The Best Homemade Play Dough Recipe

I searched the web and talked to friends to find the best homemade playdough recipe for my Kindness Camps. After all my research, I found that the ingredients for every recipe is the same: 

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Salt
  • Oil 
  • Food Coloring
  • Essential Oils (optional)

The only difference between the recipes I researched was the ratios of ingredients. Being that I was looking to make large quantities, I wanted to find the best recipe that would give the consistency I wanted but also be the most cost effective. If you're just making a couple batches for your own kids, you can experiment with the ratios. However, if you're a teacher or want to give playdough as gifts, or make for gift bags for birthday parties, then I wanted to offer some helpful tips.

My cousin gifted the kids with Playdough at Christmas, and 7 months the playdough was still soft and squishy. I asked her to send me the link to the recipe she used and I have to agree, it really is THE BEST HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH

Here are a few extra bits of information that I didn't find on any website that I wanted to share for those of you making large quantities:

  1. With 1 bag of flour, 1 cylinder of salt, 1 bottle of oil, 1 jar of cream of tartar and 1 package of gel food coloring (containing 4 colors), you can produce 7 batches of playdough with the recipe above. You will have plenty of cream of tartar, oil and food coloring left for more batches. So, if you want to make 7 more batches, then you would probably only need to buy more flour and salt.
  2. The total cost of the ingredients above (not including the essential oils) were approx $16. I'm sure you could find these items even cheaper, but that's what it cost me.  For the sake of estimating costs, I wanted to figure out the savings I would get from making my own playdough vs buying it. 
    • Each batch = 1 lb. of playdough (approx)
    • When I researched online to find 16 oz of play doh brand, the cheapest I found was $6.99 at Walmart.
    • I made 7 pounds of playdough for $16! That's roughly $2 per lb. That is already a $5 savings per pound.
    • I made playdough to play with in camp, but I also wanted to give each child a container to take home with them as a gift. I found the perfect containers were Ziploc Extra Small Square Containers that hold 4 oz each. The best price I found was at Target for $2.72 for an 8-pack. Not including the essential oils, the cost breakdown per child to give 4 oz as gifts ended up being approx .62 per child. 
  3. Most of the differences in recipes are in the ratio of salt. This recipe had the least amount of salt required which allowed me to produce more batches with 1 cylinder of salt. And, I thought the consistency was better than other recipes... so win-win!
  4. Oil - I didn't like the consistency as much with Canola Oil as Vegetable Oil. My friends used Olive Oil, but that is way more expensive so I didn't want to use it for this purpose.
  5. Food Coloring - It's fun to mix your own colors using regular gel food coloring, but making purple is really tricky. I tried and failed a few times. I loved the way orange and teal turned out the best as far as mixing goes. 
  6. You can double the recipe, but it is more fun and interesting to produce different colors.
  7. My kids loved helping me with this project! Since you don't need to turn on the stove until everything is mixed, I would let them help mix the ingredients and squeeze in the food coloring. Then, I would turn on the burner and finish it off. 
  8. Essential Oils - I used only 4 drops in each pound and that was more than enough. Some websites called for 6-8 drops and I'm so glad I didn't put in that much. It would have been a waste of precious oils and not necessary. I wanted the playdough to be part of a "Calm Kit" I was making for the kids so I used Lavender. However, I also love the combination of Spearmint & Lavender which brings both calm and clarity so I used that as well. I ran out of orange and lemon, but those also make for great smelling playdough!
  9. The only side effect of making all this playdough was a sore arm! If you're making a lot of batches I highly recommend splitting up the work into different days to give your arm a rest. Haha!