Make Your Own Play-Doh

posted by Gina

Who doesn’t love Play-Doh?

There’s something for all ages – from the mucking-about-with-it Pre-K-style to the sculpt-yourself-some-impressive-creations (I’m looking at you, Josie) up-through-6th-Grade-or-so style.

But it dries out.  The colors get muddled.  And you find yourself not wanting to shell out for yet another set of little yellow tubs.

Fear not, my friends – because it is insanely easy to make Play-Doh at home. 

Making your own Play-Doh means:

  • Never needing to settle for crumbly, dried-out dough.
  • Having all the colors you want on hand.

Plus, you get bonus options:

  • Older kids can make it for younger kids, magically bringing the family together.
  • A set of homemade Play-Doh is a great homemade present for kids to give classmates, friends, or younger siblings and relatives.
  • It’s a dandy party-favor idea.

I scoured my resources for an easy recipe that uses ingredients you’re likely to have at home and that produces an as-close-to-the-store-brand-as-possible result.  Surely enough, the answer was found in that old standby, Mudworks.

If you don’t already have this book, it’s chock-full of easy recipes, with handy age recommendations and tips.

The “Salty Fundough” recipe is an old standy, and for good reason: it’s easy, quick, and makes a dough that fully satisfies both my inner four and twelve year olds.

Here’s what you need:


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp oil

 *Bonus math time!  This is, obviously, a super easy recipe to double (or triple).  Nothing says real world math like cooking.

 Here’s what you do*:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a pot or a deep-ish pan.


  •  Turn the stove on low heat and cook, stirring fairly constantly.

Lesson learned:  while a whisk was fine for the initial combination, it soon because clear this was not the appropriate kitchen implement.


Use a wooden spoon instead.


Once the dough has thickened – and it only takes a few minutes – remove from heat and let cool.

DSCN0608The dough doesn’t take long to cool, and can be played with in a mere five minutes or so.

Larry the Cat waits patiently.

Want some color?

It’s easiest to add food coloring to your water and color your dough while cooking – the color comes out evenly and you don’t risk staining your hands.

However, if you want to divide your dough after cooking to make multiple colors, you can easily add food coloring once the dough is already made.  If you fold the color in and press the dough down, then continue to fold and press, you leave your fingers largely stain free.



Plus, you get that festive tie-dye effect whilst you knead.


The more food coloring you use, of course, the deeper your colors will be.

Et voila!


Store in Ziplocks or Tupperware and your dough will last close to as long as the store-bought brand.


And because you’re making this yourself, why not try some Fancy Additions?

Scented Dough

  • Steep a peppermint, vanilla, or citrus teabag in a cup of hot water.  Use the tea instead of plain water for a kick of scent. Or infuse your water with your own, nice-smelling herbs (have a rosemary plant?).
  • Add cocoa powder or ground cinnamon.
  • Add essential oils or extracts – try vanilla, peppermint, or almond.

Combine oils, powders, and teas to create your own combinations, like:

  • Cocoa powder and vanilla for hot chocolate scented dough.
  • Vanilla tea and vanilla and caramel extract for cookie dough scented dough.

Experiment with adding scent during the cooking and during the kneading process – which works better? How much cocoa powder is too much?  Budding scientists can track their results.

Glitter Dough!

(I add the cautionary note that glitter should never be used in dough that might be used by children who might rub the dough on their faces or touch their faces with dough-y hands because glitter is super dangerous and will scratch your eyes and no one should use it ever because it’s not safe.)

That said – shake a whole lot o’glitter into that dough and you’ve got yourself some sparkletime. Older kids, have at it.

* A note:  I was going to try recipes out on my nephew while visiting family over the weekend, so as to get that fabulous kid-tested-and-approved action in the photos.  Henry, however, insisted on spending the weekend like this:


So he’s to blame for the lack of human interest in my dough creation.

Author: Gina L. Grandi

Moderately well-read. Fairly socially awkward. According to Greg, 'a sentimental cynic with artistic sensibilities.' Somewhat nifty.

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