Our Best Play Dough

I’ve made a lot of play dough in my time. Enough to have memorized my favorite recipe. It makes a good size ball and stores neatly in anything with a tight lid that can hold two cups.

boil boil

If you do this with little people, make sure you trust them with the stove. The stove is not on in this picture.

Our Best Play Dough
Dump the following into a sauce pan and mix well:

1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. water
1/4 c. salt (table, no need to be fancy)
1 T. oil
2 T. cream of tartar
food coloring to suit taste

Put your pan over medium heat. The goop will look nice and smooth like this…

smooth goop

…if you’ve used neon green food coloring.

Start stirring. Right about the time you think your arm will fall off (5-10 minutes), this will happen:

lumped up

It will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and clump together.

Keep cooking and stirring until the mess has barely stopped being shiny and then pull it off of the heat. I also dump it out of the pot so it will stop cooking and not get too hard. Give it a few minutes to rest. When it’s cool enough to touch, knead the play dough until it’s smooth. I find that kneading is easier while it is still warm.

Wash your pot and repeat until you’ve run out of colors or storage boxes. Or in our case, both.


All this took us less than an hour to mix up.

In an airtight container, it keeps far longer than you’d think. We’ll be playing with this batch well into March. Unless it all gets mixed into a muddy rainbow. Then we’ll have to make more.


11 thoughts on “Our Best Play Dough

  1. Barbara

    This sounds exactly like the play-dough I make, and which my mom made when we were kids. It’s so super easy, and just as fun to play with as the bought stuff. I also like that it tastes terrible, but doesn’t smell bad! My son has never tried to eat more than a tiny piece. The last batch I made has been in the fridge for months, and is still good. But I love the bright colours you made, so maybe I should cook him some more.

  2. Sara

    Have you ever tried using Kool-Aid in place of the food coloring? It works surprisingly well and makes scented play dough–a very cool effect (but probably not good for kids who like to eat the dough).

  3. emily Post author

    I’d read that some people use one packet of unsweetened (the kind where you add the sugar yourself) Kool-Aid to a larger batch. I bet it smells delicious!

  4. kathy b

    My Al and my Zach and I loved to make and use the new play doh. Al unfortunately also liked to lick it, because it was salty. Ewwww. She did it just to bug me

  5. kerry

    We haven’t done this in a loooong time. Maybe on our next at-home snowy day. Our last batch was the uncooked salty kind. I’d like to give this one a try. Your colors are too fun!

  6. Emily

    I store it at room temperature. The ‘fridge makes it kind of tough and it sweats a lot and gets sticky when you work with it.

    The colors were the McCormick Neon food colors!

  7. KM

    This is the recipe I use too. I have to share that I like to use baby oil…it seems to make the play dough last longer then if you’ve used a cooking oil…and it smells wonderful.

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