Have you ever made your own play dough? While I’m a fan of store bought dough (it’s so easy!), 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!
Also, this is first on our big Family Fall List of 50 things to do this autumn, so check!
Inspired by The Artful Parent’s Autumn Arts and Crafts book, The Artful Year: Autumn, we made this seasonal scent that’s perfect for autumn: Pumpkin Pie!
Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe…
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.
I used our favorite play dough recipe, which also happens to be the favorite of my daughter’s awesome preschool class (and the BEST play dough recipe, hands-down), 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 key ingredient is cream of tartar. If you can’t find it locally, cream of tartar is on Amazon, of course (affiliate).
Yes, you can find 2-minute dough recipes like this no-cook dough, 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. I kid you not.
Click here to download the free printable pumpkin pie playdough recipe card (PDF)
- 5 cups water
- 2 1/2 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the dough on a counter top or large cutting board or cooking tray that can withstand a little food coloring.
- 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.
- Flatten the ball, add a little bit of food coloring, and knead it in. Add more food coloring to get the desired shade.
- Store the dough in a large Ziplock bag or sealed container. Unused, it’ll keep for months.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
But, don’t just take it from me that this play dough is awesome. Kelly from Wonder & Create Art Studio tested the playdough with her kids and says, “To get a fall fever fix in without donning a sweater or firing up the oven, make the @tinkerlab Pumpkin Pie Playdough recipe! It smells, feels and looks divine! Thanks, Rachelle, for this recipe and the wonderful emails you send!”
And then she kindly shared photos from their creative play session. So inspiring! Take a look…
The cotton ball whipped cream is genius, don’t you think?
Make mini pumpkins with fork tines and pipe cleaners. Awww.
More Fall Activities
The Great Big Family Fall List (print this for the fridge!)
More Playdough Recipes
Rainbow Play Dough, Tinkerlab
Cloud Dough, TinkerLab
Gluten-free Cloud Dough, TinkerLab
No-cook Cinnamon Playdough, The Imagination Tree
Glowing Play Dough, TinkerLab
Downloadable (Free) Playdough Recipe Book, Nurture Store
Candy Cane Play Dough, Artful Parent