Homemade Edible Finger Paint Recipe

homemade edible finger paint
We made some home made finger paint today and had great fun with our little group of Mums and tots with babies as young as 6 months getting involved in the action! It’s totally edible (though not that delicious!) and completely non-toxic, and the best part is it was so easy to make and will last!

This is the recipe ( I googled a few, found the common denominator and went from there):
* 2 cups of corn flour (corn starch in the US I think)
* 1 cup of cold water
* 4.5 cups of boiling water
* Liquid food colouring

Mix the cornflour with the cold water and stir together. Pour in the boiling water and stir between each cup. It goes really strange (you are basically mixing a hot oobleck goop) but keep stirring and it literally seems to “melt” into a wonderful, custard-like consistency. We then separated it into individual jam jars before adding colouring, but you can do it however you like and this is the stage to add colour.

Edited to add:
Some people have found that the paint remains liquid and doesn’t thicken up as it should. I have no idea why this should be, but I have two possible solutions, based on the fabulous commenters below!

1. Try simply adding up to 1 more cup of cornflour/ cornstarch and see if that helps to thicken it.
2. Try mixing the paint in a pan on a medium heat instead of just in a bowl, as that will help to bring it together.

It’s always frustrating posting recipes that work brilliantly when you try them yourself, but for some reason don’t work for everyone! I can only assume it’s down to slight change in ingredients used and perhaps how the directions are followed. Do try it as it is LOVELY stuff! Thanks :-)

C helped me to spoon this into the jars and she absolutely LOVED every minute of the whole process!

I added a squeeze of colouring to each jar and then between us we mixed them up.

During mixing they looked fabulous!

And the finished paints look like a little work of art :-) Almost too good to paint with…but not quite.

All lined up and ready for action. I put in some thick paint brushes for the toddlers but expected babies to use their fingers. They seemed to understand that perfectly :-)

Baby Boy is 6 months and this was his first little painting. We weren’t sure how impressed he was!

Kiddies getting stuck in and a couple more crawling on the floor, waiting for their turns!

That’s more like it baby Boy, get those fingers in and give it a good squish!

 It was a bit like painting with coloured, waxy custard! Very strange yet extremely pleasing to touch!
K experimenting with double paint-brushing.

J having a whale of a time!

Big boy N knows how to paint properly!

Someone got a tad possessive of all “her” paints. “Dey Mines!”

And then we introduced edible finger paint number 2! Chocolate and strawberry Angel Delight pudding mixes (although these were actually a Sainsbury’s Basics range for 7p each!) We just mixed the powder with milk and whisked it until lovely and thick, then put it on the table for them to touch and add to their paintings. There was no added food colouring, but lovely brown, chocolatey messiness everywhere nonetheless :-)

Baby J was very interested in the chocolate pudding goo! Who can blame him?!

It’s important to use ALL of the senses when exploring! Yum yum!

And C did a little bit of mark-making with a fork through the lovely, thick, gloopy mess.

Little Pop found the brush very tasty and had her fair share of pudding paint too.

Overall verdict? Very easy to make and extremely satisfying results in terms of texture and consistency. Lovely to know that it is non-toxic and edible, therefore safe for even the really tiddly ones. Colours are quite light and therefore don’t make a bold mark on paper, but I’m sure if you used a lot more colouring that could be fixed. The paint is thick and gel-like and so takes a long time to dry, but when it does it makes a great, almost 3-D effect on the paper! I have put the lids on our jam jars and will try storing them in the fridge and see how long they last. Hope hubby doesn’t spread them on his toast by mistake!

This activity is good for:
* involving all ages of children
* creativty and expression
* using fingers and tools to do mark-making
* exploring the senses and discovering new textures
* knowledge and understanding of the world: following a recipe, mixing and stirring, combining materials and mixing colours
* gross and fine motor skills (mixing the colours into the paint was hard work!)

We have another home made paint recipe to share tomorrow! Enjoy messy, creative, fun!


