One of my favorite kids’ activities is making homemade playdough. And clearly, you all agree because my Easy Homemade Playdough recipe is still the most popular post here at Living Well Mom! I’ve been making that recipe for years of fun with my kids. It never gets old!
But since our whole family went on a gluten-free diet last summer, I decided to come up with a gluten-free playdough recipe. Even though my kids don’t have celiac and I’m not too concerned about them handling a little playdough with regular ol’ flour, I just feel funny about keeping all-purpose flour in the house when we don’t use it for anything else.
A couple months ago, I started experimenting with making a gluten-free playdough recipe. I tried some variations of my own classic recipe with salt and cream of tartar and then quite a few completely different versions.
I’m not a big fan of the two-ingredient corn starch and conditioner playdough recipe. Since it requires having an extra bottle of conditioner in the house and we use all-natural conditioner, it’s more expensive and not something I’m willing to use on playdough. So that was out.
I finally settled on this simple 4-ingredient version of Gluten-Free Playdough. While I stumbled on this combination myself, when I googled it, I discovered this was actually a pretty common recipe so it’s not unique to me.
But anyways, this is our favorite gluten-free playdough recipe. I love that it’s so simple to make, it takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish (just like the original homemade playdough recipe) and the ingredients are common and inexpensive.
Because let’s face it – most of us don’t schedule out a playdough day with our kids. We usually end up searching for an activity to keep them busy and would rather use ingredients we already have on hand, than add one more thing to our busy days by dragging everyone out to the store. Am I right?
Enough talk. Here’s the recipe and then I’ll share a few more details about our experience.
Easy Gluten-Free Playdough Recipe:
I highly recommend AmeriColor food color to get the vivid colors you see in these pictures. A few drops of color goes a long way and kids will adore making the colors of the rainbow or their favorite combinations!
Add the baking soda and corn starch to a 2-quart saucepan and mix together with a spoon. Kids can help with this part.
Turn the heat to medium, then add the water.
Add a few drops of food color.
Stir well to break up any lumps. Don’t worry about it too much though; you’ll get it all mixed together eventually.
Cook and stir constantly until the playdough starts to become a little more solid. This should take less than 5 minutes.
Usually subsequent batches come together much quicker because the pan and burner are already warm.
It should come together quickly after that. Continue stirring.
Once the playdough starts to ball around the spoon, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir until it’s all pretty much clumped together.
Remove the gluten-free playdough onto a solid surface. It will still look a little lumpy and unfinished; that’s okay.
Let it cool for a minute, then knead together. You’ll see the imperfections quickly smooth out and it will suddenly look like a a beautiful ball of playdough.
That’s all you have to do to make your very own homemade gluten-free playdough!
This gluten-free playdough has a softer, different consistency than regular playdough. My kids said they actually prefer this kind because “it’s more fun.” (I’m not sure how that’s possible, but as long as they’re happy with it, I’m good with it too!)
This playdough is smooth and easy to work with. And most of all, it provides hours of fun for kids of all ages!
A few things to note:
1) One batch makes one ball of color that you see in the photos. It’s probably equivalent to 2 containers of store bought playdough
2) Gluten-free playdough dries out faster than the regular version. If your kids leave it on the table and run off, it will probably end up crumbling and they’ll be worried their playdough is ruined. You can revive dried-out, crumbled playdough by heating it back up over med-low heat and stirring in a tablespoon or so of water. We’ve saved quite a few batches by doing this.
I’ve also noticed that the playdough seems to harden in colder temperatures. When I took some of these photos near a chilly window, the playdough really solidified. Again, we revived it with water and a little heat. It must be something to do with the combination of corn starch and baking soda. Any chemists out there have an idea?
3) Store in a tightly sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. (Our original batch turned moldy after two weeks in the pantry.)
All-in-all, I still prefer the regular version of playdough as it’s less prone to drying out and hardening, but if your kids are sensitive to gluten or you simply don’t have the cream of tartar or some other ingredient the original recipe calls for, this is a fantastic gluten-free playdough recipe!