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Easy Playdough Guide (No-Cook Recipe & Fun Games!)

Easy Playdough Guide

9 Apr 2024

 Matthew Taylor

Written & Illustrated by
Matthew Taylor

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Playdough tools

Playdough is a classic kids' activity that never fails to impress. It's fun for kids of all ages and can easily be enjoyed in groups or as solo play.

Our non-toxic recipe is so easy to make that the kids will beg you to help. You don’t need any special equipment and no cooking is required. You can make it almost anywhere and the dough can be safely stored for months.

Try our list of playdough games below to make the fun last even longer.

Jump to each section below:

Homemade Playdough Recipe

This no-cook playdough recipe is non-toxic, edible, and takes less than 3 minutes to make!

Equipment required

Playdough making equipment
You only need four basic kitchen items to make playdough: A kettle, large bowl, wooden spoon, and a mug
  • Kettle Any method of boiling water will work but an electric kettle is often the quickest.
  • Large bowl If you don’t have a large mixing bowl you can use a saucepan, a bucket, or even a cardboard box.
  • Wooden spoon Any large spoon will work just fine, you can even use a stick if that’s all you have.
  • Mug A white mug or cereal bowl is best to see colors as you mix them but any small container will do.


Playdough recipe ingredients
There are only five ingredients required to make playdough: Plain flour, salt, Cream of tartar, oil, and water, food coloring is optional.
  • Plain flour 1 cup
  • Salt 1/4 cup
  • Cream of Tatar 1 tablespoon
  • Half cup of boiling water
  • Oil 1 tablespoon
  • Food coloring (optional)

Questions about cream of tartar? See our playdough FAQ below.


1. Add flour, salt, and cream of Tatar to a large bowl

Playdough recipe dry ingredients
Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl

2. Combine boiling water, oil, and food coloring in a mug then add to the dry mixture

Playdough recipe combine wet ingredients
Add wet ingredients to a mug then combine with the dry ingredients

3. Mix with a wooden spoon until cool enough to knead with your hands.

Knead the mixture into a playdough texture
Knead the mixture into a playdough texture

Careful with boiling water and kids!

  • Never leave boiling water or the kettle in reach of children.
  • Don’t allow kids to touch playdough until it has cooled down to a safe temperature.

Is your dough too dry? Add small amounts of hot water and mix until it reaches the right consistency.

Is your dough too wet? Slowly sprinkle in flour and knead the dough to absorb any excess moisture.

You’re done! Let the playdough fun begin.

Playdough ready to use
Jump down to our playdough games.
Kidsit playdough recipe book

Print our playdough recipe book

This handy printable document contains our full playdough recipe, advanced recipe ideas, storage instructions, and answers to the most commonly asked questions about playdough.

Free Download

(playdough-recipe-book.pdf 291kb)

Advanced Playdough Recipe Ideas

Take playdough to the next level by trying out these fun twists on the standard recipe:

Scented playdough

Add a few drops of essential oils, perfume, or spices to your playdough mixture to excite the sense of smell.

Here are some scents to try:

  • Vanilla extract
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pumpkin spice
  • Cinnamon
  • Cocoa powder
  • Strawberry extract
  • Lemon extract
  • Essential oils (just one or two drops is enough)

Only use non-toxic additions to playdough so it is safe for young children to play with.

Glitter playdough

Add sparkles to your playdough by adding glitter!

Experiment with different colors of glitter with different colors of playdough.

Things that are shiny or sparkly are perfect to make with glitter playdough, here are some fun suggestions to build:

  • Mermaid
  • Magic wand
  • Dragon
  • Christmas tree
  • Easter egg
  • Unicorn
  • Rainbow

Check out this brilliant glitter set on Amazon that's perfect for playdough.

Glitter Playdough Safety Guide
  • Glitter playdough should never be eaten.
  • Keep out of reach of babies and young children.

Themed playdough

Make playdough in multiple colors

Playdough can enhance any occasion with batches made in themed color schemes.

here are some excellent examples:

  • Christmas: Red, green, and white
  • Halloween: Orange and black
  • USA: Red, white and blue
  • Irish: Light green and dark green
  • Pride rainbow colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet
  • Winter: blue, white
  • Autumn: red, brown, orange, yellow

Also, try out the colors of your school or favorite sporting team.

