Creamy, slow-churned ice cream infused with the flavor of cotton candy that you can make at home with only 5 ingredients. Great for celebrating warmer weather!

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Bowl and spoons with cotton candy ice cream.

About Cotton Candy Ice Cream

If you’ve never made homemade ice cream, you’re about to be surprised.

Surprised by how easy it is to make.

Surprised by how delicious it tastes.

Surprised that this cotton candy ice cream is like having the best of summer carnivals all wrapped up in a chilly ice cream.

And for those that already know the ropes of making ice cream at home, I promise this easy recipe will soon become one of your new favorite ice cream creations.

How does an ice cream maker work?

To keep it short and sweet, ice cream makers are designed to freeze a dairy-based mixture while simultaneously churning it. This allows the ice cream mix to aerate (like whipped cream) while also keeping the ice crystals small. The combination of these two actions working together is what creates the creamy, cool dessert we all know and love.

Using an ice cream scoop to scoop up homemade ice cream.

What type of ice cream maker should you use?

When picking an ice cream maker for your homemade creations, there are two main types that are best for recipes like this one:

  • Stand Alone Ice Cream Makers – These can range from classic, compressed, or soft serve. These ice cream makers typically work by chilling a removable bowl or surrounding the churning bowl with ice. If you’d like some suggestions, check out this article: 10 Best Ice Cream Makers.
  • Attachment Ice Cream Mixers – Big brand stand mixers (like KitchenAid) sometimes offer ice cream maker attachments. This is how I made the ice cream for this recipe and it’s my preferred method. I liked that it was one less appliance in my house and it stores a little better than a stand-alone ice cream maker.
Bowl of cotton candy ice cream.

When ice cream melts, can you refreeze it?

The short answer to this is yes, you can refreeze it, but it can also be a bit complicated. When chilling ice cream that’s melted, be sure to keep in mind:

  • You’ve lost air. Part of what makes ice cream thick and creamy is air. When ice cream melts, that air dissipates, leaving you with a liquid. The consistency will never be what it once was.
  • It becomes grainy. Freshly churned ice cream is made of super tiny ice crystals, but when you freeze the melted ice cream, the crystals that form from freezing will be of varying sizes; they’ll almost certainly be larger than they were after churning. This will lead the texture to no longer be smooth and instead be sharp or grainy.
  • It could be unsafe to eat. This will depend on how long the ice cream was allowed to stay out and how warm it got, but as a general rule, any time a dairy product is allowed to sit at or near room temperature, bacteria could form. If you have melted ice cream that’s warm to the touch, it’s probably safe to just throw it out.

How do you add the cotton candy flavor?

Whenever I make this recipe, I use this blue cotton candy syrup. Ultimately, any brand of cotton candy flavored syrup you can find (whether it be labeled just syrup, or made for snowcones, etc) will work for this recipe.

If you have a different brand that you’re unsure of, you can always taste test the ice cream mixture before churning and adjust the flavoring as desired.

How long is homemade ice cream good for?

Once prepared, this cotton candy ice cream can be stored in the freezer in a sealed container for up to two months.

Closeup of scoops of ice cream.

Can you use a dairy substitute?

This recipe calls for heavy whipping cream and whole milk, and unfortunately, I can’t recommend using any substitutions. You need the high fat content from these ingredients in order for the ice cream mixture to thicken.

If you need a recipe that allows dairy substitutions, check out this one: Almond Milk Ice Cream.

notes & tips for this cotton candy ice cream

  • If you like the ice cream scoop in the video, it’s a Zeroll brand scoop. They have heat conductive fluid sealed within the handle which makes your grip on the scoop warm the head of the scoop. This makes it so the scoop cuts through and rolls up ice cream better. You don’t even need to heat or wet the scoop first!

More fun ice cream recipes

How to make cotton candy ice cream

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – In a medium bowl, whisk together the following ingredients: sugar, milk, heavy whipping cream, cotton candy syrup, and vanilla. Whisk well until the sugar has dissolved.

Step 2 – If using food coloring, add a few drops and whisk them into the ice cream mixture.

Step 3 – Pour the ice cream mixture into bowl/attachment if your chosen ice cream maker.

Step 4 – Churn until creamy!

Step 5 – Transfer ice cream to a container. If you’d like firmer ice cream, freeze it for a few hours.

Step 6 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Bowl and spoons with cotton candy ice cream.
4.58 from 40 votes

Cotton Candy Ice Cream

35 minutes prep + 6 hours Chilling Time (optional)
478 kcal
Yields: 6 servings
Creamy, slow-churned ice cream infused with the flavor of cotton candy that you can make at home with only 5 ingredients. Great for celebrating warmer weather!



  • Before mixing ingredients, be sure that your chosen ice cream maker is ready to churn ice cream (attachments frozen, ice added, etc).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together heavy whipping cream, milk, sugar, cotton candy syrup, and vanilla extract until sugar is dissolved.
  • If using food coloring: Depending on the brand of cotton candy syrup you used, the mixture might already have a color hue. If you'd like to change the color, keep in mind that it will not take a lot of food coloring to make big changes in color. Start off with a drop or two, mix it in, then see what you think. Remember you can always add more food coloring, but you can't remove it.
  • Pour the mixed ice cream mixture into the chilled bowl/attachment of your ice cream maker.
  • Churn ice cream for 25-30 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.
  • If you'd like soft ice cream, serve cotton candy ice cream immediately. If you'd like firmer ice cream, transfer the ice cream to your chosen storage container and let it freeze for another 4-6 hours.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 478kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 66mg | Potassium: 115mg | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 1232IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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Recipe Rating


    • Chrissy
    • 4 stars

    My sin loves cotton candy ice cream. I made it for his birthday. I cut the sugar down to 1/2 cup and increased the cotton candy syrup to a little more than 3/4 cup to get more of the cotton candy flavor. I also added a little blue food coloring to make it a darker son was happy with the end product! Thanks for posting!

