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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Homemade Playdough Failure and Success…and a Good Coloring Tip!

Today I’m car-less, it’s raining, and I have a ton of work to do. And Anna doesn’t have any school. In anticipation of a pretty boring day for my little 3-year-old, I decided to whip up some playdough for her.

I went straight to Make and Takes and found Marie’s favorite playdough recipe. I trust her. She knows what she’s talking about. Sadly, I scoured my cupboards for cream of tartar and came up empty-handed!

I googled homemade playdough recipes to try to find one that didn’t require cream of tartar. I settled on two recipes – one salt-based and the other baking soda-based.

Well, the salt-based dough was a total bust. I don’t know if it’s a bum recipe or if I didn’t cook it long enough, but it was super sticky and soft, definitely not a useable dough. Anna decided it just needed to go in the trash, and she was right!

The baking soda recipe, however, came out great! It was much faster than the other recipe and it makes a nice maleable dough. And, someone pointed out on Twitter, it’s gluten-free. Nice bonus for those of you who need that. I have no idea how long the shelf-life is, but it’s just baking soda and cornstarch, so I think it could probably keep in the fridge wrapped in plastic and in an airtight container for a while.

Here’s the fun playdough tip I discovered while searching for recipes. Add your food coloring to the water BEFORE mixing with the other ingredients. This worked so great! Of course, if you want to make multiple colors of dough from one recipe, you would need to add the color after it’s cooked, but if you’re just making one color, dissolving the color in the water was a genius idea.

Here’s the recipe we used today. Although, I’m getting some cream of tartar so I can give Marie’s favorite recipe a go one day!

Homemade Playdough Failure and Success...and a Good Coloring Tip!
Standard recipe; I found it on this site, but I’ve added my own commentary.
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  1. If you’re planning to just make one color of playdough, mix your food coloring into the water.
  2. Whisk all ingredients together in a pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Once boiling, you’ll let it cook 2-3 more minutes, until it turns into dough. It’s pretty quick and magical!
  3. Turn dough out onto waxed or parchment paper to cool. Cover the top with plastic wrap so you don’t get a dry film on the top while it cools.
  4. Play!



  1. 1
    Camilla Nelson

    awesome!! thanks for the tip about the coloring too! cant wait to try it out.

  2. 2

    Thanks for linking, Jane. My recipe is a good one, but yes, sometimes you don’t have Cream of Tartar on hand. So this is a good recipe to have too!

  3. 3

    Jane I just love this play dough recipe and it smells good too!

    2 1/2 cups flour
    1/2 cup salt
    2 pks. of unsweetened kool aid (the same flavor)

    Mix the dry ingredients.

    Add 3 Tbs. of vegetable oil and 2 cups boiling water.

    Mix well by hand or with a mixer. (I use my Kitchen aid). Store in a zip-lock baggie!

  4. 4

    Cool! Can’t wait to try it. I love the photos!

  5. yes, kool aid! best playdough ever!

  6. 6
    Jane Maynard

    I guess I need to stock up on cream of tartar AND kool-aid! 🙂

  7. 7

    Oooh…I’ve been tempted to try homemade playdough & this definitely looks easy enough – thx for the tip about the food coloring & that kool aid recipe looks good too! love the photos – so colorful!

  8. 8

    That’s awesome! My mom used to make homemade playdough for my sisters and me, and we absolutely loved it. I’m sure your daughter will really appreciate that you did this for her later in life. 🙂

  9. Colors of the playdough look ready for Easter.

  10. 11

    I loooove the colors! The texture looks great too, well done!

  11. 12

    My daughter has celiacs disease. So, I’ve been looking for a really good dough recipe to make as an alternative to the classic gluten land-mine: playdoh. Sure, I can buy premade stuff online….for $50 per 3 lbs. OR, I can use this recipe with my own tweaks for less than the regular stuff costs in store!! Hands down the best and easiest recipe. I add oil and lemon juice. Lemon to preserve, oil to add smooth texture. Thank you!!! P.s. koolaid packets for coloring are the best

  12. 13

    I was wondering for my kids if we can do this with Flower

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