Homemade Playdough Recipe

I launched the blog and then fell off a cliff…

Not really. But that’s a bit how it has felt learning how to “life” with a two year old and three month old. It’s been so beautiful; AND it has been an adjustment. When Auren went back to work, I realized how keenly I needed to keep space for being present with my girls and not overwhelm myself with too much to do. We’re working to establish rhythms that help us enjoy life and focus on what is most important for our family in this season with two littles.

Anyway, here I am, the first blog in two months is about playdough. Can you tell I’m a toddler mom?

I had to jump in and start somewhere, and this playdough is a regular part of our days at home. Libbi asks to play with it at least once a day, and it’s the BEST addition to our dinnertime preparations, moments when I need Libbi to play alone so I can take care of Blythe, or times when we want an activity to do together.  

Libbi often uses it while I make dinner. I give her items to use with her playdough that are age appropriate versions of what I am using—if I use a knife and chopping block, she gets a butter knife and a chopping block. She feels included and she’s entertained while I get necessary tasks done. I love making memories with her as we cook together; but sometimes toddler hands in all the bowls and around sharp knives can yield higher stress levels and messes at the end of a day that already feels long enough. Playdough can be just the ticket in these situations. 

Here is a recipe we’ve had great success with, and there are plenty of options to add your own choices of colors and fragrances too!  Sensory play that includes multiple senses at a time (touch, sight and smell in this example) creates more powerful connections in the brain. In about 10 minutes of preparation, you’ll have opportunities for fun and creativity that will last for months!


  • 2 cups white flour
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 4 tsp cream of tartar*
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 TB avocado oil**
  • Food coloring (optional)***
  • Essential oils (optional)****


  1. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a pot.***** Add the water and oil (and food coloring if you just want one color) and mix to thoroughly combine.  
  2. Cook over low to medium heat, mixing frequently. Stir until the dough thickens and begins to form a ball. If the dough is sticky, it needs a little more time over the heat. 
  3. Place the dough in a bowl or on parchment paper for it to cool slightly. Knead until smooth. 
  4. If you are making multiple colors, divide the dough into equal proportions, add the coloring, and knead once more. Save your hands from stain by kneading the dough and coloring inside a quart sized bag. 
  5. And now…PLAY!
  6. Store the playdough in an airtight container or ziplock bag immediately after use. We’ve had ours last over nine months this way!


*Don’t have cream of tartar? Simply substitute 1/3 cup of lemon juice and only use 1 2/3 cups water in the recipe. The acid in the cream of tartar or lemon juice is what adds to the texture and helps lengthen the shelf life of the dough.

**I prefer using avocado oil because I find it is the gentlest and most nourishing option for the skin. The recipe will work well with coconut oil, olive oil, or any other vegetable oil too.

***If you are making the whole batch one color and using a powdered food coloring, stir the coloring in with the dry ingredients for the best results. If using liquid coloring, add it with the water, or wait and add it once the dough has been kneaded for multiple color options.

Don’t have any food coloring on hand? Use things from your pantry! You can make your own food coloring by using matcha or spirulina powder for green, beet juice for pink or red, turmeric for orange, cocoa powder for brown, or cinnamon and nutmeg for a deliciously scented, lightly colored dough. Check out this article for more ideas on how to naturally color your playdough, and this article for ways to make your own plant-based, chemical-free food coloring.

**** I usually start with 20-30 drops of essential oils and increase as needed. You can also add more essential oils a few months down the road if the fragrance fades. Create a relaxing effect during your playdough play by using lavender and roman chamomile, or citrus oils for an energizing effect, or stimulate the brain with peppermint, ylang ylang, frankincense, cedarwood or ginger; or simply add your favorite smells! Adding fragrance makes this sensory play even more potent!

***** You can make this recipe without a stove by using boiling water. Follow all of the directions above, but place the ingredients in a heat resistant bowl, and combine the boiling water together with the oil before mixing it into the dry ingredients.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no cost to you.

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Lachelle has a love for writing and holistic health. MBA, 500RYT Yoga Instructor, founder of Ello Lifestyle and Ello Candle Co., Lachelle spends most of her time as a wife and mother to two daughters, looking for ways to optimize health, create an efficiently running home, embrace the chaos, and pursue those things that make life feel enchanted.

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