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Fondant vs. Gum Paste (Differences, Similarities, & Which to Choose)

Fondant vs. Gum Paste (Differences, Similarities, & Which to Choose)

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Whether you’re a beginner baker or embarking on your next cake decorating project, you’re likely wondering about the difference between fondant vs. gum paste.

While both are types of icing used to decorate cakes, they vary in taste, consistency, uses, and ingredients.

For instance, if you’re trying to recreate a Disney princess on top of your cake, you’ll want to reach for the firmer gum paste.

Meanwhile, you can choose the fondant to smoothen your cake and paint a unique pattern over the layer.

Stick around to learn more about fondant vs. gum paste and how both toppings can take your cake garnishes to the next level.

Fondant Overview

Fondant is an edible decorating layer that garnishes multiple desserts, such as cakes, candies, and cupcakes.

It creates a smooth surface on top of your pastry, giving a blank canvas effect to unleash your creative outlet.

You can customize the icing using different amounts of food coloring and shimmering ingredients.

Gum Paste Overview

Like fondant, gum paste is also a decorating medium for various pastries. The icing’s consistency is pliable but not tacky.

It hardens well to create intricate figurines and molds. It maintains its shape for longer thanks to its stiffness as it dries.

You can also stretch gum paste thinly without worrying about tears. This feature is useful when modeling petals to make them appear more life-like.

Differences Between Fondant and Gum Paste

In the cake decorating platform, fondant and gum paste are widely used to capture the realistic features of nature or objects.

That said, bakers use both in different methods and applications. You can narrow the differences to ingredients, uses, firmness, and taste.


Fondant and gum paste vary ingredient-wise. The prior usually contains sugar, water, and corn syrup.

In some cases, bakers add gelatin or glycerin to increase the fondant’s elasticity and make it easier to work with.

On the other hand, gum paste contains specialized ingredients, such as Gum Tex or Gum Tragacanth.


Gum paste and fondant have different uses when adorning pastries. Here are the applications for each option below.


Fondant primarily acts as a cake cover to create a flat workable surface. Its soft texture allows you to cut cleaner slices.

You can also use fondant to make a flat decorating surface for your cookies and cupcakes. The topping can help you create simple designs and patterns.

If you try to create tall figurines or shapes with fondant, they’ll likely sag and lose their shape faster than when using gum paste.

Gum Paste

Due to gum paste’s harder consistency, you can use it to mold 3D shapes and mold realistic figurines and flowers.

Bakers prefer using it for molding or sculpting because it holds its shape over time. Gum paste gives you a better opportunity to craft detailed decorations.

If you try to cover your cake with the topping, you’ll likely need an electric saw rather than a knife to cut through the hard exterior.


One of the most prominent differences between fondant and gum paste is their firmness and consistency.


When holding a piece of fondant in your hands, it’ll feel soft and malleable. It’ll feel extra pliable if you use a gelatin product.

Since the icing is soft, it has a lesser chance of drying out as quickly. In turn, you won’t have to worry about cracks.

Even as the fondant dries, it remains somewhat stretchy. You can recover its full elasticity by kneading it with your shortening-covered hands.

Fondant is also relatively stickier, which can complicate things when creating a figurine or flower.

Gum Paste

Gum Paste holds a firmer texture than fondant, especially when left to dry.

After adding your last touches to your gum paste roses, they’ve likely already stiffened and held their shape.

You can poke them into your cake without worrying about them sagging or sticking. That said, gum paste’s rigidity proves most useful with complex designs.

For instance, let’s assume you’re creating a Star Wars-themed cake or cupcake and want to recreate the franchise’s epic lightsabers.

If you use fondant, the stick shapes will likely frustrate you when creating them due to their excessive softness.

When using gum paste, you just need to roll a colored piece, allow it to dry, and stick it into your cake.


Gum paste and fondant hold high volumes of sugar. Nonetheless, you can still pick up on some taste differences.


Fondant notoriously gets a lot of hate for its taste. Several people compare its taste to plastic or play dough due to the similarity in texture.

