The Best Homemade Play Doh Recipe!

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Homemade Play Dough

Homemade Play Doh

My children love playing with Play-Doh however this mom of 5 does not enjoy spending gobs of money on the stuff so after trying out many recipes for homemade play dough and tweaking them myself I think I have come up with what I consider the best recipe for homemade play dough. The Homemade Play Do Recipe below will make roughly two pounds of the fun stuff (although I have never weighed it) at a fraction of the cost of the store bought stuff. Below the recipe you will see my notes on the cost of ingredients and comparison with the store bought dough. I make the deluxe version of this dough for my 3 youngest kids who are 8, 6, and 6 (twins) which includes glitter and we color and scent the dough with Kool-Aid and call it “fairy dough” they all love it and can spend countless hours making creations!

Homemade Play Doh Recipe


  • 2 Cups Of All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Of Warm Water
  • 1 Cup Table Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Of Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Of Cream Of Tartar (This can be found in the spice aisle of most grocery stores)
  • 2 Packets Of Unsweetened Instant Drink Mix (Kool-Aid) or Food Coloring (use as much or as little as you like to achieve desired coloring)
  • 2 Tablespoons Iridescent Glitter (Optional)


In a medium sauce pan mix all ingredients except for glitter and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula till mixture is smooth and most of the lumps are removed. You will have a very thick paste. If using food coloring instead of Kool-Aid add a few drops of coloring at a time till desired color is reached keeping in mind that your dough will be slightly darker once cooked.

Place pan on stove top and turn the heat on to medium high heat. With your wooden spoon or spatula (make sure you use a silicon heat-proof spatula) contantly stir the paste and cook till the mixture thickens and pulls away in a ball from the sides of the pan. This takes approximately 5 minutes. Once the mixture pulls away from sides of pan keep stirring and cooking the dough till the dough is cooked and there are no uncooked doughy looking bits in the ball of dough, another 2 or 3 minutes should do it.

Turn your now cooked play dough out onto a cookie sheet or cutting board and let cool till cool enough to handle. Don’t let the kids play with the dough till it is cool or they could burn themselves!!) once cool pat out the dough a little bit and make a depression in the middle of the dough and add 2 tablespoons of iridescent glitter to the well, fold dough over the glitter and knead the dough to mix the glitter throughout the dough till evenly distributed.

*NOTE – If you have small children who may attempt to eat the play dough I strongly suggest that you skip the glitter part. While the dough will taste gross and salty the dough is harmless if eaten. The glitter is probably not going to kill them if they eat a little bit (sparkly poop!) but I am sure it is not food safe.

Let dough cool completely and store in resealable plastic containers or bags (I like to personally use Ziploc Twist ‘N Loc containers in the medium size as they are just the right size to hold one big batch of dough.)

I usually have a homemade play do making session in the evening once the kids are in bed and make 6 or so batches in one session in different colors and scents and then the kids have tons of  play dough for lots of creative play and fun.

Play dough will last a good month or so if stored in a cool location, even longer in the refrigerator.

Finished Play Dough (Black Cherry, Grape, Lime and Blue Raspberry)

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Cost Analysis:

While this recipe is made of ingredients that many people already have on hand I did want to figure out the cost to make a batch. So I ran to Walmart to check the prices of all the ingredients. I then broke down the cost per batch.

  • 37¢ for 2 cups of flour
  • 13¢ for 1 cup of salt
  • 7¢ for 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 50¢ for 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar
  • 20¢ for 2 packages of Kool-Aid
  • 10¢ for 2 tablespoons of glitter

So all in all this would have cost me right around $1.37 for 2 lbs. of homemade play dough. Walmart sells a 4-pack of 5 oz. cans of store bought name brand Play-Doh for $2.00. That ends up being about 10¢ an ounce for store bought dough versus 4¢ an ounce for my homemade dough. And while the savings is not astronomical the time investment is not all that much, a few minutes of measuring and stirring and then cooling time. I can make 5-6 batches in about 1 hour. And since my dough smells good and is all sparkly my kids actually like homemade version better and they get a lot more dough to play with.


  1. If you wanted to make it glitter without the glitter you could try sugar crystals (the kind like you put on cookies) they are $0.87 @ Walmart!

  2. Thanks for sharing! Ofcourse I you got free Kool Aid & the other baking items cheap or free this is WAY cheaper than playdough! I’ll have to try the glitter!

  3. Joeswife – yes you could possibly get some of the ingredients cheaper with coupons. I went into my walmart and just went looking for the cheapest prices (generics) just to get a general ball park figure on cost. The most expensive ingredient was the cream of tartar. But I usually can get Kool-aid pretty darn cheap. My kids don’t drink the stuff so really we only buy it for this recipe and other crafty things (water paints!) my kids have been playing with their play dough I made for this blog post all day long today. I collect cookie cutters and mini rolling pins at yard sales and thrift stores just for them to play with.)

  4. I never knew making homemade play dough was cheaper than store bough, but I did know that the homemade version is much nicer to use.

    • kelazeer – Because you mix the Kool-aid with the water before you cook it you are not left to knead the coloring into the dough later which some recipes call for and that does stain their hands. I have not yet had any hand staining on the kids with the Kool-aid with this recipe. None at all. Give it a try and see for yourself. Remember though…kids are washable!

    • Hi Stephanie,

      I have had this Play Dough last well over a month when stored in an air tight container just fine. My kids tend to like to let their creations air dry (you should see the collection of snakes, alligators, cookies and cakes we have! LOL) and they like to mix colors quite a bit. So once they either use it all up or the colors start turning brown from all the mixing I make up a new batch or two.

    • It has lasted several months in tupperware and still soft so far. Best part is it doesn’t stick to carpet and if any pets get to it, it’s safe to eat. Absolutely LOVE this recipe!


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