Best homemade playdough recipe

Playdough was one of my favourite things to do when I was young. I still have fond childhood memories of playing with it for hours on end – making playdough cakes or building new playdough homes for my Polly Pockets to live in.

And now that I have my very own busy little toddler to entertain, I thought it was time to make him some homemade playdough to enjoy.

Homemade playdough has so many benefits for young children – it is great for sensory play, builds fine-motor skills and encourages your little one to use their imagination. The best part – it’s also quick and easy to make, inexpensive, and the colouring won’t stain their hands. I also find that the homemade variety is smoother, more pliable and less crumbly than the store-bought stuff.

I made a few modifications to my mum’s old recipe and absolutely love the result!

See below for steps on how to make the BEST homemade playdough.

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (I used canola oil)
  • food colouring

Playdough ingredients


Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan (plain flour, salt and cream of tartar).

Playdough method

Measure out 1 cup of water and then add the food colouring into the water. Mix to combine. By adding the food colouring at this step, the colour will then distribute evenly throughout the playdough.

Playdough method

Playdough method

Pour the coloured water and oil into the saucepan with the dry ingredients. Turn the stove on to a low-medium heat and stir the mixture. It will initially be lumpy – keep stirring!

Playdough method

Continue stirring for a few minutes. You will notice that the mixture is starting to thicken up and form a dough.

Playdough method

Once the dough appears to hold its shape well and gathers by the spoon, your homemade playdough is ready. Pop it onto a plate or some waxed paper and allow to cool.

Playdough method

Once the playdough has cooled down, spend a few minutes kneading it to get a beautiful smooth texture.

*Optional: I added a few drops of essential oil at this stage, and kneaded through the dough to make it smell nice.

Playdough method

Get your playdough cutters ready and enjoy hours of fun with your little one!

Homemade playdough recipe

I will definitely be taking a small amount of homemade playdough with us for any future plane trips and holidays with our little one. It is the one thing that keeps our active little toddler busy for a while.

Be sure to store your homemade playdough in a sealed container or a ziplock bag, to keep it fresh.

  • I only had the little bottles of liquid food colouring in my pantry so I used it to colour the playdough. But I found I needed quite a lot of drops and the playdough colouring is pastel (not vivid and bright). For more vivid colours, use a soft gel paste food colour
  • The recipe makes a large ball of playdough (about one and a half cups worth). Whip up a few batches using different colours to add to the creative play
  • To make cleaning up that little bit easier, soak the saucepan once you have taken the formed playdough out
  • Store in a sealed container or a ziplock bag. We found that by doing this, our homemade playdough stays fresh for a good few months
  • Salt is important in the homemade playdough recipe for a few reasons. It acts as a preservative; and also helps deter little ones from eating it. If they do take a nibble, it will taste really salty and put them off going back for more!
  • Cream of tartar is also an important component of the playdough recipe for its stabilising properties (it also acts as a preservative). It can generally be found in the baking or spice aisle of the supermarket. If you are planning on making heaps of batches of playdough, consider buying it in bulk from art stores or herbal stores

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you