Fondant vs. Buttercream: Appearance, Price, Durability, and Taste

differences of fondant and buttercream
Photography Courtesy of Photos by Wendy G., Cake by Midway Country Corner Bakery

The majority of all wedding cakes are made with a smooth, flawless layer of icing on top. If brides are interested in this type of cake, then the first decision they will need to make is whether they want to use buttercream icing or fondant.

Fondant is a sweet icing made of sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin. Buttercream, like its name suggests, is made with butter, sugar, and milk. Both types of icing are rolled out flat with a rolling pin, draped over the wedding cake, smoothed down, and dried to create a porcelain-like finish.

Let’s see how buttercream and fondant stack up in terms of appearance, price, durability, and taste.


The smooth, sleek look of fondant is hard to duplicate. The cakes featured in wedding magazines are almost always fondant cakes because of their superior workability. If how the cake looks in pictures is your main concern, fondant is probably the way to go.

Though it’s not easy to recreate a fondant look with buttercream, it’s possible in the hands of an experienced cake decorator. If you want the look of rolled fondant but have a strong preference for buttercream, find a baker who is experienced with decorating buttercream cakes and has an extensive portfolio to show you.


fondant vs buttercream, the differences for wedding cakes
Photo Courtesy of DeLane Robinson Photography

Fondant is approximately three times more expensive than buttercream icing. With wedding cake running between $3 and $10 a slice, many brides and grooms choose buttercream because fondant is simply out of their budget.

Of course, if you have your heart set on a fondant cake then you may be able to reduce costs slightly by forgoing some of the more elaborate piped icing decorations on top and relying on the glossy fondant finish to wow your guests.


How your cake icing holds up over a long period of time is important, especially if your reception is outdoors in hot weather. Because it is made from butter, buttercream icing softens and melts in the heat. Some bakers substitute shortening for butter to make it less vulnerable to high temperatures.

Fondant stands up better to hot temperatures, but is more susceptible to drying out. Many bakers put a layer of buttercream underneath the fondant to help it stick and retain moisture so it doesn’t crack.


taste of buttercream vs fondant frosting for wedding cakes
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Aside from the price, taste is the main reason brides choose buttercream icing over fondant for their wedding cake. Fondant’s bland taste and rubbery, waxy texture causes many a wedding guest to peel off their fondant and just eat the cake! However, you can ask your baker about several new flavored fondants to improve the taste: marshmallow fondant and white chocolate fondant are some of the most popular.

Buttercream is light and buttery. Some people compare its texture to whipped cream or mousse. Most prefer the taste of buttercream to fondant, hands down. Check whether your baker plans to use shortening or real butter in your icing, which will affect the taste. If taste is important to you on your wedding day, make sure to schedule a cake tasting with your baker before making your final decision.

The choice between fondant or buttercream depends on a lot of factors, so do some thinking first about what is most important to you in your wedding cake: looks or taste? price or appearance? The answers to those questions, along with the advice of your baker, can help steer you toward the right decision.

♥ Jenny Evans
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