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The Best No Cook Playdough Recipe


Here’s the best no-cook playdough recipe. It’s so easy to make that kids can help (see the video tutorial)! Plus I’ll share how no cook playdough compares to cooked playdough recipes.

Playdough in cupcake liner with toothpicks

Updated March 2021

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 I’ve posted about it probably at least 20 other times.

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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.

So, how does a no cook playdough recipe compare?

We’ve made five different no cook playdough recipes so far. Some use cold water, some use boiling hot water. Most of the other ingredients are the same but vary slightly in amounts. The recipes with the cold water are grainier and a bit drier in general.

Here’s the the no cook playdough recipe I like the very best, which uses the hot water method. I’ll show you a video tutorial of how to make it, share a recipe, and then tell you how no cook playdough compares to cooked playdough recipes.

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

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Playdough and Clay Activities for Kids

The Best No Cook Playdough Recipe

  • Author: Jean Van’t Hul
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 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.

panda toys in purple playdough - Little Mainer Art Studio

How Does No Cook Playdough Compare to Cooked Homemade Playdough?

After giving no cook playdough recipe several trial runs, I have come to the conclusion that cooked playdough is better, but that no cook playdough has it’s place, too. And we’ve actually been making the no-cook playdough more often because it’s quicker, easier, and the kids can get involved.

Why is cooked playdough better?

Shelf life: The cooked playdough recipe we make lasts for months. The no cook playdough batches lasted a couple of weeks. By then they were a little too dried out and, in some cases, a little too smelly to keep using.

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 playdough 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 I love cooked playdough, I admit that there are definitely times and reasons to consider making no cook playdough as well.

Why use a no cook playdough recipe?

More kid-friendly to make: If you want your kids (or students) to be more involved in all steps of making the playdough, 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: No cook playdough 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 no cook playdough.

Your turn to weigh in! What do you think about no cook versus cooked playdough? Do you have a preference? Or would you rather just buy yours ready made?

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The Best No Cook Playdough Recipe
  • molly
    February 18, 2012 at 7:49 am

    We like cooked playdough. We haven’t been playing with it much lately, maybe it is time for a new batch! Love the idea of berries and beets for color, we’ll try that for sure.

  • Peace Love and Rainbows
    February 18, 2012 at 7:53 am

    we like both but I have found a wonderful no cook (uses boiling water) play dough recipe that is just like regular play dough and last just as long as regular. Even better you use the food processor

  • Renee Brown
    February 18, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I’ve had very similar experiences. I prefer cooked, by a lot. I did used to do a few rounds of no cook with my students when I taught so they could help. I probably need to make a batch with my daughter for the same reason.

  • Gina
    February 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! Decided to make some for my daughter this morning, and it’s perfect!

  • Reina
    February 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I love non cook with glycerin. It is quicker and the kids can help all the way. We keep it in the fridge and it last for ages. We have done a few weeks ago a batch for snowman with corn flour and glitters. Absolutely lovely :)

  • Sally
    February 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    We like the non-cooked because we like changing colours fairly often. We then use the old playdough for printing pictures or mud pies in the garden.

  • Alison
    February 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    We keep our non-cook play dough stored in a sealed container in the fridge. It keeps six months in there. I should try a cooked recipe again. The no-cook is so much easier and kid-friendly that I usually just default to that.

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    If you try the beets and berries, let me know how it turns out for you! I’ve heard of using turmeric for yellow, too, and something (coffee grounds, onion skins?) for brown. Maybe it’s time to whip up some natural colored playdough…

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    The recipe looks about the same — although I’ll have to try it in the food processor. Do you use regular flour or the the gluten free?

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Just wanted to add a tip that Ivania posted on facebook. She says to add a few drops of glycerin to no cook playdough to make it extra shiny and stretchy. I’m going to give it a try next time we make a batch!

  • Mary
    February 18, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I notice that some recipes state that unused cooked play dough can last for several months. How long does itt last after you play with it?

  • Zoe
    February 19, 2012 at 2:43 am

    It’s useful to have a comparison. Thanks for that!

  • peace love and rainbows
    February 19, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I’ve done both, using the food processor makes the flour mixture super fine before adding water so it is such a great texture when the water is added.
    It isn’t gummy or anything you just use the food processor till it pulls away from the sides and is a ball.
    all done in less then 5 minutes.

  • peace love and rainbows
    February 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

    great idea love that, but wouldn’t be good if kids eat it. so only for older kids. don’t want them eating glycerin.

