Let me show you how to make playdough. It is a great kid’s activity and this is seriously the best homemade playdough out there!  It is easy enough for kids to help with, only takes about 10-15 minutes, and gives you comparable results to store-bought playdough. It’s super soft, edible, and even smoother than the real thing.

Mood Sand (or Kinetic sand) is another fun sensory mixture for kids to play with.

how to make homemade playdough

How to Make Playdough

You probably have all the necessary materials on hand in your pantry. You are going to love this simple DIY playdough recipe! If you had fun with this and want more goopy goodness, check out How to make Slime and our other fun recipes below!

Homemade Playdough Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • food coloring

playdough recipe

How to make homemade playdough step-by-step

When in this process you allow your kids to assist is entirely up to you.  Younger children can mix dry ingredients, older kids can stir (supervised) at the stove top, and adding food coloring is fun for everyone.  My son is under two, so he mainly helps me with the “playing” part.

Please supervise your children and use caution with the stove and hot dough. If you are concerned about the stove, boiling water or hot dough, keep reading – I have a no-cook play dough recipe at the bottom. Either way you will know how to make playdough and it will be oh so soft and silky!

how to make playdough

  1. Combine all ingredients (except food coloring) in a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Stir over medium heat until smooth. It will go through a clumpy stage – just keep stirring.
  3. Stir continuously until the dough balls (about 1-2 minutes).  Remove from heat.

homemade playdough recipe

  1. When the dough is cool enough to handle, knead the dough until smooth.
  2. Form into a ball.
  3. Divide into as many colors as you’d like to make.  A single batch makes a good amount for four colors.

homemade playdough recipe

  1. Add several drops of food coloring to the divided dough.  Gel food coloring works quite well.  I have not tried liquid food coloring, although some recipes recommend adding that in while the dough is still in the pot so it’s easier to blend.
  2. Knead the food coloring into the dough. To protect your countertop, knead over wax paper.  It may stain your hands, so wear plastic or rubber gloves if you have them (you could also put the dough and food coloring inside a ziplock bag and have the kids squish it around inside).
  3. When the dough is a consistent color, ball and set aside.

homemade playdough

  1. Repeat with the rest of your colors.
  2. Put the dough in separate containers.  Toddler-sized snack containers are a good size, and I have also wrapped the colors individually in wax paper and stored in zip-lock bags.
  3. Store in an air tight container until ready to use.  It will stay soft for several weeks if stored airtight. The playdough can be stored at room temperature for a long time.

Hmm … I feel like I’m forgetting the most important step.  Oh, that’s right – PLAY! Now that you know how to make playdough at home, your kids are in for tons of sensory play and creativity!

For more creative goodness visit Homemade By Jill 

How to make playdough without cooking

Can you make playdough without cooking? Yes, you can! Try:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • food coloring

Mix the wet ingredients together and mix the dry ingredients together. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry until you have the correct consistency.

This is a super quick and easy playdough recipe and it works great! We love this one because children can help with the entire process, although it can be a bit messy. Notice this recipe has no cream of tartar – yes, you can make playdough without cream of tartar.

How do you make the best homemade playdough?

Now that you’ve got the base recipe you like best, try making your own custom colors! Store-bought play doh comes in classic blue, yellow, hot pink, and more, but you can make just about any shade your little ones want with food coloring at home!

  • Or how about adding glitter? My daughter loves any reason to break out the glitter, and it works great with playdough. Add about 1 tablespoon of glitter to each batch. If you’ve got little ones who like to taste test and sample your wares, you might want to pass on this special addition…
  • For wonderfully scented playdough, try kneading in a couple of drops of your favorite essential oils – just playing with this is so relaxing. Or what about giving natural food coloring a try?

There are so many variations on how to make playdough out there, so if you have any recommendations, tips, or tricks, please let us know in the comments! How do you make playdough fun for your kids?

Alum versus Cream of Tartar in Playdough

Some recipes will call for alum instead of cream of tartar. While they aren’t the same thing, they can be interchanged in your playdough recipe, since they both help with texture and consistency.

What does cream of tarter do for playdough? Cream of tartar is an acid, like lemon juice, and is used in cooking as a stabilizing agent for items like meringues and whipped cream. While it does help with the consistency…and I bet you won’t miss it.

More Sensory Fun!

Now that you know how to make playdough, how about giving these other squishy recipes a try? These great ideas will keep kids of all ages playing all day long:

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  1. Thanks for the great post. I love making playdough. I do have a question, I am wondering if It would still work to add some essential oils in it? or to use coconut oil instead of the canola oil? I just don’t keep canola on hand, and I didn’t love the scent and wanted to try the essential oil. Please let me know your thoughts.

  2. I love making playdough with my kids! I think it feels so much better than the store bought stuff!


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