project day

Easy Play Dough

easy play dough
Many different colors!!

I’ll grant you that buying play dough in the store is easier and faster than making it at home. But I can also guarantee you that this recipe is a whole lot better than any brand of store-bought play dough. Not only does it smell better, the texture is better, too. And it lasts a lot longer. Try it and see if you don’t agree.

easy play dough
One rainy, dreary day a few years ago, brothers of three different mothers made “play dough pizza”.

I clipped this recipe from a magazine one day when I had four children under six (circa 1991). At an average of making it two or three times a year, that’s quite a few lumps of play dough we’ve turned out over the years.

I usually make a double batch so there is plenty for everyone. If you put the dough into zip-lock bags, it will keep for months. We’re talking four to six months, at least.

easy play dough
Yes, this is how my kitchen looks!

One thing about play dough is that kids of any age enjoy creating with it.

On rainy days or days when everyone is out of sorts, let them help you mix up a batch and knead their chosen color into the dough. I’ve been amazed at how calming even that can be! Boys enjoy creating snakes and animals while girls enjoy cutting out dainty “cookies”.

To make this easy recipe, simply put all ingredients into a pan and heat slowly, stirring until the mixture pulls away from the edge of the pan. Remove from heat, knead the dough, and then add the food coloring. Kids love choosing their color and mixing it in.

easy play dough

Creating, designing, and improving dexterity are all benefits from making and playing with play dough!

The recipe.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Craft


  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water


  • Put all ingredients into Teflon pan (preferred) and mix well.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until dough follows spoon.
  • Remove from pan and let cool on wax paper (to prevent counter tops being stained by food color.)
  • When cool enough to handle, knead the dough.
  • Divide into lumps and knead in food color drops.
  • Roll out with rolling pins and cut into shapes or squeeze and roll into shapes.

This recipe is still my favorite. I first posted this four years ago and decided this is a good time to post it again for new followers.

play dough cooking and adding food coloring
“until the dough follows the spoon around the pan”
playdough ingredients B
5 easy peasy ingredients: flour, vegetable oil, salt, cream of tartar, and water


playdough food coloring 3B
Adding the food coloring.


Finished Product. Enjoy!


Pinterest Easy Play Dough

Since I’ve discovered gel coloring, my life is easier and I spend less money. With this gel coloring, you only need a fraction of what you would normally use with liquid food coloring. I buy a box and it lasts me for years. There are many brands out there, and this one is my favorite. 

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