My Great Aunt Nelda’s play dough recipe has been sitting in our family recipe book waiting for the perfect opportunity for me to make it. Now that my son is a toddler, I am always searching for activities to expose him to new things. Sensory play is at the top of my list because there are so many benefits from encouraging children to use their five senses to explore the world around them. Modeling compound is incredible with its ability to be shaped, rolled, and pulled into a cat, bird, plane or anything you would like. I can handle the sight and sound of store bought play dough but touch, smell, and taste, no way. If I have peaked your curiosity, let me give you two good reasons why I make my own play dough.

    I know what the ingredients are in this play dough. When companies are not transparent about what their ingredients are, I have no other reaction but to be suspicious as to what they are trying to hide. The main modeling compound company (no names mentioned but you can figure it out) will not give a full list of their ingredients due to proprietary reasons. No secrets here with me. With this recipe you will know exactly what your child is playing with.
    The ingredients in this recipe are not harmful *. If you have a toddler you know that they like to put many things in their mouths and often eat them (gasp).     Although I do not recommend eating this play dough as a snack, because of its high salt content, it is completely made up of food ingredients. Do not be fooled by “non-toxic” labels on store bought dough and many other kid’s products for that matter. Non-toxic is
    the same as toxin free. For example, synthetic humectants, such as propylene glycol and polyethylene glycols (PEGs) are petroleum based compounds because they are by-products of petroleum refining,
    are categorized as non-toxic. Chemical food dyes, FD&C (food, drug and cosmetic), that create artificial colors have been FDA approved, but many have been banned in European countries such as Norway. I stay away from buying products that have food additives, so I do not recommend adding them to color your playdough. Using plant based colors are healthy alternative. They are fun to work with and it is exciting to see the soft, beautiful colors you can create.

Let me quickly reassure you that this is not a complicated project. In a matter of minutes, you can give your kiddos hours of sensory fun. I think you will be surprised at how smooth the texture is and how easy it is to work with. I also had a eight month shelf life from my last batch, oh yeah!

  • Unless you are allergic to wheat. In that case, scroll down for recipe alternatives.


You will need these ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • ¾ cup pink Himalayan salt (or table salt)
  • 4 teaspoons cream of tarter
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or other oil)


  • Green: 30 drops chlorophyll for 1 c dough
  • Yellow: 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Brighter Pink: 1-2 tablespoons beet juice
  • Purple: Butterfly pea tea (highlight other recipe)
  • Makes almost 3 cups of dough.


  1. In a pot add the flour, salt, and cream of tartar. Whisk well.
  2. Stir in the oil.
  3. Add water ½ a cup at a time.
  4. Add coloring
  5. Cook on medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pot.
  6. Place dough in a ball on top of a piece of parchment paper and let it cool about 30 minutes.
  7. Once cool, knead the dough until it is smooth.

Step by step:

Gather all of your ingredients. Make sure the coconut oil is in a liquid form.

To begin, find a medium sized pot and a good spatula.  Add to your pot the flour, salt and cream of tartar. You will want to whisk the dry ingredients together to make sure to break up any pieces so that your dough will be smooth as can be. Do this with a whisk or a fork. You could also sift your dry ingredients to get them super fine.

Next you want to slowly stir in the oil until you see small, pea-sized balls of dough form. You can also use your hands to rub the oil into the dry ingredients.

Add the water ½ a cup at a time. Make sure the water is completely combined into the flour before adding more.   If you want to add coloring, this is the best time to do it. By adding your colors now, you can add more then you could after the dough is already made. This gives you the chance to make colors brighter. If you are making green for example, add chlorophyll drops to the water and then continue with the recipe.

This is the time to start cooking your dough. Over a medium- low heat stir with a spatula for about 3 minutes until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pot. As you stir you can use the spatula to scrape the dough down, off of the sides of the pot.

Once the dough has become firmer and less wet like this

Pull the pot off of the heat and form into a ball on top of a piece of parchment paper.

Let it cool for about 30 minutes. When it is not too hot to handle, knead it to make it smooth. The parchment paper helps the dough not to stick to any surface while you are kneading it.

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