Best Ever No-Cook Play Dough Recipe!

How to make the best ever, no-cook play dough recipe in just 4 minutes, that will lasts for 6 months! Best ever no-cook play dough recipe- The Imagination Tree

The other day I slightly modified our usual no-cook play dough recipe and it turned out to be the best ever! It’s softer, smoother and doesn’t start to dry out even if it’s played with all day. This is my new go-to recipe and I just had to share it!

I also realised that, even though I have about a million-and-one play dough recipes and ideas on this site, I don’t have a post simply dedicated to how to make the stuff! So here it is.

If you have never tried making your own play dough, this is the time to give it a try. It’s very different to store bought play dough, being much softer and lasting a whole lot longer.

The benefits of using play dough for young children are wonderful  and the play possibilities are endless!

You need:

  • 2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • Up to 1.5 cups boiling water (adding in increments until it feels just right)
  • food colouring (optional)
  • few drops glycerine (optional- adds more shine!)


  • Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl
  • Add food colouring TO the boiling water then into the dry ingredients (colour optional)
  • Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough
  • Add the glycerine (optional)
  • Allow it to cool down then take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone. * This is the most important part of the process, so keep at it until it’s the perfect consistency!*
  • (If it remains a little sticky then add a touch more flour until just right)


We use these Wilton Gel colours as they are much more vibrant and take only a tiny amount to colour the dough. We also use them in all our other sensory play activities to and they last for ever!

You can store this play dough in an air tight container for at least 6 months. If you live in a humid climate you might need to store it in the fridge and out of sunlight.

How here are over 50+ ways to change this basic mix to create an amazing range of different play dough flavours and fun activities to go with them! Literacy, maths, imaginative play and role play to name just a few.

Click through to find your favourites and pin them for future use.


And here are 10 beautiful, natural play dough recipes for you to try too!



Search the full Play Dough archives here!

Looking for Salt Dough that can be played with then hardened into models to keep? Here is our Rainbow Glitter Salt Dough recipe


Happy playing!


  1. Anonymous says

    Thank you for this website.I find it inspirational.
    For the lazy, could this be made in the food processor?

  2. Karen says

    I wil have to try this! I only tried your previous recipe today and have blue food colouring all over my hands as evidence…. It was great but did notice a little drying. Can’t wait to try another batch. :-)
    I keep copies of all sorts of activities I want to try with my kids. I have a 4.5 and 2 yr old girls who love doing all sorts of activities and I realised today looking for the play dough recipe I have collected so many from your blog… Thank you so much for sharing such great ideas

  3. says

    Have used a no-cook recipe much like this for my class of reception children, and it usually lasts fairly well for more than four weeks, through some quite boisterous and sustained use! Have never added glycerine – will try this sometime! Love all your variations, too. Can’t wait to try some of them after maternity leave!

  4. says

    Brilliant- I love making play dough, great idea to add glycerine for extra shine. We may have to wait a awhile before we try this one as we only made our last batch yesterday (my husband jokes, in our house we use more flour making playdough than we do baking!)

    • Anonymous says

      I’m going to try this recipe with my kids. I have a Kool-Aid playdough recipe that I use all the time because you never have to use extra flour to get the sticky out of it. It turns out perfect every time. It uses the Kool-Aid drink powder packets for the coloring and they give it a nice smell too!

  5. says

    This has always been my recipe of choice … To avoid a grainy texture I dissolve the salt in the boiling water first :)

  6. says

    Hello ! i was wondering, what is “cream of tartar” ? In France this is a cheese with garlic and herbs so… lol

  7. says

    How do you store it? Stored mine in a zip lock bag, opened the next day and it was really sticky, tried adding flower, and more flower… Didn’t help :(

    • says

      Just a suggestion re: sticky playdough – try adding a little more oil. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works!

  8. says

    That looks great! I’ve not yet made play-dough as my little boy is too young still! But he is gluten and wheat intolerant, so I was wondering if anyone had made it with gluten free flour at all? I don’t know if it needs the gluten to work or anything?

