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Homemade Cotton Candy

Homemade Cotton Candy
Nathan Congleton / TODAY / TODAY
4 medium nests

Chef notes

You don't have to wait for the carnival or circus to enjoy cotton candy. This recipe lets you make the sugary treat right at home. Plus, you can customize the flavor and color to your taste! 

Special equipment: A wire whisk with ends snipped and straightened (where the wire whisk loops around, cut it with a wire cutter and bend each piece so it forms a straight metal line. It should resemble one of those head scratcher devices); a candy thermometer and large lollipop sticks or paper cones for serving.


  • cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Food coloring (optional)



Cover your working surface with a large plastic wrap or tarp. This activity can also be done outside — it may get messy!


Spray a wire cooling rack lightly with the nonstick cooking spray.


In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt. Stir until the sugar is melted.


Using a candy thermometer, carefully measure the liquid's temperature. Heat to 320 degrees.


Once the liquid reaches the desired temperature, pour the molten sugar into a heat-resistant bowl. Add any food coloring or flavoring extract and stir well with the cut whisk.


Working quickly, dip the special whisk into the molten sugar syrup and drizzle it quickly back and forth over the tray, letting small wisps of the liquid fall down. Repeat, drizzling the whisk back and forth until you have several strands that begin to form a nest of sugar.


Gather the wisps in your hand and form little balls around the lollipop sticks or cones. Serve immediately!