Some fair foods are pretty easy to replicate at home–funnel cakes, corn dogs, and candy apples, for example. But cotton candy, one of the most iconic and most fun to eat foods, is nearly impossible to make without a dedicated machine. Luckily, cotton candy machines are pretty easily accessible, even to those who just want to make some for themselves or the kids.
But whether you’re looking to whip up some fluff for a small slumber party or a big fundraiser, you’re going to want a machine that works for your needs. In this guide, we’ll go over the different factors to consider when choosing a cotton candy machine. At the end, we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorites to help you get started on your search.
How to Choose a Cotton Candy Machine – Buying Guide
Finding the right cotton candy machine can be a sticky process. The cute designs and fun colors of the machines may catch your attention, but don’t forget to take your own situation and needs into consideration first.
What Can You Turn into Cotton Candy?
Aside from sugar granules, some machines can also turn any sort of hard candy into cotton candy to give you a huge variety of flavors. Some machines can even use sugar-free candy.
If you’re looking for some flexibility in the types of candy you can use and don’t want to have to buy special sugar just to make cotton candy, look for a machine that can use a variety of different candies.
Where and For How Many People Are You Making Cotton Candy?
Cotton candy machines are generally on the larger side, but how large you’re looking for depends on how much space you have and how much output you want to get. Larger machines (including free-standing ones) can make lots of cotton candy really fast thanks to the larger motor as well as the larger collection area.
But if you’re just looking to make cotton candy at home for a small group, then smaller machines that take up less storage and counter space will probably be enough. Just note that smaller machines are often of a lower quality than the big machines and may be more prone to breaking.
Look for Quality Materials like Stainless Steel and BPA-Free Plastic
Cotton candy requires fairly high temperatures to change the state of the sugar, and at higher temperatures, low quality plastics can melt or leech chemicals into your food.
So, to avoid that and to ensure the longest possible life for your machine, go with something made from stainless steel or durable, BPA-free plastic. This is especially important for the areas right around where the sugar comes out.
Sugar Gets Sticky, So Look for Easy Cleanup
One of the first things you realize when eating a cotton candy is how sticky your hands and mouth get, so imagine how gooey the machine that makes it can be! To save you time and trouble, look for machines that have parts that are easy to remove and disassemble. And while most machines might be too big for this, bonus points to any smaller machines that have dishwasher-friendly parts.
Another thing to consider when thinking about cleanup is whether the machine comes with a shield. Shields can mean that sugar is less likely to get on other things in the area (including you), but it also means there’s one more thing to wash when you’re done.
If You’re a Cotton Candy Novice, You May Need Other Supplies
Cotton candy isn’t something most people can whip up in their kitchens, so chances are you might not have the (other) tools necessary to make it.
Some cotton candy machines come with some of the other things you might need including cones, sugar scoops, and even flavored sugar. If you might be buying all of those anyway, it might make sense to look for a machine that comes with it instead.
Top 10 Best Cotton Candy Machines to Buy Online
Now that you know what to look for in a cotton candy machine, here are a few of our favorites.
10. Nostalgia Vintage Hard & Sugar-Free Candy Cotton Candy Maker (PCM305)
Inexpensive Option for Home Use
This fun little cotton candy machine is perfect for use at home. It takes all sorts of candies, which gives you nearly unlimited flavor opportunities. It puts out a reasonable amount (that is, not carnival sized) and is relatively quiet.
However, some reviewers note inconsistencies in output and others note that it takes quite a long time to warm up and make enough cotton candy to collect. However, at just $30, it’s hard to expect much more.
|Takes||Floss sugar, hard candy, sugar-free candy|
|Size||12.5 x 12.5 x 9.5 inches|
|Included||2 plastic cones, 1 sugar scoop|
9. Olde Midway Commercial Quality Cotton Candy Machine
Commercial Grade Machine That Works Well (When It Works)
If you’re looking to make enough cotton candy for a big event and would use it often, this might be the machine for you. It heats up quickly, has a fast output (30 seconds per cone), and is easy to clean.
However, some reviewers have noted that it may stop functioning without warning, though others didn’t seem to have this problem, and when it works properly, it works extremely well.
|Size||20.5 x 36 x 37 inches|
8. Vivo Electric Commercial Cotton Candy Machine
Quick and Efficient Machine
This machine is quite the powerhouse for its size. It turns out a cone every 20 seconds, heats up quickly, and is easy to disassemble and clean.