    • Anonymous says

      We made GF play dough today. 1/2c GF flour, 1/2 cornstarch, 1/3 c salt, 2tsp cream of tartar, 2 tsp veg oil, 1c water. It will be stickier so knead well w GF flour on the counter. You’ll need quite a bit more. Just keep kneading it in and it worlds great!

  9. Rosie says

    Made this today and it worked a treat! I used gel food colouring which was hard to mix in (I had to use my hands so they’re now bright red!) but gave the dough a brilliant colour.

    • Anonymous says

      Heat the gel color with the water to thoroughly dissolve it first, then it’ll incorporate with no problem.

    • says

      I had the same problem when I made it today. You can just keep adding flour until it stops being sticky. I ended up adding another cup and a half. Next time I will put just one cup of water in first and add more if it needs it.

  10. says

    I just made this for my 14-month-old. Thanks for the recipe–it worked perfectly! She’s going to be thrilled when she gets up from her nap.

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing! I just made this… And will add the colouring to the water next time as I spent ages mixing in the colour. Doesn’t help that I wanted BLACK play dough… I ended up using most of the bottle! The recipe worked perfectly, and it is SO soft! My boys have been playing with it for half an hour or so, we’ll see how well it stands up to their prodding!

  12. doughfamily says

    Thank you! I didn’t remember to start with just a little water, so had to add lots more flour as a I kneaded, but was able to get it to an absolutely perfectly beautiful consistency – nothing like the last recipe I tried years ago. We used turmeric for bright yellow (added lavender and sweet orange essential oils to mask that Turmeric Smell!) and chlorophyll for green. Lovely!!

  13. says

    thank you for all your fun ideas. i made this today and it was a hit. we hammered golf tees into it. i put in a rubbermade container but i was wondering where would be the best place to store it. fridge? cupboard?

  14. says

    I’m about to try this recipe – I had never heard of adding glycerine, but it sounds brilliant! I just stumbled over here while my 4-yo and I were looking at playdough pins on pinterest while waiting for our groceries to arrive.

  15. Megan says

    Just made this with my 2 year old. He was getting impatient so we didn’t let it cool for very long. I was kneading and kneading and it was a horrible, sticky mess, and just seemed to be getting stickier and stickier with more flour and more kneading. I walked away in frustration and came back to it about 10 mins later and the consistency was much better! So I think another very important factor is to let it cool enough before you start kneading!!

  16. says

    We just made a very light pink to start and Im listening to everyones advice and walking away while it cools. I can tell I am going to be doing this often, as it was not much work. I diluted the food coloring into a tad of hot water and added it in with the remaining water. Thank you! I hope to send some of this batch home with my sons therapist and the written recipe. Thank you for all your hard work sharing your incredibly creative ideas!

  17. says

    I’m planning to make this to use with my two-year-olds at work this week. I was curious, though. Is there a way to do it without the boiling water? I’d like to let them help make it on the spot, but we don’t really have a way to get boiling water in the classroom, so I was curious if there were other options. Thanks for sharing!

    • Linda Szklarski says

      I have been a preschool teacher for over 25 years now…and never used boiling water…always used tap water …cold or lukewarm at the warmest and it always turns out fine. I never wanted to worry about the kids handling water that was too hot or having to wait and let it cool. It really works fine…and yes, always add the food coloring into the water first. After having blue or green hands once or twice, I finally learned to add it to the water! :)

  18. says

    Wow, fabulous. That took 10 minutes and now my son is sitting next to me stuffing all of his trucks in the playdough to see what impression they make. It’s soft, warm, not oily, and really such a lovely texture. Thank you once again for sharing all your hard work!

  19. says

    How much does this make? I have 22 students. Is this enough for one kid? Would I have to make this 22 times for each student to have his/her own? Thanks!

    • Kena says

      I’d say that one batch per 4 or 5 students would probably be reasonable. I generally make only a quarter of the recipe with my daughter, and it’s quite enough to have fun with. So… about five or six times the basic recipe?

