Ice cream sauce fans, get ready to wow your family, your guests, and even yourself with this old-fashioned hot fudge sauce recipe that is The Best.

This deeply flavorful hot fudge sauce is the same sauce I made in huge quantities at both fine dining restaurants I worked in. It’s the kind of sauce that solidifies into chewy goodness in the fridge and melts to pourable perfection when warmed.

Hands down my favorite and (subjectively) the best hot fudge sauce recipe for pretty much any of my ice cream recipes! For ease of browsing, here are all of my dessert sauces. Thanks for stopping by!

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A glass jar full of fudge sauce with a spoon in it. It's shot on small gray tiles with a couple of cutting boards propped up in the background.

Watch the web story for my Absolute Best Hot Fudge Sauce, you guys!

The Best Hot Fudge Sauce, At a Glance

✔️Skill Level: Beginner
✔️Skills: Stirring, Simmering
✔️Type: Dessert Sauce
✔️Number of Ingredients: 11
✔️Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
✔️Cook Time: 25 minutes
✔️Yield: 32-36 cookies

Jump Straight to the Recipe

This is a superb hot fudge sauce recipe! I have made it twice now. I found I did not need to strain the sauce as it is pretty smooth as is. It is a very easy recipe to follow with big flavour!

Reader C. Teshima

What makes this the best?

This ice cream sauce is not the best because it has the fewest ingredients. No, that prize goes to good old ganache which makes a fine ice cream topping, clocking in at 2 or maybe 3 ingredients.

If you’re looking for good, old-fashioned hot fudge sauce, though, you need look no further.

A glass jar full of dark brown hot fudge sauce on a jade green tile surface with a beige wooden background. There is a white ceramic spoon balanced on top of the jar, and fudge sauce from the spoon is running down the side of the jar.

Here are the things that make this fudge sauce the best:

  • It gets thick and a bit chewy when cold.
  • You have to heat up in order to pour it.
  • It has a deep, rich flavor that is exactly what is needed to set off a perfect vanilla ice cream. Or coffee ice cream.
  • There is enough salt in it to round out the flavors, counteract any bitterness that might be present if you use a really dark chocolate, and to make the sauce sparkle on your tongue. 
  • You can vary the flavor based on your preferences.

It is truly an old-fashioned fudge sauce with you’re going to want to make again and again.

When you do make this recipe, it will help me and other readers if you:
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Thank you! ❤️

Divine!!! Is the word that best describes this Hot fudge sauce.

I was looking for a recipe for one this morning and stumbled upon this on on my Pinterest account and my word I will not be looking for another any time soon.

Laura Schrock from Food In The Myakka Kitchen

Ingredients and Substitutions

Images of all the ingredients needed to make hot fudge sauce, labeled and shot on a white background.

NOTE: If you don’t need all the step-by-step instructions, feel free to jump straight to the recipe.

The ingredient list is actually relatively long, but the process is pretty straightforward. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • butter: the fat helps to carry the flavor and provide body. If you don’t have unsalted butter, use salted, but you may have to dial back amount of additional salt you use
  • sugar: provides the sweetness and helps to give the sauce the traditional “chewy” texture of old time soda fountain hot fudge sauce. You can substitute light brown sugar, 1:1, if you would rather
  • corn syrup: light or dark. Helps to prevent crystallization and provides more of the chewy texture we’re going for
  • heavy cream: provides body and volume as well as additional milk fat. The dairy solids in the cream will brown as you cook the base, adding to flavor complexity
  • salt: enhances the flavor and counteracts any bitterness from the cocoa powder
  • milk: provides more volume without adding much additional fat. Also adds more dairy solids that will brown as they cook
  • cocoa powder: provides the chocolate flavor. Use the best quality you can get, although honestly any will do. I make mine with Hershey’s (or Ghirardelli when I can find it) and it’s fantastic, either way. DO NOT use cacao powder which is not roasted or heated during processing. It is too delicate to provide the punch of chocolate flavor we are looking for
  • water (or coffee): gives you something to make the cocoa powder paste with. If you use coffee, it will help to deepen the chocolate flavor just a touch
  • light rum: adds enough alcohol to bring out alcohol-soluble flavors without being a prominent flavor itself. You can certainly sub in your favorite liquor or liqueur here, depending on what flavor you’re going for. You can also leave the alcohol out entirely if alcohol is an issue for you. Coffee makes an excellent substitution here, and you will not be able to taste it in the final sauce
  • vanilla: chocolate’s complement. Must have! You don’t have to use the top quality stuff, but adding vanilla helps to round out the flavors
  • semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate: adds additional chocolate flavor plus some cocoa butter for body

How to Make Hot Fudge

There are two basic components to this sauce:

  1. dairy and sugar
  2. chocolate and flavorings

The goal is to boil the dairy to concentrate the flavors and reduce the liquid and then pour that over the chocolate and whisk to combine.

