How to Make Playdough (Play-doh)

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Picture of How to Make Playdough (Play-doh)
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

Picture of 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 Kool-Aid or similar 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!

Step 3: Knead & color

Picture of Knead & color

Turn the dough out onto a clean counter or silicone mat, and knead vigorously until it becomes silky-smooth. Divide the dough into balls for coloring.

Make a divot in the center of the ball, and drop some food coloring1 in. Fold the dough over, working the food color through the body of the playdough, trying to keep the raw dye away from your hands and the counter. You could use gloves, a big ziplock bag, or plastic wrap at this stage to keep your hands clean- only the concentrated dye will color your skin, so as soon as it's worked in bare hands are fine.

Work the dye through, adding more as necessary to achieve your chosen color.

1 If you use Kool-Aid or similar unsweetened drink mix for color, test on a small ball first- it won't go as far as the "real" food coloring.

Step 4: Play and store

Picture of Play and store
Play with your playdough- I really don't need to help you there. It's entirely edible, if a bit salty, so it's kid-safe.

When you're done, store your playdough in an air-tight container.
- If it begins to dry out, you can knead a bit of water in again to soften the dough back to useability. Once it's dried past a certain point, however, you'll just have to start over; thankfully it's not terribly difficult.
- If it gets soggy, you can re-heat it to drive off the extra water the dough absorbed overnight.  This is usually the result of high humidity, but is fixable!

You can also bake it in the oven to make hard dough figures and ornaments, then paint or otherwise decorate the surface.  One of the comments below even suggests using baked play-dough as a salt lick for your pet rabbit!  (thanks, redcore4!)

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AlexandraG25 months ago

Thanks! Super easy recipe and made it the first time today! Came out perfect!

canida (author)  AlexandraG25 months ago


Im gonna try it on the weekend I jope it turns out aswell as it turned out for you guys.
canida (author)  louise.guenette.795 months ago

How did it go? What colors did you make?

PatrickBishop5 months ago

My little sister tried your project all by herself and it was a success.

canida (author)  PatrickBishop5 months ago

Great! I'm glad to help. :)

Gal.n.mi5 months ago

WOW !!!!!! Just finished a batch and it couldn't have turned out better !!!!

canida (author)  Gal.n.mi5 months ago

Excellent! I hope you had fun.

josiah.hodge5 months ago
Made this with daughter to sell as part of a school business project for her math class. Substituted out 1/4 c. of flour for unsweetened cocoa. Chocolate scented playdough! Also going to do cinnamon, vanilla, and a floral one. :) And the the trick is to just keep cooking until no longer sticky!
canida (author)  josiah.hodge5 months ago

I love this idea! Will add to the suggestions in the instructions. I hope your daughter's project went well!

aleah.ricks5 months ago
What temperature was good for cooking it in the oven? I got mine too hot and it exploded
canida (author)  aleah.ricks5 months ago

Low and slow, depends on how low your oven can handle. I usually put mine on at 200-250 and leave the door open to vent.

Probably best on a low heat, i burnt my first batch and was more careful on the second

mommy to two5 months ago
Hi. I noticed my hands drying up a little while kneading it. I dnt have sensitive skin at all. will it hurt my toddler's hands?
canida (author)  mommy to two5 months ago

It's salty dough, so your skin will dry slightly just like if you're at the beach playing in salt water. It shouldn't hurt your child's hands a bit, but if they're annoyingly dry just add a bit of lotion after washing up.

YvonneS26 months ago

I can't wait to use this on my 3D cell project! It's going to be tons of fun!

canida (author)  YvonneS25 months ago

How did it turn out? I'd love to see pictures of your cell.

econner36 months ago

I used to make this all the time when my boys were little. Once I'd tried it, I never bought the store play dough. But now they're 15 and 13 and I couldn't find my recepie for their little sister who is 18 months. Thank you for making this available so she could have this great play-dough! I love using Kool-aid for color and smell, but I didn't have any today so I tried the food coloring and essential oils. Not quite as good, but still better than the gross store bought stuff!

canida (author)  econner35 months ago

Wonderful! I hope you had a great time. Koolaid for the next batch.

htrevor16 months ago

Wow lol, quick and its... well, its play doh lol! Now just waiting for the kid to get here to color and play, this is awesome and one of the easiest things Ive ever done, thanks!

canida (author)  htrevor15 months ago

Excellent, glad to be of help!

fantastico my play dough turned out so well! Only thing I would mention is that when I put the salt in after all of the other ingredients had started to heat and been thoroughly mixed the consistency was much much better.

dsaavedra made it!7 years ago
cool! i made a monster :)
playdo monster.jpg
dsaavedra made it! dsaavedra7 years ago
heres another:
playdoh face 001.jpg

Let the mouth see the bunny!


(or whatever the small thing is)
TrisC codongolev10 months ago

yeah eat it


it looks like a head a eating a rabbit, just like Bambi! except even more bad I mean who would eat a small hare???!!!
yah!! i closed up on it and it looks like a buny
TrisC Sunny12461310 months ago

it is a bunny

awesome! and freaky at the same time. but still AWESOME!

your monster is skux as dude

have great news!

This posting has won today's "I Made It" Challenge. For winning you will receive a 3 month pro membership!

Thanks for using instructables!

cool animals
canida (author)  dsaavedra7 years ago
pwnage! i like that! its godzilla!!!!!!!!!! aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
jvivian28 months ago
I followed all the directions but i didn't use cream of tarter because i don't have it.
I cooked and stirred the dough for an hour but the more i cooked it the sticker the dough got.
I took it out and added colors then i tried cooking out the extra moisture but the dough just continues to get stickier the more I try to cook it.

I even tried the microwave. It just isn't working.

I really don't know what went wrong, please help.
The same thing happened to me. I eventually pulled it out, cooled it off and kneaded flour in until it became manageable. It still never felt like playdoh. Oh well. It was snowing, so maybe that affected it? Going to use more flour firsthand next time.
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