How to Make Playdough (Play-doh)

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Playdough (aka Play-doh) is easy to make at home, and fun for kids of all ages.  Here's how to make your own non-toxic toy with custom colors and fragrances.

This is the classic method that involves a bit of cooking on the stovetop - I prefer it because cooked playdough has a better texture than uncooked varieties.  If you want the kids to be able to do it all themselves, try this uncooked playdough recipe.

Warning:  Keep away from dogs and other pets.  Playdough smells like people food but contains lots of salt, and a hungry dog can eat enough to cause a dangerous salt imbalance.

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Step 1: Ingredients

Playdough is a classic childhood toy everyone can have fun with, and it's so easy to make at home you'll never buy that stinky store variety again.

Basic ingredient ratios:
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)

food coloring (liquid, powder, or unsweetened drink mix)
scented oils

Step 2: Mix and heat

Mix all of the ingredients together, and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes.

When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, as shown below, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if your playdough is still sticky, you simply need to cook it longer!
Keep stirring and cooking until the dough is dry and feels like playdough.
I've gotten many comments asking about sticky dough, so please just keep cooking a bit longer and it will work!

ILoveOwls1 year ago
Is there anyway to use less salt?
ILoveOwls1 year ago
Is there anyway to use less salt?
RiyaWorks1 year ago
works perfectly! just took 6 minutes from start.
I forgot oil :) but still outcome is excellent!
salokcin1 year ago
Not sure how to search comments, so this may be a double post.

I made this last night with my 2.5yr old and he absolutely loves it!

The main problem I had is that the dough is still very grainy from the salt. I think next time I will dissolve the salt into the warm water before adding it to the rest of the dry ingredients.

i_own_swag1 year ago
will it still be a little elastic without the cream of tartar
ctschudi1 year ago
This looks like the recipe I used when the kids were kids. A friend suggested adding scents like cinnamon but I think this might encourage eating.
ruthebebe1 year ago
Hi, I made your playdough this week for a very grateful toddler, it worked really well, thank you!
rdixon101 year ago
for madison
Bluefur1 year ago
how long does it bake in the oven?
vini1011 year ago
did you color die them?
super.girl2 years ago
how long does it take being cooked? Mine took about half an hour and it's still sticky, so i've wacked it in the fridge.... any tips?
Great website though!!!!
da dumby keep cookin it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I really like the concept! I will pass this link to my girlfriend who works as a baby sitter. I am sure kids love ie
oooohooohoooo someone is in love did you kiss her yet
mvillett1 year ago
mine grew mold
mine turn out good thanks
hi this is really great recipe but can any one tell me are they turn dry after some time ?or remain smooth n elastic ?
arh don't add cinnamon it makes you want to eat it and believe me you don't want to eat it!
wolfoxx2 years ago
Hey there. I'm really interested in this recipe and due to there being over 500 comments before me and looking through them all I thought it would be quicker to ask. The salt in this recipe is used as a preservative in this mixture correct? And possibly to keep children/animals eating it. But what if I want to eat it. Personally it looks quite edible and something of this texture is really what I'm looking for. I'm sure there are other doughs out there I could use but, play dough has such a marvellously unique texture. Anyway, as I said before, salt is used as a preservative here, but sugar is also a preservative. Have you tried this recipe with sugar instead? I think the quantity would have to be reduced a bit because it would probably be a little too sweet, but none-the-less I think It would work. I'll probably give it a go in the near future at half the quantity to try it out but I thought I'd ask before hand in case you, or anyone else who may read this has tried and it failed miserably. Thank you for this wonderful instructable, you explained it thoroughly and precisely with well-taken pictures.
zehan8142 years ago
this is really very nice idea. specially my son always wants dough to play with and every time i have to buy it from shop.
by the way what can use instead of cream of tartar or more precisely as a substitute of cream of tartar what can be used?
ellie002 years ago
I used this recipe yestarday and it worked good
ashlii2 years ago
doesit work with sunflower oil as well
ppeach12 years ago
im just writing a list
lfarrar062 years ago
I highly recoomend this recipe. My stepson loved making the play-doe.
thank you for sharing
slipz2 years ago
instead of warming it on the stove i used the microwave for about 3 mins butr check in between.....took less the time. :) turned out great and i substituted drink mix and food colouring for about half a pack of jello.....
Hi_lawl2 years ago
Would it still be the same without the cream of tartar
toRiattack2 years ago
bahaha if i put flavor in mine i would want to eat it =D
pntknanny2 years ago
For the scent I added ground cinnamon, it smells awesome and adds a brown coloring.
adding grounded cinnamon is a great idea i love cinnamon xD
Helped so much! So fun! Thanks!
This recipe looks great. I can't wait to try it. I want to bake the play dough so I can paint it afterwards. What temperature should I use and for how long should it be baked? If I don't use food coloring, what kind of paints are best for painting play dough figures. Thanks!
jooj2 years ago
wawo this was fast and easy! and my daughter loves it 20 months its perfect i was looking for something to keep her busy while i study! just the thing i was looking for its ten times better than what my mum made lol i guess she used the raw one she did not cook it. I will try it with tartar next time better get back to my studies..fantastic really thanks for posting.
katie12122 years ago
this is my frist time on here and doing the play dough
niat de mal emana te bgion hihahiihahihahihahihahijhhhhjhgggggggggggggg
ShayeM.982 years ago
hey do u need the cream of tar tar??
taria2 years ago
there's like over 537 comments and to be honest. I'm to lazy to read them all so I'm going to ask a few questions I'm sure has been asked before.