Besides that, it’s mostly sugar. It eats similar to a marshmallow since it has a soft consistency.

Gum Paste

Like fondant, gum paste is also a sugar-filled topping. Nevertheless, the difference in taste comes with the bite.

Gum paste is much firmer and eats like a sugar cracker. Since the topping’s prime purpose is cake decorating, most people skip the extra sugar from gum paste.

It’s usually too rigid and sweet to enjoy, so people just appreciate the artistic creations and eat the cake underneath.

Similarities Between Fondant and Gum Paste

Fondant and gum paste are sugar-filled toppings for cake decorating. Despite their several differences, they’re both stored similarly.


Storing fondant and gum paste first involves applying a coating of vegetable shortening to keep it hydrated. Then, cover the piece with plastic wrap and store it in a sealed bag.

Keep the bag at room temperature for up to two weeks. Don’t place it in the refrigerator, or it’ll harden faster.

Fondant vs. Gum Paste: Pros and Cons

If you’re choosing between gum paste and fondant for your cake decoration, check the pros and cons of each to see which will better suit your needs.

Pros of Fondant

  • Clean Appearance: Fondant offers a smooth finish to every cake, giving you a flat surface to work your cake decorating magic.
  • Crisp Coloration: The icing is exceptionally versatile color-wise. You can find multiple color options in commercial fondant. With food coloring, you can create a diverse palette.
  • Long Storage: You can store fondant for up to two weeks in the right conditions.

Cons of Fondant

  • Unappealing Taste: Taste-wise, a mixture of gelatin, sugar, and syrup isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
  • Temperature Sensitive: Working with fondant can be challenging since it softens as you work through it.
  • Lacks Firmness: You can’t create characters or animals using fondant unless you want them to look like the ones from “Nailed It.”

Pros of Gum Paste

  • Stability: Gum paste has better structural integrity than fondant. You can rely on it to keep your masterpieces in shape for longer.
  • Offers Detail: Whether you’re creating a face, painting, or building, gum paste provides superior precision.
  • Tear-proof: When creating delicate flower petals, fondant tends to tear. Meanwhile, you can roll out gum paste into much thinner layers to create a realistic ripple effect.

Cons of Gum Paste

  • Hard to Eat: In most cases, people avoid consuming gum paste. It’s usually too hard to eat and only tastes like sugar.
  • Not Suitable for Layers: If you try to layer a cake with gum paste, cutting into it is a recipe for disaster. You’ll likely damage the cake underneath as you apply the extra pressure.
  • Tends to Crust: If you leave gum paste out for too long unwrapped, it’ll likely dry out and crack. Consequently, if you make delicate shapes like flowers, they’ll crumble after prolonged environmental exposure.

Why Do You Mix Fondant and Gum Paste?

Mixing fondant and gum paste brings out the best features in both toppings. You can have the malleability of fondant combined with the firmness of gum paste.

You can use a 50/50 ratio to create the ideal mixture for smooth but elaborate designs. In turn, the technique works for creating figurines and 3D shapes.

Fondant or Gum Paste for Figurines?

You’ll want to reach for the gum paste if you’re creating figurines. It’ll give you more precise results that are longer-lasting as well.

Gum paste allows you to mold all sorts of figurine shapes, from humans to animals.

They’ll be ideal when creating wedding topper figurines. You can better capture the delicacy of a draped wedding dress or the sharpness of a suit.

If you’re throwing a jungle-themed birthday for your child, choosing gum paste for your animal figurines will guarantee you a few “wows” from your guests.

Final Thoughts

Is fondant or gum paste better? Well, it depends on what you’re using the topping for. Fondant works better as a smoothing layer on top of cakes and other pastries.

It also works well for creating rope, stripes, and other patterns. Gum paste is a more well-suited choice for 3D creations and figurines because of its rigidity.

Better yet, you can mix both icings and create a flexible yet firm topping ideal for all sorts of cake decorating purposes. Overall, we hope your cake will taste as good as it looks.

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