I distinctly remember the homemade playdough of my childhood—it was gritty and crumbly, it dried out way too fast, and it was super salty (yes, I occasionally sampled the goods—don’t judge). Basically, it was garbage. But today I’m here to proclaim that the DIY gods have smiled down upon our generation of moms and blessed us with a new homemade playdough recipe that is not only crazy easy to make, but it’s also like silk to the touch and honey to the taste. Okay, that last part is a lie—I haven’t eaten it (for reals this time), but it is entirely non-toxic just in case your little ones do.
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cream of tarter (found in the spice aisle)
food coloring (I like to use gel coloring for really vibrant hues)
You’ll also need measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, a wooden spoon and a sauce pan. Small helpers are optional but highly recommended.
Begin by combining all of the ingredients except the food coloring into a bowl—no specific order necessary.
Mix thoroughly. It will resemble thin pancake batter with maybe a few small lumps.
At this point, I like to halve the playdough “batter” into two bowls to make two different colors. This recipe makes a decent amount of playdough, and I find that although it may not seem like a lot while in liquid form, half of the recipe is plenty for one color.
Add your desired food coloring to each bowl and mix until blended. (Please excuse my son’s nearly-gone temporary arm tattoo. I promise it’s not dirt and that I do bathe him.)
Choose one color to cook first, and pour the batter into your saucepan. Heat over a medium setting and stir, stir, stir. Do not stop stirring! As it cooks, the playdough will eventually all form together into a nice little ball. (Why did I pick green to photograph? My apologies for the snot-looking photo below.)
Set the ball on the counter to cool for 3-4 minutes. While it’s still warm (but no longer scalding), knead it by hand until it’s smooth and wonderful.
Repeat to make as many colors as your little heart—or your little one’s heart—desires!
As a child, I totally preferred the store-bought playdough over that nasty homemade mess. Not my kids! We make a fresh batch of DIY playdough several times a year, and they actually prefer its texture and custom-color-mixing possibilities to anything else. Add some cookie cutters, a rolling pin and an open table, and you kids will be as happy as clams for awhile.
When your kiddos do eventually tire of their new fun, pack up the playdough into small Tupperware containers or airtight Ziploc bags to preserve maximum freshness.