  1. Anonymous says

    What is cornflour to you? Is it ground corn, which we in the states call corn meal? Or corn starch? I think you mean corn starch, which is a little different. Is it a very powdery white substance with a gritty feel?

    • Anonymous says

      The recipe I’m reading calls for corn starch and that would produce the consistency, look, and feeling described in this activity. Corn starch has a powdery thick feeling not gritty.

  2. says

    Hi Anon! I think it is corn starch although on Googling it it seems they are slightly different. But both work as a thickening agent so I’m guessing the starch will work in exactly the same way. Our corn flour has the exact appearance of ordinary flour. Hope it works and I’m sure it will!

  3. says

    Anna, those paints look delicious! What lovely bright colours and I can see from the photos what a fab consistency they were. How great for the babies to get stuck in with the older kids. Katy is often muscling in on Max’s play, and she isn’t always welcome! This is a nice idea for encouraging Max to include his sis.

    • Anonymous says

      The words vary a lot by region. In Australia the cornflour sold in supermarkets can be made of wheat or corn. When it is made of corn it is the equivalent of what US recipes call corn starch.

      Usually you have to look at the ingredients to know if it is wheat or corn based cornflour. I think this might go some way to explaining why the recipe works for some and not others, they may actually be using a different product. I think the wheat cornflour needs a bit more heating before it thickens up.

  4. says

    I did love doing this activity it was great fun. However, how long do you feel you should stay on this activity for the only reason I ask is because my daughter appears to have a short concentration span is this normal for one year olds? your daughter looked like she would be happy doing this all day.

  5. says

    Hi Bella! Thanks for your comment and I’m glad she enjoyed it. `i would say that a 1-2 year old has a very short attention span and probably will only want to do things for 5-10 minutes at the most. But they tend to like to come back to the same activity and repeat it over and over. As adults we find this frustrating but it’s how they learn! My girl is 2 and a half and is more interested in some things than others. She could probably paint/ stick/ play with play dough for well over half an hour, but that’s only a recent development and she tends to flit between things to try them out.

  6. says

    oh we can go through the finger paint. How fun that I can make some new paint with stuff I have in my cabinets. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. says

    Hello “Anon” I think out of the fridge no more than a couple of days. In the fridge maybe a week at a guess? I think ours was best the day we made it, and it was best at being a sensory play material rather than long-lasting paint. Lots of fun though!

  8. Anonymous says

    hello! thanks for the post. i’d need some follow-up, finally could you store it in the fridge? and for how long?

  9. Anonymous says

    sorry, i didn’t make it through with the comments.. now i see, you already answered to the same question

  10. says

    I love this idea. I really want to try finger painting with my 13 month old and this recipe sounds great. Any as ConsciousMama asked, does it stain? He doesn’t really have any “grungy” clothes so I’m a little worried about the food colouring dying his clothes? Has anyone found out if it stains yet?

  11. says

    I tried making this, following the directions exactly, but for some reason the consistency was pure liquid…I tried adding more corn starch, but that didn’t help. Suggestions? Thanks so much!

    • Anonymous says

      Hi Lauren, that is really weird! You did use hot water right? It should thicken just like it would if you added the cornflour to stock to thicken it for gravy or to a stew to thicken it.

    • Anonymous says

      Mine was the same, just zap it in the microwave for 30-40 secs and give it a good stir before it becomes a big lump!

  12. says

    We tried this today with our mothers group of 8 month olds. It was a moderate success, but still a little too advanced. My little boy did enjoy eating it and throwing it however! :o)

    Lauren – mine was liquid until about 2 mins of stirring and then it turned thick and custard like all of a sudden. I thought I had stuffed up but then it turned.

    The food colouring did stain – skin, clothing everything! – but we thought this would be the case and had all the bubs in disposable nappies and naked – it is summer here in Australia!

    Storage: I made it last night and stored in the fridge overnight. It went solid overnight but all I needed to do was add a little more boiling water and give it a good stir and it went back again. It wasn’t as good as the fresh stuff however. I would advise making this the same day as you need it and not storing it.

