How to Make Gluten-Free Cloud Dough

Gluten-free Cloud Dough

After I posted our Cloud Dough recipe last week, Amy from Kids in the Studio wanted to know if it could be adapted into a gluten-free cloud dough recipe. What a good question!

This isn’t the first question I’ve received about gluten-free recipes since starting this blog, and I realized that I should be more thoughtful about sharing information that can help parents and caregivers provide rich learning experiences for their children. The original recipe is simply a combination of 8:1 flour  to oil, so in the spirit of experimentation, I thought we’d replace flour with rice flour and see what would happen.

Gluten-free Cloud Dough Recipe

  • 8 cups rice flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • A few drops of Lavender oil (optional)
Mix the rice flour and oil together in a big bowl until the oil integrates into the flour. Add a few drops of lavender oil (or other favorite scent) to give your dough a yummy scent. Place the dough in a big high-walled tray or bin. Children can play with the dough with just their hands, or add scoopers, mixers, and small pots.

gluten-free cloud dough

If you haven’t bought rice flour before, it’s not inexpensive, and I can see why Amy asked the question! I mixed 2 cups of organic rice flour with 1/4 cup vegetable oil until the oil integrated into the flour, and then shook a few drops of lavender oil into the dough to give it a soothing smell. So far, the main difference I could see is that the rice flour made for a slightly grittier dough, but otherwise it was lovely. The real test would be my kids. I put it in front of my 14 month old, and you can see that she was in sensory heaven. My 3 year old wanted to join in, enjoyed it, and never commented on a weird texture of the dough. As far as I could tell, she didn’t know the difference.

If you make this gluten-free cloud dough, I’d love to hear from you. And if you have a favorite gluten-free recipe to share, please add a link or recipe in the comments.

gluten-free cloud dough

Experiment with Gluten-Free Cloud Dough

  • If you don’t have access to rice flour or if you feel like experimenting, try the same ratio of flour to oil with garbanzo flour, gluten-free baking flour, corn flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, or arrowroot starch.
  • Change the ratio of flour to oil and see what happens, as the suggested flours and starches (above) will combine differently with the oil.

More Play Doughs

If gluten-free dough doesn’t concern you, here are more dough recipes to try:

This recipe for the BEST play dough.

Amazing 2-Ingredient cloud dough.

Glow-in-the-dark play dough


  1. Oh, Rachelle, you go above & beyond! Thanks! Truly, I don’t expect folks to post GF versions of anything, just figured if you’d made it you might have a sense of whether the wheat flour was an essential component or not. I have a bag of rice flour that was sent back & forth to school for baking there, so I’m not quite sure if it’s okay for eating purposes at home (as I don’t know if it was cross contaminated in the process). I save it for play dough & the like, and we’ll give this a go with some of that. (You’re right, it IS expensive!!)

    • Not a worry, Amy! I’ve been curious about it, and I’m glad to open this door. I’m REALLY glad you asked about it, and I’m thinking about exploring more GF recipes.

    • You can also check Asian supermarkets for rice flour. That’s where we get ours and it is at least 50% cheaper than the “regular” stores. We are entirely GF and have never been adversely affected by it. Good luck!

      • Thanks for the tip, Chrissy! Rice flour is so pricey at natural food markets and it’s good to know that there are more options.

  2. thx for this post. i’m wondering if you know how long would this last on shelf? either version…

    • Leah — good question. I’m not sure, but can probably tell you in a few months 🙂 I put ours in a zipped plastic bag, and imagine it’ll last for a while since it’s just flour and water. Traditional play dough has the same basic ingredients, and it can last ages. If the oil starts to make it smell rancid, it’ll be time to pitch it. ~rachelle

  3. Thank you for doing this! I’m also thinking that sweet rice (found in the asian section of Whole Foods) would work, and it is way less expensive than the other stuff. I’m going to give it a try next week!

    I recently made gluten free playdough. I’ve made it several times with flour, and this last batch I made with Brown Rice Flour (I splurged since it was for my dd’s birthday party). It came out fine…again, a bit gritty but none of the kids seemed to mind. I think I’ll try the sweet rice flour next time because the texture is less gritty.

    • Now you know I’ll have to pick up a bag of sweet rice flour on our next market trip! Please circle back, Roxanne, and let us know how it works.

  4. it is definitely expensive to stock GF flours — we have 18 types in my kitchen right now! i often hold back on making play dough since i became GF because of the cost. i did make a nice GF essential-oil-scented play dough this spring that i’ll share the recipe to: https://www.paintcutpaste.com/gf-playdough/
    i’ll have to try the cloud dough though – sounds like fun!

    • Whaaaa?! 18 types of flour, Jen?! Thanks for sharing the GF playdough recipe — it’s great to have the link here in case others are looking for good GF art materials. ~rachelle

      • yep, 18. when i went GF a year and a half ago, i thought i had to make all of the same stuff i used to eat, but in a GF version. and most GF recipes call for 3-4 flours in them (whereas the wheat versions just call for one thing called “flour”) so it gets complex. i think i baked 4 things in the beginning and realized i had 18 flours in my kitchen after that. some have probably expired – should look into that. needless to say, GF baking has not caught on in my kitchen since then. i do it occasionally, but now i’m used to going without the baked good as part of my meals. (okay, that was off topic. sorry.) yes, i figured i’d share the GF play dough recipe here for that reason. your beautiful dough inspired me to find it!!!

