Soft, Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough

Oh my goodness, guys.  If I could only count the number of times I’ve been asked lately, “Do you have a gluten free play dough recipe??”  I’ve lost track.  I actually do have a tried, tested, and true gluten free play dough recipe – my baby play dough recipe!  But it’s not a traditional play dough you’d keep on your shelf for days on end, so naturally I had to give creating one a try.  Now here’s the thing… We’re not gluten free, nor do we have anyone in our day-to-day that’s gluten free, so I’ve never had to learn to properly use gluten free flours. That being said, I used our usual go-to play dough recipe as a jumping off point and I’m actually very pleased with how this gluten free version turned out.  It’s soft, it’s squishy, it’s sort of heavy like my usual play dough is, and I actually really like it.  And I’m a bit picky.

Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

Now a few things to know…

  • I’ve only tested this recipe with this one particular flour – Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour (CAN).  You can certainly trying using a different brand / type of gluten free flour, but I can’t guarantee it’ll work.  I did try creating a recipe with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, but I liked the All-Purpose Baking Flour better for this purpose.
  • With all of the gluten free play dough recipes I tested, I noticed that the finished doughs had a tiny bit of surface stickiness that our traditional play dough just doesn’t have.  It’s not a ton of stickiness and it doesn’t make the dough any less fun to play with, but a couple of things to note…  First off, when making and playing with this dough, make sure that your hands and work surface are completely dry.  Just a tiny bit of extra moisture can add to that stickiness.  Secondly, if you’re finding your dough a little too sticky at any point, add a little bit of cornstarch (probably no more than a teaspoon at a time) to your hands, your work surface, and/or the surface of your dough.
  • Lastly, I’m not quite sure how this dough will last long term just yet.  While our regular play dough recipe lasts for months on end, I only made the dough a few days ago, so it’s too early to tell just yet.  So far so good, though.  I just checked on it and it’s as though we just made it. You’ll want to store this dough just as you would our regular play dough – in an air-tight bag or container at room temperature away from heat sources (so no top of the fridge).
Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.{this post contains affiliate links}

Okay, disclaimers out of the way…  Let’s get on with it, shall we?  Here’s what you’ll need:

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour (CAN)

table salt

cream of tartar (CAN)

vegetable oil

glycerine (CAN)

liquid food colouring (CAN)

boiling water


Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

And this is what your finished dough will look like… Pretty, right?

Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

We went for soft, pastel-y colours this time around and only used a tiny bit of food dye, but if vibrant colours are what you’re after, you can do that too.  Just follow the instructions in my recipe at the bottom of this post carefully.

Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

One other thing to note? This dough does have a mild “smell” to it…  Most likely thanks to the fact that the gluten free flour contains bean flours, I’m guessing. It’s not terrible and I’m sure you could probably add a tiny bit of extract or kiddo-friendly essential oil to eliminate it, but we didn’t and it doesn’t bother us.

Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

Okay, here’s the dough in action.  I love seeing these kind of pictures because I feel like they give me good insight into the texture of the dough (holy #playdoughnerd alert).  Anyways, it squishes…

Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

It cuts…

Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

And it’s really soft.

Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

Here’s the recipe…

Soft & Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough

  • a couple of drops of liquid food colouring
  • 1/2 cup of boiling water (measured in a dry measuring cup – as in the same type you’d measure flour in)
  • 2(+) tablespoons of cornstarch

Measure out the flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, and glycerine into a large mixing bowl.  Give the mixture a really good whisk.

Add your food colouring to the measuring cup you’ll use to measure your water in.  Top the cup up with boiling water. (By adding the food colouring to the water measurement, you prevent adding too much liquid to your play dough – especially in cases where you’re adding a good amount of dye to achieve a more vibrant play dough colour.)

Pour the coloured water into your dry mixture and mix it super well with a wooden spoon, banging it off every once and a while.  You want to incorporate all of the dry mixture into the dough here, which may take a little bit of effort.  You may feel like your dough seems too dry or too wet to become a good play dough here, but don’t worry – trust the process. :)

Leave your semi-mixed dough on the counter to cool for 5 or so minutes.

Afterwards, dump the mixture out onto the countertop and knead it really well.  Probably a picky #playdoughnerd thing, but we have granite counter tops and I much prefer kneading our play dough on a wooden butcher block or cutting board.  At this point your dough will feel too sticky, but not to worry. (I feel like the wooden work surface helps cut the stickiness a little bit, which is part of why I find it helpful.)

Once your dough is well-kneaded and uniform, remove any dough from your hands, give your hands a good wash, and dry them completely.

Now measure out your 2 tablespoons of cornstarch either onto your work surface or directly onto your dough, and knead some more.  You want your play dough to eat this extra cornstarch up.  This should take care of that stickiness, but add an additional tablespoon if you feel like you need it (we tested this recipe 5+ times and 2 was our magic number each time).

Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

And that’s it!  You’ve got gluten free play dough!!

Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

When it’s not in use, keep it in an air-tight container or bag at room temperature (away from heat sources) and hopefully it’ll last a long time.Soft Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough | Mama Papa Bubba

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9 thoughts on “Soft, Squishy Gluten Free Play Dough

  1. We made three batches today with your recipe and Trader Joe’s gluten free flour mix and kool aid instead of water — it worked amazingly! Thank you.

  2. Dear Jen,

    I wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt appreciation for your incredible blog post on “Soft Squishy Gluten-Free Play Dough.” As a parent of a child with gluten sensitivity, finding safe and enjoyable play options can often be a challenge. Your gluten-free play dough recipe has been an absolute game-changer for us, and I can’t thank you enough.

    From the very first time we tried your recipe, my child was instantly captivated by the sensory experience. The texture of the play dough was incredibly soft and squishy, providing a delightful tactile experience that kept my child engaged for hours. It was truly a joy to witness their imagination come to life as they molded and shaped the dough into various creations.

    Furthermore, the educational benefits of this activity cannot be overstated. Through their play, my child has been enhancing their fine motor skills, hand strength, and creativity. The therapeutic qualities of squishing and shaping the play dough have also proven to be calming and soothing, providing a wonderful outlet for self-expression and relaxation.

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing this incredible recipe and your expertise with us. Your commitment to providing inclusive and accessible play options for children with dietary restrictions is truly commendable. You have made a positive impact on our lives and countless others who may have otherwise struggled to find suitable alternatives. I look forward to exploring more of your blog and discovering new ways to engage and inspire my children at our school.

    With deep gratitude,

    [Gayathri KL]

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