Playdough Games & Activities

Try out these fun playdough ideas to extend the fun for hours. Click to jump to details below:

Playdough games sheets

Print our playdough games sheets

This printable document contains all of our fun playdough games in a single download along with setup instructions, gameplay rules, tips, and any tools to try. If you're playing with playdough then you need this guide!

Free Download

(playdough-games.pdf 392kb)

Playdough pictionary

Playdough laptop computer
Playdough laptop computer

Playdough pictionary (also called playdough charades) is a hilarious game for three or more players.


  1. Make a batch of playdough, it only takes 3 minutes. Jump to recipe.
  2. Print our ready-made word list (see below) and place each folded word into a hat.

How to play

  1. Choose a person to be the modeler, everyone else will be a guesser.
  2. The modeler chooses an object to build by picking a word at random from a hat.
  3. The modeler starts making the object. No talking is allowed by the modeler!
  4. The first person to correctly guess what the modeler is making gets one point and then they become the next modeler.

Whoever reaches 5 points first wins the game!


  • Make a flat version of the object if building in 3D is too hard.
Playdough pictionary-words-list

Playdough pictionary word list

We've done the hard work for you. Simply print out this list of words, cut them out, and put them in a hat.

Free Download

(playdough-pictionary-words-list.pdf 27kb)

Tallest playdough tower competition

Playdough tower with buttresses
Playdough tower

This is a fun game that is simple to play and perfect for two or more kids.


Give each contestant the same sized portion of playdough.

How to play

  1. Start a timer and everyone begins building as fast as possible.
  2. The player with the highest tower when the timer goes off, wins!

Extra difficulty

For advanced players try building a tower to support a heavy object such as a marble. Measure the height of the supported marbles to see who wins.


  • Try making buttresses of playdough like huge tree roots so the structure remains light but also strong.

Make a character from your favorite book or movie

Playdough minion
Playdough minion

Looking for ideas on what to build with playdough? Try building the characters from your favorite books or movies.

Here are some examples:

  • Hungry little caterpillar
  • 3 little pigs
  • Minions
  • Jack and the beanstalk
  • Yoda
  • Green eggs and ham
  • Peter Rabbit
  • Shrek
  • Darth Vader
  • Olaf (the cute snowman from Frozen)

Copy modeling

Playdough snails in a row
Playdough snails

This game will test your observation skills, I hope you’re ready! Recommend for two or more players.


Divide the playdough evenly between the number of players plus one extra portion.

How to play

  1. Choose a player to build an object of their choice out of the extra portion of playdough, it can be anything, even just a lump of squished dough.
  2. Everyone tries to build their copy of the object as accurately as possible.
  3. The person with the most accurate copy of the object is the winner.


  • Pay careful attention to the size, volume, and shape of each part of the object because every detail matters when it comes to copy modeling.

Longest bridge competition

Playdough bridge
Playdough bridge

This game will test your engineering skills and also your patience! Perfect for two or more players.


Divide the playdough into equal portions, one for each player.

How to play

  1. Start a timer then everyone begins building a bridge of their own design using the playdough they have available.
  2. Whoever has the bridge with the widest, unsupported span when the timer ends is the winner.


  • Use an arch-like shape to help distribute the weight of the bridge to either side.
  • Keep the center of the bridge as light as possible to prevent it from collapsing.

Make yourself with playdough

Playdough head model
Playdough head

Build a model of your head or even your whole body, it's up to you.

Try a realistic style or get creative and add fun new features and additions such as:

  • Wings
  • Horns
  • Long teeth
  • Crazy hair
  • Amazing clothes
  • Glasses
  • Accessories

Take a photo of you next to your model and send it to a friend!

Free play

Playdough animal planet
Playdough planet

Sometimes the best playdough game is no game at all.

Let kids explore their creative side with unrestricted free play time with playdough.

Inspire their enquiring minds by providing a variety of tools and equipment that can be used to manipulate and explore this fun squishy medium.

Playdough Tools

Boy making playdough hair with a garlic press
Make playdough hair with a garlic press

There are so many fun tools and objects that kids can use with playdough, here are some excellent examples:

Clay modeling tools

Tools that are specifically designed for modeling clay are perfect for use with playdough. Sets of clay modeling tools are cheap to buy too, see this brilliant set on Amazon.

