Play Dough Day

Today I had barely finished mentioning making play dough and my little Lulu  had already retrieved her apron.

Now, I have always been a fan of the 2:1:1 recipe (2 parts flour to 1 part salt and 1 part water).  It’s fast, it’s easy, and it really only requires having two ingredients on hand.  I’ve used it through many, many years of babysitting, nannying, and teaching without even considering giving another recipe a try.  That is, until I decided to give this “fussy” recipe a go this Christmas. Yes, it requires both oil and cream of tartar – not to mention cooking – but if you’ve got the ingredients, extra time, and patience to let it cool, it’s totally worth it.  It’s soft, super pliable, and lasts for a ridiculously long time.  Plus, it’s really not that hard.

IMG 6643Here’s what you need:  Some flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, water, food colouring, and a cute little sous chef to help you along the way.

IMG 6646First things first, pour your water in a large pot.

IMG 6656Next, add your salt.  Preferably into the pot.  But hey, whatever works.

IMG 6659Then, add your cream of tartar.

IMG 6670And your food colouring.  (Of course for this little one, purple was the colour of choice.) Give everything a little stir.

IMG 6675Then, over medium heat, warm the mixture until hot, but not boiling.

IMG 6680When hot, add your oil and your flour, cup by cup.

IMG 6681Don’t worry if it looks all chunky and gross.  We’ve used this recipe several times and we’ve always experienced this stage. It’ll all work out in the end.

IMG 6684When you’ve added all of the flour, give the dough one final stir and plop it out onto a well-floured counter.  Sprinkle some extra flour on top if the dough appears sticky.  Be careful – it’ll be very hot still.

IMG 6689Once it’s cooled, kneed the dough well, incorporating all of the extra flour.

IMG 6698Then give your munchkin a chunk and let her go to town.

IMG 6707Fun for hours!

Here’s our slightly tweaked version of the recipe if you want to give it a try:

  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 1/2 cups of salt
  • 3 TBSP of cream of tartar
  • 5 TBSP of vegetable oil
  • Food colouring
  • 5 1/2 cups of flour

Mix water, salt, cream of tartar, oil, and food colouring in a large pot. Cook on medium heat, stirring regularly until mixture is hot.

Add oil, then stir in flour a cup at a time, mixing in between each addition. Mix until playdough pulls away from pot and is no longer sticky.

Dump dough on a well-floured counter, let cool a bit, then knead.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for several weeks.


5 thoughts on “Play Dough Day

  1. Awesome! This looks like SO much fun!! I saw your other recipes as well, but have you ever tried “moon-dough”? Is it worth the mess [indoors].. or is it more of an outdoor adventure?

    Btw… you have the CUTEST little girl!! :)

    1. We sure have! You can find the recipe we used here: and how we play with it here: I must say, it is quite messy. While my first choice is playing with it outside, we’ve used it in our solarium several times and it’s been fine. I just lay down a big blanket first, and when we’re done, I pick up the four corners of the blanket and shake it out outside. I think the blanket idea would work just fine indoors too, but I would still be prepared for some mess as it’s super fine and seems to sneakily end up EVERYWHERE.

      BTW, we are still using that same batch of purple play dough as of now. It’s been over three months and it’s still as good as the day we made it. Best recipe I’ve ever tried.

  2. I have a tip… I don’t like the sticky mess the Playdough makes when you cook it… I use a very similar recipe with the same ingredients you have here… I put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and next together… Then put water oil and food coloring and a pot bring to a boil… As soon as it boils I poured into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir always turns out great! I don’t have to worry about overcooking undercooking or the sticky pot!

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