Playdough Making Hints & Tips

Whenever I post a picture of homemade play dough on social media I always get asked what my recipe is. So I thought it would be a good idea to write it down for all to see!

I haven't always been great at making playdough, it is a skill I have had to work on which means I now have a few hints and tips up my sleeve to make the play dough recipe even better! I still remember the horrible play dough I once made for the children in my class. They ended up with it all stuck to their hands in a huge sticky mess! Thankfully my student teacher came to the rescue and made a beautiful batch the next day and that was what set me on the path to experiment with recipes and learn how to make it properly. 

I tried all sorts of recipes - cooked, non cooked, microwaved - but it wasn't until a friend told me about the recipe on the back of Mackenzie's Cream of Tartar container that my play dough finally worked.

Freshly made play dough in 4 colours

Playdough Recipe

The recipe itself is quite simple:

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup salt
2 Tbs Cream of Tartar
1 cup water
1 Tbs cooking oil
Food colouring & Essence/Food extract (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and stir over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture congeals.

Playing with play dough and cookie cutters

Hints and Tips


1. Sift the plain flour first. This helps to prevent little white lumps in the play dough
2. Put all the dry ingredients in one bowl
3. Put the water and oil in a jug and add the essence/extract of your choice (essences/extracts with propylene glycol as an ingredient seem to make the play dough extra soft. Don't ask me about the science behind it - I have no idea why it works! It's simply on observation I have noticed.)
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix them together with a whisk.
5. Add food colouring
6. Cook as per instructions
7. Once it is cooked let it cool down, I usually sit it on baking paper to do this. As soon as it is cool enough to handle but still warm then start kneading it. I continue to knead it until most of the heat has left it or until the children can't handle waiting any longer!


Colouring white play dough with markers

This recipe makes a good amount of playdough for 1 child to use. I usually make this recipe 4 times and add different colours to each one just like the first photo in this post.

Playdough storage idea

I store each colour separately in honey containers and they tend to stay fairly unmixed up for a while. I don't discourage mixing but the children tend to keep them separated for a while, I think the excitement of new play dough along with the seperate containers helps with this. Once it does get all mixed up we tend to be a little less careful with it and usually it gets dirty with nature bits or left out and dry before it goes bad. In fact play dough made with this recipe at our house has never had the chance to go bad!

Do you have any additional hints and tips to add? If so leave a comment below, I'd love to know what recipes and tips work for you!

Playdough Making Hints and Tips from an Early Childhood Educator

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