8 Fun and Simple Playdough Recipes

Child playing with playdough

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Playdough is a favorite among 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. It also helps them to build motor skills. While you can buy ready-made Play-Doh, it's actually very easy to make at home, which can save on costs and trips to the store.

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

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

Playdough Safety

All of these playdough recipes are for children ages 2 years or older. Homemade playdough likely won't harm your child if they eat it, but it's still best to avoid it. Be mindful of any allergies your child may have to the ingredients in a given recipe.


Rubbery Playdough

The simplest playdough you can make, this rubbery playdough recipe requires just three ingredients. Kids will enjoy playing with this dough because it keeps its shape well. Plus, you can use this activity to teach children about measurements and cooking.

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • food coloring (optional)

Mix the ingredients in a bowl with a fork until smooth. Add food coloring if desired. Boil in a pot over medium heat until thick. Spoon onto a plate or wax paper and allow to cool.

Rubbery playdough may last two weeks or more in an air-tight container stored in your fridge.

To avoid staining hands and surfaces when using food coloring, try mixing the dye into the recipe while cooking. If you decide to add food coloring after a recipe is cooked, try rolling the dough into a ball and pressing a thumbprint into it to make a small well. Add a few drops of color to the well and carefully knead the dough while wearing gloves. Alternatively, you can place the dough with food color into a locking plastic bag and knead it within the bag. Allow your child to help squish the bag of dough for a fun sensory activity.


Veggie-Dyed Playdough

This playdough is dyed with vegetable juices instead of food coloring. You can use beets for pink, spinach for green, and carrots for orange. Use juices that are already made or create you own with a juicer. Strain kitchen-made juice to remove any pulp before mixing it into the dough.

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

In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and oil. Slowly add the water to the mixture. Carefully cook in a pot over medium heat, stirring until the dough becomes stiff. Turn out the dough onto wax paper and let it cool.

Knead the playdough with your hands until it gets to the right consistency. Divide it into small balls and add a few drops of the vegetable juices to make it pink, green, or orange. Wrap the playdough in cling film and put in a plastic food storage bag in the fridge to store it.


Tempera Paint Playdough

For brilliant colors, pick up some non-toxic, powdered tempera paint. Tempera is usually easy to find because it's a preferred paint for kids and used often in finger painting. The best features of making tempera paint playdough are that it offers many color options and there's no cooking involved.

  • 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 in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine water and oil. Gradually stir water and oil concoction into the dry 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.

Keep the playdough in a sealed container in the refrigerator for additional use.


Alum Playdough

This playdough recipe uses alum, which gives the dough a nice firm texture. Alum is an ingredient that is often used when pickling fruits and vegetables to keep them crispy. You can typically find small containers of alum alongside other spices at the grocery store.

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

In a large pan, mix the food coloring, oil, and water. Add to it the alum, salt, and flour. Cook this combination on medium heat while consistently stirring until it is not sticky.

Cool the mixture on wax paper. Once it is no longer hot to the touch, the dough is ready to use. This playdough keeps best in the refrigerator in a food storage bag.


Classic Playdough

If you're looking for a good imitation of Play-Doh, this is one of the best recipes. 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 in a pot. Add 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 the dough into balls and knead in the food coloring.

Repeated usage of the alum dough is possible if it is kept cool in an air-tight container.


Oatmeal Playdough

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

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.

  • 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.

As with the other playdoughs on this list, your oatmeal dough may be used again if it is stored in the fridge.


Peanut Butter Playdough

A fun recipe that dispels the adage, "Don't play with your food," this one's also good for nibbling (as long as allergies to any of its ingredients are not an issue). 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 for play and snacking right away.

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients until they're combined well. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. It might be good to play with this one on a covered surface because it may be a little sticky.

To ensure the dough's longevity, tightly wrap it with cling wrap and leave it in the fridge. It will stay for a few months, but don't eat any of it after the first use.


Kool-Aid Playdough

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.

Kool-Aid playdough is super soft and very flexible. It's fantastic for making vibrant 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 in a heat-safe bowl, stirring until it's completely dissolved. Mix in the oil, salt, and alum. Add in flour and mix as needed until dough forms. Remove dough, let it cool, and then knead until it is smooth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make playdough without cream of tartar?

Yes, you can make playdough without cream of tartar. In recipes that include it, the cream of tartar acts as a preservative and can help provide elasticity and a smooth consistency, but you don't need it to make homemade playdough. Cornstarch, alum, baking soda, and flour are some other key ingredients in popular playdough recipes.

How can I fix dry playdough?

You can try to fix dry playdough by adding a few drops of water or oil (depending on the recipe's original ingredients) and kneading until pliable. You can also try wrapping the dough in a moist paper towel for a couple of hours, and then kneading it back to softness.

1 Source
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  1. Nemours KidsHealth. Can I feed my baby honey?.

By Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown is a parenting writer with experience in the Head Start program and in NAEYC accredited child care centers.