What’s not to love about playdough? The kids love playing with it, and we moms love the hands-on exploration and engagement it provides. As a mom and former elementary teacher, pulling out the playdough has often been a surefire way to knock out boredom with my kids or students, calm down an emotional child, or keep little ones busy when I need to get a quick task done.
My son (Fitz, five years old) and I tried making our own playdough today, and we want to share the recipe and tips with you! I’m not one to be that great in the kitchen, so I promise you, if I can make a great batch of homemade playdough, you can too!
Why Make Your Own Playdough?
There are a few benefits that we found to making our own playdough! I didn’t think of some until we made it ourselves, and we are so glad we did.
- If stored properly, it can last longer than store-bought playdough. Put it in a Ziplock bag placed in an airtight plastic container.
- It’s cheaper than buying store-bought playdough, especially if your kids are really into it and use it often. All you need are simple ingredients, and you probably have them on hand already!
- It smells so much better! I strongly dislike the scent of store-bought playdough, and the homemade kind smells fresh and doughy.
- You can also add your own scents to make the smell even better. Just add your preferred scented extract to your next playdough batch!
- Kids love mixing and making their own fun colors. You can get different shades other than what is sold at the store.
- It’s really fun to make together. Fitz loved being part of the process, and he was such a good helper.
- Anytime your kids are cooking in the kitchen with you, you can call it a science lesson! We talked about how the different ingredients work together to serve a purpose for the dough. Fun + learning is a win-win, in my opinion!
No-Bake Homemade Playdough Recipe
We used this recipe that uses boiling water instead of baking. We liked it because it made small batches so we could quickly and easily make a few different colors.
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup salt
- We chose a fine salt so that it mixed in better. The salt is essential to keep your playdough fresher for longer.
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- This helps to make your dough nice and stretchy. If you notice your dough is too tough, you can add some more cream of tartar to make it more malleable.
- ½ cup boiling water
- ½ tbsp vegetable oil
- Food dye: Gel will make your colors brighter, and the regular liquid will be more pastel.
- (Optional) extract: We loved making our playdough smell like fruit! Strawberry and lemon extract is easy to find and smells so good. You could also use almond, vanilla, or cinnamon or add drops of essential oils if you have them.
First, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and cream of tartar) together in a plastic bowl. Then, push them to the edge of the bowl to make a well in the center of the bowl.
Then add the wet ingredients (boiling water and vegetable oil) into the well.
This was also when we added the food coloring and scented extract. Today we used strawberry for our red and lemon for our yellow playdough. (We kept the blue without a scent so we could see what it naturally smelled like . . . and it was so good too!) After adding the wet ingredients, use a spatula to mix until the dough begins forming.
Then we used our hands to further knead the dough together. You will want to be sure all the color gets mixed in evenly too. Having disposable gloves on hand was helpful because the dough will be hot due to the boiling water. It also keeps your hands from getting colored by the dye as it mixes in. Fitz loved this part!
That’s it! You have your homemade playdough. You can always adjust any ingredients if necessary:
- If it’s too sticky, you can add some flour.
- Adding more boiling water will help if it’s too dry.
- If you need it to be stretchier, add a dash more of the cream of tartar.
Playing with your homemade dough.
You don’t have to have fancy or expensive equipment to have fun with your homemade playdough! These are our favorite (and simple!) ways to play:
- Get out cookie cutters and make shapes that go with the season.
- Use forks and spoons to make shapes, mold the dough, and add texture.
- Other kitchen tools, like ice cream scoopers, tongs, and spatulas, allow for scooping, spreading, and other exploration!
Finally, don’t forget to provide a designated playdough play area to keep things contained and easy to pick up. A cookie sheet works for a quick and small workspace. We also often use a foam board that we tuck away and can easily pull out to reuse. Or, spread out a splat mat on the ground for a larger space that you can easily wash after play!
Our final rating: 10/10! We loved making our own playdough, and Fitz already has ideas on what colors and scents he wants to try next. What do you think — would you make your own homemade playdough? We’d love to know if you try it!