      • Katie

      Thanks for the tip! I made this recipe and was disappointed at the lack of cotton Candy flavor. Will definitely use your modification!

      • Puddin’
      • 4 stars

      I did the same the second time I made it (I added an entire cup of the syrup) plus I did not add the vanilla extract – it took over the cotton candy flavor. I’ve now used the recipe for root beer, pistachio, cinnamon, lavender, and kiwi ice creams. It’s quick and yields solid results.

    • shawn
    • 4 stars

    Made this today. My boys love the Rite Aid Cotton candy ice cream. So I was trying to find a recipe to duplicate that. I bought the jelly belly cotton Candy flavoring syrup. And I used a half a cup like the recipe asked for. With just half a cup, it just tasted like plain vanilla ice cream, but really sweet. So I added at least another cup of the cotton candy syrup and we got the cotton candy flavor! I did not add any food coloring. Next time I will probably lower the sugar amount, and add more of the syrup.

    • Michelle
    • 4 stars

    I made this with cotton candy syrup. It’s definitely sweet. I would do 1/2 cup of sugar. Instead of 3/4. And it isn’t blue enough without the food coloring. We definitely needed to add some.

    • Robin

    As a child we used to go to Ludington Michigan during the summer and there was an ice cream store that served a flavor called Blue Moon. I have been looking for the recipe for years. I left Michigan when I was 18 and could never find it. I now live in North Carolina and relate to your summer heat. Thank you for this recipe it is the same as Blue Moon ice cream.

    • Trisha Hardee
    • 5 stars

    This is amazing!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Niki White
    • 4 stars

    Does this taste like the cotton candy ice cream at cold stone or rite aid? I’m hoping this recipe would because I can’t seem to find any recipes for it! I love cotton candy ice cream because it reminds me of my childhood and my kids absolutely love it to death : )

      • Shawn

      Sadly, It doesn’t. I was searching for the same flavor for my boys. They love the stuff from Rite Aid. It just tasted like really sweet vanilla ice cream

    • Lindi

    Could I use cotton candy extract?

    • Erin

    Hey! How much does this recipe approximately make? Or which serving size equals a gallon of ice cream?

      • Ericka
      • 4 stars

      I made this yesterday and put it in an “airtight, stackable, reusable” container (got on Amazon a few years ago), and it fit perfectly. It was about 1.5 quarts.

      I might try decreasing the sugar and increasing the syrup next time! It was still delicious!

    • Softeaspoonoken
    • 4 stars

    This recipe looks AMAZING. If I ever get the funds, i will most definately make this! cotton candy is one of my favorite flavors of ice cream, so this would probably be the first recipe I would try ;3

    • Bisi

    I bought a buffalo brand icecream machine from Nesbitt in London. Cost over £150, is rather bulky but churns out great icecream. My daughter made coconut icecream a couple of days ago, added coconut milk, flavouring and essence ????

    • Mary // chattavore

    #1: I LOVE your blog design. #2: Cotton Candy ice cream = yaaaassssss.

    • Stephanie | Worth Whisking

    Homemade ice cream is the best! Our freezer is full of it right now. 🙂 This cotton candy flavor is so fun! A definite must-try!

    • Sara // Life’s Little Sweets

    What kind of ice cream maker did you get? I’m researching them myself.

    • Hey Sara! I got an ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer 😀 Love it so far!

        • Sherrie

        If using an ice cream churn would I need to add the additional milk to fill the can 2/3 of the way up as i do for the traditional vanilla ice cream I make??

        • Becky

        Hi, Can you tell me how many cups the “6 servings” is in this recipe? Does it make 1 quart, 2 quarts, etc? Would love to make this but want to make sure I make the proper amount for my ice cream machine. Thanks so much!

    • Rosemary

    What a great idea, who doesn’t love cotton candy? And that colour is gorgeous.

    • Amanda @ Cookie Named Desire

    Cotton candy ice cream? This is seriously blowing my mind right now. I love cotton candy, but never imagined trying it in ice cream form. I am so glad you decided to go this route with your first ice cream recipe… and I am even mooooore happy that you are sharing that with all of us during Ice Cream Week! xx

    • Sabrina

    This sounds like a perfect ice cream for my kids! They love cotton candy!

    • Patricia @ Grab a Plate

    Cotton candy syrup? How have I not known about this?! What a fabulous treat (I had to share this on my FB page)! I’m in love with how fun this is! I’m in the crazy-ridic Phoenix heat, too, so this is perfect for…every night!

    • Michelle De La Cerda
    • 3 stars

    When do you ever see light blue ice cream? Hardly ever, I love it! Definitely brings me back to my childhood, so fun!!

    • Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious
    • 4 stars

    There’s such a thing as cotton candy syrup? I had no idea. Off to search for it!

      • Elaine

      It seems that it’s Cotton Candy-flavored Snow Cone syrup, to the best that I can find. I had the same question!

      • Hey Elaine! I think the snow cone syrup should work fine – it’s the same idea. This is the one I purchased off of Amazon for the recipe:

      • Lauren

      I want to make this but the jelly belly syrup is discontinued. Is there an alternative? Thank you!

    • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    • 5 stars

    Love this flavor!! Every child’s dream 😉