Homemade Play Dough Is Just So Much Better

I am not the crafty mom. This is the only homemade thing I do — play dough. I have strict play dough rules in the house. Play dough stays on the kitchen table. If it is not cleaned up (which means it dries out), I throw it out. It is not available anytime the kids ask. We will have “play dough days,” which usually revolve around bad weather.

Here is the recipe I use — it was passed down from my mom and stands the test of time! This play dough is soft and nontoxic. It will last a very long time, if stored correctly, and makes quite a lot. It is also much more cost effective than store-bought dough!


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 cups room temperature water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
food coloring is up to you (gel food coloring will make a brighter color)

Stir flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large pot. Add water, oil, and food coloring. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until dough starts to form a ball. This should take less than 5 minutes. The dough will become difficult to stir, and this will absolutely count as a workout for the day! Remove from heat and place hot play dough directly on the counter (or on wax paper). It may look lumpy and not uniform. Let the dough cool slightly, then knead until it becomes uniform.

You can store the play dough in a gallon-size Ziploc bag or in a leftover container. It will last surprisingly long if stored in an airtight container — up to six months!

If you want multiple colors, you can wait to add the food coloring until after the play dough is cooked. I typically make one color because the kids mix it all up anyway.

I have also tried putting small amounts of essential oils in my play dough to make it smell great. 

This play dough also makes a cute party favor for a kid’s birthday. Your child can give each friend a small bag of homemade play dough!

I know many parents have strong feelings about play dough. However, if it stays a novelty by only making an appearance occasionally, and if your kids can keep it one location, it is totally worth it. And when you make your own dough, it is really fun to see a kid’s reaction when you show them a ball of play dough the size of their head!

Leah is a Massachusetts native who grew up in the MetroWest area. She met her husband in 2006 and they bonded over all things Boston. After moving to North Carolina for 4 years, they realized they had to move back to New England. (love that dirty water!) In 2011 they welcomed a son into their family. Then 2014, 1 week before having their daughter, their son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The last but not least little guy came in 2017. With three kids and special needs in their life, they rely on an amazing support system of friends and family. Leah is a stay at home mom, who is also growing a small business, and enjoying the independence and freedom it has given her. Loves: Great food (mostly made by her talented husband), playing with the kids, the beach, date nights, The Pats, The Sox, The B’s, new socks and bras, and American history, and movies. Can’t stand: Cotton balls, weeds, broken crayons, pollen, and vacuuming up Cheerios every half hour.


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