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How to make cotton candy

Fresh cotton candy is a fun treat usually only found at amusement parks and carnivals. If you are craving the light and fluffy sweetness of cotton candy, you can make some for yourself right at home — no fancy machine required!

Homemade cotton candy

What you’ll need:

Cotton Candy - What you'll need

  • sugar
  • corn syrup
  • cherry extract
  • food coloring
  • cooking spray
  • measuring cups
  • large pot
  • bamboo skewers
  • candy thermometer
  • whisk
  • wire cutters

What you’ll do:


Step one

Take an inexpensive whisk and use the wire cutters to cut each wire loop of the whisk, then straighten out the tines.

Cotton Candy - Whisk


Step two

In a large pot combine 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon cherry extract.

Cotton Candy - Sugar


Step three

Whisk the ingredients together, add the candy thermometer to the pot, and dissolve the mixture over high heat.

Cotton Candy - Thermometer


Step four

While the candy heats, prep your bamboo skewers. Place two bamboo skewers under a heavy book (you may want to cover the book with a plastic bag to protect it). If you would like to protect your floors from any sugar drips, lay down some newspaper or plastic.

Cotton Candy - Set-up skewers


Step five

Closely watch the candy mixture as it boils. Bring it up to 300 degrees F, then remove it from the heat to allow it to thicken slightly. Warning: The candy mixture is extremely hot and will burn you if you come in contact with it. Children should not come near the hot candy.

Cotton Candy - Boiling


Step six

Take a small amount of food coloring and mix it in with the candy.

Cotton Candy - Food coloring


Step seven

Once the candy mixture has thickened slightly, dip the whisk in the mixture. Swing the whisk back and forth above the bamboo skewers so that the “strings” of candy falling from the whisk land on the skewers.

Cotton Candy - Strings


Step eight

Remove the cotton candy from the skewers and loosely fold it into a “nest” of cotton candy. If you would like your cotton candy on a stick, you can add a large popsicle stick to form the handle.

Cotton Candy - Nest

Image credit: Amy Vowles

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