Natural Herbal Playdough

It was time for us to make some new playdough and I thought we would try an all natural recipe.
This is adapted from our super-easy no cook recipe and takes literally 5 minutes to make!


  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • a few drops of fresh lemon juice (this works in the same way as cream of tartar!)
  • fresh herbs eg rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, mint  (anything that smells nice and is not irritant!)

 Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl with a metal spoon. As soon as it is cool enough to touch, start kneading until it becomes soft, stretchy and pliable. Mix in the herbs. We used rosemary and lemon thyme from the garden.

 The dough looks and smells wonderful, mixing the scent of the lemon juice with that of the herbs.

We added some small twigs (from last year’s Christmas tree!) for pushing into the dough. It would also be lovely to introduce pebbles, grass, leaves, pine cone kernels and flower petals for adding a range of textures for exploration.

 Little herbal flatbreads anyone? Delicious!

 Pop thought so too and enjoyed licking her wooden knife. Thankfully it is completely harmless to taste!

We are storing this in a zip-loc bag (air squeezed out first) in the cupboard. Some people suggest storing it in the fridge, but that seems to make my playdough go sticky over time. It should last up to a year at room temperature!

Learning Links:

  • sensory: exploring and investigating materials/ textures using all the senses
  • maths: investigating capacity / weighing/ measuring/ counting (during the cooking process)
  • motor skills: fine motor development through: pinching/ squeezing/ pushing/ pincer grip/ poking/ squishing/ rolling/ rolling/ digging
  • creativity: making dough represent other objects/ sculptures/ role-play/ imaginative play
  • literacy: role-play language/ new vocabulary eg herb names
  • phse: working independently/ sustained involvement at play 


  1. says

    Grated lemon rind also works a treat, uncooked rice grains and popcorn kernels (unpopped of course!) – lavender on a friday for those rambunctious, tired combinations! Unless I get a special request I don’t colour my play dough any more. Many birds’ nests complete with outdoor sticks, leaves and grasses have been made.. FANTASTIC STUFF!! Great post, thankyou :)

  2. says

    This playdough is beautiful and definitely looks good enough to eat! I am tempted to pick some herbs and make playdough today.

  3. says

    Very happy to find our that lemon juice works just as well as cream of tartar since that spice is expensive. Can’t wait to have another use for my herbs in the garden.

  4. says

    Oooh what a lovely idea! I have done “herbal bags” for exploration before, but the children were rather uninterested! Reckon this is a much better option!

    Thanks for linking up to Kids Get Crafty :-)


  5. says

    What a great idea! I planted some fun mint plants this year… this would be a great use for them!! And, like everyone else, I’m so happy to know that the juice of half a lemon can be substituted for the cream of tartar.

  6. says

    Hi Anna,

    Me agn.I tried the no cook recipe.So all these play dough will not last right? Singapore’s weather is hot and humid. So when i kept the play dough in a container, it went mouldy within 2 days. May i know how to extend its shelf life and what do you do with the used playdough?How do you dispose them?Thanks for taking time to read and reply in advance!

  7. Becky says

    I’ve made a couple of batches of your no-cook playdough, and the first one lasted over a year kept in a bag in the fridge – good going! I want to try one with fresh herbs, but am concerned that it won’t last as well, because the herbs will go manky. Is this the case? Or does the salt in the dough preserve them or something?

  8. Becky says

    Well, we tried the herbal playdough, with lemon juice in place of cream of tartar, and it didn’t last at all. We played with it once, and on returning to it after a couple of days, it was a sticky mess. I tried re-working it with more flour, but that didn’t help. Does anyone have any idea why, or how to prevent it happening again? I really want this recipe to work!

    • says

      I’m sorry Becky! I’m really struggling to answer comments right now but am trying to dedicate more time to it. This one definitely doesn’t last as long. I will add that to the post. I think the cream of tartar is a preserving agent so whilst the lemon juice does work, it does make it stickier sooner. Just make it with herbs and the c of t maybe? still natural. If you used freeze dried herbs they should last I think.

  9. says

    Hi The Imagination Tree Blog – I love this idea. My daughter loved it too!! I featured your blog and recipe in my blog called ‘My Pinteresting Life’ – Thanks so much for your inspiration. My blog is currently under construction so I hope you will stick around and read it again soon. Would love to feature you in more posts!
    Thanks again, Amy (MPL blog)

  10. says

    I tried this today and it didn’t work out at all. It started as a sticky mess and never got better. I’m not sure what I did wrong. I didn’t have any table salt in the house so I used Sea Salt (coarse salt). Also, I added more like a tablespoon of lemon juice instead of ‘just a few drops’ (I forgot to read ahead to learn it was a keeping agent instead of something to make it smell nice). Could that be the cause? It smelled great but we just couldn’t use it so I’d like to try again if I can figure out the issue.