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How to Make Playdough for Kids

by Jean Van't Hul
February 21, 2024

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

Updated January 2024

You know how much we love homemade playdough here at the Artful Parent.

Homemade playdough is awesome. It’s easy and cheap to make, the texture is smooth and playdough rubbery and a batch makes a generous amount to play with. And you can totally customize it using whatever colors, glitters and scents your kids like.

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

how to make playdough pinterest
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

How to Make Playdough

MATERIALS

Note: candy food coloring (oil based) works really well for vibrantly colored playdough, but it stains, so be sure to wear gloves and cover your work surface!

INSTRUCTIONS

  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.

    pressing out playdough

    Note: It will look like a goopy mess, and you’ll think 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 and toy zebras

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 playdough “cooks” and will help achieve a texture that is just right for playing!

Here’s a video showing you how to make this playdough.

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

No Cook Recipe for Playdough

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No Cook Recipe for Playdough

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Jean Van’t Hul
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Art Recipe

Description

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! 


Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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!

Notes

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

How Do Our Different Homemade Recipes Compare?

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

Cooked Recipe for Playdough

Shelf life: The cooked playdough recipe we make lasts for months. The no-cook 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.

playdough
Photo by Rachel Withers

No-Cook Recipe for Playdough

For a quick, easy recipe that kids can help make, no-cook is the way to go. 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.

playdough and poke ins
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

People Also Ask

  • How do you make nocook 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 it 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.

More Playdough Ideas for Kids

Want even more Sensory Exploration fun?

Check out our Sensory Creativity Pack!

This 30-page printable eBook is stuffed full of sensory play fun! An ultimate guide to sensory play, complete with our favorite recipes and tips for success!

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How to Make Playdough for Kids How to Make Playdough for KidsHow 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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