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Homemade Play Dough Recipe

Updated on December 31, 2007
homemade play dough, bagged and ready for the kids
homemade play dough, bagged and ready for the kids

Our son just recently turned two, and this year we were having a hard time finding good stocking stuffers that were both small enough to fit in a stocking but not choking hazards. My husband came up with the idea of giving him Play-Doh. We soon realized, however, that Play-Doh does not list its ingredients anywhere publicly and that it is also made in China where production standards are much more lenient. Since our son is still at a young age where he is likely to attempt to put something like play dough into his mouth, we didn't want to risk it with something that has such uncertain origins and ingredients. No harm done, however, because we simply researched ways to make homemade play dough from scratch.

It turns out that a good quality play dough that keeps for a long time is quite easy to make from simple food-grade ingredients. With this homemade play dough, we know exactly what ingredients are in what our child will be playing with and exactly how the dough was made. I love this recipe, because it is easy to make, the perfect consistency for play, and it keeps for a long time as long as it is stored securely. Have fun!

(Remember, of course, that young children should still be supervised while playing with something like play dough, of course, no matter how certain you are that it is non-toxic.)

Homemade Play Dough Recipe

makes four 2 1/2 inch diameter balls of play dough


  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 15-20 drops of food coloring per ball (4 balls per batch)

Preparation Instructions:

1. In a small, non-stick sauce-pan, mix the warm water, salt, cream of tartar, and canola oil. Slowly blend in the flour, getting rid of clumps.

2. When blended, turn the stove eye to medium heat (medium-low on a gas range). Stir constantly. As it heats, it will begin to clump and turn into dough.

3. When smooth and thickened, remove from heat promptly. Pull the dough out of the pan and let cool a little. Start kneeding as soon as possible until well-blended and appropriate consistency. Divide into four even balls.

4. Add food-coloring five drops at a time to each ball until color is evenly mixed in and desired hue. (Wash hands between colors). Let cool.

5. Place the colorful dough balls in plastic bags or airtight containers when cooled. Have fun!


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    • profile image

      Zia 6 years ago

      thanks it works!

    • profile image

      Andrew Nesheim 7 years ago

      It was worth making being a 11 year old kid...

      We were going to play cranium and the clay dried out so we made new stuff and work super well.

    • profile image

      Kaylee 7 years ago

      Thanks for the information! Im 11, And my little sister made a pretend playdoh kitchen, She had little playdoh tools and made things like pie, pizza, tacos, etc., Which really interested me. I loved watching her play and soon enough it looked really fun. The playdoh she gave me was really dry so I decided to find a recipe, And you guys had the PERFECT one. My mom and dad helped, And everyone enjoyed it. And what do ya know, My parents even played their own. Thanks again for the very good recipe, We will always enjoy.

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      Melissa 7 years ago

      My daughter is in pre-school and her teachers always made homemade play-dough and it smelled so good I didn't get 2 ask them for a recipe and my kids wanted me to buy play dough and it's not that expenbsive but $$ is tight so we decided to make our own and this recipe sounds like the 1 we wioll try

    • profile image

      monici 7 years ago

      what can you use instand of cream of tarter

    • profile image

      josie 7 years ago

      i needed it for a school project and couldn't buy any so we had to make some and i searched on Google and found this it worked very good thanks

    • profile image

      kkkjuy 7 years ago

      kool i am trin it

    • Ciplenok77 profile image

      Ciplenok77 8 years ago

      I tried this with my daughter and she was delighted. The recipe I use is very similar. If you like you can check it on my link

    • AmberL profile image

      AmberL 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, check out my kool-aid playdoh recipe! That is a great one too!!

    • profile image

      joey 8 years ago

      i am going to try this my lil brother and sister wunts play doh ...

    • profile image

      Fuzzy 9 years ago

      I really want to try this. Lately I've been obsessed with play-doh and think that making when my friend is over may be the perfect thing. Thanks for the great idea and it was smart to make your own with a little toddler!

    • Melissa Ray Davis profile image

      Melissa Ray Davis 9 years ago from Swannanoa, NC

      Pahko, Yes, this one worked very well for forming and holding its shape. I wouldn't recommend eating it, though, because while it would technically be safe, it wouldn't be very good. I'd look for a specifically "edible" recipe for that.

    • pahko profile image

      pahko 9 years ago from The Voices In My Head

      I may try that. I remember making play dough when I was a little kid. Mine just turned out kind of "OK". It wasn't fun. I did something wrong. It didn't mold very well. With this recipe here, I wonder if you can flavor it? Cinnamon oil maybe? Last time I tried eating homemade play dough it tasted awful. Next time I'll have better success, and it won't taste bad. There's hope. Great article! Chip chip!

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      skyler 9 years ago

      it cme in handy for us thanks