My Favorite Play Dough Recipe

homemade colored play doughYesterday the children wanted to play with play dough.  We had run out – so we made some!

I pulled out my copy of Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy.  Many years ago, I experimented with different play dough recipes.  After extensive testing, this book has the recipe I’ve used for years, with little to no variation.

Homemade Play Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup salt
4 tsp cream of tartar
2 cups water with food coloring
2 T. oil

Mix together in a pan (non-stick is better). Stir with a whisk to get all the lumps out, then use a spoon. Cook over medium heat until it forms a hard ball.    As it becomes half-cooked, the dough is harder to mix.  Keep stirring until all parts are hardened.  Knead when warm for a smoother consistency.


  • Add glitter for glitter dough.  Add when cooking is finished and you are kneading dough.
  • Use unsweetened drink mix for the coloring.  It also adds fragrance.  Use 1-2 packs for each recipe.
  • Consider using a shower curtain to cover the table/floor since this playdough does contain oil. (Thanks to my first commenter!)

What I actually did:

  • I doubled the recipe, except for the cream of tartar – I only had enough for 4 tsp.
  • I did not use food coloring in the water.  I pulled out my paste food coloring and added “toothpick-fulls” of it after I kneaded the dough and it was a little cooler.

This recipe does last a long time – I’ve kept it for months in a ziploc baggie and had no problems if it was played with regularly.  If it gets sticky, just use my children’s favorite remedy – let them add more flour.  (Hint: it doesn’t even spoil if one of the children mistakenly adds freshly ground whole wheat flour!)

I have other recipes and frugal tips and ideas that work for me!  You can also get more at Life as Mom and We Are THAT Family.

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