How to make homemade no-cook play dough

This fast, easy recipe will delight both kids and adults — and you can customize it, too!
Caucasian girl playing with clay
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/ Source: TODAY

Many homemade play dough recipes require stovetop cooking and then cooling, which can be fun for older kids, but not so much for impatient toddlers. This quick and easy recipe requires only stirring, kneading (a great sensory play activity) and, of course, a little patience and love.

Yield: About 2 ½ lbs. homemade play dough

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes

Kids (and parents) will have a blast playing with the final product!Lexi Dwyer

Play Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup salt
  • 4 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 to 10 drops food coloring
  • Plastic gloves, to prevent food coloring stains while mixing (optional)

How to make play dough:

1. Combine the first three ingredients in a large bowl.

Lexi Dwyer

2. Add vegetable oil and gently stir until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Lexi Dwyer

3. Add water, ¼ cup to ½ cup at a time, stirring each time until it is fully combined, and scraping down the sides of bowl.

Lexi Dwyer

4. After all water is added, use hands to knead it thoroughly.

Lexi Dwyer

5. Add a few drops of food coloring to the dough and incorporate it well with a metal spoon or your hands (wear gloves to prevent staining).

Lexi Dwyer

Continue to add food coloring, one drop at a time, until the desired shade is reached.


  • Unless you want kids to practice reading and math skills, you'll save time and stress by pre-measuring the ingredients and laying out all of the necessary kitchen supplies before the little ones start helping.
  • If mixture still seems sticky after food coloring is incorporated, dust your hands with flour (use about 1 tablespoon at a time) and knead it into dough.
  • When you've finished making the dough, experiment with scented or tactile add-ins such as glitter, sea salt or essential oil.
  • We used McCormick's Neon Food Coloring, but you can also experiment with natural food coloring ingredients such as powdered beets (pink), turmeric (yellow), matcha (green) and the water from boiled red cabbage (purple).
  • Store finished play dough in an airtight container.