  • lisa
    February 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Just checking- the recipe you share here is basically 1/2 the amt that is usually used by Mary Ann Kohl correct? I make it for a group, so just checking the amts!!

  • Renee Brown
    February 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Mary, ours lasts for months being played with. In fact, I usually toss it after we share it with our playgroup, (germs) while it is still good, many, many, many, months after I first make a batch.

  • Andrea
    February 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I have loved using the microwave recipe from Picklebums
    . . . So i guess it is a cooked recipe. I love the smaller portion and making lots of colors. We change up colors often and I have kids over all the time. Our playdough is out and always in use. She has it taking 5 minutes, my microwave only took 2. I love the texture and feel and color and everything! It’s been awesome! Even easier to have the kids help make it too.

  • katepickle
    February 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I like cooked dough too.
    I usually make ours in the microwave (instructions on my blog) which is a bit quicker but still requires the arm breaking stirring. But it just lasts so much longer and with a boy who adores play dough we use it often.
    I am going to give your boiling water recipe a go though, there is a lot to be said for speed and ease!

  • katepickle
    February 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    oops! That’ll teach me to read comments before commenting… looks like Andrea linked to my microwave play dough recipe in the comment above mine!

  • KElly
    February 22, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Thanks! My kids and I tried the no-cook playdoh last night…it was our first time ever making playdoh and they LOVED it.

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    So glad!

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 22, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    We don’t have a microwave, but if we did, I would totally try your microwaved version!! How awesome! You get the great cooked playdough much easier and quicker.

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 22, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Do you mean half the amount of her play clay recipe? I think she has lots of different playdough recipes (and I can’t wait to get my hands on her Mudworks book), but the only one I’ve used is the play clay which calls for 5 cups of flour. So yes, about half.

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 22, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Our cooked playdough recipe lasts for months. We haven’t had as much luck with uncooked playdough recipes. They haven lasted for a couple of weeks for us.

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 22, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    You’re welcome!

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 22, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks, Alison. I think I’ll start keeping our non-cooked playdough in the fridge as well.

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 22, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    I can’t wait to try some glycerin in our next batch of non cook playdough!

  • Jean Van't Hul
    February 22, 2012 at 11:22 pm


  • Tara
    February 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Cocoa powder :)

  • Amy
    March 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    We tried the no cook playdoh recipe this afternoon. My 4 and 2-year-old are still happily playing with it. My more discerning 7-year-old enjoyed making the no cook playdoh but then said the playdoh was no good, made a few hearts and then rejected it for good. I was glad we tried it. I used to use a very similar no-cook recipe with my oldest when he was 2, and he enjoyed it then.

  • mary
    March 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks so much for the reply! I am bit of a “planner”, so that helps a lot.
    And thanks for such a wonderfully inspiring blog. I have a baby about to become a toddler, and I have learned so much from you.

  • Victoria @ Mommy Marginalia
    April 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I pulled out my copy of First Art after reading this post, but can’t quite figure which of the dough recipes is your favorite – could you please clarify? My 2yo son loved the store-bought play-dough he received for Easter, but I’d really like to make him some homemade dough (he’s a bit mouthy – I’d much rather know exactly what he’s putting in his mouth!). Thank you for your wonderful blog!!

  • Jean Van't Hul
    April 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Victoria, my favorite playdough recipe is her Play Clay.

  • lizapest
    June 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I make my no-cook slightly differently, I add the salt and food colour to the boiled water and mix until they are dissolved then add it to the rest of the ingredients, I found that this mixes the colour better as well as the dough is far less gritty.

  • June
    August 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I like the cooked version. I found that the non-cooked one with just cold water, just melted in the heat and it smells.

  • Delphine
    January 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I do n’ont have tartar cream so i used baking soda it´s a total disaster. Is thème any substituts that works the same?

  • Delphine
    January 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Is there, not is thème

  • Jean Van't Hul
    January 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Ha! That’s funny. Perhaps your discerning 7yo would like the cooked playdough recipe more?

  • Jean Van't Hul
    January 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    It’s called Play Clay and is on pages 48-49.

  • Jean Van't Hul
    January 11, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Good idea! I’ll have to give that a try!

  • Jean Van't Hul
    January 11, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Well, this non-cook version uses boiling hot water so is probably not technically non-cook.

  • Jean Van't Hul
    January 11, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Maybe just skip the cream of tartar? I’ve always thought it was more of a preservative than important for texture. Although I’m not sure.