I was recently asked to make a cupcake tower for a wedding where half of the cupcakes had to be suitable for vegans. After a few trial and errors, I figured out a recipe for vegan chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with frostings in the same flavors.

Quick Note: If you are looking for vegan cake recipes, you will absolutely love Claire Gosse‘s brand new “Vegan Dessert” cookbook. You can grab 5 of her delicious recipes for free right here!

But the wedding cupcakes were supposed to be decorated as well, so I needed a vegan fondant recipe.

The main reason why most other home-made fondant recipes cannot be considered vegan is because they contain gelatin or marshmallows as thickeners. One vegan alternative is agar agar.

I bought this agar agar powder at the Asian food store. If all you can get are agar flakes use 1/2 tbsp and you will probably need less than 4 cups of icing sugar.

After doing a little bit of research, I found out that the (icing) sugar brands available to me at the major grocery stores use bone char (charcoal from animal bones) in the refining process. For this reason I buy organic icing sugar for vegan baking from Wholesome Sweeteners, which is also certified vegan.

UPDATE: I received comments/emails regarding the glycerin used in this recipe. I learnt that there are different types of glycerin, some of which are derived from animal fat. The type I am using (Wilton glycerin) is NOT animal-based and therefore suitable to use for vegans. So definitely do your research on the type of glycerin you are using.

Vegan Fondant Recipe

Makes about 22 oz. of fondant

This home-made fondant recipe is suitable for vegans. It uses agar agar and can be used to create decorative pieces or to cover cakes.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 tsp agar agar powder
  • 1/8 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup glucose (I use light corn syrup)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 tablespoon glycerin (vegetable-based)
  • a little more than 1 lb/4 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or other flavoring

Directions

  1. Start by sifting the icing sugar into a bowl through a large metal strainer. Stirring the icing sugar with a spoon is a lot less messy than shaking the strainer or tapping it against your hand. You can see how all the big lumps are broken up and the icing sugar is nice and airy. This will make kneading later on easier and you will avoid having icing sugar lumps in the fondant.
  2. Mix the agar powder with water in a small saucepan and let it soak for a while. It will become of a thicker, gelatinous consistency. After about 10 minutes place the saucepan on the stove top on low heat. The goal is to dissolve the agar mixture. This has to be done slowly. (Otherwise the water will simply evaporate and agar speckles are left in the bottom of the pan.) Stir constantly and add more water by the tablespoon as needed so the mixture doesn't dry out.
  3. When you see that all the agar powder is dissolved (it will take probably around 10 minutes) take the pan from the heat. Some grains that were stuck to the side of my pan didn't dissolve, but I didn't worry about those. Now, add the glucose/corn syrup and shortening. Stir the mixture until all of the shortening dissolves. Stir in glycerin and flavoring. I used some butter-vanilla emulsions and lemon extract to cut the sweetness of all the icing sugar.
  4. Put half of the sifted icing sugar into another bowl. Make a well and pour in the agar mixture. Stir together with a spatula as much as possible adding more icing sugar when needed. When you can't stir anymore start kneading in the icing sugar as needed by hand. It takes me usually almost 4.5 cups icing sugar to get the right fondant consistency. Form the fondant into a ball.
  5. If you are not using it right away wrap in plastic wrap and place in a ziploc bag. Refrigeration is not required and not recommended for this fondant.
  6. The finished fondant should be sufficient to cover a 8"x4" or a 10"x3" round cake.
http://leelalicious.com/how-to-make-vegan-fondant/

You may have noticed that the fondant is not pure white. That is alright for me as I am going to color it anyway to make fondant animals.

I figured out that the reason for the off-white color is the organic icing sugar. When I made the same recipe substituting my regular icing sugar, then the fondant was white.

Therefore, if you need white vegan fondant, say for a wedding cake, knead in white food color into the finished batch or better yet, add it at the same time with the flavoring.

Awesome Vegan Dessert Recipes! I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial. Drop me a line if you did or share your results via a comment below.