Here’s a closer look at that procedure.

A collage of 4 images showing the dairy and sugar portion of my hot fudge sauce recipe boiling away in a pan and deepening in color. The last image shows an instant read thermometer in the mix reading 224F.

You have 2 “mixtures” to deal with.

For the dairy portion, mix heavy cream, milk, sugar, corn syrup, and salt together in a medium saucepan.

Bring it to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture caramelizes but isn’t too, too thick.

The magic temperature, if you want to use your instant read thermometer is 224-225F. This is technically the thread stage, and if this was the only component of the sauce, it would stay runny in the fridge.

But since the other part of the sauce contains a lot of chocolate, it sets up very thick, almost like peanut butter.

And that’s what gives you that chew when the warmed up sauce hits cold ice cream. Magic!

All the rest of the ingredients go into a large bowl or pitcher that holds at least 1 quart/1 liter.

A collage of 4 images showing how to finish making fudge sauce: 1)chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and flavorings in a large, glass bowl. 2)Pouring the hot, caramelized dairy mixture into the bowl of chocolate. 3)Whisking the two together until smooth, shiny, and dark brown. 4)Straining the mixture for an extra-smooth texture.
  1. Chocolate, cocoa powder, rum (if using), vanilla, and water go into the bowl.
  2. Once the dairy is beautifully caramelized, pour it over the chocolate.
  3. Whisk until smooth.
  4. For the smoothest texture, strain through a fine-mesh strainer. This is an optional step, but since it doesn’t take much time, I usually strain mine.

Fudge Sauce Variations

This sauce can be flavored in many ways. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Add a bit of orange zest and/or cinnamon to the boil
  • Switch out the rum for orange liqueur.
  • Use your favorite alcohol–a liquor or liqueur.
  • Add some peppermint extract.
  • Whisk in powdered freeze-dried raspberries or other freeze-dried fruits.
  • Add some heat in the form of chipotle pepper or smoked hot paprika

Play with this sauce and make it your own.

When you want to relive your visits to the soda fountain where the fudge sauce was thick and rich and tasted of fudge and not “brown,” then please make it according to the original recipe which calls for light rum and vanilla.

This sauce really is the best! The first time I made it exactly as written and it was so good it only lasted a couple days.

Reader Carolyn

Tools and equipment you might need

Aside from a scale, which I hope you already own, you’ll also need a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, a nice large bowl for mixing up the cocoa paste, and a fine mesh strainer.

Keep your hot fudge sauce in 8 oz Ball Jars or use fancy Weck canning jars if you’re going to give some as gifts.

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NOTE: Since this is dairy-based, it is not recommended to can this. I recommend the above canning jars are just for storing the sauce, not canning it.

Jenni Says: If you are not averse to having alcohol but don’t happen to have any on hand, just use vanilla extract in place of the rum. I’ve done that before, and it’s delicious! If you want to make your sauce alcohol-free, substitute coffee for the rum.

Hot Fudge Sauce Q & A

A white spoon with hot fudge sauce drizzling off it and back into the jar below.
What can I substitute for the alcohol?

Since you add the boiled mixture to the alcohol mixture off the heat, none of the alcohol boils away. And even if you do boil it, while most will boil off, not all will. If for any reason you cannot have alcohol, you can substitute 2 Tablespoons of very strong coffee.

My hot fudge gets hard when it hits the ice cream. How do I thin it out so this doesn’t happen?

If you follow my advice to cook to no more that 225F, you shouldn’t have any issues. The fudge sauce will get chewy but not hard on ice cream. If you overcook and it does get too hard on ice cream, reheat the batch with a bit more cream or milk to loosen it up a bit.

My hot fudge sauce is too thin. How do I thicken it up?

When you pour your fudge sauce on your ice cream and it seems too thin, all running off and into the bottom of your bowl, scrape the rest of the sauce back into a pan, bring it to a boil, and let it boil for a couple of minutes th thicken it up. If using a thermometer, bring the sauce to about 225F.

