Making your own playdough: it's as easy to make as everyone says it is

December 1 | Guest post by Addie Pobst
Homemade playdough
So it turns out that playdough is actually as easy to make as everyone says. Who knew?

Well, OK, nearly everyone. Despite frequently being told that it was super easy to make, I always thought it would be hard to get it to turn out just right. This is probably because I have a vivid memory of my Mom making a disastrous attempt at playdough when I was a kid. I'm not sure what we did wrong back then, but whatever it was, I was able to avoid it this time.

Our playdough turned out absolutely perfect, without a doubt every bit as good as the store-bought stuff. And my not-quite-three-year-old son loved helping to make it.

Cooking this stuff was pretty strange. At first it really didn't seem like the goo in the pot could possibly work out, but after a few minutes stirring it on the stove it quite suddenly changed texture and voila! We clearly had acheived playdough.

Here's the recipe we used:

Cream of Tarter Playdough Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 2 cups of coloured water
  • 1 Tbsp. of cooking oil
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 cup of salt

Directions

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a medium size or large pan.
  2. Cook slowly on medium-high and stir it until the playdough thickens — just a few minutes.
  3. Keeps best in the fridge in plastic containers.

The recipe said to add the color to the water, which did make it super easy to blend it in, but it also meant that all the playdough was the same color. I used yellow, and then took about half the finished dough and worked in some blue coloring to make green. (I would also have made some orange, but then I discovered we have no red food coloring — I think it all got used to make fake blood a couple Halloweens ago.) It was pretty easy to work the color through, and kneading the dough while it was still warm helped to work it smooth. Next time I don't think I'll worry about coloring the whole batch, and instead split it up after it is cooked and make several colors.

My son's favorite thing to do with the playdough is to make cookies. If I set him up with some cookie cutters, his toy rolling pin, a plate and a spatula, he'll really crank them out!

With cold, rainy weather settling in and lots of indoor playtime in our future, I'm really glad to have finally taken the plunge and made my own playdough. Seriously, give it a try! Take it from me: it's as easy as everyone always told you.

    • That's such a cool idea! I bet it would also help with the flavor a bit, if kids are like I was and can't resist tasting the homemade play doh.

      • So far the consensus with all the kids who have tasted this playdough (they all taste it at least once) is that it's "really salty" – which makes sense, it's basically 1/3 salt. I'm not sure if a little kool aid would mask that flavor!

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    • Make sure you use sugar-free Kool Aid! I didn't and the playdough comes out a little sticky. It still tastes really salty…. not that I know from personal experience or anything (okay, I totally tried it)! 🙂

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  1. This totally brought back memories of the few times my mom made play doh for me. We always added the food coloring at the end, but adding it to the water does sound like it would be easier! How long will it keep in the fridge, and how long can you play with it before it starts to dry out? We never kept homemade play doh for more than a day – it would get crusty and dry.

    • I've got some that's about 4 weeks old, and it's still as soft as the day it was made. Keeping it in the plastic tub when it's not being played with really helps. If you leave it out it gets dry and crusty within a day or two.

  2. My mom's attempts at making playdough were always an epic fail, lol. The colors were also very BLAH. I look forward to trying this recipe in a little bit!

  3. We used to do peanut butter play dough, still all the fun but a yummy little treat after play time (makes clean up easy too)

    1 c. peanut butter
    2/3-1 c. nonfat dry milk
    2 tbsp. honey

    Mix ingredients. Add enough powdered milk to make playdough dry enough to handle.

    Of course if you are planning to eat it you want the play area and hands to be clean, but I remember being given other foods (raisins celery pretzels ect) to use in making sculptures.

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  4. I've made a ton of playdough for my preschool class.

    This chocolate one was amazing, but I had to add more water and oil: http://foothillhomecompanion.blogspot.com/2008/12/do-you-smell-what-i-smell.html

    Galaxy playdough was a huge hit (I used Martha Stewart fine glitter):
    http://fairydustteaching.blogspot.com/2011/05/galaxy-playdough.html

    Pumpkin Pie playdough is amazing:
    http://dinosaursandoctopuses.blogspot.com/2011/09/pumpkin-pie-play-dough.html

    Here's the Jello/Kool Aid kind:
    http://www.dealiciousmom.com/edible-play-dough-10-yummy-recipes/

    I also found links for Cloud Dough and some kind of play dough using coffee grounds but I haven't made them yet 🙂

  5. Useful fact – if you can't get cream of tartar, the equivalent amount of lemon or lime juice will suffice. Had to substitute when we were living in Nepal & couldn't find cream of tartar anywhere for my 2 year old's playdough! It was a wee bit different in texture but pretty good.

  6. I wish I knew this when I was a kid. Our Play-Doh was confiscated after an incident involving the living room carpet.

  7. Aside from the peanut butter version, does anyone know how to make gluten free play dough?

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  8. I remember making this for my younger brother as a kid. Except I didnt know what cream of tartar was and used tartar sauce by mistake 🙂 Mmm savoury playdough!

  9. We LOVE some homemade playdough in my special ed classroom. I think it stays soft longer, and I usually make scented kind (the last batch was mint) and it makes our room smell much better than it usually does 🙂

  10. I manage an early childhood program at a children's museum. Gluten was a concern for me (Playdoh brand dough has gluten too!) and I just like to make my own anyhow.
    Here's a wheat-free recipe I've used:

    http://www.wikihow.com/Create-Cornstarch-Playdough

    Be warned that this type of dough does take more kneading to get it to the right consistency and I found it to be a bit drying what with all the salt.

    I'd expect that some other type of gluten-free flour like rice flour could be substituted for wheat flour. I believe it's starch gelatinization that contributes to the nice texture, not gluten.

    Good luck!

  11. LOVE THIS! I am going to try to make my own aromatherapy play dough set. Should be an interesting adventure, but not too much different than this recipe.

  12. playdough is so super easy i dont know why people still buy it, i make it at least one a fortnight- i work in a day care centre and it needs to be done! haha the 'dump all the ingredients in and microwave for 5 minutes' method works wonderfully as well

  13. My grandma used this recipe to make playdough every time I visited her. She'd be all like, you can eat this if you want. And I'd be all like, yummmmm!

  14. for a fun change, add a bit of flavored syrup in it. It makes it smell and changes the color. Example strawberry syrup for pink dough with a strawberry smell…. caution, only use with older kids as the younger may try to eat it lol.

  15. I thought the playdough had a bit of a funny smell that I didn't like so I added a couple of drops of mint flavoring. So, fun we make playdough all the time.

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