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5 Simple Homemade Play-Dough Recipes

5 foolproof recipes tested by expert play-dough scientists (kids)

Published on: April 20, 2020

5 Simple Homemade Play-Dough Recipes

Play-dough close-up

More great play-dough recipes

Recipe 3: Classic play-dough variation

  • ¼ cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • food coloring (or Kool-Aid)

Texture and bouquet: This recipe is very similar to our top pick, but was a little softer because it contains less cream of tartar.

Testers' notes: Testers didn’t like this as much as our top pick. I made this batch with grape Kool-Aid.

Recipe 4: Gluten-free play-dough

  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup corn starch
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • food coloring

Texture bouquet: This recipe is gluten-free. It was very springy and dense, but still moldable.

Testers' notes: Described this dough as having a wonderful translucent “mochi” quality to it.

Recipe 5: Corn flour play-dough

  • ¼ cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup masa flour
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tablespoon oil
  • food coloring

Texture and bouquet: This is made from corn flour (a good way to use up leftover flour from tamales.)

Testers' notes: It has a great tortilla smell to it and is soft but a little crumbly. It has a very different texture.

Play-dough recipes that bombed

We tested three recipes that nobody liked:

  • A “no-cook” recipe that created a dry, crumbly dough that can’t really be rolled into snakes, and it has a gritty, grainy feel
  • A version that I make when I have whole wheat flour that is about to go bad. It’s not great, but good for using up leftover flour. The color isn’t as vibrant, and beware of pink or red, as the final product looks like raw meat.
  • A “no cream of tartar” recipe that was truly awful. It was not cohesive enough to roll into a snake or a ball. If you don’t have cream of tartar on hand, make something else.

This article was originally published on April 15, 2013, and updated on April 20, 2020.

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