Do I have to caramelize the dairy mixture?

While it’s optional, Tangela shares this comment:

Thank you so much for this recipe–I made a batch and LOVE it!
I **think** that I undercooked the dairy mixture–I was afraid of scorching it–I will bravely let it go another few shades darker next time in order to get the “chewy” factor.

I also made bomb hot chocolate using it!

Reader Tangela
A pot of boiling cream, sugar, and butter that is a light caramel color.
Taking the time to caramelize the sugar/dairy mixture adds an extra layer of flavor and yields a fudge sauce with a chewy texture. When cooking, shoot for 224-225F.

Caramelizing the sugar/dairy does a couple of things:

  • It evaporates out some of the water, concentrating the flavor and allowing for a thicker sauce and that old-fashioned chewy texture that is so incredibly addictive.
  • The caramelized sugar and milk solids lend a deep, complex base flavor that you would not get if you don’t take this step.

If you want to use your instant-read thermometer to check doneness rather than just going by color, shoot for 224F/107C.

Here’s another comment in support of taking the time to caramelize the dairy in your hot fudge sauce so it really will be the best:

Gave this a try. followed directions. no alcohol.

I was nervous about the boil wait. But– Do THIS PART!!!

I couldn’t believe how creamy, rich and chewy-thick . Heated up serving 30 seconds in microwave from fridge–PERFECTION!!!

I WILL ONLY MAKE this very recipe!!! Thank You!!!

Pinner Julie

Pro Tip

The hotter you cook your sauce, the thicker it will be upon cooling. I generally go with the color of the dairy rather than whipping out my instant-read. Take the dairy to a light beige color, and it will still be fairly liquid (although thick) upon cooling. Take it to medium beige, and your fudge sauce will be more solid once chilled.

For me, the magic temperature for cooking the dairy portion is 225F/107C.

Unless you plan on eating it straight from the jar with a spoon, always reheat the sauce before serving.

Warning: Once you share this, you’ll have to make it over and over and over since people will demand it whenever they come over to your house!

Hot Fudge Sauce Lover Lindsey

Quicker Options

A square image looking down into a jar of fudge sauce with a spoon in it.

If you don’t have time to boil a big old pot of ingredients on the stove for a long time, you can just make some ganache.

I also recommend trying my Quick Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe which takes a couple of shortcuts to get to long-cooked flavor in way less time.

And if you want to go really old school, make some chocolate syrup. I swear it is So Good either on ice cream or in chocolate milk.

Serving Suggestions

A shot of ice cream in a white dish with chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top.

Aside from pouring it over ice cream, you can also use the sauce to make chocolate milk or hot chocolate. Just stir enough into hot or cold milk until you like the chocolate-ness level and enjoy.

Here are some other ideas:

A close-up image looking into a pale blue bowl with vanilla yogurt, hot fudge sauce, and granola in it.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

A Note About Measurements

NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids. Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.

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03/07/2024 05:03 pm GMT
5 golden stars for rating recipes
A square image looking down into a jar of fudge sauce with a spoon in it.

The Best Hot Fudge Sauce in the World

Jennifer Field
This rich, deeply fudgy old fashioned fudge sauce attains incredible complexity and depth two ways. First, the addition of a touch of alcohol brings out alcohol-soluble flavors. Starting with a lightly caramelized base affords more depth and that bit of chew and stretch you expect from an excellent fudge sauce. A full recipe yields over a quart, so you can either half the recipe or make the full recipe and share with friends. NOTE: All ounce measurements are by WEIGHT and not VOLUME.
4.49 from 282 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert Sauces
Cuisine American
Servings 1 + quart
Calories 175 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 oz unsalted butter (1 stick or 112 grams)
  • 8 oz granulated sugar (1 slightly generous cup or 224 grams)
  • 11.75 oz by WEIGHT light or dark corn syrup, (1 cup or 329 grams)
  • 16 oz heavy cream (1 pint, 2 cups or 448 grams)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5.3 oz whole milk (about 2/3 cup or 149 grams)
  • .67 oz cocoa powder (1/4 cup or 19 grams)
  • 1.3 oz water (2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water or 36 grams)
  • 1 oz light rum (2 Tablespoons or 28 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 8 oz excellent quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or good quality chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60%, 1 1/2 cups or 224 grams)

