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How to Make Playdough at Home, According to Parenting Experts

Here's an easy recipe that parents and kids can make together.

More indoor time means more time with the kids, which also translates to constantly figuring out ways to keep them entertained and educated at home. Playdough is a fun (and inexpensive!) way to keep kids occupied, and DIYing the modeling compounding takes the activity up a notch. The best part? You probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry, and once you make the playdough, it can last for a couple of weeks.

"I make play dough nearly every week with my kids," says Rachel Rothman, Chief Technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute. "We've done a lot of different variants, and I think I’ve more or less perfected mine!" Rothman uses all food-grade ingredients, a recipe Birnur Aral, Director of the Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab, has reviewed and approved.

how to make playdough
Daughters of Rachel Rothman, Chief Technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute, making playdough at home.
Rachel Rothman

See below for the full recipe, plus an allergy-friendly playdough recipe from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Please make sure a parent or guardian is present when making either of these recipes.

How to make playdough at home

Your kids can be very involved in the playdough-making process, helping you mix ingredients before a parent or guardian boils the water. Here's what Rothman recommends:

What you need:

how to make play dough
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. cream of tartar
  • Food coloring


    • Combine the flour, kosher salt, vegetable oil and cream of tartar together in a large bowl.
      how to make play dough
      • Parent or guardian boils water in a saucepan, then lets it cool down a bit until it's warm (to the point where you can handle without burning your hands). Add the warm water to the mixture and mix well.
        how to make play dough

        • If you'd like to create different colored playdough, separate the dough into equal parts and roll them into balls.

          how to make play dough
          • Add food coloring(s) of your choice to each ball until the mixture is a desired color.
            how to make play dough

            • Store playdough mixture in an airtight container at room temperature.

              how to make play dough

              How to make allergy-friendly playdough without cream of tartar

              Good Housekeeping
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              If allergies are top-of-mind, know that "many commercial and homemade modeling doughs contain wheat," says Kimberly Rafferty, Sr. Marketing & Communications Project Manager of AAFA. Here's a wheat-free version you can make yourself — just make sure your child's allergens agree with the rest of the ingredients, advises Rafferty.

              What you need:

              • 1 lb baking soda
              • 1 cup water
              • 1/8 tsp. oil
              • 1 cup cornstarch
              • Food coloring


                1. Combine ingredients in a large pot.
                2. Parent or guardian cooks the mixture over medium until mealy.
                3. Transfer playdough mixture onto a plate, and let it cool down.
                4. Knead the dough until ingredients are fully incorporated.
                5. Store playdough mixture in an airtight container.
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