The film, which came out in cinemas in 1980 three years after the first Star Wars movie, topped a poll of 301 titles in Empire magazine beating Francis Ford Coppola's mafia masterpiece The Godfather into second place.
Batman sequel The Dark Knight came in third with The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction rounding off the top five.
Star Wars creator George Lucas said it was "a privilege" to see the film top the poll.
He said: "The fans like The Empire Strikes Back the best, partly because it is so dark. It's an overall story and as it happens in the second act, things get dark. I never really planned it to be three separate films but when it became three separate films, it had an interesting effect of each film having its own personality, caused by the plot."
Other films in the top 10 include the first Star Wars film, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Jaws.
Empire's editor-In-chief Mark Dinning said: "We are delighted, if not surprised, that The Empire Strikes Back has been voted the Number One Greatest Movie Of All Time, by the hundreds of thousands of readers of Empire.
"This is a movie that when it was released managed to make Star Wars both bigger and more intimate all at the same time. And today it retains all of its power, wit, heart and spectacle.
"With Star Wars very much back in the current conversation with J.J. Abrams shooting Episode VII, this is a timely reminder of the power of Star Wars to capture the imagination of film fans the world over. It may be set in a galaxy far far away, but this is a series of movies that will always be very close to our hearts. And, for now at least, The Empire Strikes Back is this indelible franchise at the very top of its game."
:: Top 10 Greatest Movies of All Time as voted by Empire readers
1. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
2. The Godfather
3. The Dark Knight
4. The Shawshank Redemption
5. Pulp Fiction
6. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
7. The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
9. Raiders Of The Lost Ark