  13. says

    Lauren I’m sorry to hear that! I don’t know what to say as ours was so waxy and custard-like. If anything I’d have thought people may find it to thick, not too thin :-( Perhaps follow Stephanie’s (great!) advice and try stirring it for longer? It feels like you are mixing up goop, but with hot water. AS your stir it begins to get more and more thick. Were you using a flour like substance ? Corn starch? Over here it is Corn flour but in the US it;s cornstarch? Sorry not to help more!

  14. says

    I used a cup less boiling water and a cup more corn starch (or there about) and it was perfect. I know it’s no longer edible, but to color it I used the ends of my tubes of crayola finger paint. I had just a little left of each color. No staining and way cheaper!! Great idea.

  15. Esther says

    Thank you for this! Mine turned out a bit on te runny side, so I just shook a bit more cornflour into it, it got thicker as it cooled too. I made a stencil with a dozen little Christmas trees on it, coloured the paint a darkish green, and stirred in some gold edible lustre dust to give it a sheen… Paint smeared over the stencil onto card underneath, and my baby girlhas made her first Christmas cards! Thank you for showing me that messy is doable with a baby!

  16. Anonymous says

    My solution to a runny mixture was to cook it on the stove for a few minutes, just like custard :)

  17. Nicole says

    Thanks for the great post!
    I made this just now. It was briljant! Allthough it was less silky than yours. I used a cup more corn flour and it was perfect! Our 12 month old was particularly keen on eating it.. So we ended up with a blueish, cyanotic lipped boy;)

  18. Anonymous says

    Mr 1 loved this goopy paint. We only used one cup cornflour, one cup cold water, then just added boiling water and whisked until it seemed a good consistency. We used food colouring for some colours, cocoa for brown, and a few drops of non-toxic acrylic paint for others. Looked like a ridiculous amount for one boy, but he used it all up smearing on paper, cardboard, himself…… Very cheap entertainment.

  19. Anonymous says

    I just tried this and it’s pure liquid :( I followed the instructions exactly and even used less water…darn!!

  20. says

    I started making this by following the exact recipe but by the 2nd cup of boiling water it was pure liquid so I stopped the water, added more corn starch and some flour until thicker and then let it cool in the fridge for a couple hours. Then added more flour to thicken. Still wasn’t custardy all the way through but was thick enough to paint and my 7month old LOVED the feel of the cool mushy paint. She cried when I tried to end the activity so I let her paint her high chair tray for awhile too. It all washed off (no stains) and she had a blast!! Thanks for posting this recipe!! Loved seeing your pictures too!

  21. Anonymous says

    This may be my all time favorite paint to use with the kids. Super easy to make. It’s edible (and non-toxic). A great tactile experience. By far the easiest paint project to clean up on the boys and everything else. The boys played with this stuff forever. Will be making this a lot!

  22. says

    I never thought of involving babies to paint! I think I will add some food coloring to my 6 mo. old’s rice cereal and let her go to town!!!

  23. Tiffany says

    Can you all share what type of paper you used with the paints? I am so excited to try this with my 9 mo old, who LOVES touching everything!

  24. says

    Hi, I just tried this awesome ricipe out with my 1yr old daughter. She spent most of the time with her fingers in her mouth and was able to explore the wonderful world of colour without me worrying about poisonous substances Thank you!

    Oh, I have answered the staining and cleaning up issues – She was wearing a disposable nappy (as mentioned above) And I used an old inflatable pool sans water as the painting area. Clean up was a breeze!

  25. Anonymous says

    I’ve made this twice now. The first time it worked perfectly. The second time it didn’t. I don’t know if it made the difference or not, but when I made it this time I mixed the cornstarch into the cold water instead of the water into the cornstarch. I just cooked it for a bit on the stove and it thickened after a few minutes. Thanks for a great recipe!

  26. says

    I’ve made this before and my son loved it, but I was just wondering how long the paints last in closed jars before they start growing stuff?

    • Anonymous says

      I wondered how to store it too?!?

