Cooked Playdough

After 30 years of parenthood, 6 years of gammyhood, and over 10 years of being a preschool teacher, I have collected over a hundred different “Make Your Own” recipes. From the mundane to the extraordinaire, I have tried and true recipes for just about EVERYTHING! Glues and pastes, playdoughs and chalks, paints, crayons and sculpting materials. The benefits of making your own crafting materials are reduced costs, immediate availability and control of ingredients.

Over the next few months we plan to share our recipes, hopefully building a useful resource that we can all refer to. If you have a suggestion, a recipe that you would like to share, or a questions, just email us at If you share a recipe we don’t already have, we’ll be sure to give it a try and include it in our data base. So, put on an apron, gather the kiddos around, and start concocting with us!

Our first recipe is for your basic Cooked Playdough. A mainstay in any situation. I prefer home made, because if not overcooked… very important… it crumbles far less that purchase playdoughs, and has a wonderful feel. Plus, added your own flavorings, my personal favorite is coconut extract, and it smells sooooo good.

2 cups flour
2 cups water
1 cup salt
4 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, olive oil or baby oil
food coloring and/or flavorings

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat when dough forms a ball. (Important: Do not over cook. Take off heat as soon as it comes away from the sides. It will still appear a bit “wet”) Dump on a clean surface. As soon as it is comfortable to work with, finish the mixing process by kneading the dough.

This dough can keep in an airtight container for months, but with high usage, I replace it every few weeks.
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  1. I work in a PreK & after school program & we love play doughs!! We just made some corn-starch dough yesterday.

  2. My favourite was always the edible peanut butter play dough when my kids were small…now of course with so many peanut allergies nobody makes it anymore 🙁
    Thanks for posting this recipe…we should always keep this recipe on hand! xx

  3. I can’t even tell you how much of this stuff I made when my kiddos were little! We added watermelon flavoring to the pink and boy was it a blast to play with. Part of the fun was that my kids could help a bit with the making! 🙂

  4. I love making homemade play dough. Like you, I find that the cooked play dough has a much better texture. My recipe is similar to yours, but takes half the amount of cream of tartar – I wonder if there is an advantage to using more? We have also used beet juice instead of water and the result is a beautiful soft pink dough with a subtle earthy scent. I’ve never tried it with baby oil – will give it a try – thanks for the tip!

  5. Our little girls are all grown up now and we have a little grand daughter who I can soon make play dough for. Thank you for sharing this recipe and rekindling memories. I will have to ‘re-learn’ some of these play recipes. Look forward to your future posts.

  6. This is the same recipe I used when my children were into play dough. It’s GREAT!


  7. This is the best recipe of all!

    I’ve tried many for my daughter and this one is the one we kept. I make it quite a lot, having a 3 year old she sometimes forgets to put it away!

    Last year all the children from her classroom had to make the “Travelling Playdough”, that is, every other Friday teachers chose a family and gave us parents a big tupperware with the recipe stuck on the lid and we had to make it together, mum, dad, bros and sis… It was great fun to do. My little one was SO happy the Monday she had to bring the playdough to school to share with her friends…Good times!

    1. I think we’ve ALL had play dough duty at one time or another. It was lovely when I was a preschool teacher and could send the tup home with others to fill 🙂 Although, I must admit, I actually enjoy making it. It is so easy, and I love the feel of kneading the dough while it is still warm!

  8. Baby oil is a petrochemical (made from petroleum), so for naturally-minded folks, it’s probably better to stick with vegetable oil.

  9. I have had this basic recipe for a couple of years and was disappointed when I made it. I always found it to be too crumbly. I made it yesterday following your directions. I know now what I was doing wrong. I was always over cooking it. When I took it off the stove this time, there were still some gloppy wet areas but when I kneaded it all together it was perfect! Thanks so much for sharing your tips. I’ll never buy play dough again.

    1. Thanks Renata. Looks like lots of wonderful recipes. I’m going to have to dig in and see how they compare with my stack. Always looking for the new and different to add!

  10. I am new to your site, but already love it. I am planning a 2 week (10 days) Horse Day Camp in June so scouting ideas. Camp ages 9-14. I plan on live horse activities in the morning and mixing in crafts (horsey related of course). I always loved playing with clay and play dough. If the kids make “horses” of this playdo, will it firm up if left out in the air like clay would?

    1. Sorry this response took awhile… I tried drying out some of the playdough (wanted to test it before I responded)… I wouldn’t recommend it. It never fully dried and the outside was kind of cracking. I think our straight up salt dough recipe would be a choice… especially if you could get them in the oven for a bit… but even air drying that dough should work better.

  11. I tried making this today. I double checked my ingredients and followed the instructions but mine came out REALLY sticky. Any idea what I did wrong? Any way to fix it? Thanks!!

    1. My guess is that you didn’t cook it quite long enough. You have to get use to the recipe and play with it until you get it right. I know the first couple times I made it, I over cooked it and it was crumbly. You basically cook until it is coming clean away from the sides and bottom. Try putting it back on to cook a little longer, but watch it carefully. Don’t give up on this recipe. It might take you a couple tries until you figure out the right consistency, but the dough is wonderful, and after you find the knack, it will be easy peasy after that!

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. I am going to try another batch today.

  12. I remember making this recipe lots when my children were younger. It always turned out so well. A tip I’d like to add-Instead of using Food coloring, I would use a package of UNSWEETENED KOOL-AID FOR COLOR AND SMELL! It worked really well.

    1. Thanks for sharing that idea. Our plan was to add many different recipes for playdough, paint, paste, etc. but we never followed through with it  🙁  You are right, adding the kool-aid is a wonderful way to add color and smell. Thanks for reminding me to pull out my recipe book and start adding more 🙂

  13. Kimara, you are my go-to source for crafty recipes and inspiration. I had always made salt dough for my kids, but tried this cooked dough for a change. I love it! I used coconut oil (we’re using it in everything these days) for the oil in this recipe and got the bonus of great coconut scent. My 4 and 6 played with the dough for literally 90 minutes on a recent rainy day. Do you (or anyone else in the community) know the role that the cream of tartar plays in the recipe? Is it a preservative?
    Thanks again!

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