The one play dough recipe that I always keep coming back to. This is the recipe I’ve been making for my kids for a full decade now.
I have tried a LOT of play dough recipes.
The one play dough recipe that I always keep coming back to, however, is the same recipe that I’ve been making for my kids for a full decade now: my classic play dough recipe.
This recipe is made in minutes. It can be made by kids, or by you while you’re doing twelve other things with a kid on your hip and another clinging to your legs–believe me, I know. It can be dyed with food coloring, liquid watercolors, or Kool-aid, and you can even mix in essential oils or spices or glitter. It makes a great last-minute birthday party gift, even for a ten-year-old–believe me, I know!
Everyone likes it. Everyone plays with it. It’s easy to make.
Here it is:
Mix together the following ingredients:
1. 1 cup bleached white flour. You may choose organic as the most eco-friendly option, but I’ll be honest here; I use conventional, the cheapest that I can find. It’s still got a lot less junk in it than any commercial play dough that you can buy.
2. 1/2 cup salt. Again, use regular old salt for this–not the fancy large-grained stuff. It’s the salt that gives this dough its beautiful texture.
3. 2 teaspoons cream of tartar.
4. 1 cup water.
5. 1 tablespoon oil.
Mix the ingredients in a small pot on the stove, heating it slowly on Medium-Low as you stir. Here’s how it should progress:
This batch was balled up and no longer gluey at eight minutes, so I removed it from the heat and plopped it onto the countertop to cool.
Once the play dough is a comfortable temperature, knead in a dye of your choice. Workable ingredients include both conventional and natural food colorings, Kool-aid packets, and powdered tempera. Powdered tempera is my ingredient of choice, as I think it makes the colors the most vivid, and it makes the play dough feel impossibly light to the touch.
Here, for instance, is the dough that I just dyed red, next to the dough that I’m about to dye orange:Isn’t the color so vivid?
This play dough will keep in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for… well, for just about forever. I throw my batches out after a couple of months on sheer principle.
You also do not have to buy those miniature plastic tools just for the kids to have a fab time with their play dough. Instead, just look around your kitchen! Kids enjoy working with butter knives and spoons and forks, cookie cutters, cheese graters and garlic presses, rolling pins, their own dishes and cups, drinking straws, and toothpicks. Give them some glitter from the crafts bin, allow them to bring out their little toys, and they’ll be as happy as pigs in mud.