This homemade playdough recipe was a favorite recipe passed down to me by my mom, who got it from a daycare center when I was a child.
This is the best homemade playdough recipe I have ever found.
Homemade playdough is the perfect rainy day activity for kids of all ages. Even older kids and teenagers will have so much fun playing with playdough on a rainy day because it will take them back to their childhood.
Want even more fun? Involve your kids in the cooking process!
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Not only is it cheaper (more on that below) than storebought Play-Doh, it is softer, lasts longer, and can be made into literally thousands of different colors and smells.
I have tried to use different DIY playdough recipes, but this one is definitely the best recipe because you get a perfect consistency every time. Other play dough recipes that I have tried have come out a sticky mess.
This recipe makes 4 regular tubs of Play-Doh. If you want to make a double batch just double each of the ingredients. If you want small batches, cut the recipe in half.
Best Homemade Playdough Koolaid Recipe
This recipe uses cream of tartar and Koolaid to make the softest play dough with the perfect consistency each time.
- Large pot
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1/2 Cup Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar
- 1 Cup Water
- 2 Tablespoons Cooking Oil Vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
- 1 Packet Kool-Aid (optional see FAQ’s)
- 10 Drops Food Coloring (optional see FAQ’s) See below for more food coloring ideas!
- Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large pot.
- Add liquid ingredients gradually.
- Mix well.
- Cook over low heat to medium heat until mixture thickens (3-5 minutes), stirring all the time, and forms a ball on the wooden spoon. Note, you don’t want to brown the mixture.
- Allow dough to cool on wax paper or parchment paper for 5-10 minutes.
- Knead the dough until smooth 1-2 minutes.
Read the FAQ section for more information on how to color the playdough, store it, and tips for the smoothest texture.
Homemade Playdough FAQ’s
Why Use Cream Of Tartar In Homemade Playdough?
Cream of tartar helps preserve the playdough (along with the salt) and makes it super silky soft. This homemade playdough recipe is much easier to squish, squeeze, and shape than store-bought playdough because of the cream of tartar.
Pro Tip: If you are in a pinch, and looking for something you can do RIGHT NOW (been there momma!) you can whip up a very simple no-cook no cream of tartar batch of playdough (it’s actually considered salt dough). Jump to the bottom of the article to find the salt dough recipe.
How Do You Make Your Playdough Different Smells?
WARNING! Never put essential oils in playdough that will be used by children or babies. Essential oils are toxic to babies and can lead to poisoning and death. Many homemade playdough recipes recommend adding a few drops of essential oils to your dough to get different smells. There is a huge misconception that essential oils are safe (because they are used frequently by adults), but they are not safe during pregnancy, for babies, children, or pets. Even if your child doesn’t put the playdough in their mouth, essential oils are absorbed through the skin (like through the hands when playing).
To get different playdough smells for kids, you can use coconut oil in the cooking process, or you can use Kool-Aid (see below!)
How Do You Make Your Playdough Different Colors?
For making your playdough different colors you have several options: traditional food coloring drops, gel food coloring, or my secret hack: Kool-Aid packets!
I don’t know what it is about dry Kool-Aid packets, but you get the most vibrant colors! Just add the packet of dry Koolaid right to into the dry ingredients. The best part is that the Kool-Aid is also scented which is an added bonus!
With gel food coloring (you can get gel food coloring on Amazon here), you only need a little food coloring to get brilliant colors.
The traditional food coloring will work too, but you will need to put A LOT of drops of color in.
If you want an all-natural play dough color, you can use natural color food coloring. If you are interested in making your own natural food coloring, this is a great article.
You can also buy all-natural food coloring on Amazon:
How Long Will My Playdough Last?
In an airtight container (I love Pop containers by OXO) your playdough will last a long time (several weeks). The exact time will vary depending on how long your child plays with the dough and how often, because it will start to dry out each time it is used.
Is Homemade Playdough Safe To Eat?
No, homemade playdough is not safe to eat. The reason is because of the high salt content and/or uncooked flour.
Salt, when ingested in large quantities, can actually be toxic or fatal to a baby, child, or adult.
Always supervise your child when playing with playdough (homemade or store-bought).
Make Cheap Homemade Playdough In Bulk
The key ingredient to homemade playdough is cream of tartar. Unless you are an avid baker, you probably don’t have cream of tartar on hand.
You can buy a small 1.5 oz container of cream of tartar at the grocery store for around $3 and this will make about 6 batches of homemade playdough according to my recipe.
If you are going to be making a lot of playdough (like if you are a preschool teacher or daycare provider) I would highly recommend buying cream of tartar in bulk. For example, you can buy this 6 oz bag of cream of tartar on Amazon for about the same price as 2 store-bought containers:
If you buy your cream of tartar in bulk, you should be able to make a batch (which equals 4 original 4oz tubs of Play-Doh) for less than $0.25!
That makes each tub that would regularly be $0.50 in a store, only $0.06!!!
Sensory Play With Playdough For Young Children
Babies and toddlers are not as creative with playdough as an older child might be, so here are some playdough activities to do with your little one (9 months and up).
- Squish the play dough with their little hands and feet and toes.
- Mix different colors of playdough together.
- Put the playdough in a dish and let them poke holes in it with their fingers.
- Use cookie cutters (make sure they are plastic and not sharp) to press shapes into the playdough.
- Make balls or other shapes for your child to destroy (this is a classic game in my house) with their hands, a toy hammer, etc.
- To practice fine motor skills, try to get your little one to pinch the playdough or roll it into a ball or log.
For more sensory play and outdoor play activities, check out my full post on outdoor play.
Aromatherapy DIY Playdough Recipe
Playdough is not just for younger children anymore. Recently aromatherapy playdough has become very popular with adults!
DIY Aromatherapy is a great unique last-minute homemade gift that is cheap to make but is very thoughtful.
To make your aromatherapy play dough, start with the original recipe and add 6-8 drops of essential oils and your favorite food coloring.
REMEMBER: KEEP ESSENTIAL OILS AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND PETS.
Easiest 2-Ingredient No Cook Playdough
This is a no-cook playdough recipe alternative that you can use in a pinch if you don’t have cream of tartar, but if you want the soft playdough that is going to last, I would recommend using my favorite original recipe.
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring cups
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1/2 Cup Salt
- 1/2 Cup Water
- Food coloring (optional)
- Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Gradually add the water and continue mixing.
- Mix until combined. You want it to mostly hold together, but it is ok if there are a few crumbs.
- If it is too runny, add a little bit more flour (2 teaspoons) and salt (1 teaspoon) at a time.
- If it is too dry, add a little bit more water (1 teaspoon) at a time.
- Knead the dough with your hands on wax paper for 5 minutes. This step is CRITICAL! If you do not knead the dough, it will seem too dry and flaky. After 5 minutes your dough will become soft and pliable.
- Adding food coloring to salt dough if you want and continue kneading to get the color evenly throughout.
- Optional: Bake in an oven at 170° to harden into a sculpture and paint with acrylic paint. Kids love this activity!
I have not found much success with adding food coloring to the salt dough. While you can add liquid or gel food coloring, the colors will not be vibrant. The amount of salt in the dough absorbs the color and makes them look dull. For a colorful rainy-day activity, take the uncolored salt dough, make sculptures and cook them in the oven to harden. After they cool paint them with acrylic paint. Note: salt dough will not keep very long, even in an air-tight container.