Kid-Made Play Dough for Lazy Parents

Quick and Easy Uncooked Play Dough Recipe

Do your kids love playing with play dough? It’s the rare child that doesn’t, right? Play dough is such a great sensory and learning experience for kids, and great fun too. But have you tried making your own play dough with the kids? If, like me, you find the idea daunting, don’t be put off! It really is so easy to make, it’s literally kids play! While we used to love playing with the store-bought dough, we now use this simple, uncoooked play dough recipe to make our own. Fancy trying it? Read on to get the easy, no-cook recipe my children love to make…

A recipe for kid-made and no-cook play dough

Making play dough is as much fun as playing with it!

There are a million recipes for play dough on the web, and that in itself can be quite off-putting when you’re just looking for something quick and simple. Our recipe here is one of the ‘no-cook’ varieties, just because we like to make a batch quickly and with as much kid-involvement in the making as possible. This dough can be made in minutes and has great texture that is pliable, soft and holds its shape well. The benefit of it being so quick and easy to make is that I’m happy to help the kids whip up another batch if they want to try different textures, colours, or scents. It’s the perfect ‘beginners play dough’, so give it a try!

child measuring flour for mixing bowl

Pouring and stirring are two favourite kid activities needed for this job

Quick and Easy No-Cook Play Dough Recipe

Play dough is made with just four key ingredients, most of which you’ll probably already have in your kitchen cupboards. Cream of Tartar is the ingredient that some people find difficult to get hold of, but I’ve found most UK supermarkets do stock it. Usually you’ll find it in 140g tubs that are big enough to see you through a half dozen or more batches. It is even cheaper (and easier) to order larger quantities online so – affiliate link alert! – check out the link to Amazon in the list below if you have any problems getting hold of it.

Ingredients

  • 300g flour (I generally use cheap, plain white flour but experiment with different types as you’ll get different textures and colours that are great for the kids to explore)
  • 150g salt (just generic and cheap cooking salt)
  • 2 tbs cream of tartar (I buy ours in bulk online but you don’t need much for a batch)
  • 2 – 3 tbs vegetable oil (I use olive oil or whatever I have to hand if I’m out of this).
  • 350ml boiling water (max – you may not need all of it!)

As you can see from this list, you basically need twice as much flour as salt, with a few tablespoons of cream of tartar and oil, and enough water to bind everything together, so it’s pretty easy to scale the quantities up or down. However the recipe here makes a nice amount that could easily be divided into three or four (before you add the water) if you want to make different colours, and makes the kids plenty of dough that is enough for two or three children to play with together.

Optional Extras:

  • Food colouring (or natural dyes)
  • Flavourings or scented oils
  • Glycerine liquid (for extra pliability and shine – note that this link is for food grade glycerine but some versions are for external use only. Glycerine is also great for adding to bubble mixture for bigger, longer-lasting bubbles!).
Flour, salt, cream of tartar, oil - play dough ingredients

You need just four key ingredients to make this simple playdough recipe.

Supplies List

The recipe on this page uses pretty standard materials that you probably already have. If you need to stock up, here are some examples from Amazon of the types of things we used. These are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy, I will receive a small amount that goes towards the running of this website without costing you a penny extra. Thank you for your support!

Amazon links

Instructions

This play dough recipe is so easy, it really does only take minutes to make! I like to get the kids doing all the work whenever possible (Victorian family values rule!), so other than handling the boiling water, everything is measured and mixed by them. That’s how easy it is.

  • Measure out your flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add your spoonfuls of cream of tartar.
Child measuring flour with spoon over mixing bowl

Carrying out ‘grown up’ tasks, like following this play dough recipe, helps builds kids’ self confidence.

  • Give the dry ingredients a little stir.
  • Add your tablespoons of cooking oil and mix in. You will find the mixture forming large lumps or crumbs.
Child mixing dough in bowl with spoon

As soon as you add liquids to the mix, the whole texture changes.

My kids like using their hands at this stage!

  • In a separate jug, measure out your boiling water and add a few drops of food colouring or scent if required (for this particular batch I used – affliate links again! – a dab of Wilton’s golden yellow food gel colour and a few drops of orange oil that I had in the cupboard that made for a seriously delicious scent).
  • Stir water for a moment until colour and scent is fully dissolved.
  • Pour a little of the liquid into your mixing bowl with the other ingredients and stir. In just a few seconds it will start to clump up into a ball of dough.
  •  Use your hands to mix and knead the contents of the bowl together, but be aware that it may be hot from the boiling water, so check before allowing the kids to do this bit. I find that the water has usually cooled down enough that just a quick stir with a spoon to mix the water in with the ingredients in the bowl is enough to bring the temperature right down.
Child mixing ingredients in bowl with hands

Time to use their hands!

  • Continue to gradually add the liquid until all the ingredients have combined into the dough ball. You might find that you don’t need all the water, so keep checking the consistency of the dough as you add it to avoid putting in too much.
  • Once you have your dough ball, remove it from the bowl. You’ll probably find it a little sticky but if you give it a good knead, the stickiness should disappear and leave you with a smooth, soft consistency. This bit is much easier than it sounds – the dough is already pretty soft and so it doesn’t take very long to get rid of that stickiness.

Help! My play dough is…

  • … Too Sticky!  Put a little bit of flour on your hands and table if the dough remains sticky, and carry on kneading until it becomes soft and smooth. The more you handle it, the better it should get so only add a little extra flour at a time.
  • …Too Dry/Crumbly!  Put a little of the oil on your hands and knead the  dough some more. Don’t add more water – you need the oil with its binding properties to hold everything together. Adding more water at this stage will just make a big soggy mess.
Home-made play dough and child's hand

Play dough ready for playing with…

 I find our dough keeps well for several months at least (the longest was well over six months!) but it can get dry and crumbly if left out for long, so needs to be stored in an airtight container when not being played with. This is the main disadvantage of the no-cook method – the versions cooked on the stove top tend to not dry out so quickly. On the plus side – it’s a good way to get the kids tidying up after themselves! As for storage, we don’t bother putting it in the fridge and just store in its container on a cool, dry shelf… but then where we live it rarely (sob!) gets very hot or humid so use your own judgement based on how things tend to last where you are.

Home-made play dough and wooden rolling pins

Playing with play dough is great for all sorts of fine motor skill building. And fun too!

Play Dough Play Time!

Once you’ve made your play dough, it’s time to get the kids playing! As I’m trying to reduce our use of plastic, I try now to steer my kids away from all the brightly coloured plastic play dough accessories and tools around, and have put together a box of play dough accessories that are or are made from natural materials.

Child getting play dough tool from box

Who doesn’t love a rummage?

These tend to be far more ‘open ended’ than traditional store-bought accessories and so I’ve found the kids’ play dough play has become much more imaginative and engrossing than before. If you’d like a closer look at the things we use, have a look at my post on No-Plastic play for Play Dough.

Kids playing with home-made play dough and wooden tools

Totally engrossed!

​More from Rhubarb and Wren

Looking for more play dough fun and things to do with the kids? Check out some of my other posts!

6 Comments

  1. Sounds fab. Pinned. Been meaning to try this.

  2. Oooh what a great idea! We’re all about the slime in this house… even Max likes it with his sensory issues! 🙂

  3. This recipe makes a winning play dough – thank you! Perfect texture with enough elasticity to keep it pliable but not too crumbly. We’ve made green monsters out of the first batch and are already looking forward to more messy adventures.

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