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Fondant vs. Royal Icing: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed & Dua Fatima || Published on May 29, 2024
Fondant provides a smooth, pliable cake covering for sculpting and decorating, while royal icing offers a hard, glossy finish ideal for delicate piping and detail work.
Fondant vs. Royal Icing

Key Differences

Fondant, a versatile sugary dough, is known for its pliability, allowing cake decorators to roll it out into sheets for a smooth, seamless cake covering. It's also used to mold shapes, figures, and decorations, providing a canvas for elaborate designs. On the other hand, royal icing, made from powdered sugar, egg whites, and sometimes lemon juice or cream of tartar, is prized for its stiff consistency that hardens when dried. This makes it perfect for intricate piped decorations, such as lace patterns, flowers, and lettering on cakes and cookies.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024
While fondant can be flavored and colored as desired, its texture and taste might not appeal to everyone; it's often peeled off before the cake is eaten. Royal icing's taste is generally sweeter and more intense due to its high sugar content, and it can also be colored, though its texture is hard and crunchy once set.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 29, 2024
Fondant's flexibility offers decorators the ability to create 3D decorations and themed cake toppers that stand up on their own. Conversely, royal icing is used to create delicate sugar flowers, detailed borders, and stringwork that adhere to the surface of cakes and cookies, providing depth and texture to decorations.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024
Maintaining the appearance of fondant requires it to be kept in a cool, dry place to prevent it from melting or becoming too soft. Royal icing, however, needs to dry completely at room temperature, making it more susceptible to humidity; it can become soft or even melt if exposed to moisture for too long.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024
Fondant decorations can be made in advance and stored until needed, offering convenience for complex cake designs. Royal icing decorations also can be prepared ahead of time, but they require careful storage to avoid moisture, which can dissolve or soften the hard icing.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 29, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Composition

Sugar, water, gelatin or marshmallows, and glycerin.
Powdered sugar, egg whites, and acid (lemon juice or cream of tartar).
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

Texture

Soft, pliable, and dough-like.
Stiff and glossy, hardens when dried.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 29, 2024

Use

Covering cakes, sculpting figures.
Piping details, gluing decorations.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

Taste

Mildly sweet, can be flavored.
Very sweet, can be flavored.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

Durability

Sensitive to heat and moisture, flexible.
Hardens and is durable, but susceptible to moisture.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 29, 2024
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Fondant and Royal Icing Definitions

Fondant

Malleable and can be shaped into figures or decorations.
He modeled a fondant rose to adorn the top of the cake.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Mar 05, 2024

Royal Icing

Susceptible to moisture, requires dry storage.
The royal icing decorations were stored in an airtight container to prevent softening.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Fondant

Can be flavored and colored as desired.
Vanilla fondant was used to match the cake's flavor profile.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Royal Icing

A hard, white icing made from powdered sugar and egg whites.
She piped royal icing flowers to decorate the cookies.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Mar 05, 2024

Fondant

Keeps moisture in cakes, maintaining their freshness.
The fondant layer helped keep the sponge cake moist for days.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024
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Royal Icing

Can be thinned for flooding cookies or thickened for piping.
She thinned the royal icing to evenly flood the sugar cookies.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Mar 05, 2024

Fondant

A soft, pliable sugar dough used for cake decoration.
She covered the wedding cake in pink fondant for a smooth finish.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Mar 05, 2024

Royal Icing

Dries to a smooth, hard finish ideal for detailed work.
Royal icing was used to create intricate lace patterns on the cake.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Fondant

Edible icing that can be rolled out to cover cakes.
Fondant provides a canvas for painting and adding decorative elements.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Royal Icing

Used for gluing gingerbread house pieces together.
They used royal icing to assemble and decorate the gingerbread house.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Fondant

A sweet creamy sugar paste used in candies and icings.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Fondant

A candy containing this paste.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Fondant

A flavored, creamy sugar preparation, used for icing cakes or as a base for candies.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Fondant

A kind of soft candy, made of a thick creamy sugar paste by boiling solutions to the point of crystallization, and usually molded; as, cherry fondant.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Fondant

Candy made of a thick creamy sugar paste
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 05, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is royal icing?

Royal icing is a mixture of powdered sugar and egg whites that hardens to a smooth finish, used for piping and decorating baked goods.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

How should fondant-covered cakes be stored?

Fondant-covered cakes should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent the fondant from melting or becoming too soft.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

Is royal icing suitable for all types of cakes?

Royal icing is best suited for firmer cakes and cookies as it dries hard and may be too heavy for softer, more delicate cakes.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

What makes fondant different from other icings?

Fondant's unique pliability allows it to be used for both covering cakes and creating 3D decorations.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 29, 2024

How do you make fondant shiny?

Fondant can be made shiny by brushing it with a mixture of corn syrup and water or using edible glaze sprays.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
May 29, 2024

Can fondant be flavored?

Yes, fondant can be flavored and colored as desired to match the cake's theme or taste preferences.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

Does royal icing dry hard?

Yes, royal icing dries to a hard, smooth finish, making it ideal for detailed decorations.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 29, 2024

How do you apply fondant to a cake?

Fondant is rolled out and then draped over the cake, smoothed to cover it completely.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
May 29, 2024

Why is royal icing preferred for detailed piping?

Its stiff consistency allows for precise, intricate designs that hold their shape once dried.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 29, 2024

What are the main ingredients in fondant?

The main ingredients in fondant are sugar, water, and usually gelatin or marshmallows, along with glycerin to keep it soft.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 29, 2024

What is fondant?

Fondant is a soft, pliable sugar dough used for covering and decorating cakes.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 29, 2024

Is fondant edible?

While fondant is edible, some people choose to remove it before eating due to its texture and taste.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

Can royal icing decorations be made in advance?

Yes, royal icing decorations can be made ahead of time and stored properly to maintain their shape and texture.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
May 29, 2024

Can you color royal icing?

Yes, royal icing can be colored with food coloring to match any design scheme.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

How is royal icing used in cake decorating?

Royal icing is used for piping detailed decorations like borders, flowers, and lettering on cakes.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 29, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.
Dua Fatima
Co-written by
Dua Fatima

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