Ahhhh, fondant. I honestly can’t think of a single pastry ingredient I hear disparaged so frequently. I’ve encountered all the standard complaints… “It tastes terrible!” “Everyone just peels it off anyway!” “The texture is so chewy and gross!”
And you know what? For many of the fondants on the market, that’s all true. The most commonly used fondants DO taste terrible. They ARE chewy and gross. For the better part of a decade I was convinced that using fondant was making a concession, and that I wouldn’t find something I felt truly good about offering people.
My friends, I no longer think this. In fact, I love fondant. I hand fondant figurines and chunks of it to friends and family and beg them to taste it, on its own, and try and tell me it’s bad. I’ll be posting an affiliate link for my favorite fondant at the end of this entry, but I’m definitely not getting paid to say any of this… I just have strong feelings about fondant.
What better way to express those feelings than with a mega review post about fondant brands? In that spirit, I’ve evaluated all the fondants I have tried with 4 criteria, on a scale of 1-5:
Flavor: Pretty straightforward. Is it too sweet? If there’s additional flavoring, is it any good?
Color: When rolled out, is it translucent or opaque? Does the white base tend to be pure white, or off white?
Workability: Does it form “elephant skin”? How thinly can it be rolled without tearing? How’s the elasticity? Do imperfections buff out easily or is it a chore?
Sculptability: How good is it for figurines?
For the sake of fairness these will hold equal weight, but for me personally it is ALL about the flavor and workability ratings.
Flavor: 2/5. The taste is pretty standard “neutral sweet.” Too sweet for me, personally, but others seem to like it.
Color: 5/5. Nice and opaque, and a true white color. Well done, FondX.
Workability: 3/5 It has a tendency to rip, and can’t be rolled out as thinly as some other brands… which means you’ll use more of it. That said, the workability isn’t terrible, it could just be better.
Sculptability: 3/5 Normal. It’s a bit soft, so it definitely requires tylose.
Overall Score: 3.25/5
Thoughts: I know some chefs who swear by FondX. Personally, I just tend to think of it as a slightly leveled up Satinice. Speaking of which…
Flavor: 2/5 Standard bland/sweet taste.
Color: 4/5 Nice opacity, pretty true white.
Workability: 2/5 Tends to rip and form elephant skin. Can’t be rolled out very thinly. It’s okay to work with, but I’m spoiled by other brands and these issues really bug me.
Sculptability: 3/5 It’s pretty much average! It’s easier to sculpt with than say, Wilton, since the “elephant skin” effect doesn’t kick in as quickly.
Overall Score: 2.75/5
Thoughts: Satinice seems to be one of the most common fondants used in bakeries, which I am sure is largely due to how low the price is when you buy in bulk. Since the lack of workability means you’ve got to use twice as much, the price argument doesn’t sway me one bit.
Flavor: 1/5 A mouth full of chewy sugar, basically.
Color: 4/5 At least it’s opaque?
Workability: 1/5 Tears, forms elephant skin, has to be rolled thickly to get a decent finish… just generally a nightmare.
Sculptability: 1/5 It cracks and forms elephant skin so quickly that there is no point in even trying. It’s often used by new bakers, and let me tell you, it’s a test. If they can work with this stuff they’ve probably got real talent.
Overall Score: 1.75/5
Thoughts: This is a fondant lots of hobby bakers use since it’s sold in craft stores, but it’s neither a good value nor a good product. Sorry, Wilton. You help lots of people learn to decorate and some of your other products are fine, but your fondant is just expensive and terrible.
Flavor: 4/5 Tastes genuinely good, a bit like white chocolate! I haven’t tried the buttercream fondant, so I can’t comment on that one.
Color: 1/5 The regular fondant is reaaaaally really off white, practically ivory. It’s also pretty translucent. Bummer, because it’s so good on every other front.
Workability: 5/5 Rolls out very thinly, doesn’t dry out or form wrinkled skin quickly. Honestly kind of awesome.
Sculptability: 4/5 It doesn’t really form a hard skin, but it does tend to be pretty firm at room temperature, which is good for figurines. I’d wager you could use this for lots of things even without tylose.
Overall Score: 3.5/5
Thoughts: Honestly, this is the best of the craft store fondants by a long shot. Since color is the only place where it falls short, it falls higher than a 3.5 on my personal ranking. It’s expensive as hell, though; maybe the color is so off because they mix 24 karat gold into every batch.