  20. says

    This was a fantastic recipe! Thank you so much! I added the coloring after kneading and should’ve read through the comments first that suggested to add the color to the water. It still turned out great, but my hands are a disaster! 😉 Oh, well. My son (almost 2) is going to love this! It made a very large batch – I had enough for 7 1/2 cup portions of ROYGBV and non-colored – and it didn’t cost me a penny to make! :)

  21. Anonymous says

    This is an amazing recipe! I had only made play dough once before and it was the kind that has to be baked….it was a disaster! This recipe is one that I will use forever! It literally only takes as long as it takes for the water to boil and it came out wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe =D

  22. says

    The recipe is fantastic, especially as we do not have a stove to cook on at our kindergarten,. The Willy Wonka colours are delicious! Thankyou!

  23. Madeleine says

    Thank you for the recipy!
    I added 3 Blueberry Bliss Tea bags to the boiling water, instead of food coloring – It came out a lovely pinky/purple and smells devine!

  24. says

    This is the best playdough we have ever used. Thank you so much for the recipe! I am weary of food coloring though, so I added beet juice instead. It came out nice and pink, so the kiddos used mini muffin tins to make pretend cupcakes and loved adding sprinkles :)

  25. says

    We made this today and it was great! It was especially nice since it was 96 degrees, so no stove made me happy lol. Thanks!

  26. Anonymous says

    Made it yesterday with my three-year old and an extra batch for a birthday party. Thanks for sharing!

  27. says

    Hello, thanks for sharing this recipe, I finally made it today… first thing the little one did was put a big lump in his mouth! Thank goodness it is edible :) I also didn’t use glycerine as it is hard to find here in Italy, and I used espresso cups for the measurements to make a smaller amount as the cream of tarter only comes in tiny 8g packets! but it worked a treat! Can’t wait to make more with different flavours and aromas.

  28. Anonymous says

    Thank you! I tried the cook method for my last batch and it was pretty labor intensive. I just tried this one in the kitchen aid with a dough hook and it is the best play dough ever, just like you said! No more stained hands or super tired arms from stirring in a pot. Thank you thank you thank you!

  29. says

    I always double my recipe and 2 cups of water vs 4 cups flour was plenty!! Love this!! I made green with thyme….red with cinnamon….blue with rain cent…..and black with pepper! Thank you for the inspiration!!

  30. Anonymous says

    Thank you for the recipe! I did half a batch and without the cream of tartar as you can’t find that in Finland where we live, but the dough turned out fine nonetheless, and it kept my two-year-old twins busy for a whole hour. We had the first snow here today but couldn’t go play outside because one of the kids is a bit sick, but I think this saved the morning for them. :)

  31. says

    I love this playdough. My son has been playing with the same batch for almost a month and it still feels great.

    I’m currently making six batches so that I can give out playdough as party favors this week.

  32. says

    I love this playdough! My first two batches were perfect. I made the cinnamon cookie dough and made a red dough with peppermint oil for “candy cane playdough”. I also added red glitter to it and will be giving batches out for Christmas! My third batch turned out super sticky and I can’t figure out why. I had to add a lot of flour and a bit of oil to fix it. The only thing i did differently was adding the spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves) to the flour before I added the water. Also the water may not have been quite boiling anymore as I turned the stove off and finished mixing before I used the water. I salvaged it though and all is good! I LOVE this recipe.

  33. Anonymous says

    I like to heat the water, salt, and food coloring together first in the microwave, then add the rest of the ingredients. I generally only have kosher salt on hand and this dissolves the salt thoroughly so the dough isn’t gritty. Love this recipe!

  34. Anonymous says

    How much food colouring did you put in to make it that red? I put in half a bottle and it still turned out pink! Made this yesterday with my two year old. He loved it! Was sitting there sticking coloured sticks in it for ages (he was putting candles on a birthday cake apparently). I discovered your webpage a few days to it and I’m addicted!