And – as I mentioned above already – if you are a vegan dessert lover or simply want more vegan cake recipes in your arsenal, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Claire’s vegan dessert cookbook.

Personal Note: What I love so much about it is that she developed vegan versions of many popular desserts like classic white layer cake, frosted chocolate cupcakes, to chocolate chip cookies, apple pie and even cheese cake.

It is an e-book in PDF format, so you can instantly read all of the mouth-watering recipes right from your computer, smartphone, iPad or any other reading device.

More Leelalicious Recipes:

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58 Responses to Tutorial: How to Make Vegan Fondant

  1. Jill says:

    Thank you for the great post. I am in charge of my niece’s birthday cake this year. I’m also a vegetarian and want to be able to enjoy this cake too. Two questions, how did your vegetarian fondant taste? And, how easy was it to cover your cake?

    • Regina says:

      Hi Jill, thank you for your comment.
      As for the taste, since I used vanilla and lemon flavorings these were the prevalent tastes. And then of course there is the sweetness from the icing sugar. None of the other ingredients, like agar agar or glycerin, do really have a taste.
      I only needed the fondant to form animal figurines. But from how I remember the consistency, I would say it might be a little harder to cover a cake then with regular fondant. I wouldn’t roll it out too thinly as it might tear more easily when placing it onto the cake.
      Good luck with your project.

  2. Hema says:

    Hi…… Thanks for the vegan recipe as I too am a pure vegetarian . But I have one query. The glucose u mentioned …..is it powdered glucose or syrup?

    • Regina says:

      Hi Hema,
      I am glad to hear the recipe is useful for you. For the glucose I mention I either use glucose syrup or light corn syrup.

  3. nirmal says:

    Hi… I just saw the following information:

    Is glycerine safe for vegetarians?

    Glycerine can be animal, vegetable or synthetic. It is commonly animal based, or a blend of animal and vegetable oils. Even kosher glycerine can be animal based. Asking particular companies about their food ingredients is often the only way to find out if the source is animal or vegetable.

    http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/faqingredients.htm#glycerine

    Hope the info is useful

    • Regina says:

      Thank you, Nirmal, for pointing this out.
      Indeed, as vegan/vegetarian one should look for glycerine that is not animal based.
      The kind I am using in the images is from Wilton. I haven’t contacted them personally, but found other, vegan cake decorators who did get in touch with Wilton and they confirmed that their glycerine is vegetable based. If you are vegan and would like that extra peace of mind, definitely contact the glycerine manufacturer if it doesn’t say specifically on their product.

  4. leah says:

    so i cant cover a cake with it?
    its just for sculpting?

    • Regina says:

      Hi Leah,
      I myself only had to sculpt with it. From the feel I got for the texture I would say it’s not impossible, but would be a little more difficult to use for covering a cake. I would probably not recommend it for a very large cake.

  5. Tara says:

    How was this recipe for making the animals? Did they turn out okay?

  6. DL says:

    What do you think the shelf life is of these once they’ve been created? And, should you not refrigerate them after they’re made either?
    Basically I’m trying to figure out when I should make them if the party they’re for isn’t until a couple weeks away.
    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Regina says:

      Hi DL, I also made my figurines at least a week in advance as they were for a very busy wedding weekend. I stored them in an air-tight container at room temperature and they were just fine. I think even a couple weeks will be fine. But I didn’t leave them out as I didn’t want them too dry. Personally, I don’t care much for eating fondant but I know others do and didn’t want them to break a tooth biting into these ;) I know other people refrigerate or even freeze their home-made fondant. But it usually is used up within a couple months with me so I never do. Let me know how things work out for you. Would love to see!

  7. deepali jain says:

    hi thanks a lot for d recipe,
    I have few doubts before preparing the fondant.In how much water do we need to dissolve agar agar powder. Is there any substitute for shortening and wen do we need to put the colour.

