Playdough is every child’s best friend growing up as they experience the joys of creativity, bright colors, and developing fine motor skills. That’s why we love homemade playdough. This article will give you two recipes for homemade playdough—cooked and uncooked.
- Safe for curious mouths! Whether it’s cooked or uncooked, homemade playdough is non-toxic and perfectly edible. No more panicking when your little one stuffs a handful into their curious, little mouths.
- So many options! With homemade playdough, you decide the color, and you have as many options as your imagination and color blending skills will allow–that’s a lot more than the limited colors of playdough you get from the store.
- Memories that will last forever! You can hold onto those precious creations and freeze the memories in time even after playing by baking your child’s playdough creations.
Homemade Playdough Promotes Self-Sufficiency
When we were children growing up in a farming community, our parents were pretty self-sufficient. I don’t know whether children’s commercial playdough was available, but we never saw any. Instead, my mother made homemade playdough with flour and salt.
She had the four primary colors, food colors, in her cupboard. They were pretty diluted and no matter how much color you added, the playdough was pastel. Now you can buy brilliant colors — nine times more concentrated than those in the store and in 41 colors, even neon (electric).
When you make your own playdough, your child has a sense of self-sufficiency. Besides, you know what is in this playdough and when it ends up in a child’s mouth, there’s no reason to be concerned — everything is edible.
Two Homemade Playdough Recipes: Cooked or Non-Cooked
We have two recipes for playdough—one that calls for cooking and one that only requires mixing. For years, we have used the mixing-only recipe and it makes a nice playdough. But we like the playdough from the cooking recipe. It’s easy, and we recommend that.
Since the ingredients are all mixed together at once, you will have one color of playdough. If you wish to divide the batch into multiple colors, reserve the color until after the playdough is cooked. Divide the playdough into portions and knead in the color with the paddle attachment and your stand-type mixer. You may knead the color in with your hands but you may wish to wear latex gloves to avoid staining your hands.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- 1 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- food coloring
- Mix all the ingredients together with a whisk until completely combined.
- Cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for three or four minutes or until the mixture changes consistency, becomes thick, and loses its stickiness. Dump onto waxed paper.
- Knead the playdough for a few minutes or until smooth.
Store in a covered container. This product does not require refrigeration. It is non-toxic.
No-Cook Playdough (with Bread Flour)
The following recipe is a big batch recipe. It makes about 3 1/2 pounds of playdough– ten of the five-ounce commercial tubs. If you are having a party and want even more playdough, make two batches — about all that can be made in a stand-type mixer at one time. You can also make this playdough by hand.
If you want multiple colors, divide the dough and knead in the food coloring after the dough is made. If one color is sufficient, add the food coloring with the water and save the step of kneading in the coloring. To keep the food coloring from staining your hands, you may wish to wear gloves for the kneading.
- 3-4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
- 1 1/2 cups salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 cups hot water
- Food coloring (We recommend Americolor professional food color gels–41 colors available.)
- Mix three cups of flour together with the salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand-type mixer.
- Add the oil and water and knead with a dough hook in your electric stand-type mixer for five to six minutes. (If you are kneading by hand, knead for eight to ten minutes.)
- Add more flour to get a soft, workable dough.
Store the dough in a sealed container to keep it from becoming dry. If it becomes too dry, place it back in the mixer bowl and knead in a dribble of water.
Baking and Painting Your Playdough Figures
When your child makes some particularly memorable figures or sculptures that he or she would like to keep, bake them in a 250-degree oven until they harden. (Baking times will vary depending on the size of the objects baked, from 20 to 30 minutes. They won’t bake through but the heat of the oven will put a hard case on them and preserve them. In time they will dry completely and be as hard as a rock.
If your child likes, he or she can paint the figures after they are baked. Acrylic paints cover better than watercolors and are water-soluble so that spills and brushes can be cleaned with water.
(Updated from May 10, 2015)