Our best recipe for soft homemade play dough

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Silky, soft, homemade play dough! It’s great for fine motor skills, fantastic for reducing stress and completely addictive. Plus, it’s easy to make at home. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. All you need is a few ingredients and our recipe for soft, homemade play dough.

When I was a kid, my mum used to make play dough at home for my brother and I. We had a little table near the kitchen, and Mum would whip up a batch and pop it down to keep us busy. We’d use Mum’s old cookie cutters to make shapes, and I think we were even allowed to borrow her rolling pin. They’re lovely memories. But, while I always wanted my children to have similar memories, it took me quite a while to dig up the courage to try homemade play dough.

You see, I always thought it would be too hard. It would be time consuming and messy. I wasn’t sure which recipe to use. Which one would be the best? The softest? The easiest? Would I need special ingredients? Would the kids actually want to play with it?

There seemed to be so many play dough recipes around. So many different ways to make my own play dough, and so many different types! It was very confusing. Some recipes looked easy, some a little more involved. I simply wanted a tried and tested recipe for nice, soft homemade play dough…. was that too much to ask?


Finally, a friend gave me a play dough recipe. I tried it and it worked! Best of all, it was very easy to make. It doesn’t take long, the ingredients are pretty simple, and it is so much better than store bought play dough. It’s softer, it’s squishier, and if you keep it in an air-tight container it lasts a fair while.

Give it a try, and you won’t regret it! This is our most asked for recipe at messy play, because homemade play dough simply feels so lovely.

This play dough recipe is very forgiving, which makes it ideal for getting little ones involved (just be careful with the boiling water). You can ask your children to help you measure out the ingredients, help choose the colour, and (once the water has cooled) help you knead together the ingredients.

Here’s my best recipe for soft homemade play dough, with some tricks and tips to get you started.


Playing with homemade play dough at messy play

Play dough recipe

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of table salt
  • 1 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • Food colouring
  • 1 cup of boiled water

What to do:

  1. Mix the plain flour and salt in a bowl
  2. Add the cream of tartar and oil.
  3. Add boiled water and food colouring.
  4. Mix to combine, then knead until a dough forms (note: make sure the mixture has cooled before you start kneading)
  5. Play!

It’s really that simple!

A few tips and tricks

  • This recipe is fairly forgiving (phew!). If you add a little extra flour, simply adjust the water. A little too much water, throw in a little more flour. You don’t need to be too precise.
  • The dough may seem sticky and wet when first made. Don’t worry too much, let the mixture cool and it will form a nice soft dough.
  • You can use any sort of oil for this recipe – Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, Canola Oil – just grab whatever you have in the pantry. But, be generous! The oil helps to give the play dough a lovely soft feel, and while you don’t want to be so generous that the play dough is oily, two big, healthy spoonfuls will help you achieve a silky result.
  • The recipe can be made with cooking salt, but the play dough will have a gritty feel. This is because cooking salt is courser. Table salt, on the other hand, has a finer texture and will dissolve more effectively in the boiled water.
  • For a nice smelling dough, a few drops of essential oil will add a beautiful scent and another element of sensory play!
  • If you’d like more play dough, simply double the recipe. Or, make less play dough by halving the recipe.
  • To store the mixture, place it in an airtight container. Be sure to check for signs of mould before giving it to children to play with.

I hope you love our homemade play dough recipe as much as we do!!

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