      I sealed the jars & put it in the pantry & within a week it absolutely stank :( I was so disappointed! The batch made more than I needed, so the uncoloured batch I had kept in the fridge, & that’s find weeks later!

  27. says

    I’ve just made this and the recipe worked a treat! Although, instead of stirring lots I left it for a few minutes then started stirring and it became gloopy and custard-like. Love the recipe, thank you so much! We’re going to have fund tomorrow :)

  28. Jazzy S says

    Corn flour and corn starch are not the same. Corn flour is milled from the whole kernel, while cornstarch is obtained from the endosperm portion of the kernel. Corn starch is just that – starch. It is chemically separated from the protein and other components of corn flour.

    The confusion stems in that they can SOMETIMES be used interchangeably, such as in soups and stews as a thickening agent. However, for bread baking and deep frying, you cannot substitute corn starch for corn flour.

    Corn flour is available in the US, but it is typically located with the other specialty grains. My local grocery store carries it in Bob’s Red Mill brand.

    That being said, when I decided to attempt this “recipe,” I didn’t have any corn flour handy. However, as I am located in the southwest US, I did have masa harina, a flour made from lime soaked corn, which is most commonly used to make tortillas. So, I decided to try using it instead.
    While I cannot comment on substituting corn starch or US corn flour, I can attest that the masa harina worked.

    My 12 month old daughter wasn’t initially impressed by this project, but, with a little encouragement, she quickly became thrilled. I’ve already made it three times this week! It seems to entertain her in about 30 minute bursts.

    Thank you for providing such a great “recipe” :) I’ve tried multiple versions of edible finger paint and have found this version to be the best yet. The finished product had a nice, slightly thick, consistency. I have since recommended it to all of my friends with children who still taste everything.

    I almost forgot to mention…it did stain her skin in a few spots, but it was easily removed with a little soap and some unappreciated scrubbing.

    Good luck to everyone else!

  29. Anonymous says

    I made this for my 14 month daughter as her first experience with paint. She had a great time. Thank you :)

  30. says

    If it helps anyone, a cup in the UK is actually slightly less than a cup in the US. That may have affected how some of the batches turned out for people. :o) Thank you for posting. I’m trying it with my 7 month old today!

  31. says

    I made this today for my 18 month old twins and they loved it. I cooked it in the microwave for a couple of minutes after I’d put the hot water in – no different to making custard really!! Think I might add some glitter next time too :) I’ve linked you up in my blog post about it too, if that’s ok!

  32. Anonymous says

    My kids loved this!! Although mine was very watery :S but it was still fun gloop! My 5 month old and 2 1/2 yr old loved it!! ( especially sliding with his feet :)) thank you!!

  33. Anonymous says

    the consistency of mine was great, even better after I cooked it for a couple of minutes. My 4.5yo sensory seeker and 2.5yo had a ball! I gave them an assortment of edible sprinkles to throw in, along with chopped up apples, sultana’s and dried paw paw. My 2yo thought this was fantastic and everything went straight in the mouth. The older one knew best, despite me telling him this was special paint he could eat, he said ‘I’m worried mummy, you shouldn’t eat paint!’ Will definitely do this again! I used the food colouring sparingly and only had a little staining on their hands, sure it will be gone after bath time :)

  34. says

    What an amazingly simple yet awesome idea!! I just made a whole batch and they turned out GREAT. I’m waiting for the little one to wake up so I can try this out! I think I might add a bit of flavoring to the dyes next time! (vanilla, orange zest etc!). Thanks for sharing!

  35. says

    Note to anyone making this – put it in the fridge! I left mine out and opened it 4 days later and boy did it stink!!

