Cotton candy is more than just some sugary snack; it’s the lifeblood of our collective childhood. Whether you’re hosting a party, feeling nostalgic, or craving for a sweet snack, a cotton candy machine is an absolute necessity.
Like most snack foods, cotton candy is shrouded in mystery. How do people make cotton candy? How much does a cotton candy machine cost? Do I need to work at a carnival to learn some cotton candy skills through an ancient trade system handed down since the Middle Ages? Turns out, making cotton candy is easy and affordable. All you need is a cotton candy machine and some sugar.
The thing is, there are a ton of cotton candy makers on the market, and some work better than others. That’s why we’ve taken the time to find the best cotton candy machines, from tabletop models to commercial behemoths. Just keep in mind that most of these machines don’t come with any sugar. You can get away with using hard candies (like peppermints) for some funky creations, but if you want the real-deal experience, you’ll need some cotton candy sugar.
Best for Most People: Nostalgia Electrics Countertop Cotton Candy Maker ($30)
Put on those nostalgia goggles for a minute, and look back on your childhood. You see smiling faces, flowers, carnival rides, and a sweaty older man handing out colorful cotton candy. Now take off those nostalgia goggles, and take a gander at the Nostalgia Electrics cotton candy maker. This old-timey machine can bring a childhood of sweet cotton candy right to your kitchen countertop.
This affordable machine is easy to use and easy to clean. And since it’s surrounded by a steep plastic dome, you don’t have to worry about making a mess on your countertop. Plus, this cotton candy machine comes with two reusable cones and a plastic sugar scoop, so the only extra thing that you need to buy is some sugar. It’s a great pick for light use at home as it takes up minimal space but still offers an authentic cotton candy experience.
Best Extra Old-Timey Pick: Nostalgia Carnival-Style Tabletop Cotton Candy Maker ($28)
OK, OK, you got us. This pick has the same guts as our best overall pick above. But if the 1950s gumball-machine aesthetic of the Nostalgia Electrics cotton candy maker doesn’t do it for you, then you should check out the carnival-styled Nostalgia cotton candy maker. Given that cotton candy is often used for celebrations like children’s parties or baby showers, we couldn’t resist adding in this extra old-timey option.
Like the previous Nostalgia brand model, it sports a medium-size floss bowl, can accept both flossing sugar as well as hard candies and includes a dome guard and reusable cones. The real difference is the form factor, where instead of an old-timey jukebox vibe you’ve got an old-timey carnival cart vibe—you know, without the expense of buying an actual cart. If the cart is what you’re after, however, do keep scrolling.
Best All-in-One Kit: Cotton Candy Express ($63)
If you want to your cotton candy setup to get rocking right out of the box, then you should check out the Cotton Candy Express set. It comes with a high-speed cotton candy maker, five flavors of sugar, and 50 disposable cotton candy cones. This machine is very similar to the Nostalgia Electrics and Nostalgia cotton candy makers, except it looks a bit less old-timey and it comes with some extra goodies. Whether you’re impatient or you’re buying it as a gift, and you want everything included in one easy shipment, it’s tough to go wrong with this all-in-one package.
Best for Events: VIVO Commercial Cotton Candy Machine ($185)
If you’re trying to make a butt-ton of cotton candy for an event (or for yourself), then you should check out the VIVO commercial cotton candy maker. This sweet beast can crank out two to three servings of cotton candy per minute, and its no-frills design is easy to clean and disassemble.
Although this cotton candy machine is a dream to use, it probably isn’t something that you’ll keep on the kitchen counter (unless you’re a serious cotton candy fiend).
Best Premium Machine: Olde Midway Commercial Cotton Candy Cart ($243)
Need a cotton candy maker for a party or you’re going all out with a no-expenses-spared home movie theater setup? If you looked at the previous commercial model and thought, “If I’m paying a lot it had better come with wheels!” you should consider the Olde Midway cotton candy cart. This retro machine is cute and convenient, so it’s the perfect cotton candy maker for large get-togethers with a lot of kids (or cotton candy loving adults).
The Olde Midway machine can produce two to three servings of sugary floss per minute, which is perfect for most party situations. And while it’s a bit more expensive than most commercial cotton candy machines, it comes with an extra set of belts, it has three built-in cotton candy holsters, and it has a 3-bin pullout drawer.