The Best Play Dough Recipe (So Far)

Play dough is big in our house. Playing with play dough is an easy keep-busy activity for toddlers that even the helpers and nannies enjoy and actively engage in so that they're not tempted to sneak off to watch TV just to keep the kids entertained. It's also pretty mess-free, unlike most other creative activities at our house. The best part—it's easy and inexpensive to whip up when supply runs out (or dries out), new colors are requested, or a big box of dough toys and tools arrive in the mail. Like today (thanks, Lola!).

We've tried a few different recipes that worked okay. I've experimented with a few mainly because I keep forgetting to save or pin them, but also because each one had its own flaws: too rough, too messy, too hard to knead, etc. Today's batch was the best by far in method and in outcome and, dare I say, I think this one's a keeper.

The recipe is from, with a few minor tweaks in method.


2 cups of flour
2 Tbsp. of oil (we used olive oil)
1/2 cup of salt
2 Tbsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cup boiling water
Food coloring

Makes: 4 fist-sized balls of dough. Next time, I'd double the recipe and make two batches (easier on the hands when mixing).


1) Whisk together the flour, salt, cream of tartar.
2) Add 2 tbsp. of oil and whisk or mix in.
3) Add dry mix into the pot of boiling water (turn off the heat) and mix well to form a dough. It will look a bit rough at first but will smooth out later.
4) Move the dough to a sheet of wax paper or a bowl and let sit until cool enough to handle. Divide the dough into however many colors you want to make. Roll into balls.
5) Make a little bowl in the middle of the ball and add the drops of food coloring in the middle. Knead the dough (pull, twist, pound, roll) until it's smooth, adding more food coloring in the middle until you get the color and smoothness you want.

Life Enthusiast Tip:
Working with food coloring can get messy and it can stain so rub a tiny bit of olive oil on your hands before you start kneading to keep (most of) the food coloring from staining.