DIY Pumpkin Pie Playdough

Have you ever made your own play dough? Im a fan of store bought dough (it’s so easy!), but making your own is a money saver and we can make TONS of it in minutes. And with the simple addition of a little pumpkin pie spice, our dough smells heavenly…just like pumpkin pie!

"Smells like Fall" Pumpkin Play Dough |


Inspired by The Artful Parent’s Autumn Arts and Crafts book, The Artful Year: Autumn, we finally pitched our peppermint playdough in favor of a more seasonal scent: Pumpkin Pie!

Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe…

I used our favorite play dough recipe, which also happens to be the favorite of my daughter’s awesome preschool class, so I’m not going to get experimental with the dough itself, but we did experiment with the spice combination.

The dough itself takes about 20 minutes to prepare, it cooks on the stove-top, and the most complicated-to-find ingredient it calls for is cream of tartar. If it’s hard for you to find, you can get Cream of Tartar on Amazon.

Yes, you can find 2-minute dough recipes, and I’d encourage you to use them if you’re short on time, but the benefit of this recipe is that it will last for ages. Ages. Scroll down for a PRINTABLE recipe card.

"Smells Amazing" Pumpkin Pie Play Dough |

After we made the dough, I placed it on the counter to cool. Meanwhile, my 2-year old worked away at pinching out a real pie crust.

"Smells Amazing" Pumpkin Pie Play Dough |

When the dough was cool to touch, we squeezed orange liquid watercolors on half of it and then kneaded it in. For this step, be sure to mix on a surface that won’t absorb the watercolors. My 4-year old wanted to make half the dough orange and half of it white.

"Smells Amazing" Pumpkin Pie Play Dough |

Although we had planned to use a jar of pumpkin pie spice in the dough, my 4-year old was curious about using whole spices that we just bought, so we pulled out the coffee grinder and gave it a very loud whirl. Fun! I don’t have a proper nutmeg grinder, but this seemed to do the trick. And the smell of cardamom — I absolutely love it.

We experimented with the spice blend by adding the different spices, first quite cautiously and then rather liberally, and in different combinations. I learned that my 4-year old isn’t too crazy about the smell of cardamom, but loves cinnamon.

DIY Pumpkin Pie Playdough


Prep time: 

Making time: 

Total time: 

Playdough is a wonderful material for building fine motor skills, developing imaginations through exploratory play, and supporting early engineering and building skills. This recipe rivals anything store-bought.
  • 5 cups water
  • 2½ cups salt
  • 3 tbsp. cream of tartar
  • 10 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 5 cups flour
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolors
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice, or a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom
  1. Mix everything but the food coloring together in a large pot until somewhat smooth. It will be lumpy. Not to worry, the dough will get smoother as it cooks.
  2. Cook the dough over a low heat. Mix frequently. The water will slowly cook out of the mixture and you’ll notice it starts to take on a sticky dough appearance.
  3. Keep mixing until the edges of the dough along the side and bottom of the pan appear dry. Pinch a piece of dough. If it’s not gooey, the dough is ready.
  4. Place the dough on a counter top or large cutting board or cooking tray that can withstand a little food coloring.
  5. Knead the warm dough until it’s smooth and then divide it into the number of colors that you’d like to make. We divided our in half: one orange and the other white.
  6. Flatten the ball, add a little bit of food coloring, and knead it in. Add more food coloring to get the desired shade.
  7. Store the dough in a large Ziplock bag or sealed container. Unused, it’ll keep for months.

"Smells Amazing" Pumpkin Pie PlayDough |

My 2-year old was very happy, however, to shake-shake-shake the pie spices all over her gigantic mound of dough. Can you imagine how yummy our kitchen smelled?


Easy "smells great" pumpkin pie play dough |

After all this cooking, it was time to bake! At this point, our orange and white/tan doughs marbled into something lovely, and we got busy making small cakes and setting them out to eat on a 3-tier plate server.

Playdough Recipes

Rainbow Play Dough, Tinkerlab

No-cook Cinnamon Playdough, The Imagination Tree

39 Ways to Play with Playdough, The Artful Parent

Downloadable (Free) Playdough Recipe Book, Nurture Store

Fall Activities

50 Simple Halloween Ideas for Kids, TinkerLab

Fall Bucket List, Tinkerlab

40 Autumn Activities for Kids, The Imagination Tree

Make Fall Sunprints, Tinkerlab

Multi-color Leaf Prints, Kleas

Negative Leaf Impressions, Tinkerlab

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  1. KT says

    You are such an inspiration, Rachelle! We’re going to try this tomorrow. The little guy is also a fan of the grinder.
    On another note, I see in a number of your posts that there is a this at the bottom:

    Call for an estimate 724-498-1551

    I wasn’t sure if this was intentional in some way (maybe I’m missing something?), but FYI!