However, some reviewers note electrical issues upon arrival and first use. But the company is extremely responsive, and the machine has a one-year warranty, so if you have this problem, it shouldn’t be too hard to fix.
|Takes||Floss sugar, hard candy|
|Size||21 x 21 x 14 inches|
7. Vivo Standing Electric Commercial Cotton Candy Machine
Quick and Easy Standing Machine
For those in need of a cotton candy machine for lots of consistent use, this could be what you want. This machine can make 2-3 cones per minute, heats up to starting temperature in under a minute, and disassembles easily.
While more consistent than its countertop counterpart above, some reviewers still report some electrical issues. Again, however, this company offers a one-year warranty, which could make that a non-issue for some.
|Takes||Floss sugar, hard candy|
|Size||21 x 21 x 35 inches|
6. Great Northern Popcorn Flufftastic Cotton Candy Machine
High Quality with Thoughtful Design
This is a high-quality, high-output machine. Its stainless steel bowl is thicker than most, its sugar scoop is extra long for safe refilling, and it has two separate power switches for electricity and heat. Plus, it puts out 2 cones per minute and heats up quickly.
However, some reviewers note that this machine can sometimes result in hardened sugar buildup along the walls that might otherwise have turned into cones.
|Takes||Floss sugar, hard candy|
|Size||20.5 x 20.5 x 20.5 inches|
5. Suncoo Cotton Candy Machine
High Yield Machine with a Ton of Features
This high-output cotton candy machine is packed with features. Along with the normal power switch, this machine also has temperature control, a voltage display, a built-in fuse, and can make a cone in under 10 seconds.
However, this might be a bit too much for casual, non-commercial cotton candy makers, but for those who need to have more precise control, this machine should work well.
|Takes||Floss sugar, hard candy|
|Size||21.2 x 21.2 x 17.7 inches|
4. The Candery Cotton Candy Machine and Sugar Kit
All You Need to Make Cotton Candy at Home
This kit is perfect for the beginner at-home cotton candy maker. It comes with three delicious flavors of sugar (strawberry, raspberry, and vanilla) and comes apart easy for super simple cleaning.
It heats up rather slowly and doesn’t make very much at one time, but it’s compact, and if you’re making cones for three or less kids at a time, waiting shouldn’t be much of an issue.
|Takes||Floss sugar, hard candy|
|Size||17.8 x 13.9 x 8.1 inches|
|Included||3 flavors of floss sugar, 50 paper cones, sugar scoop|
3. Clevr Compact Commercial Cotton Candy Machine
Commercial Grade in a Consumer Size
You wouldn’t expect it, but this compact cotton candy machine is actually commercial grade. It can make 2-4 cones per minute, heats up within a couple minutes, and disassembles easily.
It has two switches for extra safety and includes a safety latch under the bowl. Plus, it comes in three colors including a bright red for those who are tired of the bubblegum pinks and blues of other cotton candy machines.
|Size||20.5 x 20.5 x 13 inches|
2. Cotton Candy Express Pink Cotton Candy Machine
Little Machine, Lots of Flavors
This cotton candy machine is sure to make any birthday party or sleepover 10 times more fun. Each jar of the 5 flavors of sugar can make up to 30 servings, and the uniquely shaped shield makes cotton candy super easy to make and the machine a breeze to clean up.
As it’s a smaller, consumer-quality machine, it does make cones more slowly and may need some cleaning after every few cones, but it is consistent and easy for kids to use.
|Takes||Floss sugar, hard candy|
|Size||16.5 x 16.5 x 13.5 inches|
|Included||5 flavors of floss sugar, 50 paper cones, 1 sugar scoop|
1. Great Northern Popcorn Junior Vortex Cotton Candy Machine
For Consistent Quality Cotton Candy
This cotton candy machine can make one cone every 30 seconds, heats up within two minutes, and has stabilizing feet to prevent too much shaking.
On top of that, it’s extremely consistent and will reliably produce great cotton candy from the first time you turn it on as well as every time after.
|Size||20.5 x 20.5 x 12 inches|
How to Make Perfectly Spun, Fluffy Cotton Candy
As good as your machine is, it’s not going to do you any good unless you know how to use it properly. Here are a few tips to get you a delightfully fluffy cone.
The most important thing is patience. Give the sugar some time to accumulate on the sides of the machine before you start trying to collect it with the cone. Once there’s a nice amount of cotton candy in the bowl, touch the paper cone to the cotton candy and slowly begin to rotate it in the opposite direction of the way it’s being spun.
Don’t let too much accumulate on the sides between collection. If there’s too much, it’ll start to clump and re-crystallize.
So there you have it–a quick guide to finding the right cotton candy machine for you! Cotton candy can instantly brighten anyone’s day, so hopefully you’ve found the right machine for your needs.
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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