how to make playdough

Playdough is one activity that keeps my kids busy for hours {okay, fine, minutes}. But it does hold their attention for longer than many activities and I actually enjoy playing it with them. Every month or so we make a new batch of fresh playdough using a very simple recipe.

Just a few pantry ingredients are needed and it takes less than 10 minutes to cook up a batch.

{see below for a printable recipe}

Pour all ingredients into medium saucepan over medium heat.

After a few minutes, the dough cooks itself into a ball. Remove from the heat.

Pop the dough into a ziplock and add food coloring of your choice. The kids like this part.

Now squish together until the color has mixed through.  The dough is still very hot, so be careful if you let your little ones help with this part.

Then start playing!

We love playdough.

For your convenience, I created a recipe card for you. Just click on the image below to download and print.

20 Responses to how to make playdough

  1. Loretta August 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    I just made a batch of this. I didn’t have any dye, so I juiced 2 carrots and added water to equal 2 cups. I also added some grape seed extract to help preserve a little longer. Can’t wait to see what my daughter thinks!

  2. Jill br July 18, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    The kids and I made a big batch a couple weeks ago: HOURS of fun. We kept it refrigerated, but when they went to play with it again about 5 days later it was so STICKY! It stuck to their hands and tools and was a huge mess. I tried adding a bit of flour to it, but it’s still so sticky. has this happened to you before? What is the usual “lifespan” of a batch? I’ll be making more today, but was just curious if this happened to anyone else? Thanks!!

  3. meg July 2, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    We use this recipe, too, and love it! One tip-if you add the coloring to the water, and just add the colored water to the recipe, then the color mixes in really easily and evenly….no need to massage it into the playdough and no dye on your hands if you play with a section of dough that is extra concentrated with dye.

  4. Anca June 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Where do you find tartar?

  5. Lisa Frank June 22, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    We love homemade playdough! In fact, I just made 3 double batches to use for party favors…very inexpensive, cutely packaged in mini Dollar Tree tupperware, and the kids always love it.

    One tip I discovered when I made it was that you can mix the food coloring into the wet ingredients before you start cooking the mixture. That way it’s perfectly mixed and nobody has stained hands! So simple. Mixing in glitter is fun too!

    Our playdough lasts forever, too…at least 6 months or more.

  6. Shelley June 22, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    This post was perfectly timed! My little one keeps asking for some, and I keep forgetting to search out the recipe. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Alyssa June 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Ooohh fun!! I remember making playdough when I was little – it will be so much fun to do it with my daughter! Thanks!

  8. Amber daSilva June 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    We too love home made playdough. I stopped making it however because I found that it was ruining the finish on my painted coffee table. My mother says it is due to the salt in the playdough. Have you had this problem? We don’t have an issue with the store bought kind….

  9. Theresa June 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    is there an advantage to adding the food coloring after it’s mixed? I add coloring to my water…does waiting make it more vibrant? My colors come out lighter..Just as much fun, but not as bright.

    I’m going to try kool-aid this weekend. Does anyone know if its one whole packet per batch?

  10. Tara June 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Can’t wait to make our own playdough with my little guy once he’s a bit older! Thanks for the recipe card :)

  11. Kristy June 22, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    We use the same recipe, but add different flavors of Kool-Aid packets instead of food coloring for fun scents in addition to color.

  12. Sue Schneider June 22, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    I have been meaning to look up a recipe for playdough! Thank you, Emily! My granddaughter is spending the weekend and guess what we’ll be doing, thanks to you!? Have a great weekend!

  13. Crystal June 22, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Does the food coloring stain their hands?

  14. Julia June 22, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    I’m bookmarking this. No matter how hard I try to keep after them, my little ones manage to leave the caps off their Play Doh and I find these little colorful “pebbles” all over the house. Thank you for sharing. I’ve only tried one homemade version and it turned out sort of…slimy. Now I’m hopeful that all is not lost!

  15. Kathryn June 22, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    You read my mind! I was laying in bed last night thinking…”Its about time I made some playdough for the kiddies!”
    I use the same recipe.
    Good times to come I’m sure. Happy Summering!

  16. Fonda June 22, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Oh yes, homemade playdough!! We did that growing up.. :) My mom would experiment with different ‘flavored’ colors — coca for brown, different colors of kool-aid, etc, which really make it smell good!!
    Maaaany hours of playdough fun…. :]

  17. Jenny June 22, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    I am a preschool teacher, and my students absolutely love homemade playdough! I make them a few new batches every few weeks, usually themed around our lessons and/or a holiday. They love the different colors, and sometimes I’ll add glitter for some sparkle. But what they love the most is when I add scents to the dough, especially peppermint or lavender essential oil. Last year during Thanksgiving I added pumpkin pie spice to a batch and nutmeg to another and they went crazy :) Thank you for a great printable recipe!

  18. dfisher June 22, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I used to make this when my kids were little. We also added essential oils to make the play dough smell “pretty”. We used lemon for yellow, cinnamon for red, etc. So much fun!

  19. Susan June 22, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Aw this brings back old memories. We always used to make our own playdo growing up. It’s so much fun!

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