Easy DIY Playdough Recipe for Hours of Sensory Play!

Easy DIY Playdough Recipe for Hours of Sensory Play!

This homemade play dough recipe is so simple and provides hours of sensory play for young children!

It takes just a few minutes to mix some simple ingredients, and then a couple of minutes to cook on the stovetop. The result is squishy, colorful, soft playdough!

This playdough lasts for months when stored in an airtight container and you can make all sorts of fun colors. Gather some cookie cutters, mini animal figurines, measuring cups, utensils or any other creative tools from your kitchen drawers that you can use to mash, stamp and cut playdough. Young children come up with all sorts of ways to turn a regular old ball of playdough into a magical world through pretend play!

smooth and squishy playdough in green, yellow and blue

In Search of the Best Playdough Recipe

When I decided I wanted to make some homemade playdough for my toddler, I searched through many different recipes online. I tried a no cook playdough recipe first, but it didn’t turn out so well! The playdough ended up being tough, dry and crumbly, and my toddler was completely disinterested. 

I was hesitant to try another recipe after this total diy playdough fail, but I decided to give it another go. And I’m so glad I did! Playdough has become a staple activity in our house ever since. The homemade play dough recipe I share here is adapted from livingwellmom’s recipe.

An Easy Playdough Recipe with 6 Simple Ingredients

  • Cream of Tartar
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • Food Coloring
  • Water 

Flour, salt and canola or vegetable oil are common ingredients most people already have in their cupboards. Cream of tartar and food coloring however, may be ingredients many people have to go out and buy. At least I had to.

These are both very easy and inexpensive ingredients to come by though, so don’t let them stop you from trying out this great recipe! As I found out first hand, trying to take a short cut and use a recipe that doesn’t call for cream of tartar just isn’t worth it. The cream of tartar is what helps gives the dough that perfect playdough squish feel and it’s also a natural preservative and helps keep the dough fresh. 

You can grab a small jar of cream of tartar during your next grocery shop for about $3 (it’s usually alongside the spices in the baking aisle).

And food coloring is usually in the same aisle as the cream of tartar and spices. I bought a pack of 4 colors for less than $4. 

You can make many balls of playdough with just one small jar of cream of tartar and a single pack of food coloring. So you end up getting the ingredients for a ton of playdough for a fraction of the price of store-bought playdough. Plus it is so fun for kids to be a part of the production process and create their own colors!

How Long Does Homemade Playdough Last?

Cream of tartar and salt are natural preservatives, so they help this playdough stay fresh for a long time (as long as it is stored in an airtight container)!

We have a few balls of playdough that I made a couple of months ago, and they still look and feel fresh. In an ideal world, I’d make a new batch every 3 months or so. In reality, we have balls of playdough around our house that are older than 3 months and still look and feel just fine. 

Like any playdough though, no matter how soft and squishy it is to start out with, it will eventually start to dry out. I use this as a measure of when it’s time to make a new batch (unless my toddler has been playing with it often with greasy grimy little fingers and I’m afraid of what bacteria might be starting to grow in there!). 

Reasons to Love Homemade Playdough

My toddler has so much fun exploring playdough and it is one of his favorite activities. And as a busy mom, this is good news for me too because setting out a tray of playdough with some tiny animal figurines, cookie cutters and stamping tools is one of the few ways I can get him to play independently

I set him up with his playdough tray at the kitchen counter or dining room table, and then I am able to get some dishes done or prep some meals. Other reasons to love having a diy playdough recipe in your activity arsenal include the following;

  • Give homemade playdough kits as gifts. Include cute little cookie cutters and tiny figurines to use with the playdough. This is such a fun and budget friendly gift, and other parents will love you for not giving them yet another plastic toy to clutter up their house.
  • Kids learn sequencing skills and how to follow directions with this fun recipe.
  • Playdough is a soft and soothing texture that helps calm and ground kids.
  • Exploring playdough encourages creativity. There is no end to what kids can make and explore with playdough.
  • A big ball of playdough that provides a rich sensory experience keeps kids engaged and focused. Forget those mini containers of store-bought playdough; big globs of homemade playdough really give kids something to sink their hands into!
  • Molding playdough helps develop fine motor skills.
  • Making playdough is a great activity to do on a rainy day or lazy afternoon.
  • Homemade playdough uses simple ingredients and does not take a lot of time, so even parents who have their hands full can do it!

Best Homemade Playdough Recipe

Easy Homemade Playdough for squishy, colorful, soft playdough! Originally adopted from livingwellmom.com's diy playdough recipe.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 Large Baseball Sized Ball of Playdough


  • 1 Small-Medium Sized Cooking Pot
  • 1 Mixing Bowl
  • Wooden spoon for Mixing and Stirring


  • 2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar I bought a small jar for $2.99 at Albertsons. This 3.25 oz jar is enough to make 9 batches of playdough (9 baseball sized balls). You can also buy it in bulk if you plan on making a lot of playdough!
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Salt A finely ground salt is best. I bought a large jar for about $2 and it made 7 batches of playdough.
  • 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil I also use an additional 1 teaspoon of canola oil to grease the sides of my cooking pot since I don't have a nonstick pot.
  • 1 Cup Water
  • Food Coloring A small pack of red, blue, green and yellow is about $4 and will last a really long time! You just need a few drops for each batch.


  • Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl, and mix it all together until it's nice and creamy.
  • Add to stovetop pot or pan and cook on low/medium heat until the dough starts to clump together (about 2 minutes give or take, depends on how fast your pot heats up). Let the playdough sit in the pot for a minute after turning the heat off.
  • Remove the playdough from the pot and let it cool.
  • Store it in a ziploc bag or air-tight container to keep the playdough fresh.

Additional kids’ activities to encourage creative exploration:
Homemade Kinetic Sand Recipe
Free Painting on Wooden Shapes
DIY Cardboard Toys

How did you like this DIY playdough recipe? Say hi and let me know in the comments!

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