Fab Family Fun: Make Your Own Play Dough

Hey moms, why do we hate play dough?  Is it because it’s one of the few things that keeps kids entertained for more than 3 minutes and doesn’t have studies against it proving it will fry their brains?  Or is it because it fosters creativity and hand-eye coordination?  Oh yeah, it’s because of the MESS it makes!

I don’t have a magic play dough alternative that requires no clean up, but I do have one that requires a lot less.  I mean, it is what it is, and if your kids’ favorite thing to make with it are those long little snakes in all sizes and colors, you will still get play dough bits on your floor and table.  BUT they are a lot less messy than real play dough bits because they’re not as sticky or mushy!  And homemade play dough is cheaper than buying the real stuff.

Cooked Play Dough

3 cups flour
1 cup salt
6 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 cups water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Food coloring

Mix flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large saucepan. Blend water and oil together in a bowl. Add to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. Add several drops of food coloring until you get the right color. Cook for about five minutes. Take the play dough out of the saucepan and put it on a cutting board or counter and knead for a few minutes. Add flour if it’s too sticky.  Play dough should last around three months if you keep it sealed in an airtight container or resealable bag. 

Recipe comes from easy-kids-recipes.com


  • Lisa

    This is my absolute all time favorite play dough recipe! The texture is much better than all the other play doughs I’ve tried (I used to teach prescool so I’ve tried a lot). I’d like to add another tip. If you add a Kool Aid packet (the little ones that don’t have the sugar already in them) they will not only color the dough for you, but will add a scent to it as well. My favorite is orange.

    • Sherri

      I do the same thing, using the kool-aid, and it is my fav recipe too! The kids love the different smells! I usually let them each choose one color and we make 3 different batches and then they share.

  • Jennifer

    Another fun play dough add in is cocoa powder. Chocolate play dough smells so yummy, kiddos might be tempted to eat it. Luckily all the salt makes it taste terrible so they aren’t likely to try more than once!

  • Angela

    Love playdough! I think my recipe is very similar. I like the mix-in ideas, but have never tried them. I’ll have to do it!

  • Teri

    Kool aid is the best to use for coloring. The colors are brighter and it makes the dough smell good. I have found it takes 4 packets of red (to a single batch of dough) to get red, otherwise it will be pink. The color also gets darker as the dough cools.

  • TeacherLaLa

    We just made this play-dough and it came out great. I agree, if using KoolAid, you will need to add more than one packet for smell and color.

  • CathyB

    Here is my favorite recipe that is just a little different. My kids’ preschool teacher gave it out every year, as it is the recipe that she used for her preschool. These are the things I like about it: 1) It uses less salt so hands don’t get that “salty crust” that they often do with many homemade playdoh recipes. 2) No cooking! You do have to wait overnight for it to be just right however. 3) It lasts FOREVER! I currently have a double batch in an airtight container that has lasted for 3 years. The batch before that I only threw out because it was starting to get dirty, but still very soft and pliable.

    My Friends Preschool Playdough Recipe:

    Measure into a large bowl: 1/2 cup salt, 3 cups flour, 1/4 cup vegetable oil

    In a 2 cup glass measuring cup put : 1 T alum or Cream of Tartar, food coloring or 1-2 pkg of unsweetened kool-aid. Add boiling water to equal 2 cups liquid total

    Add liquid to flour mixture. Stir well with a heavy spoon until entire batch is thouroughly blended. Dough will be quite moist – but do not add more flour. As it sets overnight the moisture is absorbed by the flour and the next day the playdough is “just right.” Store in an airtight container. Knead well just before it is used the first time.

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