How to Make Cotton Candy
It’s no secret that I am 100% in love with my cotton candy machine! I was completely surprised when my siblings gave it to me for my birthday 3 years ago! Before that I wanted to use it in parties but it is hard to know where to buy cotton candy! Lucky for me, the cotton candy maker they bought me is the real deal and I have used it A LOT! We pull it out for birthday parties, field day at school, baby and bridal showers, holidays (remember my cotton candy neighbor Christmas gifts?) and even let my daughter and her cousins sell it in our front yard along with some lemonade.
I’m going to walk you through how to use a cotton candy machine just in case you are like I was and have it on your secret wish list to take your parties to the next level!
Read the Reviews
If you read cotton candy machine reviews you’ll see quickly that those small ones sold at department stores aren’t awesome. They make a pouf that is about the size of an ice cream cone and just don’t get the job done. Mine is the Great Northern Vortex cotton candy machine and it has been amazing! I also have the hood that goes over it to contain the fluffy fly-aways.
Cotton Candy Equipment:
Cotton Candy Machine
Bubble Hood for Machine
Floss Sugar – I have only ever used the Gold Medal brand
Cotton Candy Floss Cones
Twist Tie Food Storage Bags – Gallon size
(This is the kind of bag I use. The cotton candy bags are much too large!)
How to Make Cotton Candy
Prepare all of your items. Set up the machine. Pour the floss sugar into a larger bowl for easier scooping. Open your plastic storage bags. Pull apart the twist ties. Once you get spinning, you don’t want to be fumbling with these little details. Just like in cooking, a little preparation will help things go smoothly.
Assemble and plug in the machine. Turn on the machine and allow it to heat up for 3-4 minutes. Heating it up sufficiently will make the floss come out more fluffy. If you pour sugar in too soon it will take a minute before anything comes out.
(This is an example of the machine not being hot enough. Only a tiny thread will come out. It isn’t bad, you just need to wait a bit.)
Scoop floss sugar using the measuring scoop and hold the paper cone in the other just a few inches above the center spinning element. Pour the sugar into the center spinning element and set the scoop aside as you immediately begin spinning the paper cone. With the big commercial machines there is a net on the outer rim that catches the floss and you pick that up with the cone to twirl, but with this style of machine, you twirl the floss onto the paper cone as it comes out of the center spinning element.
(This is what it will look like seconds after you pour in the sugar if the machine is hot enough. Now start twirling!)
Once you can see that the floss has stopped coming out of the center spinning element you can either hand it to the person who will eat it or slide it off and gently stuff it into a bag. If you are using the bags, allow air to remain in the bag and twist the tie on as tightly as possible to keep the air inside the bag. You don’t want it to get squished! Then move on to making the next one until you’ve made as many as you need.
Turn off the machine. Clean up is so simple. I give it a few minutes for everything to cool down. That’s when you can reach in and break the sugar off the side of the bowl and eat it. It tastes like rock candy. Then I unclamp the bowl and dump the contents into the trash. You just need clean water to rinse the bubble hood and metal bowl and then dry it with a dish towel. You do not do anything to the center spinning element. Once everything has cooled down and is cleaned off you can put it back in the boxes.
Cotton Candy Tips & Tricks
My first tip is to spin outside. I’ve set of my smoke detector a couple of times doing it inside. Not because it gets hot, but the fluffy little pieces float into the air and set the alarm off. Also, weather will be a big factor. If it is super humid, it won’t be as successful. Moisture and cotton candy are not good friends. If you want big, fluffy cotton candy you need it to be dry! So, find a garage on a rainy day. If you HAVE to spin it inside (I have a few times), make sure you have a bubble hood to help contain the floating pieces and open a few windows.
When I am making large batches ahead of an activity (like the 145 I made for the Kindergarten last May), I spin about 50 at a time and store them in large plastic storage bins. You can make them several days in advance, you just don’t want to move them a ton. The more they get banged around, the smaller the pouf will get as the air gets knocked out of them.
Have fun with the flavors! Banana and green apple are my favorites! They sell practically every flavor you can imagine and they taste awesome! I will spin a pouf of banana and while still holding that, add a scoop of cherry to the machine and spin that over the top of banana for a banana-cherry combination! You can layer as many flavors as you want. I find that layering the flavors (spinning one onto a cone and then adding a second flavor) works better than just mixing the floss sugar together. You can’t get the different flavors as well when the floss sugars are mixed.
If you are spinning cotton candy at an event or party, tell guests to hold onto their paper cone if they plan to come through the line for seconds. That way you don’t go through 100 cones for a party of 25 people.
On the bottom of my bubble hood, I put the felt adhesive circles that are meant to put on furniture to help it slide on wood floors. This helped it fit more snug over my machine and made it significantly more quiet when I use it. Without them it bangs on the rim of the cotton candy machine.