Salt Dough Ornament Recipe (VIDEO)

Heather Dessinger

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salt dough

Ready, set, bake! If you’re looking for a fun project to do with your kids for the holidays, THIS IS IT. The process is super easy – just mix up three ingredients, bake, and decorate.

After all the fun is over you have a sweet keepsake for your tree . . . and possibly a thoughtful homemade gift for the grandparents, too.

Now, if you’ve seen pictures of my home on Instagram you may have noticed I like bright colors. My Christmas tree is no exception, but these would be beautiful with more traditional colors, too.

Below you’ll find:

  • A video my daughter and I filmed last year while making our ornaments
  • Written step-by-step instructions and photos from a previous year
  • Answers to the most common questions I’ve received since first posting this tutorial years ago

Oh, and this is important: I highly recommend whipping up a batch of homemade egg nog or hot chocolate while you work – it makes the the whole experience even more fun.

How To Make Salt Dough Ornaments (VIDEO)

Although my family is gluten-free, we are able to touch wheat without problems. For that reason I often use this recipe instead of my gluten-free salt dough ornaments.

Although still super simple, the gluten-free version requires heating twice – once on the stovetop to thicken the dough and once in the oven to bake the ornaments. With the recipe in this article, you can skip thickening the dough and just bake the ornaments. Here’s an overview of the process.

Oh, and if you need more ideas for under the tree, I’ve put together 100+ gift ideas for everyone on your list.

"This salt dough ornament recipe is as easy as 1-2-3! Plus, after all the fun is over you have a sweet keepsake for your tree. And possibly a gift for the grandparents, too.

How To Make Salt Dough Ornaments (Step-By-Step Photo Instructions)

When the photos below were taken, my then six year-old was able to do everything on her own except the baking, and my four year-old only needed help a few times. When they were smaller I gave them a little more guidance but mostly let them figure things out on their own.

When a particular ornament didn’t turn out like they wanted – they didn’t love the color after all or the brush strokes look messy – I found that handing them the glitter usually resolved the issue. With that in mind, here’s the step-by-step process:

girl mixing flour in a bowl

Step 1: Preheat oven to 225F. Measure flour and salt, then add them to a medium mixing bowl and stir.

girl pouring water into the mixing bowl

Step 2: Add water and knead the dough.

Measure out your water and add it to the bowl, then mix until everything is well combined.

Place parchment paper on your work surface and sprinkle it with flour. Set the dough on the parchment paper and knead it until it’s soft and pliable. (Tip: If your dough is super sticky, add more flour.)

girl mixing water, flour, and salt in a mixing bowl

Step 3: Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.

Tip: Only roll the dough in one direction. Rolling back and forth can  create air pockets that cause the ornaments to puff up while baking.

boy rolling out dough with a rolling pin

Step 4: Cut out ornaments using cookie cutters.

cutting shapes with cookie cutters

Step 5: Peel away the dough and lift the cutout.

dough cut into the shape of a snowflake

Step 6: Place the cutout on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

As you can see in the photo, I didn’t do that. However, some readers have reported their ornaments stuck to the cookie sheet, so now I recommend lining with parchment paper just in case.

raw ornaments on a baking sheet

Step 7: Create a hole for the twine that will hang the ornament.

Using a straw, create a hole for the twine that will hang the ornament. Place the ornaments in the oven and bake for two to three  hours, or until completely dry. Flip once while baking, then remove the ornaments from the oven and allow to cool completely.

poking holes in the ornaments for string

Step 9: Bake

Place the ornaments in the oven and bake for two to three  hours, or until completely dry. Flip once while baking, then remove the ornaments from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Step 8: When the ornaments have cooled, decorate them with paints and/or glitter if desired.

painting ornaments

Optional step: Seal ornaments with three to four thin coats of non-toxic acrylic varnish after the decorative paint has fully dried.

If you want your ornaments to last for years and years, make sure to coat the entire surface with acrylic varnish to prevent moisture from getting in.

easy salt dough ornament recipe
finished ornaments all painted and glittered.

Step 9; Snap a selfie, because while you **may** have managed to prevent your preschooler from painting the kitchen table, you did not prevent him from painting you.

Heather with paint on her face
Heather's selfie with paint on her face

Frequently Asked Questions

How many ornaments does this make?

It depends on the size of the cookie cutters. Personally, I’ve found that one batch makes enough for all three of my kids to decorate to their hearts content.

Why did my ornament puff up while baking?

I’ve never experienced this issue but a few of you have mentioned it over the years. Fortunately, thanks to a comment from Carrie, I think we’ve solved the issue. According to her experience rolling dough for gingerbread houses, it’s important to only roll the dough in one direction because rolling back and forth can create large, flat air pockets that cause the dough to puff up.

Can I use this recipe to make a handprint / pawprint? 