  36. says

    Saw this on Pinterest and tried it out. It didn’t work that well. I think my water was not hot enough. After i put it on the stove and stired it, it was getting better. And I had to add tons of food colouring. I think I am going to try it again 😉 Anyway, if it doesn’t work again I will put it on the stove again. Doesn’t matter :)

  37. says

    I tried this today with my 7mo and it was fabulous. I did use corn starch instead of corn flour (they are similar, but definitely not the same thing), so mine turned out a little more translucent. Next time I might try adding a little flour or more dye to turn out deeper colours. After reading all the comments I went straight to mixing it on medium heat on the stove, which worked beautifully. I don’t know how the original instructions with the boiling water would have turned out, but I definitely had success on the stove. The mixture gelled together in less than 2 minutes, though I had to stir it constantly.

    Thanks, Anna, for this wonderful site! I have 1 baby so far (only a small bit older than Baby Bean), so I can’t use everything on here yet, but I love all the ideas. Things that I can’t try yet I’m filing away in my brain for later!!! I’m ALL about sensory play for my 7mo right now. I want him to play in the dirt, splash in water, taste everything that’s non-toxic, and generally explore the world as much as possible! I am having so much fun already, introducing the world to him and letting him make discoveries. And he’s young – I know there is so much more ahead of us!

  38. Timarie says

    I did this last night and it never thickened. I live in the US and think that you might have meant oz instead of cups? Because I added 2 additional cups of corn starch to the mixture and it still didn’t thicken. It got to a milky consistency so I had the kids use it anyway and it stained them from head to toe lol. It was a mess!

  39. says

    I haven’t tried this yet, but I wonder if it is the different size of UK “cups” vs. US “cups” is causing the inconsistent results. My husband is Australian and they have their own size “cups” as well. I have had many many many recipes turn out poorly because the ratio of dry to liquid isn’t the same. I’m going to try making paint this afternoon and see how it goes!

    • Anonymous says

      Last time I checked the article was not suggesting that you feed this to your baby as food. Get a grip. The obvious interpretation of the activity and resources prepared here is that, although this is not food, if it gets in your baby’s mouth it isn’t going to harm them. Small quantities of corn starch or food colourings are unlikely to do any lasting harm when used on an occasional basis. Also, you are clearly guilty of a typical America-centric assumption here, perhaps being aware that there is a world outside the US is beyond your comprehension too (I’m assuming by your spelling and your choice of CBS as your news source that you are probably from the US). The food dyes referred to in your linked article have been phased out in the UK (and Europe in general) where this blog is written. In fact, it even says as much in the article. Perhaps parents such as yourselves in the US need to be as proactive at getting companies to change their products as we have been in the UK (http://www.allergykids.com/blog/serving-up-food-dyes-uk-style/). It is quite possible to pick up natural food colourings off the shelf in UK supermarkets unlike in the USA (http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/browse/default.aspx?N=4294792885) (I live in Texas, currently, so am well aware of how hard they are to come by here). Granted, there is still some chemical sounding stuff in those natural ones, but at a drop or two in a whole batch of paint that they are going to get a small fraction of in their mouth on maybe a day or two a month, let’s keep it in perspective!

  40. Anonymous says

    Corn (because it’s a starchy carb) is kind of an empty calorie food and not a huge nutritional value for baby therefore some people opt not to give their baby cornstarch until after 12 months but as early as 10 months. It can cause gas/diarrhea and can be hard to digest. Having said that, some infant formulas have derivitives of cornstarch such as corn syrup. Further to that, jarred baby food will sometimes have cornstarch especially if it’s a gravy type mix. I’ve recently started giving my 11 mth old creamed corn (homemade) and she seems to have no problem with it. On the dye side of things, try something for red such as beet juice/beet powder (straight from the beet or the water), blue and purple from dark berries, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow and those are just a few suggestions. A quick google search will help with that.

  41. says

    Hello, I love the paint, anything I have ever tried simply turns to liquid, or just doesn’t have the right consistency. I credited your page on my blog today, for making the edible paint. Thanks for such a wonderful recipe. niftythriftymom.1.blogspot.com

  42. says

    I love the idea of this. I’m always worried about what’s in regular finger paints. This takes all of that worry away. I’m eager to try these with my charges this week.

