Penuche Fudge

Easy penuche fudge recipe

The Spruce Eats/Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
151 Calories
5g Fat
26g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 151
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 13mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 10%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 1g
Calcium 35mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Penuche is a well-known type of candy in the Southern U.S. as well as in the northern regions of Connecticut and Massachusetts, where whaling boat crews in the 18th-century brought home recipes of caramelized brown sugar and milk from Portugal and Spain (the original name is Panocha). Also famous in Hawaii, perhaps also due to the travels of fishing and whaling crews, it should become familiar everywhere, as it's delicious and easy to make.

Southerners like to add pecans for texture, but the fudge by itself is really delicious. Add walnuts, pistachios, almonds, pepitas, or sunflower seeds – or a combination of two or three – to make a crunchy and creamy fudge.

As in any candy making, keep pets and kids out of the kitchen, wear protective gear like gloves and an apron, wear shoes to avoid slipping when handling hot candy, and have a candy thermometer at hand to check your temperature to avoid overcooking. This recipe yields better results when using a standing mixer, as beating it by hand can prove difficult, although not impossible.


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for penuche fudge
    The Spruce Eats/Julia Hartbeck
  2. Spray a 9-inch square pan with nonstick baking spray or lightly grease with butter or margarine. Line the pan with plastic wrap; set aside.

    Spray pan
    The Spruce Eats/Julia Hartbeck
  3. Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl and set aside.

    Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl
    The Spruce Eats/Julia Hartbeck
  4. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the evaporated milk, brown sugar, butter, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.

    Combine cocoa and butter
    The Spruce Eats/Julia Hartbeck
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture registers 236 F on a candy thermometer (about 25 to 30 minutes), or until the candy reaches the soft ball stage.

    Reduce heat
    The Spruce Eats/Julia Hartbeck
  6. Pour into a heatproof bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer. Beat in the sifted powdered sugar, a little at a time, methodically scraping the sides of the bowl and continuing with the beating until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Slowly beat in vanilla and chopped nuts, if using.

    Pour into bowl
    The Spruce Eats/Julia Hartbeck
  7. Spread in the prepared pan. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes, or until firm.

    The Spruce Eats/Julia Hartbeck
  8. Turn out of the pan and peel off plastic. Cut into small squares.

    Cut into squares
    The Spruce Eats/Julia Hartbeck
  9. Enjoy!

Different Fudge Flavors

If you want to jazz up your flavors, we recommend:

  • Replace the 1 teaspoon of vanilla with 1/2 teaspoon banana extract and 1/2 teaspoon caramel extract. When using walnuts, the banana flavor pairs wonderfully.
  • Try using 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of pear extract if using pecans.
  • Add 1 ounce of melted dark chocolate when beating the penuche.
  • Add 1/4 cup of Goji berries or 1/4 cup of dried tart cherries.