Homemade Playdough Recipe

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Try this step-by-step homemade playdough recipe to give your kids hours of inexpensive fun! 

I use this recipe for all my occupational therapy playdough activities.The dough takes about 15 minutes to cook, plus about half an hour to cool. This dough will last for months in a Ziploc bag, provided that your kids have reasonably clean hands when they play with it, and that they don’t lick the dough!


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup salt (table salt)
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • a few drops of food coloring (go easy – if the color is too intense, like maroon, it will stain little fingers and clothes. Pastel colors should not cause any stains)

What you need:

  • a large pot
  • a wooden spoon
  • wire whisk (optional)
  • a clean, dry plate (preferably warm – zap it in the microwave for a minute just before the end – this helps prevent the dough from getting sticky from condensation)

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Homemade Playdough Recipe Instructions:

How to make homemade playdough - step 1a
How to make homemade playdough - step 1b

1) Add all ingredients to large pot.

Stir (or whisk) well to combine.

How to make homemade playdough - step 2a
How to make homemade playdough - step 2b

2) Slowly heat over medium heat, stirring all the time.

Stir, stir, stir, feel those arm muscles working!

How to make homemade playdough - step 3a
How to make homemade playdough - step 3b

3) Stir, stir some more, feel the mixture stiffening.

Just keep moving the dough around so it heats through evenly.

how to test if your playdough is cooked enough

Try pressing your fingers into the dough to see if it is still sticky. Be careful not to burn your fingers!!

This is still a bit sticky, as can be seen from the big globs still sticking to the side of the pot.

(At this point, stick the dinner plate in the microwave for a minute to warm it up.)

stirring homemade playdough

It is best to “overcook” the dough slightly, rather than under-cook it, so if your arms can bear it, keep it going even though it seems done.

playdough is cooked enough when it is no longer sticky

This is done – it makes a nice ball and leaves no stickiness when you press it.

(Be careful!, it is probably rather hot by this stage)

knead the cooked playdough after turning it out

Turn the dough onto the clean, warm, dry plate, and knead it a little until smooth.

Let the homemade playdough cool completely before storing

Flatten it out so it can cool more quickly, and give it a quick knead every few minutes to prevent a crust from forming.

Store the playdough in a plastic bag (Ziploc is good), and keep the bag inside an airtight container if possible.

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Have Fun With Your Homemade Playdough!

Each of these pages on my site contains playdough activities used in different ways. Click on the images to view the free playdough activities on each page - have fun trying them out with your child!

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Thanks so much for visiting! I hope you feel inspired!

If you enjoy playing around with different recipes, you could also try these options from other Occupational Therapists! (These links open to their sites in a new window/tab.)

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