  43. says

    I have been looking for finger paints to do with my daugther who is just 10 months she loves messy play now I am happy in knowlege that I can now make safe paint for her and we can now make christmas cards togethers for her grandparents :-)

  44. says

    Worked great for me, and my 1 year old preferred to use a brush (she’s a bit princessy like that – didn’t want to get her hands dirty, but was happy to have it everywhere if she used a brush) – how do you store the leftover paint and for how long?

  45. Anonymous says

    I’ve just made this and it was incredibly easy! Really looking forward to letting my 16 month old get stuck in.

  46. says

    Great activity. Just a warning to be careful with the mix if letting little ones gets in and help make it, as it can get pretty hot… I know that is an obvious point- but I’m all for protecting the little ones, and we all forgot common sense at times. My tip for this recipe is to stir it a lot! When you think it is perfect, stir some more! We kept stirring and stirring, and ours eventually became a very similar texture to the paints we used to use at school! We used HEAPS of colour- we got some great brights, but yes beware of staining. My little one has gone down for her afternoon nap a little more yellow than usual (sort of like a Simpsons character). Thanks for this post… I have it earmarked this task for a group activity for one of my Speech Pathology language development groups. I can imagine it will be a hit!

  47. says

    Oh one more thing…. old baby custard glass jars (the heinz branded ones in Australia) are a perfect size for paint pots…. and I feel all green for reusing someonthing :)

  48. Fleur says

    Just done this with my 6 month old, she loved it! It kept her attention for half an hour, which for her is an achievement! The recipe worked great for us, we did need to put in the microwave for a minute, but it came together brilliantly after that. Will be doing it again with big brother later – thanks for the idea!

  49. Anonymous says

    Great so when you give it to the kids they will eat it and love it. But when they go to school and they see paint and they eat it they r going to die. Teaching kids bad things. I don’t allow this happening.

    • says

      By the time children are school age they are able to understand about what they can and cannot eat. The whole point of this is that babies too young to understand they can’t eat paint can join in.

  50. says

    Just shared this idea: it is so clever!

    I wish all preschool teachers took the time to make such a child friendly paint and to raise awareness about the many chemicals that are present in many things that are labelled “non-toxic”.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  51. Momma Sandra says

    Just made this recipe for my kids and they are painting right now! I used cornstarch and it turned out slightly lumpy but it adds to the texture experience :) Mixing the cornstarch with the cold water until smooth before adding the hot water would fix this problem but I let my 3 year old mix up that part… I didn’t have much food coloring in my cupboard so I used things like coffee grounds, curry powder, paprika, dill, etc… to make the colors. Worked great and added some scent and extra texture :)

  52. Anonymous says

    I am going to make this for my daughter’s b-day party. Just thought that I would share what I read on FOOD.com:

    “Corn Flour: A powdery flour made of finely ground cornmeal, NOT to be confused with cornstarch. The exception is in British and Australian recipes where the term “cornflour” is used synonymously with the U.S. word cornstarch. Corn flour comes in yellow and white and is used for breading and in combination with other flours in baked goods. Corn flour is milled from the whole kernel, while cornstarch is obtained from the endosperm portion of the kernel. Substitutions: cornmeal pulverized in a food processor.”

    I’m sure any whole foods or health foods store would carry it.
    Thanks for the fun looking recipe!

  53. Anonymous says

    Tried this. Got soup. Transferred to pot, added more cornstarch and cooked. Ended up with lumpy soup. Very disappointing.

  54. says

    I tried mixing the cornstarch in cold water first, and then instead of adding boiling water, I just added 4 and a half cups of cold water, mixed it again and microwaved it. Super consistency!

  55. says

    I just made this for the first time today for our mums and babies (ages from 6 months to 3 years) and we LOVED it! Thank you so so much for this great recipe. I’m never buying store-made paint again! I loved the consistency of it. I only put in 3.5 cups of boiling water as it seemed enough. The colours turned out beautifully too. It was great that we could hang them up to dry without the paint dripping on to the floor because it’s nice and thick. Will DEFINITELY be making this on a regular basis!