    • Regina says:

      Hi Deepali, dissolve the agar agar in all of the 1/8 cup of water. Once you start slowly heating it, some water will evaporate. At this point start adding more water a tablespoon at a time, because the agar cannot dissolve without water. How much you’ll use in the end will be different for everyone, depending on stove, pot etc… But as a ball park figure, maybe up to 1/2c of water.
      The only substitute for shortening I could think of would be vegan margarine, but I have never tried that myself.
      If you want to color the whole batch in one color or make it whiter I recommend adding the coloring together with glycerin and flavorings. But if you need small amounts of several different colors, just knead them into the finished fondant.
      Hope all this helps.

  8. Jojo says:

    So this recipe is not able to cover a cake??
    I really need a vegan recipe to cover a cake…im all vegan!!!

    • Regina says:

      As I have replied to others above, I have personally used it only for figure making. I don’t think it is impossible to cover a cake with it, just a little more difficult than other fondant types. I would not recommend it for huge cakes.
      I have only ever used the pictured type of agar. But I don’t think it matters.

  9. Yasmeen khan says:

    Thanks for giving us valued information, I did not realized that icing sugar also contains animal bones powder or what ever. where did you buy this kind of Icing sugar?

    • Regina says:

      I am glad this recipe is helpful to you, Yasmeen.
      Not all brands of sugar use bone-char in the refining process. Maybe you can do a quick Google search on your brand. This way I found out, that unfortunately regular sugar brands in my area use animal by-products.
      So I found this certified vegan (and organic and fair-trade) powdered sugar and my local health food store. Hope this helps.

  10. Mipa says:

    Hi, thank you for this awesome recipe! It worked great~~~ :) I shared it on my blog post here: http://aliensdayout.com/2012/11/learning-to-make-vegan-fondant.html

  11. chandani jain says:

    Hi ,thank you for the fondant recipe . can you tell me instead of shortening what can i use ??

  12. Anna M. Arthur says:

    Hi I am a vegan and am thinking of trying this
    and wanted to know how do I make it so that it
    Has a flavor like strawberry or something like it?
    Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Regina says:

      Hi Anna,
      Maybe you can use vegan strawberry jello powder like this: Jeannie Gelatin-free Dessert. You could add some (maybe a tablespoon) to the warm agar mixture. Stir until there are no undissolved sugar granules left before adding it to the icing sugar.
      Another option would be vegan strawberry flavoring extracts. Just add them at the time as directed in the recipe.
      Hope this helps :)

  13. Swatti says:

    Can we substitute shortening with butter if not vegan

    • Regina says:

      Swatti, yes, you should be able to use butter as substitute. But if you are not vegan, why don’t you try making gelatin-based or marshmallow fondant?

      • Swatti says:

        Thank for the prompt reply Regina.Thanks for the suggestions but I can’t use gelatin coz I am a vegetarian and gelatin contains animal products and as for the marshmallow fondant I don’t know the recipe.One more thing we have to use the powdered glucose here nah.And btw u r doing a great job by helping us out.

        • Regina says:

          No problem Swatti :) I am happy to be able to help. I guess as vegetarian marshmallow fondant would be out of the question too, since marshmallows usually contain gelatin as well. Which I could help with the powdered glucose but I have never used or heard of it.
          All the best for your fondant/cake project!

  14. traceesbounce says:

    hi there thanx for the great recipe!!!!! I had a question about the agar agar powder. I purchased a box and it says it has sugar in it as well. does that mean that I’ll need to add more of the powder?? Is the agar agar diluted since it has sugar in it?? I’ve never attempted vegan baking so any help wiuld be appreciated. Thanks again!!!

    • traceesbounce says:

      also when I put in the shortening is it still suppse to be on the heat ?? it wasnt dissolving when I took the pan off the low heat..

      • Regina says:

        My pan was always still hot enough to dissolve the shortening when off heat, but if that doesn’t happen for you definitely put it back on for a short moment until it dissolves.

    • Regina says:

      Hi, I have never had agar agar with sugar in it, but it might be that you need a little more of the powder then.