Carma Massa Ticino & Carma Massa Ticino Tropic
Flavor: 5/5 The taste is FANTASTIC. I honestly want to give it a 10/5. It’s sweet, of course, but there’s a hint of a fruity flavor that makes it much more delicious, but without conflicting with other flavors when it covers a cake.
Color: 3/5 It can be a bit translucent if you roll it out thinly, but a good thick crumb coat should ideally make that a non-issue. It isn’t a perfect white, but it’s close enough that it doesn’t matter much.
Workability: 5/5 It rolls out very thinly, which means you save money. It very rarely forms elephant skin and never dries completely hard. In fact, it manages to melt in your mouth basically no matter how long it’s been sitting out.
Sculptability: 4/5 It’s hard to rate this. On one hand, it’s much too soft and non-drying to use for figurines without adding Tylose. On the other hand, it’s so easy to smooth and buff out imperfections that your figurines will look completely amazing.
Overall Score: 4.25/5
Thoughts: Honestly, the workability and flavor on this are way ahead of any other fondant. Duff comes close on the workability, but falls short on flavor and color. The only con? You have to buy it in bulk. If you don’t do cakes often, that can be really annoying. It’s a good deal in the long term, though, and once you’ve used it you’ll be loathe to use anything else.
Flavor: 3/5 Nothing amazing, but as neutral sweet fondants go it’s alright. Very bland, which can actually be good if you roll it out thinly enough, since it just kind of melds into whatever the cake flavor is.
Color: 2/5 for Grischuna, 5/5 for Americana. The Americana is very nice and opaque, but Grischuna is super translucent.
Workability: 4/5 for Grischuna, 2/5 for Americana. What you gain in one department you lose in another. The workability on the Americana version is disappointing, which is a shame because the Grischuna is excellent in this department.
Sculptability: 3/5 I don’t remember feeling strongly about its sculpting potential either way, so I’d say it’s pretty average.
Overall Score: 3/5 Grischuna, 3.25/5 Americana
Thoughts: In terms of workability, it’s almost as good as Carma Massa! Well… the Grischuna, anyway. You can also get both of these pretty decently priced in bulk, and they’re very popular with higher-end pastry chefs. Despite the higher rating on the Americana, I’d rather use Grischuna. It’s just much easier to work around color issues than workability issues. When I’m out of Carma I typically turn to Grischuna, so this one wins a solid second place.
Flavor: 4/5 White chocolate + sugar. Super sweet, but not bad at all.
Color: 3/5 Since it has white chocolate in it, it tends to be off white. I say it’s worth how much better it tastes than most opaque/bright white fondants.
Workability: 3/5 It’s not terrible, but not great… I’d rate it on par with Satinice in terms of how it is to work with.
Sculptability: 4/5 I only vaguely remember sculpting with Chocopan, but I believe it was pretty good!
Overall Score: 3.5/5
Thoughts: These fondants are made with chocolate, which gives them a lot of unique properties. I consider this to be one of the better brands out there.
Flavor: 1-3/5 It’s bad, man. Marshmallow is better than non-marshmallow, but even that is way too sweet for me.
Color: 4/5 Actually tends to be quite good! At least you’ve got something going for you, homemade fondant. Hang in there.
Workability: 1/5 Terrible elasticity in almost all cases. Marshmallow fondant has better elasticity, but trades it in by ripping a lot and being a general pain.
Sculptability: 1/5 Non-marshmallow forms elephant skin too quickly and likes to sag, and marshmallow is just… so soft. I hate sculpting with either.
Overall Score: 2/5
Thoughts: Obviously, these ratings could vary a lot depending on the recipe. In the case of marshmallow fondant, the taste can be better than average. Not great, but better. Additionally, you save a ton on food costs. You can control the flavoring, so the sky’s the limit… mint fondant! Lemon fondant! Chocolate fondant! Arguably, though, you could add flavoring oils to storebought fondant and get a similar effect. The main issue is that I have yet to find a homemade fondant that has good workability. As much as I’d like to find a recipe that lives up to Carma/Massa/Duff Goldman fondant, I haven’t been able to.
That means the winner is… CARMA MASSA TICINO!
I hope this entry has been helpful. The primary lesson here is: before you write off fondant as a whole, try some different brands and see what’s out there!
As for the winning fondant, if you are willing to buy bulk I would check out the link below for a bucket that’ll last the average hobby baker 8-12 months.