will this dry hard or do you have to bake it? and if so what temp do you put them in? do they crack once dry? and can you paint them?

I have a project that I need clay type of stuff for and if play doh works then I use it, but if not then is there a way to make clay that will dry and be hard but won't crack?

I can't afford the one they have here, it's expensive and it has to be fired to make it hard. Don't have that opinion where I live. So anything cheap that works just like the one that has to be fired would be great.

Fantastic recipe and instructions! I've never made play dough before, so I was a little apprehensive. The mixture was so gloppy in the beginning that I was convinced it would never work. Then as I kept stirring it started to form lumps and before I knew it the dough was setting up. This turned out great! Very smooth and pliable, not like the grainy salt doughs I remember my mom making.

I made one batch, and then split it into 4 balls that were just under 1 cup each (I had 1 cup plastic containers for storage). Then, I used 1 package of unsweetened Koolaid for each ball. This seems like a lot, but they needed the whole package for the scent to really come through.

I use "lemonade" for yellow, which needed some yellow food coloring to bump up the color.
I used "blue raspberry" for blue, which only needed a little blue food coloring to make a nice bright blue.
I used "lime lemon" for green, and it really didn't need any food coloring because the mix alone made a nice bright lime green.
Then, I used "cherry" for red, and I would NOT recommend it. The cherry mix made the dough turn a sort of dull red, that even with food coloring stayed a dull brick-red sort of color. Next time I'll use strawberry for red.
go90feet2 years ago
This is so much fun with my kindergartener! We had a blast making "cookies" with her own cookie-cutters and tools. I cut the recipe in half, as I only have 1 kid and it makes PLENTY!

We played with half of it, and wrapped hte other half in a pretty (plastic) container to give the neigher kid (1 yr. old). We also made another batch to give as a gift to some friends (3 kids) with whom we have a play day next week. What a great (an inexpensive!) gift and afternoon activity!

We scented and colored with ground cinnamon. MMMMMM!!!

I am also planning to make as a treat for my daughter's kindergarten class and give each kid their own for Valentine's day. She suggested red food coloring and cinnamon scent, but I am also thinking brown coloring and chocolate scent. What a treat!

Thanks for reminding me of this activity!
jacfon2 years ago
My boy's teacher gave us a playdough recipe, so the moms take turns and once a month, one of us brings playdough in for the kids to play. My turn is coming up and my color is white. I tried her recipe three times and it was just a dissaster!
I was about to order some playdough online when I run into your recipe and decided to try it out. The recipe you have here is much easier and the playdough turned out great! I am saving myself some money!!Thanks!!!!!!
To help the smell : if you like cinnamon add it SMELLS GREAT!!!! :)

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