Best Cotton Candy Machines of 2018

Angela Parkinson ·
Home & Appliance Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We've been researching the best cotton candy machines since 2014, spending more than 100 hours evaluating the machines and their features. We chose the Bella Cotton Candy Machine as our top pick for most people. There are more expensive and more professional-level cotton candy machines, but this one is great for your children's birthday parties and other family fun. You can use sugar and hard candy – sugar-free or regular – to make a delightful, carnival-style treat with this festive-looking red and white machine. 

Best Overall
Bella Cotton Candy Maker
The Bella Cotton Candy Maker allows you to make cotton candy quickly and easily with sugar and hard candy, and the dishwasher-safe bowl makes this one easy to clean.
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Best Value
Nostalgia Electrics Carnival
This cotton candy maker has a few more plastic parts than other machines, and none of them can go in the dishwasher, but this machine costs less than $30 and makes cotton candy on a small scale.
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Best Upgrade
Paragon Classic Floss
If you need a machine for catering, school carnivals or bigger social functions, this cotton candy machine is perfect, with a strong motor and sturdy metal construction.
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Best Overall
There is something to be said for a cotton candy machine looking like what it is – a fun way to make carnival treats at home. This jolly red and white machine is fun and functional.
Once you preheat it and drop in some sweet stuff, you will get spun sugar that you can twirl around the three included plastic cones, or cones that you craft yourself. You can substitute sugar-free candy to remove some calories from your sweet treat, though some types of candy work better than others. The manual suggests avoiding gummy or ball-shaped candies. This is not an industrial-level machine – many of the parts are plastic and it does not make large quantities of cotton candy. Nor is it designed to make cotton candy very quickly. It comes with some convenient features for home use, though. It is designed to come apart easily for cleaning, and you can wash the bowl, cones and rotating disk in the dishwasher. Also, it has suctioned feet to keep it from moving around on your countertop.
Pros
  • The bowl and many other pieces are dishwasher-safe.
  • You can use both sugar and candy to make cotton candy.
  • Suction feet reduce vibration and keep the machine in place.
Cons
  • This is a relatively small machine that will not make large quantities.
  • You will have to wait about 10 minutes for the machine to preheat.
  • This one costs a little more than some noncommercial machines.
$43.67Amazon
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Best Value
The Nostalgia Electrics Hard Candy machine has a retro look and a small size that makes it great for your kitchen countertop. This one has quite a few plastic parts, so it is not designed to be particularly sturdy, and it won't produce large quantities of cotton candy.
But it can be forgiven for that because it costs less than $30, and it will still add fun to your parties. Once you preheat this for 5 to 10 minutes, you can drop in hard candy or sugar and get cotton candy on a small scale. You do not have to be an expert to make cotton candy with this machine. A clear rim on the top of the bowl keeps the cotton candy from flying up and away from the machine. The suction feet cut down on vibration and keep it securely in place. You get two reusable plastic cones and premeasured sugar packets to get you started. One drawback is that none of the parts of this machine are dishwasher-safe, so cleanup will take a bit longer than some of the other units. Still, if you are looking for a cotton candy machines for birthday parties and other relatively small gatherings, this machine is a good fit.
Pros
  • The price is affordable.
  • A rim along the top of the bowl keeps the cotton candy from flying out.
  • The retro look and small size make it countertop-friendly.
Cons
  • Other machines came with more accessories.
  • There are no dishwasher-safe parts.
  • This cannot product large quantities of cotton candy.
$26.96Amazon
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Best Upgrade
If you want a cotton candy machine for catering, family reunions, school carnivals or other large-scale gatherings, it could be worth investing in the Paragon Classic Floss Cotton Candy Machine. It costs substantially more than most of the other machines we reviewed, but it is much sturdier.
The all-metal construction and strong motor will give you the power to create up to 200 cones of cotton candy per hour. The all-metal spinning head is specifically designed not to clog, and you can take it apart for easy cleaning. The motor is designed to stay separate from the sugar, which will extend its life. Even though this is priced much higher than most of the machines we looked at, it doesn't come with lots of extras for beginners. You must buy the bubble top that will keep the cotton candy from blowing out of the machine. If you have a lot of experience making cotton candy, you might be fine without the bubble top, though. It does have sophisticated controls rather than just a power switch. You can use a dial to adjust heat, and there are two on-off switches – one for the motor and one for the heat. If you are a beginner, this machine might be a bit much, but if you have an organization that will use it regularly for larger events, it will be a good investment.
Pros
  • The all-metal parts will last for a long time.
  • This will produce large quantities of cotton candy relatively quickly.
  • The motor is designed to be separate from the candy so it won't get gummed up.
Cons
  • The price is prohibitively high for some budgets.
  • The warranty is just one year, the same as the much cheaper machines.
  • You don't get any extras with this machine – you must buy the bubble top separately.
$454.48Amazon
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Best Commercial
The Funtime Candy Cloud has a commercial grade 950-watt spinner that heats up quickly.
The machine comes mounted on a pink cart with spoked wheels for easily transporting your cotton candy operation to multiple locations for a school fair or birthday party. It also has a handy stainless-steel storage drawer under the machine to hold supplies and accessories. Two additional shelves are optional for each side of the cart and hold up to three spun cotton candy cones per shelf. This cotton candy maker has a stainless-steel bowl instead of a less-durable aluminum or plastic bowl found on the household machines we reviewed. The motor and belt system are easily accessible, but keep them clean because ventilation is necessary, especially if you are in direct sunlight.
Pros
  • Great for mobile commercial applications
Cons
  • Expensive
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Most Durable
This cotton candy machine is built for outdoor use. It is intended for professional use only and has features like a voltage meter and 1.5 horsepower motor to help you make a consistent product, even in challenging humidity conditions.
The motor is housed away from the production bowl, so it’s not damaged by sticky buildup. At 50 pounds, it’s one of the heaviest cotton candy machines we reviewed, but that’s a good sign of a durable appliance. The bowl is 26 inches in diameter and you can choose either plastic or aluminum. We suggest using a metal bowl for commercial applications because it is easier to clean and less susceptible to cracking. The Paragon Spin Magic comes with a three-year manufacturer warranty that covers it against manufacturer defect and workmanship.
Pros
  • Durable design
Cons
  • Expensive
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Why Trust Us? 

