Playing with playdough is a great sensory activity for kids of all ages. You can easily make a batch of this soft salt dough and kids can choose their favorite colors to mix in! We’ve made playdough many times. This is the best homemade playdough recipe that results in soft, moldable dough that’s not too salty or drying. I’m also happy to share some of my creative tips for making vibrantly colorful dough and minimizing the mess of mixing in the food coloring. The next time you are looking for an interactive kid’s activity, try making this homemade playdough recipe!
Homemade playdough is easy to make using ingredients you likely already have at home. You can store playdough for months and make a rainbow of colors. Before you start, you will want to choose a large pot that will adequately hold all of the ingredients you need to make homemade playdough.
Best Homemade Playdough Recipe
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 tbsp. cream of tartar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Gel food coloring
- Tubs or ziplock bags
How to Make Homemade Playdough
- Combine the water, vegetable oil, salt and cream of tarter in a large pot.
- Heat the mixture over low heat and stir until the salt fully dissolves.
- Mix in the flour.
- Cook the playdough for several minutes. Stir until the dough thickens and starts drying out and balling up.
- Turn off the heat and let the dough cool until easily handled.
- Add food coloring, essential oil fragrances and glitter! (optional)
- Tips below!
Homemade playdough is fun for kids to help mix (with adult supervision) and watch it turn into dough. Initially the mixture will be very soupy, but as soon as you add the flour, the playdough will begin thickening. Cook the dough over low heat until it’s mallable. Turn out the ball of dough onto a piece of parchment paper to cool.
Tip: Don’t let the dough get too dry during the cooking process. Overly dry dough will also become hard and flaky once it cools.
Once your homemade playdough is cool, it will be soft and moldable. Now it’s time to add the color! Kids can choose their favorite colors or you can make the entire batch a single color.
Tip: If you make playdough using the primary colors red, yellow and blue, kids can mix these playdough colors to make more colors!
Mixing food coloring into white playdough can be a messy process. You will inevitably get food coloring on your hands and possibly even on the counter top or clothing. To minimize the mess, I use a food processor to mix food coloring into our homemade playdough.
Tip: Use a food processor to effortlessly mix gel food coloring into homemade white playdough. Place a ball of white salt dough into the food processor and add several drops of gel food coloring. Turn the food processor on and allow it to mix for a minute or so. Dump out the colored dough onto parchment paper and knead it into a ball.
Tip: Gel food coloring produces much brighter playdough than water-based food coloring. A few drops of gel food coloring will create neon colored salt dough; a little goes a long way!
Why This is the Best Playdough Recipe
- This playdough is soft but not sticky.
- It’s not too salty, which can make little hands feel dry.
- The gel food coloring makes the colors so bright!
- It’s inexpensive and makes enough for several kids.
- You can easily add in glitter and fragrances.
Make a big batch of homemade playdough to keep on hand as an easy afternoon kid’s activity. You can store homemade playdough in tubs or ziplock bags and it will last for months to come. The salt is a natural preservative that helps maximize the playdough’s shelf life. This homemade playdough is also food-based, so while it’s not particularly delicious, it is edible.
My kids love playing with playdough and making colorful creations. Some of the benefits of playing with playdough include:
Sensory development: Kids can squish, flatten and mold their playdough which helps to strengthen their hands. Kids also learn cause and effect such as squishing their playdough if they squeeze it.
Creativity: Kids can design all sorts of characters, creations and pretend cookies using homemade playdough. They can use a pencil to poke holes in their dough, cut it using cookie cutters and roll it into a long tube.
Artistic experiments: Kids can learn about color mixing and practice sculpting. Everyone likes playing with playdough. Kids as young as 2 can mix colors and kids ages 7-10 can design amazing playdough creations. You can make all the colors of the rainbow by mixing together different amounts of red, yellow and blue. Mix in white dough to create different color shades of playdough. Just don’t forget to remind your kids that if they mix all the colors together, they will make brown.
We hope you enjoy trying out our best homemade playdough recipe for making bright and neon colors! After many rounds of making playdough, this is my go-to recipe that I make when my kids want to do a creative sensory activity.
Katie is a writer and influencer based in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. She enjoys DIY projects, photography, decorating and going on family adventures. She feels blessed to be a wife, a stay-at-home mom to three kids and a Pacific Northwest lifestyle blogger.