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How to Make Playdough for Kids

by Jean Van't Hul
January 1, 2023

Here’s how to make playdough for kids with the BEST recipe for no cook playdough using the hot water method.

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Updated January 2023

You know how much we love the cooked homemade playdough recipe we’ve been making forever. It’s the play clay from MaryAnn Kohl’s First Art, and we’ve posted about it probably at least 20 other times.

It’s awesome. The texture is smooth and playdough rubbery and the batch makes a generous amount to play with. It also lasts just about forever.

Here’s the no cook playdough recipe we like the very best, which uses the hot water method.

How to Make Playdough

no cook playdough pinterest


Note: candy food coloring (oil based) works best for vibrantly colored playdough


  1. Mix dry playdough ingredients

    In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

    no cook playdough

  2. Add wet ingredients

    Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil and food coloring. Then pour in the boiling water and mix.

    no cook playdough

  3. Knead until the dough comes together

    Let the mixture sit for a few minutes and then once it’s cool enough to hold, knead the dough until it comes together.

    Note: It will look like a goopy mess and you’re going to be sure that you’re going to have to add a lot of flour to make it work. Just let it sit for a few minutes. It will firm up and work perfectly.

  4. Play!

    Once your playdough is ready, it’s time to play!

    Playdough in cupcake liner with toothpicks
    Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

Pro Tips

We’ve made this no cook playdough recipe enough times to learn some tips that will ensure it comes out with the perfect texture!

  1. Be sure to use a metal bowl or pot.
  2. Keep the water boiling and piping hot when making this recipe.

These two tricks will ensure your play doh “cooks” and will help achieve a texture that is just right for playing!

Playdough Videos

See? Wasn’t that easy? Now, here’s the recipe.

No Cook Recipe for Playdough

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No Cook Recipe for Playdough

  • Author: Jean Van’t Hul
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Art Recipe


This is great homemade playdough recipe to make with simple kitchen ingredients and the best part is that there is no stove-top cooking involved so the kids can help mix up their own batch! 


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • Liquid watercolors (or food coloring)
  • 2 cups boiling water


  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Make a well in the center and add oil and coloring.
  3. Pour in boiling water and mix.
  4. It will look like a goopy mess and you’re going to be sure that you’re going to have to add a lot of flour to make it work. Just let it sit for a few minutes. It will firm up and work perfectly.
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it a bit to form a ball.
  6. Play!


This playdough will keep for a few months if stored in an airtight container or plastic bag in between use.

How Do These Homemade Recipes Compare?

Why we liked this cooked recipe for playdough

Shelf life: The cooked playdough recipe we make lasts for months. The no cook playdough batches tend to get moist after a month or two.

It’s forgiving: Cooked playdough can be left out, uncovered, for hours, with little or no lasting effect. No cook playdough starts getting a dry and crumbly coating if left out for any length of time.

Better texture: The cooked playdough has a lovely, rubbery, squishy texture and it holds together better. Most of the no cook playdoughs are soft but pull apart quickly and you end up with more crumbs and bits of playdough all over.

However, as much as we love the cooked recipe, we admit that there are definitely times and reasons to consider making no cook as well.

panda toys in purple playdough - Little Mainer Art Studio
Photo by Rachel Withers

Why we like the no cook playdough recipe

After making both playdough recipes many times, our staff has votes for both.

For a quick, easy recipe that kids can help make, no cook playdough recipe is the best choice. It won’t last as long as the cooked recipe though.

More kid-friendly to make: If you want your kids (or students) to be more involved in all steps of making, then no cook is the way to go since there is no hot stove to deal with. If making the kind with boiling water, an adult can boil and pour the water, but children can help with the rest.

It’s quicker and easier: This one is a bit quicker and easier to make. Mostly just dump and mix.

Expendable: If you plan to use it for a specific purpose, such as a baking soda volcano or a kitchen table forest, then by all means whip up a quick batch of this kind.

Photo by Rachel Withers

People Also Ask

  • How do you make no cook playdough? Follow our recipe above to create the best batch! It’s easy and a great opportunity for your kids to join in the action!
  • Can you make playdough without boiling water? We find that boiling water is necessary for getting the texture just right. If you’d rather not use boiling water, check out our cooked recipe for playdough.
Photo by Rachel Withers

More Playdough Ideas for Kids

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How to Make Playdough for Kids

5 Responses

  1. This is the best no cook playdough recipe I have used. I love how easy it is to make, and the kids love helping. The texture is great, and it is lasting a long time. Thank you for sharing!

  2. This playdough recipe came out PERFECTLY!! The best part is, it required no cooking as most recipes do, so we could make it in our classroom to enjoy! My pre-k class played with it for hours! Thank you Artful Parent!!!!

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