At TinkerLab, we love making playdough, and today we’re sharing what is easily the BEST playdough recipe ever. I’ve been making this recipe for over seven years, and haven’t looked back since. The recipe was handed down to me by a preschool teacher, and it can’t be beat. I’m so confident about this recipe, in fact, that there’s a copy of it in my best-selling book, Tinkerlab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors.
Why this is the best playdough recipe
- It’s easy to make (see our no-cook version of the recipe below)
- It will last for months if stored in a sealed container or bag
- It’s inexpensive. Compare it to store bought dough and you are saving loads of cash.
- The texture is divine. It’s soft, pliable, and fun to work with.
My plan was to make a simple batch of play dough to replace the sparkly dried out purple stuff that happily met our cookie-making, glitter infusing, practice cutting, snowman-making needs over the past two months. I asked my daughter what color she would like this time around, and she answered with…
ALL of them.
The way I have always made playdough requires that I add the color to the whole batch while it’s cooking, making it difficult to make multiple colors. But by some lucky, happy accident we managed to add the ingredients in the wrong order, which is no doubt the result of making dough with a two year old while chatting with my mother-in-law and goo-gooing at my baby! But, as that same luck would have it, I think we landed on the best playdough recipe yet. The texture is buttery and I was able to deliver on the multiple colors request.
And this ingredient, my friends, is the secret to having strong, smooth playdough that won’t crumble.
So, without further ado…The Best Playdough Recipe
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- 2.5 cups water
- 1 1/4 c. salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp. cream of tartar
- 5 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2.5 cups flour
- Food coloring or liquid watercolors. I’m a fan Sax Concentrated Liquid Watercolors and Wilton Icing Colors, which make gorgeous shades of play dough to match any occasion, mood, or toddler request.
- 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 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. I divided mine into four balls, flattened each of them, added a little bit of food coloring or liquid watercolors, and then kneaded it in. I added more food coloring to get the desired shades of yellow, pink, teal, and lavender.
- Play with the dough right away or store it in a large Ziplock bag or sealed container. Unused, it’ll keep for months. For play dough tool ideas, you can read this post.
There you have it, rainbow play dough (aka the best playdough recipe ever).
No-cook Best Playdough Recipe:
I’ve been making this dough for a few years now without too many changes. After investing in this amazing BPA-free electric kettle, I was wondering if I could make this playdough off the stove top. So I did some experimenting, and low and behold — this recipe can be even easier and still the amazing dough that we all love. Here you go: No-Cook Playdough recipe.
More Playdough Recipes
How to Make Cloud Dough, the easiest dough recipe that calls for oil and flour.
How to Make Goop with just cornstarch and water.
Make amazing scented pumpkin spice playdough.
DIY Masa Playdough, made with masa harina
How to make Salt Dough with just salt, flour, and water.
What Else Can you do with Liquid Watercolors?
Liquid watercolors can be used for so many other recipes and projects such as:
- Painting with Straws
- Doily and Watercolor paintings
- Marbleized Paper
- Colorful Goop, a seriously amazing sensory experience