Playdough Recipe: An Old Favorite With a Smooth New Twist

I was lucky enough to participate recently in a conference at Utah State University.  It was so much fun (and a little surreal) to teach a session at the front of a room where I had sat through many, many classes more than a decade ago.

As much fun as I had teaching my session, I also loved going to a session taught by my friend, Kelli Barker, who was my counterpart while head teaching at the lab school and my partner for many deliriously late night study sessions.  She taught a fantastic class, sharing all kinds of fantastic ideas for hands-on activities for young children.

One that I had to try already: a little twist on a favorite playdough recipe.

Kelli and I both used the classic recipe for playdough as we worked together in the lab.  I’ve been using it as my favorite ever since.  But in the breakout session, Kelli mentioned she had stumbled on a recipe she liked even more.  (And she even said I could let you in on the secret.)

First Kelli cut the salt in half.  Brilliance?  Surely.  Not enough salt in the cupboard that day?  Also true.  At any rate, Kelli put in half the salt and found herself with a smoother dough.

The second twist — Kelli used baby oil instead of cooking oil.  This was one of those forehead smacking, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments.  The baby oil, which can be picked up inexpensively at the dollar store, added a rich smoothness as well as a nice, mild scent.

So for an super-smooth dough, here’s the adapted recipe:

I mixed up a batch today for this Robert Munsch book activity and it’s fantastically fine and smooth.

Try it out the next time you’re looking for an activity to give those little hands and fingers and minds a fun workout!



Filed under Create, Learning through Play and Experience

16 Responses to Playdough Recipe: An Old Favorite With a Smooth New Twist

  1. Sarah

    I can’t wait to try this recipe with my preschoolers! I’ve been using the classic recipe for years and I love it! Hope to add this one to my growing collection. The conference sounds like it was loads of fun and informational. I hope to catch it next year!

  2. Krissy

    I love this recipe instead of 2 cups of plain flour. I did one cup of plain flour and 1 cup of corn flour. And cooked it on the stove top.

  3. neelum

    when ever I make play dough next day it becomes too much sticks every where it didn’t have original texture in next day even I try to keep in fridge.. air tight jar i m also using same method..plz suggest me

    • notjustcute

      Tricky. If you’re happy with the consistency once you finish making it, the only thing I can think of that would cause it to become sticky would be that it hasn’t cooled fully before putting it into a container. If it cools inside a sealed container it tends to “sweat”, condensing, and if it has nowhere to go it soaks into the playdough. I hope that helps!

  4. Teresa

    Hi. Thanks for the recipe. I didn’t have any cream of tartar, and my kids’ play dough was looking pretty sad, so I tried your recipe and substituted baby powder instead. My thought was that if the cream of tartar was meant to keep it from getting too sticky, maybe baby powder would work.

    So, since I’ve never made the original recipe I don’t really have anything to compare it to. But I think it came out ‘ok’. Maybe a little bit stickier than I would have liked. But then again, it could have been that I added too much food coloring, because the consistency seemed better before I added it. No matter, the kids love it, so it seems to be a success.

    Anywhoo, just thought I’d give you another option to consider. :) Thanks for the recipe!


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  7. does it harden and crack when left out? has anyone tried sculpting and drying it?

  8. Cori

    Best playdough recipe! I used almond oil instead of baby oil (because it’s what I had) and it worked great.

  9. jacqui

    I have found that if you substitute some of the regular flour for cornflour the dough is even smoother!!

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  13. samantha

    I used baby powder and baby oil and just mixed it with my hands and wa-la I got play doh
    I also tried something new were I put cooking oil and baby powder together and it was better that using baby oil it felt softer and smoother!

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