8 Fun and Simple Homemade Playdough Recipes

Child playing with playdough

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Playdough is a favorite toy for young children. It offers the chance for them to explore their creative side, making all sorts of fun shapes, figures, and games out of the moldable clay-like compound. While you can buy Play-Doh at the store, it's also incredibly easy to make at home.

Whether you're looking for a fun DIY project for an afternoon or simply want to know exactly what is in the playdough your kids are playing with, there are many simple recipes you can use.

All of these playdough recipes are for children aged 2 years or older and most use common kitchen ingredients, so they cost next to nothing to make.

Keep in mind that playing with playdough requires adult supervision at all times. This is especially true if your little one is still trying to put all sorts of things into their mouth (or they are having a little too much messy fun pouring the ingredients all over your kitchen).

Some of these playdoughs are made with ingredients like peanut butter and Kool-Aid, so they're even more tempting. While they won't harm your child if they eat it, it best to avoid letting them do so in the first place.


Rubbery Playdough

The simplest playdough you can make, this recipe requires just three ingredients. It creates a rubbery playdough that kids will enjoy playing with and it keeps its shape well. You can give it color by simply adding a little food coloring if you like.

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup cornstarch

Mix the ingredients with a fork until smooth. Boil over medium heat until thick. Spoon onto a plate or wax paper and allow it to cool.


Nature's Playdough

A natural recipe, this playdough is dyed with vegetable juices. You can use beets for a pink color, spinach for green, and carrots to create a fun shade of orange.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Beet, spinach, or carrot juice

Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and oil, and slowly add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool.

Knead the playdough with your hands until it gets a proper consistency. Use as is, or divide it into smaller balls and add a few drops of the vegetable juices to make it green, pink, or orange.


Tempera Playdough

For brilliant colors, pick up some powdered tempera paint. Be sure to choose one that is non-toxic. This is usually easy to find because it's a preferred paint for kids and used often in finger painting. The best part is that it offers many more color options than food coloring alone.

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered tempera paint
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Mix together the flour, powdered paint, and salt. Mix water and oil, and food coloring, if desired. Gradually stir the water and oil mix into the flour mixture. Knead the playdough as you add the liquid. Add a little more water if it's too stiff and more flour if it's sticky.


Alum Playdough

This playdough recipe uses alum. It's an ingredient that is often used when pickling fruits and vegetables to keep the foods crispy and it gives the playdough a nice firm texture. You can typically find small containers of alum right alongside other spices at the grocery store.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons powdered alum
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Liquid food coloring

Mix the dry ingredients in a large pan. Stir the oil and food coloring into the water. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients while mixing, squeezing, and kneading the playdough. If it's too sticky, add a little more flour.

This playdough keeps best in the refrigerator.


Just Like Real Play-Doh

If you're looking for a good imitation of real Play-Doh, it's said that this is one of the best recipes you'll find. Again, it uses alum, which is combined with flour and salt. The vanilla extract gives it a very pleasant smell that makes playtime even more enjoyable.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered alum
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Food coloring

Mix all the dry ingredients. Stir in the oil and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Divide into balls and knead in the food coloring.


Oatmeal Playdough

When all you have is flour and oatmeal in the pantry, you can still make playdough. This is probably one of the safest and easiest recipes and it doesn't require any heat on the stove.

This recipe creates a stickier playdough than most and it has a unique texture. If you want to give it even more texture, add a small amount of cornmeal or coffee grounds. When left with its natural color, it's rather similar to a coarse modeling clay.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup water

Combine the flour and oatmeal in a bowl. Gradually stir in the water. Knead until mixed and add food coloring if you like.


Nutty Butter Playdough

A very fun recipe, this one's almost yummy enough to eat, though that is still not recommended. Make sure this playdough is not used by infants under 12 months of age who should not consume honey.

The mixture creates a fun playdough with a great fragrance. Also, there's no cooking involved, so it's ready to play with right away.

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup oatmeal

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients until they're combined well. It might be good to play with this one on a covered surface because it may be a little sticky.


Kool-Aid Playdough

A very popular recipe, using Kool-Aid in playdough gives it both a really great color and a sweet smell. This may be a little too tempting for some kids, so be sure to remind them that this is a toy and not food.

This playdough is super soft and very flexible, so kids will really like playing with it. It's fantastic for making playdough hair on little people and animals. Also, it keeps very well, so you should be able to reuse it for quite some time.

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 package Kool-aid (any flavor)
  • 3 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon alum
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

Combine the boiling water and Kool-Aid, stirring until it's completely dissolved. Mix in the oil, salt, and alum, then knead with flour. It may take up to 1 extra cup of flour. Use more if the dough draws moisture in high humidity.

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  1. The Nemours Foundation. Kids Health. Can I feed my baby honey?. Updated October 2018.