This easy homemade play dough recipe uses common kitchen ingredients, is cheaper than store-bought playdough, and it’s perfect for a natural sensory play experience. Plus it takes less than 10 minutes (usually less than 5!) to make a batch and your kids will enjoy it for months because this playdough recipe will last for a long time.
I love doing fun things with my kids, but I don’t do DIY stuff as often as I’d like because of time and the mess; I have enough messes to clean up as it is without purposefully adding to it!
I look on Pinterest and see all these cute craft projects and ideas for kids. I pin that glitter project that’s momentarily caught my eye and for a fleeting moment, I contemplate actually attempting it. And then the realist in me takes over and I know it’s not going to happen.
Can any of you relate? We’d all love to be those fantastic crafty moms but the simple truth is most of us are just too tired and busy.
If that’s you – or even if you are an amazing crafty mom (my hat’s off to you!) – then this DIY playdough recipe is for you.
Why DIY play dough?
In my experience, this play dough recipe doesn’t crumble and make as big of a mess as the store bought “Play-Doh”. It also lasts longer – we have a batch from well over a year ago that’s still going strong!
Store bought playdough can get expensive especially if you have multiple kids as I do. Those containers are small and if your kids leave the lids off those tricky to snap on lids, it dries out.
Homemade play dough is easy to make and super easy to store. Just drop it in a ziploc bag and it will last for months!
I found this recipe a long time ago and after a few modifications, it’s truly become the best homemade playdough we’ve ever tried. And with four kids, we’ve gone through a lot of playdough!
Natural Homemade Playdough
Of course, homemade play dough is non-toxic too.
If you prefer knowing exactly what ingredients your children are playing with, this play dough is for you. The ingredients are simple, common household ingredients you probably already have around your house. This makes this playdough a perfect natural play option.
Because this recipe is preserved with salt, it will taste very salty, meaning your children will probably have no desire to eat it. (Of course, you should always supervise young children playing.)
Gluten-free? Try my gluten-free playdough recipe.
How to Make Play Dough
This homemade playdough recipe is so quick and easy to make, you can make a full batch in less than 10 minutes and your kids will love playing with it for hours!
I often make 4-6 batches in just 30 minutes because once your pan is heated up, you can whip up batch after batch very quickly.
You’ll need flour, water, cream of tartar*, salt, vegetable or canola oil, and food coloring.
One batch of this homemade play dough makes a large amount, about equal to 2-3 storebought containers.
Tip: you might want to halve this playdough recipe if you want to use different colors. I made 6 batches of the full recipe because my four kids wanted multiple colors, plus it’s nice to have more dough to go around.
1. Add flour, cream of tartar, and salt to a saucepan
*Yes, that is 1/3 cup of salt. If you use 1/3 teaspoon or tablespoon, you’ll end up with very sticky play dough. The salt works to keep your homemade playdough from sticking and also helps preserve it, so you definitely want the full amount.
2. Add water, vegetable oil, and food coloring.
Add a few drops of food color to 1 cup of water, then stir into the flour mixture along with 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil.
I highly recommend using gel food coloring; not only does it last a LONG time (a little goes a long way), but you’ll need gel food coloring if you want the vibrant colors you see in this post.
Tip: I’ve adjusted the original recipe to include adding the food coloring in this step as it’s even easier to evenly blend the color into your playdough compared to waiting later. Thanks to the readers who suggested this! (This update is why the photo instructions aren’t colored yet.)
3. Cook and stir until your playdough starts to solidify.
Heat your burner to medium/low and stir.
It will be a little lumpy. That’s okay.
Keep stirring until it starts getting a little solid. If there are still a few lumps, that’s ok – you can work them out later.
If your stove is already hot or you have a gas stove, this will only take 20-30 seconds, but it may take 2-3 minutes if your electric stove is still heating up.
4. Keep stirring.
Keep stirring your play dough mixture.
As you can see, I USED to add the food coloring at this point – and you can too – however it IS easier to add it along with the water.
Now the dough will start becoming thicker and a little lumpy. Just keep stirring.
Once the dough starts gathering together around the spoon you know it’s done. This may be 20 seconds or 2 minutes; it depends on how hot your stove is.
My first batch of easy homemade play dough took a bit longer, but once we got going, it literally only took a few seconds and a total of 2 minutes from start to finish for each batch.
5. Remove from the saucepan and cool.
Remove your homemade playdough from the saucepan and put it on some waxed paper or a plate to cool.
6. Squish and knead your doh to remove lumps
Once it’s cooled, I like to knead the play dough for a minute or two to get out any lumps and to get it to a better consistency. Then again it could just be my excuse to squish it myself before handing it over to the kids…it is kind of fun.
That’s it! You’ve made homemade playdough!
Don’t you want to just squish this soft playdough?!
How to store play dough
In order for your playdough to last for a long time as ours has, I recommend storing it in a sealed ziploc bag. We use sandwich or quart bags.
Make sure your play dough is completely cool before you put it away. If it’s not, your playdough will become musty and even mold.
If your play dough does become dry, you can work a few drops of water into it to restore.
I get so many comments and questions that I can’t answer all of them. I recommend checking out the link above for frequently-asked-questions. Thanks for reading!
Add-Ins to your playdough recipe
For a fun play dough variation, try this scented playdough with essential oils. It’s great for relaxing sensory play for kids with autism or ADHD. Or any time you prefer a calming activity for your children.
Try a holiday twist with one of these fun options:
Here are some free printable playdough mats for even more fun:
- free printable shape playdoh mats
- Cupcake themed play dough mats
- Winter themed free printable play dough mats
- apple tree playdough mats
Less-crumbly, less-junk, and more fun, this homemade playdough recipe can be made in less than 10 minutes!
- Mix together all the ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan.
- Cook over low/medium heat, stirring.
- Continue stirring until the mixture is thickened and begins to gather around the spoon.
- Remove the dough onto wax paper or a plate to cool.
Cool completely before storing in a ziplock bag or sealed container.
Keywords: homemade, playdough, recipe, quick and easy, non-toxic, salt, flour, food coloring
Questions? Click here for Easy Homemade Playdough FAQ
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