  15. anu says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for the recipe. It came out good. I made only half the quantity and fondant came out very soft with 2 cups of sugar. If I have to make any figurines, I kneaded in some more sugar.

    • Regina says:

      It seems like the amount of powdered sugar varies for everyone. Someone else told me they couldn’t even use all the sugar otherwise it would have been a dry rock. Maybe it depends on different kinds of agar agar.
      When I make figurines I also knead gum-tex or tylose powder into the fondant to make it more like gumpaste which is more stretchy and pliable.

  16. Hema says:

    Hi! Really eager to try out ur recipe.jus one clarification- have heard people adding cmc to make figurines,is it not necessary here? Pls advise.thanku:)

  17. Susan says:

    Hi Regina,
    When would I need to add the colouring? Thanks.
    Susan

    • Regina says:

      Hey Susan, if you want to color the entire batch of fondant in one color, you can add the color at the same time as you are adding the flavoring. If you want many different colors, knead it into the finished fondant as needed.

  18. Seja says:

    Hi. Im not vegan but i still cant eat geletin because its considered haraam. but anyways i just had to ask where you found the agar powder? ive never heard of it and i dont know where to get it

  19. Devisha says:

    Hi Regina!
    Thanks for the awesome recipe! I had saved this recipe almost 3 to 4 months back and wanted to try it at the earliest convience. I tried it a few days . To be honest, before making it, I was a little apprehensive wether would it strechable enough to roll or not but to my pleasant surprise it was fabulous. I also wanted to share all my experiences regarding this fondant here. It was very plaiable but it took a little to sweet for me. I tried making a book cake, at first, the fondant was firm but after sometime, the edges started bending a little. Please, don’t feel that I am criticizing you or your work. I am just sharing my experiences for all of our learning. I learned that I would definitely use this fondant over and over but as you suggested, I would use it for making 3D figures.I WOULD ALSO COVER A NORMAL CAKE WITHOUT EDGES. I AM SURE IT WOULD HOLD FINE.( sharing this because, many of your fans like me, had this question for you!) Loved working with this fondant, made a lot and stored in fridge, it’s doing just fine. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    Love,
    Cakespice

    • Regina says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your insights and experiences Devisha! It is much appreciated and I am sure will be very helpful to other readers as well.

    • Shabana says:

      Hi Devisha,

      Did you use the same ingredients as mentioned by Regina as it was not pliable when I made it. I dont know where have I gone wrong.

      Hi Regina,
      Thank you for the recipe a true vegan one. Is it ok to use liquid glucose instead of corn syrup.

      Rgds,
      Shabana

  20. julie says:

    I was wondering how long the fondant will last. How far in advance can I make it?

    • Regina says:

      From other commenters I heard they store it for weeks at room temperature and for months even in the fridge. I myself have stored unused fondant in the fridge for weeks and it was good. I made figurines a couple weeks ahead of time and stored them in air-tight containers at room temperature. They also were fine.
      So I would say 4 weeks at room temp and up to 3 months in the fridge.

  21. […] you are into cake decorating this vegan fondant recipe is a great alternative to gelatin […]

  22. Ashia says:

    Hi Regina,
    I am probably going to try this out sometime, but I was also wondering if I could add in marshmallows to the fondant, I am wondering if I am able to do this with this same recipe, and if so, how much marshmallows to put in?
    Thanks, Ashia

  23. Jayashree says:

    Hello – Thank you for the vegetarian fondant recipe. I was looking for one. What role does Glycerin play in this? Is that something I can skip? I live in Bengaluru (South India) and unsure where I would buy glycerin from. Thanks.

    • Regina says:

      Hi Jayashree, glycerin helps with the elasticity of the fondant. It also keeps it moist. Sometimes you can find glycerin from your pharmacy (just make sure it is food-safe). If you are going to try the recipe without it, I would increase the amount of glucose/corn syrup.

    • Shabana says:

      You can find glycerine in the medical stores..

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