    • rachelle says

      Hi KT!
      I just noticed that estimate thing today, too — weird! I recently added a plugin that I just deleted and I’m not seeing it now, so maybe I fixed it. I hope! You’re the best for bringing this to my attention. As for the inspiration bit, shucks! Enjoy your pumpkin playdough.
      xo, Rachelle

    • rachelle says

      You’re welcome Jess! Play dough never goes out of style. Sometimes they lose interest in it, but my kids are always happy to come back to it after a break. xo

  2. says

    Our old pumpkin play dough recipe always came out too runny so we’re going to give this one a whirl this afternoon – thank you so much for sharing and the recipe card is a huge help too! Love those whole spices. The girls are so excited, they’ve been asking for new “fall” play dough. : )

    • rachelle says

      How did it go, MaryLea? Runny play dough is no fun. My 2-year old proudly calls it her pumpkin pie play dough — the smell is awesome!

    • rachelle says

      It does make a lot of dough, Anna. Hmmm, maybe I should have been more clear about that? I like having big portions because it gives my two kids the opportunity to explore lots of possibilities. And how could I not mention you in the context of play dough? xo

  3. Renee says

    We just made this – so much fun! I made the huge batch for some to keep at home and some to send to my littlest’s preschool class (I’m their playdough supplier!). I used a jarred pumpkin pie spice from Trader Joe’s and it smells so good! Now that we’re working with the dough, it actually reminds me more of apple pie than pumpkin pie. Good either way!

  4. Michelle Hudson says

    Is that 2 1/2 cups of salt for the recipe? I just wanted to make sure since it was abbreviated and the other cups aren’t.

    • rachelle says

      Hi Michelle,
      Oops! I shouldn’t have done that…will fix it shortly. Yes! It’s cups, and if you go with the standard silo of salt, it’s usually one entire container. Enjoy!

  5. Heather says

    My daughter and I made this a few days ago for us and my preprimary Montessori classroom that I teach. We scented ours with just cinnamon, and used several different food colors. They turned out fantastic! And are such a huge hit with my class as well. Not only was it a great new item to add to my art shelf, it beats store bought playdoh, it is a new sensory item (they loved squishing it), AND they loved smelling it. Who knew homemade playdoh could be such a great multiple lesson. Thanks so much.

    • rachelle says

      Hi Heather!
      Thank you for the comment. Homemade play dough is 100 times better than anything store-bought and I’m so happy to hear that it’s now a staple in your classroom.

  6. Portia says

    Thank you so much for this. I added in a few drops of cinnamon spice oil that I use for my polymer clay work and it really kicked the scent up.
    And now, the kids have something super fun and squishy to play with while mommy work with her own stuff, which has already saved a couple projects from pinching little fingers. 😉

  7. Irma says

    Wow this looks like a really fun project! Thank you for sharing 🙂 Our 1st grade kiddos are making a trip to the pumpkin patch this month so this would be a fun activity. Just one question I know the kiddos will ask… is whether the dough is edible? Initially I thought no because of the high content of salt however your last entry indicates that your daughter made small cakes and set them out to eat… so I just wanted to check with you. Thanks a bunch!

    • rachelle says

      Hi Irma,
      The dough is not edible, although if accidentally eaten in small quantities it’s quite non-toxic. Sorry if I mislead you — I was being silly about the eating part 🙂

  8. Christina says

    This is by far the best home made play dough recipe I have tried. The first time we made it as demonstrated above (pumpkin pie version) and this morning we made blue and green play dough. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • rachelle says

      Thank you so much for the lovely review, Christina! I’m so happy to hear that this recipe worked out so well for you.

  9. Erika in Texas says

    Hello, thank you for a lovely idea beautifully illustrated! Just a note for anyone getting ready to make this–if you don’t use freshly ground spices, have a LOT of pumpkin pie spice on hand. I used almost an entire jar (all I had in the drawer) plus some extra cinnamon and nutmeg and the scent just barely overwhelms the smell of the salt in the dough. I made it to use in my preschool classroom with baking tools to go along with our Thanksgiving unit. I’m sure they will enjoy it. Thanks so much!

  10. Erika in Texas says

    Oh, and one more note–I used an entire tube of red and an entire tube of yellow gel food coloring with the whole recipe (didn’t split it to make different colors) and that along with the spices makes it look absolutely IDENTICAL to pumpkin pie filling. FUN!

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