planet that I really like…sometimes, if I want to use it as a glaze on a cake, I don’t cook it quite as long and it’s perfect..I just made a cake for Halloween ….

  40. Thank you for sharing! This icing is THE BEST!

  41. What about using confectioners sugar instead of granulated? How much would you use?

  42. THis is SOOO close to my grandmother’s, only she used 1.5 oz of baking chocolate and 1/3 C evaporated milk, boiled for 3 minutes exactly (!!!, lol). It is the best frosting I’ve ever had, but for whatever reason, this is the first time I’ve found it outside her recipe collection. It’s not even in the Joy of Cooking, or any other website/cookbook I’ve searched. And people are missing out because of it!

    • Hi Jenny,
      How neat is that! This icing is my grandmother’s recipe that is out of this world delicious! It is definitely special – I’m glad you found it and hope that you enjoy it! Thanks so much!

  43. This is so like my French grandmothers fudgevfrosting. But I never had exact ingredient measurements. Now I do! ❤️❤️❤️

    • That is so neat! This is my southern Grandmother’s recipe we’ve loved for so many years. I’m thrilled you found it and enjoy it! Thanks so much for sharing this with me, Gwen! xo

  44. Hi Robyn,

    I made your cake with buttercream frosting for my son’s 5th birthday last year and it was a HIT! I’m planing on taking your same recipe, but in cupcake form, to my husband’s work tomorrow for his birthday! Have you ever used the fudge icing on the cupcakes? I like the idea that it hardens and might look better after I transport them.

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    • I can’t recall using this particular icing on cupcakes but it should be delicious. Do note that it’s not the same consistency as the buttercream frosting and it’s applied by pouring.
      I hope you enjoy it! Thanks!

  45. I’ve been looking for a recipe like this forever! My mother made cake with fudge icing when I was little and after she passed we couldn’t find her recipe.thank you so much for posting it!

  46. I made this because it sounds like my husband’s grandmother’s recipe. It looks pretty and tastes good, but is runny and isn’t thickening. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Kelley,
      I’m so glad that you enjoy the taste! It is just fabulous on Grandmother’s chocolate pound cake! YUM! It sounds like you may need to continue to cook until it thickens as listed in the recipe. xo

  47. I made this recipe once as written. It was great and well received…maybe too well received. The second time I made it it was a 3X recipe using powdered cacao and Madagascar 3X Vanilla. Everyone went through the roof! I think this is truly addicting. Now family and friends are trying to find new things to coat in the fudge icing.

  48. My mother and grandmother used to make a fudge icing like this one, but I did not have a recipe for it. My mother didn’t know where her recipe was and didn’t remember it from heart, so I hunted for this on-line. I was trying to find an icing that would make a gluten free, dairy free, egg free cake taste better than they usually do for one of my granddaughters, who unfortunately has severe food allergies to gluten, dairy, and eggs. Off course I had to substitute for the milk and butter, which is why, I think, it did not thicken as it is supposed to; however, I had seen a hack for that on another cooked icing recipe. I tried that hack, and it worked great. I also used a cake recipe that I found on-line, along with a couple of changes/additions from a second recipe that I had found for the cake, too. While we were on our way back home after the little party, my granddaughter called on her mom’s (my daughter’s) speaker phone and yelled, “Thank You!” She made me really glad that I went to the trouble. My daughter said that most recipes that my granddaughter can have turn out just edible, but this turned out really really good. Everyone enjoyed it, and needless to say, it didn’t last long….. I used 1/3 cup flax milk and 1/3 cup Silk vanilla almond milk instead of whole milk, and 1/2 cup earth balance soy free, non-GMO, Vegan, buttery spread instead of butter. When it did not thicken after adding the vanilla and buttery spread, I heated it back up to a hard boil again, and cooked it at a hard boil for another minute. When it still did not thicken, I used the hack I had seen on another recipe. I sprinkled powder sugar in until it started getting thick, all the while stirring and cooking it. When it finally started getting thick, I poured it directly onto the sheet cake. Yum, Yum!!! (but very rich…..)

  49. Needed a frosting for brownies, that I had all the ingredients for. This is by far the easiest and most delicious I’ve ever made! It is the only one I will use from now on! Thank you!!!

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