How to Choose Between Buttercream and Fondant

Learn more about the best frosting choice for your wedding cake.

How to Choose Between Buttercream and Fondant

Photo: This Modern Romance

fondant or buttercream wedding cake

There is one great debate in the world of wedding cakes. It’s not about flavors or how many dowels to use for each tier. It’s all about frosting: buttercream or fondant. The decision can affect what design you have for your confection, so it’s important to look carefully at the benefits and downsides of each frosting option before any other cake-based decision is made.  

Fondant is easy to work with when creating an elaborately designed cake to cater to your wedding theme. It is almost like clay and can be molded to make shapes or be perfectly smoothed out for a clean finish. It is also durable in the heat and humidity, making fondant a prudent choice for an outdoor summer wedding. However, it’s also higher maintenance and harder to store. Partially because of this, fondant tends to be more expensive than the alternative, and there’s a good chance your guests won’t even eat that layer. Many people find fondant to be overly sweet and far less appealing to eat than it is to look at.

Buttercream, on the other hand, can be made in nearly every flavor and tends to have a more subtle sweetness. Because it is softer than the alternative, buttercream is also better for piping and thus creating more intricate lacy designs or scrollwork. It is also easier to store because it is less likely to crack or harden. An extremely skilled cake designer can make buttercream look as smooth as fondant, but that is not something that can be counted on. Adding fresh flowers to a cake is more effective with buttercream because the frosting is soft enough for the blossoms to stick. However, it’s probably best to avoid the heat and outdoors, as buttercream has unfortunately been known to melt in overly warm conditions.

The decision really comes down to what you value the most for your wedding cake: looks or taste? Some people have taken to putting a thin layer of fondant over a layer of buttercream to get the best of both worlds, though reports vary on how effective that method is on achieving the look of fondant with the taste of buttercream.

For more confection inspiration, visit our Cakes & Desserts gallery!

Opening photo by Embrace Life Photography