        • Jen, it’s more expensive than making your own mix, but I keep some King Arthur all-purpose GF flour on hand. It works well for the few things I want to bake myself (mainly a converted version of the Moosewood 6-minute chocolate cake for birthdays; it rocks–I should send you the recipe? and a converted version of apple crisp, also awesome). In the long run it’s probably less expensive, because I’m not inclined, at the moment, to fuss with multiple flours, so they won’t get used up, whereas the premixed stuff does.

  5. thanks amy! i use the bob’s red mill all purpose GF flour mix, but it seems that most GF cookbooks or web sites (like GF girl & the chef, etc) i find have recipes in them that are made from scratch (like 4 flours.) i’d LOVE the chocolate cake recipe you mentioned! moosewood are some of my favorite cookbooks! do you substitute the GF flour at a 1:1 ratio? hmm, email me if you can so we can take this offline and off of rachelle’s awesome GF cloud dough blog post! sorry rachelle. 😉

    • No worries at all. This could be helpful to other GF families too!

  6. Hallo !
    I must tell you that after reading your post I tried it with my three year old girl and it was fantastic! But then we tried with clean white sand and it was also great! Then she wanted to mix painting and pain on big papers.. it was just great.
    Thanks for the post!
    Martha Bernhard

    • Hi Martha,
      I’m so happy to hear you and your 3 year old enjoyed this, and the other projects. Thanks for the feedback!!

  7. Thanks for this! I would suggest using coconut oil as it has antibacterial qualities and at least a two year shelf life. Any citrus essential oil, rosemary, cinnamon or clove also have antibacterial properties and smell good. I think peppermint would be fun at Christmas time too.

    • Hi Kaydee! This is a great suggestion. Wouldn’t have thought of that, and a 2-year shelf life is much longer than what you’d get from vegetable oil (although I’m not sure the dough would “last” that long at the rate we play with it!). Love the peppermint oil idea too. Cheers, Rachelle

  8. Right on!! After I read your post I was contemplating what I would use to make it gluten free. I can’t wait to do this with my boys, they’ll love it. Thanks 🙂

    • Super-duper, Alissa! I’m so glad to hear this is helpful to so many people. ~r

  9. Well, we tried this great idea with whatever we had around.. which was whole wheat flour and olive oil, lol. I don’t know if we got the “cloud dough” effect, but we did get the “wet sand” effect which for a 2 year old, was super duper awesome. Can’t wait to try again with some flour and oil of the regular variety. Whee!
    I’d say her favorite part was when mommy looked away for a minute and she put the whole pan on the floor and put her feet in it.. just like we do at the beach!

    • Oh my, JJ! It’s too bad we can’t turn away without the walls getting colored in markers or flour covering our floors. But at least you have a good sense of humor! Whenever my daughter paints, she inevitably sticks her whole hand in the paint — it just feels that good!

  10. They had this at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in San Francisco, and I couldn’t believe how easy this was to make! I cut it down even more with my little one, just 2 cups of flour and 1/4 cup of oil. I pull out her silicone molds & some of her old shape-toys and she keeps herself entertained for a while! We call it “moon dust” or snow dust when it’s made to play on those really cold days (like today)! 😉 Thank you for sharing!

    (Also, turn your back on those toddlers for just a second and you’ll see just what kind of havoc they can reek! Some lessons are just never fully learned….)

  11. We made it with 2 cups soy flour and 2 cups buckwheat flour with 1/2 cup safflower oil. It looks just like sand, which was really exciting for my daughter 🙂

  12. I just tried it today with 4 cups of rice flour & one and a half cups of baby oil. Added pounded pink chalk to make ‘raspberry ice cream’! It was great! We had loads of fun! Thanks for sharing!

  13. This gluten-free version is great! Thank you!

    • You’re welcome! I’m glad that you found it here, Heather. 🙂

  14. maybe chickpea flour will work too..I think I still have some..will give it a try soon and let you know.


    • Good idea, Esther. Yes, do let me know how it goes. I’m so curious and would love to add this to my recipe file.

  15. Thanks so much for posting this! Cloud dough was a huge hit in our gluten free household. We made it for the first time this afternoon, and my 2.5 year old daughter was entertained for an hour – she loved it! We used white rice flour and canola oil, which was what I had on hand. The flour is expensive, but I think it was totally worth it because I suspect we will get many hours of play out of this batch.

    • It’s my pleasure, Angela! It’s comments like yours that keep me going with this blog. Isn’t it crazy how entertaining a simple mixture of flour and oil can be for young children?

  16. I am going to make this for my son!! I buy rice flour at an Asian Market and pay right about 1.00 per pound. Still more expensive than wheat flour but way cheaper than GF flour at the grocery store. They also sell potato starch and tapioca. We have never had a contamination issue either.

    • Thanks for the great tip, Michelle!

  17. You don’t have to buy expensive rice flour, you can grind your own in a coffee grinder and it’s nearly the same thing. In fact we use rice to clean our grinder and the result is rice flour.

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