Kitchen items

Playdough tools
Playdough tools
  • Cookie-cutter shapes
  • Plastic knives
  • Rolling pins
  • Forks
  • Paper straws
  • Garlic press
  • Small containers
  • Chopsticks
  • Paper cupcake trays


  • Plastic animals
  • Toy cars
  • Balls
  • Diggers and dump trucks

Other fun things to try

  • String
  • Rubber bands
  • Pencils
  • Pegs
  • Balloons

How to Store Playdough

Store playdough in an air-tight container

Follow these simple steps to store playdough for more than 3 months:

  1. Keep playdough in an air-tight container, ziplock bag, or wrapped in plastic.
  2. Store in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
  3. If playdough becomes dry it can be saved by adding small amounts of water and kneading well.

Playdough FAQ

We have answers to the most common playdough questions.

Why does playdough need cream of tartar?

Cream of tartar is an essential ingredient for playdough because it creates a soft, stretchy texture that feels nice in your hands. It also works as a preservative in combination with added salt to keep the dough usable for months at a time.

Where can you get cream of tartar?

Cream of tartar can be found in the baking aisle of most supermarkets or you can buy it online at your favorite grocery retailer. It comes as a white powder in tubs, cans, bags, or boxes in a variety of sizes.

View Cream of Tartar on Amazon.

Can you make playdough without cream of tartar?

Playdough can be made without cream of tartar by substituting it with baking soda (bicarb soda) and by using self-raising flour instead of plain flour. However, the resulting dough will not last as long and it will have noticeably less elasticity and softness.

Jump to recipe.

Why does playdough need salt?

Salt is a preservative that is added to playdough to make it last for months at a time. It also creates a smooth, elastic texture that prevents the dough from crumbling and stops creations from falling apart.

Why does playdough need oil?

The oil in playdough acts as a lubricant which makes the mixture less sticky, stretchier, and easy to mold in your hands. It also prevents the dough from drying out by slowing the escape of moisture.

Which oil is best for playdough?

Non-toxic oil is best for making playdough because it can be safely ingested by children. Examples of safe oils include vegetable oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, and baby oil. Hair conditioner often contains toxic chemicals so it is not recommended as an oil substitute for playdough.

What is the best flour to make playdough?

Plain flour is best for making playdough when cream of tartar is used in the recipe, you can also use cornflour, rice flour, or all-purpose flour. Alternatively, you can use self-raising flour with baking soda (bicarb soda) but the resulting dough won't be as soft and won't last as long in storage.

Jump to recipe.

Is playdough easy to make

Playdough is easy to make and can take as little as 3 minutes from start to finish. You only need basic equipment and the ingredients can be found almost everywhere. Not only is it fun to play with, but making the dough is the perfect DIY activity to enjoy with kids.

Can kids eat playdough?

Playdough is not meant to be eaten but most varieties are non-toxic so small amounts are not considered harmful. Extra care to prevent ingestion is required when toxic ingredients are added such as glitter, essential oils, or hair conditioner, these are not recommended for young children.

How long does playdough last?

Homemade playdough can last more than 3 months if it is stored in an air-tight container or ziplock bag and kept in a cool place away from direct sunlight. If playdough becomes dry add small amounts of water and knead well to return it to the correct consistency and extend its life even further.

Why does playdough dry out?

Playdough drys out when it is exposed to air allowing the water content to evaporate from the dough over time. To prevent the loss of moisture, store it in an air-tight container or ziplock bag and keep it in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

How to make hard playdough soft again

To make hard or dry playdough soft again place it in a bowl and slowly add small amounts of water. Break up any lumps then work the water into the dough by kneading it together until everything returns to a uniform, soft consistency. Even the driest playdough can be saved in this way.

What age is best for playdough?

Playdough is not recommended for children younger than 2 years of age because it is a choking hazard. Store-bought playdough has an age recommendation of 2 years and up. If toxic ingredients are added such as glitter, essential oils, or hair conditioner then a minimum of 4 years is advised.

There is no maximum age for enjoying playdough, check out some of our playdough games that parents love just as much as kids.

Do you love our playdough guide?

If so, try our other kids' activities too:

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