We've been evaluating cotton candy machines since 2014 and have zeroed in on the attributes and features that make them most likely to offer you high-quality cotton candy for your parties. We scour the marketplace for the most popular and best-reviewed machines before compiling and reporting our findings. 

How We Researched 

We have spent more than 100 hours reading product manuals and looking at customer reviews to collect the best options. We purposely looked for the top cotton candy machines in a wide price range and found some good options at both ends of the spectrum. Whether you are wanting to add a little fun to your next family party or to use the machine to boost your catering business, we can help.

How Much is a Cotton Candy Machine? 

Our favorite household machines for making cotton candy at home cost between $35 and $90. Commercial cotton candy machines are more expensive, starting at $250 or $450 for professional-grade features and reliability.

Can I Really Use Hard Candy to Make Cotton Candy?

Why, yes you can - at least with certain models like the Bella Cotton Candy Maker and the Nostalgia Electrics Carnival. Commercial cotton candy makers aren't made for novelties like this and require floss sugars. With hard candies, you need to follow the instructions that come with your machine to get the best results. But having the option to make unique and powerful flavors from Jolly Ranchers, Lifesavers, root beer barrels or even cough drops (why would you?) is a fun novelty to try out and impress your family and friends. You can also substitute sugar-free candy to save some calories, but you will likely have to experiment until you find your favorites that work the best. All hard candy compatible cotton candy makers highly suggest avoiding gummy or ball-shaped candies.

How Long Will Cotton Candy Keep?

If you live in a dry, mild climate, cotton candy will stay fluffy in an airtight container for up to four days. However, if it is humid or hot where you live, don’t count on your cotton candy sticking around for more than a few hours. Heat and moisture cause cotton candy to shrink and clump, and it won’t keep this way.

Can You Refrigerate Cotton Candy?

You can refrigerate cotton candy in an airtight container for about three days, as long as you don’t open it. Once it’s opened, the air and humidity around you will cause the candy to shrink and clump, and you shouldn't try to store it in this state.

You can keep cotton candy for up to two months in the freezer. Just double-seal fresh cotton candy in a freezer bag with as much air squeezed out as you can, then place it in a second airtight container before popping it into your freezer. As with refrigerated cotton candy, once it’s open don’t try to store it again.

Did You Know?

According to The National Confectioners Association (NCA), December 7 is National Cotton Candy Day!

Key Features to Look for When Buying a Cotton Candy Machine 

Construction
If you are buying a machine for family events and parties, a small, mostly plastic unit will do just fine, but if you plan to make cotton candy on a larger scale, it is worth looking for sturdier machines. You can find all-metal construction and strong motors that are designed to stay separate from the sugar. That will extend the life of the machine.

Accessories
Look for the bubble top that helps form a rim around the top of the machine. That keeps the cotton candy from flying out of the machine and makes it easier to shape it around the included cones. The small beginner machines should also include raw materials, cones and recipes to help get you started.

Warranty & Support
All products are best when they come with support that is easy to access through telephone, email and live chat. It is also worth looking for the cotton candy machines with relatively long warranties. The more expensive the machine, the longer the warranty should be.