  35. says

    I love this recipe. I made it this morning for my half-daycare tots and they couldn’t get enough of it. Thank you! It worked from first try!
    As for the food coloring and red – try adding some orange dye to it (start with 1 drop), it should fix the pink-iness
    I divided what I got from this recipe into 6 parts and added 3-4 drops of dye to each piece. It gave nice rich colors.

  36. says

    I used to do this when my children were little. It is much better than the store bought. This looks like a much better recipe than my old one. It’s a good tool to teach numbers and letters. Roll into a thin “worm” and shape.

  37. Anonymous says

    I made one batch and colored it with orange Kool-aid. It turned out more peachy colored than orange but it smells kind of orangey! This makes such a big batch that I think next time I’ll be prepared to split it into fourths before I color it. Thanks so much for the great recipe!

  38. Anonymous says

    Thanks for sharing all your ideas. I have never try to make play dough, but do you know a substitute for the cream of tartar? we don’t have that in Spain, is it a very important ingredient or can I just take it out?
    You`re great!!

  39. says

    As a busy mom i’ve really wanted this recipe to work, but we’ve made it twice now with no success :/ I’ve tried adding more flour (LOTS more flour) but it’s still too gooey and sticky. Glad it’s been a success for most others though!

  40. says

    Excited to try this. I also checked out your mega-play dough comprehensive post. What I am wondering is what are the pros and cons of cooked vs raw vs salt. I’ve heard salt is a germ killing agent. Is the raw one popular just because it is quicker? Any intel greatly appreciated. signed the person who can’t believe she used intel when talking about arts materials for toddlers.

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  43. Anonymous says

    This was great. My girls are ten years apart and had not thought of doing this yet with youngest. Both girls had a ball. Peanut butter playdough next.

  44. Samantha says

    I added only 1 cup of water, kneaded for about 10 minutes and it was still very sticky. I ended up adding about a cup and a half of extra flour, little by little. Worked like a charm. My preschool class loved it!

  45. says

    Will this recipe for play dough bake hard if you need it to? My son needs some for a school project where he needs to make a model and then have it harden. I wasn’t sure if the oil would inhibit it from hardening.

  46. Anonymous says

    This is amazing! its so simple and came out perfect.. I didnt have cream of tarter so i left it out. it still came out feeling and molding the same way play dough does! thank you for sharing this!

  47. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This has become my go-to recipe for playdough. My daughter just loves it. We’ve made a whole variety of colors (no scents yet because she sometimes still eats it). This week, we left it white and are going to make all sorts of winter goodies: snowmen, sugar cookies, etc. Thanks again!

  48. Lavinia says

    Why has noone asked if you can bake this saltdough recipe??? Need to make saltdough rainbows with a class but we have preciously baked them hard after and varnished them so they last. Never used the glycerine recipe but would love to if anyone thinks this one is a bakeable one (long time on a cool oven obviously!) Any thoughts?

  49. Anonymous says

    I’ve been making playdough for my preschool class for years so loved trying this because of the boiling water. I use baby oil in place of the oil and it makes it smell good and also adds a bit of shine instead of adding the glycerine. Thanks for sharing!

  50. Anonymous says

    I am a teacher and find that food colouring gets pricey for the amount of things we colour. I started to use Tempera Paint to colour everything we create. I just add a bit less water as the paint is a bit watery anyway. This turned out great. The grade 1 class played with it all month. No dryness and always perfect. Today, I’m going to try to add sparkles after we mix it all together well.

  51. Anonymous says

    I use almost this same recipe but have always cooked it on the stove or crockpot (wonderful for places that don’t have kitchens.) So thanks next time I will just throw it all in the mixer with the dough hook. One thing that I do differently is use coconut oil, as it softens your hands and smells wonderful.

  52. says

    I just wanted to let you know that I absolutely love this play dough recipe. I make it all the time (mind you it lasts forever in the fridge) and always make some for birthday gifts. It is my favorite play dough recipe!!