Play Dough: A Quick and Easy Recipe 

Play Dough: A Quick and Easy Recipe 

Homemade play dough is really so much better than store-bought! Back when I was a preschool teacher, I made play dough for my students all the time. This recipe is so easy and only requires a few ingredients, all of which you probably have in your pantry right now. You can make it any color you want just by adding food coloring. You can even make it smell good by adding a variety of extracts or spices. The possibilities are endless!

I decided it was time to make some for Little A.

All you need are a few pantry staples

Here’s what you need for homemade play dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1.5 cups salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar (don’t skip this, it makes the play dough stay fresh longer!)
  • 3 cups water
  • food coloring/extracts (optional)
Combine ingredients
Combine everything in one big pot.


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Cook on the stove top, over medium heat, stirring the mixture constantly (to avoid burning).
  3. It’s done when it forms a ball and no longer looks wet. This takes about 5 minutes.
  4. Let cool completely before playing with it.
  5. Store in an airtight container. Lasts around 3-4 months. 

mix ingredients
Stir, stir, stir!
I decided to make this batch orange, by mixing red and yellow food coloring. I also added some orange extract to make it smell extra yummy!

Starting to form a ball
Almost there…
It takes a little bit of muscle to keep stirring the play dough once it starts coming together. It doesn’t take long, at least! You can tell in the above picture that the play dough is almost done but it still looks a little wet.  You want to keep it moving so it doesn’t start to burn.

Finished play dough.
All done now!
And here it is…all done! I removed the play dough from the pot and placed it on a plate to cool. Once it cools completely, it’s ready to be played with!

Some Ideas for Color/Scent Combinations:

  • Green food coloring & peppermint extract
  • Yellow food coloring & lemon extract
  • Orange food coloring & pumpkin pie spice
  • Color of your choice & vanilla extract

I’ve also added Kool-Aid drink mix packets instead of food coloring and it always comes out fantastic! The drink mix adds color and scent all at once. Kool-aid play dough smells so, so good!

After A’s nap, our play dough was cool enough to play with. At first, she didn’t know what to do with it!

“What is this stuff, mama?”
It didn’t take long for her to figure out that she could poke holes in it, squish it, and…

…eat it! Of course, she wants to eat the play dough! It looks and smells delicious. I can’t imagine it tastes very good though…too salty. Haven’t we all been guilty of sneaking a little taste of play dough at least once when we were kids?

So much fun!
I think I can safely say that A’s first play dough experience was a successful one! We had a blast!

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