This is a play dough recipe that’s safe for young toddlers who still like to experience the world by tasting it.
My son Darrol Henry is 17 months old, and he still puts everything into his mouth. That means store-bought play dough full of mystery ingredients is out of the question. This kid has eaten sticks, rocks, leaves, sidewalk chalk, dog food, and at least a few pieces of Feline Pine that the cats tracked out of the litterbox. When I decided that I wanted to make play dough for him, I knew it needed to be an edible recipe. The trouble is that most edible play dough recipes are very sweet, and I’m trying to keep my toddler away from refined sugar for as long as possible.
This play dough recipe isn’t delicious, but because it’s made with all edible ingredients it won’t hurt my kid – or yours! – when he inevitably tastes it.
Big hat tip to my mom for help with this one! She’s a preschool teacher and has been making play dough for as long as I can remember. This is the play dough recipe that we used to make as kids.
Food-Based Play Dough Recipe
This is a small batch play dough recipe, so I’d do one batch for each color that you want to make.
- 1 cup flour
- 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 teaspoon oil – I used olive, because that’s all we had.
- 1 cup warm water
- food coloring – I used Gel Food Colors, because I wanted my play dough recipe to turn out super vibrant.
- small saucepan
- wooden spoon
- soup spoon
- natural wax paper
- plastic containers, for storage
- Combine all of your dry ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well with your fork. Add the water and oil, and stir You’re not going to have a thick dough yet, so don’t worry if it feels too thin right now!
- Add your coloring drop by drop, stirring it into the mixture, until you get the color that you want. Don’t be afraid to combine colors to get the ones that you want! Older kids will love helping with this part. Trust me. Helping mom mix up custom play dough colors is one of my fondest childhood memories.
- Transfer your colored dough to your saucepan. Turn the stove to low, and stir constantly as it thickens, about 3-5 minutes. You want to get rid of as many lumps in the dough as possible at this point.The dough is going to want to stick to your wooden spoon, so use your clean soup spoon to scrape the sticky dough back into the pan occasionally.
- When your dough is nice and thick and very hard to stir, remove it from the heat and transfer to a surface covered with wax paper. You’ll know it’s ready when it forms into a ball on your spoon, no matter how much you stir and scrape. It’s ok if it’s ever so slightly tacky, but if you feel like it’s too sticky, toss it back into the pan for a few more minutes. When you’ve got your nice solid ball of play dough, turn it out onto your wax paper to cool.
- Slowly knead the dough to get out any stubborn lumps, but be careful! The outside might feel cool, but the center my still be hot. Just take your time, being careful not to burn yourself.
- Once the play dough is all kneaded and completely cooled, either hand it over to your kids to play or store it in sealed plastic container until you’re ready to use it.