The Best (Tried-and-Tested) Playdough Recipes

Updated: November 1, 2021
From cooked, uncooked, edible to inedible, we’ve got a playdough recipe (and ingredient list) for every parent, carer, and child. You’ll love these!

If you’re looking for the best homemade playdough recipe, chances are we’ve included it here. There’s something for everyone from cooked to no-cook, edible to gluten-free. Roll up your sleeves and pretend you’re a preschool teacher, your kids will thank you by being occupied for hours.

If it’s a rainy day and you’re on the hunt for fun activities for kids, making homemade playdough is a great choice. We’ve gathered a number of easy playdough recipes that are great for getting kids active in the kitchen and learning through play. Mixing and measuring playdough utilizes sneaky math skills. Watching liquids change to solids and various ingredients combine falls under science. And, getting creative with colors can even add in a little art lesson. Once your favorite playdough recipe is ready, your little one can have their very own playdough sensory play.

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We love that there are so many ways to create DIY playdough. Whether you choose to utilize the stovetop or a no-cook option, you can make edible recipes that are safe for even the youngest kids. Keep some air-tight containers or Ziploc bags handy so that you can make these easy playdough recipes last for days or even months.

For even more ways to have fun in the kitchen, check out our homemade playdough video tutorial!

1. Classic Homemade Playdough Recipe

This is a classic recipe for standard cooked playdough. When stored properly it can last up to 6 months. If you find that it is starting to dry out, squish in a little more vegetable oil. If it starts to sweat, knead in a little more flour. For best results, let this playdough cool completely before storing. Wrap in plastic wrap first, and then store in an air-tight container or plastic Ziplock bag.

Equipment

  • Saute Pan
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Wax Paper

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • Gel food coloring
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and a few drops of food coloring in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until warm. Remove from heat and add to a mixing bowl with flour.
  2. Stir into a ball and then allow to cool on wax paper.
  3. Once cool to the touch, knead with hands until smooth. If you want more vibrant colors you can add a few more drops of food coloring while kneading the dough. Note: The cream of tartar makes this dough last 6 months or longer, so resist the temptation to omit this ingredient if you don't have it on hand.
  4. Store this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag, the less air it comes into contact with the longer this playdough will last.

2. Edible Kool-Aid Playdough

making playdough with koolaid

The Best Ideas for Kids has a great edible, though not super tasty, Kool-Aid Playdough recipe you have got to try. The more kool-aid powder you add the more vibrant the colors and scent will be. Each Kool-Aid powder will make different colors of playdough, so mix and match to make your favorite colors. Keep in mind that the playdough itself is a beige color, like cookie dough, so you may need to add more powder for colors like blue and green than you do for red or purple. Have fun experimenting!

Equipment

  • Saute Pan
  • Mixing Bowl

Materials

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 packets of Kool-Aid 
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine all of your dry ingredients and mix well (flour, cream of tartar, salt, and Kool-Aid powder).
  2. Add vegetable oil and water to saute pan.
  3. Add dry ingredients to saute pan and mix well.
  4. Cook on low heat until playdough starts to form and dry out.
  5. Once a ball of dough has formed, remove it from heat and allow it to cool to the touch.
  6. Once the dough is cooled, knead together until smooth and soft to the touch.
  7. Store in an air-tight container for up to 6 months.

3. 3-Ingredient Salt Playdough

homemade salt dough

This simple salt dough recipe is perfect when you need a quick activity with limited prep time.  Likely you have all three ingredients already in your kitchen cabinets, just salt, flour, and water.  The best part about this recipe is that it can be baked after you’re all done playing.  Give your kids some rolling pins and cookie cutters, use a straw to poke a hole at the top, and then bake at 150℉ until fully dry, turning regularly. Once cooled add a string or ribbon through the hole, and you have adorable handmade ornaments. 

Equipment

  • Saute Pan
  • Mixing Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl add salt and flour and mix well.
  2. Gradually add water to the flour mixture while stirring to incorporate.
  3. Once the dough is formed into a ball, use your hands to knead until smooth and soft.
  4. If the dough feels a little sticky add more flour, if it feels too dry add more water.
  5. This playdough is best used once and baked, or discarded, rather than stored to use again.

4. The Best No Cook Playdough Recipe

no cook playdough

Follow this easy tutorial by The Artful Parent for a super simple no-cook playdough recipe. The results are beautiful and will last for multiple uses when stored correctly.

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Wax Paper

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Liquid Watercolors, or Food Coloring
  • 2 cups of boiling water (hot water if kids are helping)

Directions

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Make a well in the center and add oil and watercolors/food coloring.
  3. Pour in hot water and mix.
  4. The mixture will look goopy, just let it sit for a few minutes to firm up.
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl and hand knead for a few minutes until smooth and soft.

5. Scented Playdough Recipe

rolling scented playdough

Essential Oils are a great way to make lovely-smelling playdough. Not only does this playdough smell great, but it helps make sensory play even more engaging. The Pinning Mama recommends oils such as peppermint, citrus, lemon, lime, and even lavender. Because your child will be coming into contact with essential oils, please make sure that they are safe for the age of your child. This is a great no cook recipe to try with your little ones.

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups of hot or boiling water
  • 10-15 drops of essential oil
  • Food coloring

Directions

  1. Add the salt, flour, and cream of tartar together in a bowl.
  2. Combine essential oil with vegetable oil and add to the dry ingredients.
  3. Boil water and food coloring.
  4. Pour 1 cup of water into the mixture and stir. Slowly add the additional ½ cup of water until desired consistency has been met.
  5. Knead for a few minutes until soft and smooth.

6. Gluten-Free Playdough Recipe

gluten free playdough recipes

Against All Grain has a great Natural Gluten-Free playdough recipe that lasted for over a year stored in a glass container! Having a gluten-free option is great for kids who have contact allergies, or who may give their playdough a taste test when they can’t ingest gluten.

Equipment

  • Parchment Paper
  • Large pot of skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of rice flour
  • ⅓ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup of table salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • Natural food dyes

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except for food dyes into a deep skillet.
  2. Turn the burner to low and cook for 3-5 minutes stirring constantly while the dough forms.
  3. Turn off the heat and transfer the dough to parchment paper.
  4. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
  5. Divide dough into 2 parts and add a few drops of food dye to each part.
  6. Knead the dough to incorporate the coloring. If you only want one color of dough, add the dye to the water at the beginning.

Start Playing 

Just as playdough can be stretched and molded to create absolutely anything, the possibilities are endless when creating your own homemade playdough recipes. Even if you don’t have a specific ingredient like cream of tartar or coconut oil on hand, there are lots of options to choose from. Kids will have just as much fun making the dough as they will playing with it, and you’ll never need to buy jars of Play-Doh from the store again.