Instructions
 

  • Place the butter, sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, salt and milk in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the cocoa powder, water, rum and vanilla into a thin paste.
  • Place the cocoa paste in a large bowl.
  • Chop the chocolate into small pieces (or use excellent quality chocolate chips or paillettes) and add to the bowl.
  • When the dairy comes to a boil, regulate the heat so it maintains a slow boil but doesn't boil up in the pan.
  • Stir the dairy frequently and boil until it reaches a light caramel color, about 20-30 minutes (less time if you half the recipe). You don't necessarily want the mixture to be super thick, but you do want it a few shades darker than when you started. If you have an instant-read thermometer, the ideal temperature to shoot for is 224F.
  • Once the dairy is a lovely shade of deep beige, pour it into the bowl with the chopped chocolate and cocoa paste. Allow it to sit for a minute or two and then whisk until smooth.
  • Optional: Strain it just to make sure it is completely smooth.
  • Store in jars in the fridge.
  • If you used fresh dairy, the hot fudge sauce will keep for a good 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. If your dairy was close to the expiration date, use the sauce up within 5-7 days.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Video

Notes

Flavor Variations

Add some orange zest and cinnamon to the cocoa powder paste
Add a little bit of mint extract or a very few drops of mint oil
cinnamon plus some cayenne or ground chipotle would make a great Mexican-style fudge sauce

Storing

Keep sauce tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It will probably be good for longer than that, but use your best judgment.
You can freeze the sauce for longer storage.
This sauce is not suitable for canning unless you are well-versed in canning dairy products.

Nutrition

Calories: 175kcalCarbohydrates: 20.1gProtein: 1.3gFat: 10.6gSaturated Fat: 6.8gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 88mgFiber: 0.7gSugar: 13.6g
Keyword fudge sauce, hot fudge sauce, ice cream topping
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170 Comments

  1. Can you use Frys Cocoa in this recipe? Also, you stated you use Hersheys. But what kind of Hershey’s? Is it the Hersheys natural cocoa unsweetened powder or the 100% cacao unsweetened brand? Don’t want to make this and ruin the recipe due to the type of cocoa.

    1. Hey, Corrie! Honestly, any cocoa powder you like will work. You’re right to check though. I would choose cocoa powder over cacao since most health benefits of using a raw cacao are going to be boiled away. I’ve made this with everything from Hershey’s and Nestle 100% cocoa powder to fancy brands like Valrhona when I was at the restaurant. I’ve never had a bad batch. I really hope you enjoy it. Oh, and just to make sure you saw: if you choose to use honey or another liquid sweetener over corn syrup, you may need to increase the cocoa powder and the chopped chocolate by a little bit so the overall flavor is balanced. Enjoy!

  2. 5 stars
    I just made this twice, and am THRILLED to say the least! The first time I followed the recipe using Ghirardelli 48% cacao chocolate chips. It tasted great, even cold, like tootsie rolls. The second time I used 60% cacao Ghirardelli chips and coffee instead of water. WOW! It’s rich and velvety and chewy and decadent! I am so impressed with the results! Both times I weighed everything. (I actually prefer using weight rather than volume, as it’s more exact) and I patiently brought it to 224/225 both times, using an instant reax thermometer. I used light rum and vanilla as listed in the ingredients both times. This is TO DIE FOR fudge sauce! THANK YOU!

    1. Oh, MaryLou, I am so happy!! I love your description–you so accurately capture it: rich and velvety and chewy and decadent! I’m also glad you are comfortable using a kitchen scale. It really is best for getting the most accurate and consistent results. Thank you for taking the time to send some feedback–enjoy every bite!

  3. 5 stars
    If you love chocolate you will love this recipe . Definitely lives up it’s title.. This is the best recipe for the best hot fudge sauce ever. It’s the only one I make anymore.

  4. 5 stars
    I usually make a 2-minute blender hot fudge but I wanted to try to get that “chew” that you find in icecream shops. This taste good but I don’t feel a “chew” to it. I have one of those glass top stoves and it is very difficult to just temperature. It would be helpful for me if I knew the temperature to cook the mixture to. I used dark corn syrup in a dark pan so I couldn’t really go by color, just time

    1. The chew doesn’t happen until you chill it, either in the fridge or by pouring it on ice cream. If it doesn’t have it, heat it back up and simmer some more. I’d say take it to 230-232F. Enjoy!

    1. I address substitutions for the rum in the post. I either up the vanilla or add some coffee. I have never tried whipping it to see if it would work as a frosting, but if you decide to give it a shot, please report back. Enjoy!

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