As it turns out, fondant CAN be vegan but you need to check the ingredients to make sure! The most likely non-vegan culprit is gelatin, but even recipes claiming to be vegan might replace the gelatin with glycerin, which is sometimes animal-based.
Have you ever seen those satisfying videos of professional bakers decorating cakes? Some can make a cake look like hyper-realistic objects that are decidedly not cake. The secret to this crazy cake shapeshifting is fondant.
Specifically, the fondant sheets used for cake decoration are known as rolled fondant. The other kind of fondant is poured fondant, which you may be familiar with as the filling of a Cadbury’s Creme Egg (which is NOT vegan in general).
Let’s take a closer look at what makes this yes-or-no question surprisingly complex. We’ll look at what fondant is made of, potential problem ingredients, and what to look for when buying it pre-made.
What is Fondant Made Of?
The list of necessary ingredients for fondant is pretty short (and sweet!). You only really need sugar, water, and corn syrup to make it in its most basic form. There is a catch, though. To make fondant more sculptable, you also need gelatin, glycerin, or agar-agar.
There is some room for debate on whether or not sugar is vegan, even though it comes from a plant. Sometimes bone char is used in processing sugar, which is problematic for some vegans. In general, though, you can consider sugar to be vegan-friendly!
Corn syrup is basically sugar, but it’s made from cornstarch, which is made from corn. Little to worry about there.
The process of making gelatin is absolutely not free of animal cruelty. Sometimes animals are killed just to make more gelatin, though I will spare you the gruesome details of how it’s done. Remember, however: gelatin is not always an ingredient in fondant.
Another sometimes-used ingredient in fondant is glycerin, which can potentially replace gelatin. This is a tricky ingredient to classify because it can be made from multiple sources: animal products, plants, or petroleum.
A good strategy is to check for the more specific “vegetable glycerin” wording in the ingredients list. Still, sometimes it’s simply “glycerin,” and you would only know if it’s vegan-friendly by asking the manufacturer.
You are likely to find agar-agar in vegan fondant recipes instead of gelatin or glycerin. It’s like gelatin but comes from seaweed!
So now that we know what’s basically in fondant, we’ll go over some other common questions.
Does Fondant Have Dairy in It?
Fondant does not include dairy, but it is possibly still not vegan due to the gelatin or glycerin that can sometimes be found in it.
Which Brands of Fondant are Vegan?
Here we are in luck because Satin Ice fondant is absolutely vegan. Another famous brand, Wilton, is generally considered vegan, although it notably provides this disclaimer on its website that says it contains sugar processed through bone char.
There you have it, folks: you can freely enjoy fondant knowing that it is (usually) vegan. Just a tiny word of caution if you take issue with white sugar or buy a pre-made off-brand -gelatin or glycerin are the potential offenders.