I used it to make a handprint with my littlest was a baby and it worked beautifully, but some people have reported that their handprints lost some of their shape while baking. This may be because handprints are thicker and potentially more prone to air pockets. My suggestion would be to bake at a lower temperature (170F – 190F) for a longer period of time to help them cure more slowly and hopefully keep their shape.

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4.20 from 15 votes

Salt Dough Ornament Recipe

This salt dough ornament recipe is as easy as 1-2-3! Plus, after all the fun is over you have a sweet keepsake for your tree.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Decorating Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Author Heather Dessinger


  • Cookie sheet (This stainless steel one is an investment but is my go-to for all baking. Unlike other ones I've had that have become warped or corroded, it's still like new years after I bought it)
  • Drinking straw
  • Holiday shaped cookie cutters
  • Paintbrush


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (self-rising flour should not be used as it will cause the ornaments to bubble up while baking)
  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup water (or more as needed)
  • acrylic paints
  • glitter (optional)
  • twine (for hanging the ornaments)
  • non-toxic acrylic varnish for sealing the ornaments (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 225F. Add the flour and salt to a medium mixing bowl and stir.
  • Add the water to the mixing bowl and stir until everything is well-combined.
  • Place a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface and sprinkle it with flour. Knead the dough until it’s soft and pliable. If your dough is super sticky, add more flour.
  • Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Only roll the dough in one direction, because rolling back and forth can  create air pockets that cause the ornaments to puff up while baking.
  • Cut out ornaments using cookie cutters. Peel away the dough and lift the cutout. Place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Using a straw, create a hole for the twine that will hang the ornament. Place the ornaments in the oven and bake for two to three  hours, or until completely dry. Flip once while baking, then remove the ornaments from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  • When the ornaments have cooled, decorate them with paints and/or glitter if desired. If you want your ornaments to last for years and years, seal them with three to four thin coats of non-toxic acrylic varnish after the decorative paint has fully dried. Make sure to coat the entire surface to prevent moisture from getting in.


Looking for more fun projects?

Yarn Ball Ornaments Made Easy

We made these yarn ball ornaments a few years ago. They’re one of our favorites to hang on the tree!

Play dough recipe

This fun, easy play dough recipe uses stuff you probably already have in your fridge/pantry, and there’s a gluten-free option at the bottom for those who need it.

How To Make Moon Sand

It’s squishy yet crumbly. You can mold with it or smash it to smithereens. What is it? MOON SAND! If you haven’t heard of it, here’s what you need to know: Kids love it, and you can make it in under 10 minutes from stuff you already have in your pantry. Here’s how.

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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191 thoughts on “Salt Dough Ornament Recipe (VIDEO)”

  1. I love this! I have been saying I want to do this project with the kids this winter but just haven’t gotten around to it. I think we will do them tomorrow during the snow storm coming our way.

  2. Does anyone know a grain free dough recipe like this?? My kids are allergic to grains (including rice) so they can’t even touch it to make dough 🙁

    • 5 stars
      I’m wondering if this is waterproof.

      I’d like to create outdoor ornaments & would love tips for this.

      Thank you for your help in advance.
      This is super wonderful!!

    • It will be very cute. The hand print will shrink and distort a little in the oven. It may or may not be enough to notice. My friend warned me, so I purchased a special no distort medium from pottery barn kids. I am sure they sell something like that at craft stores. It will be a cute ornament, but it will not stay the exact size of her hand.

    • I like your idea with your daughter’s hand print. My kids are all adults now, but we have a 4 month old puppy and I am going to use her paw print and make an ornament for her “daddy” to maybe hang in the truck.

  3. Does this have to be wheat flour? I don’t have any in the house anymore but I have plenty of others. Though, it’s cheap enough that I can probably pick up a small sack.

  4. Jillian Bourke – Ohhh, I we did that but I forgot to include it in the post! I need to take a pic and update – thanks for the reminder!

  5. Could this be done gluten free? I know we aren’t going to eat them, but I can’t be anywhere near gluten without getting very sick. Thanks!

  6. Does the handprint bake up well? We just had our 3rd two days ago, and I would love to do handprints of all 3 kids. 🙂

  7. Kristin Fisher Lawler – Yes! I will try to post a pic soon, but I used a large coffee mug to create a circle and it turned out pretty good I think.

  8. I followed a “new&easy” recipe and they burnt up and the house was full of smoke for hours and we need a new oven the stench will not go away my mom told me just use the directions you have don’t try those that won’t work and she was right always listen to your mother…

  9. Can you please add a “pin it” button to your posts? I love to pin your stuff, but it’s so inconvenient to have to copy the link, open pinterest to pin it. Thanks for the great posts, though 🙂

  10. Sorry it’s sideways but here are the ones we made today. We used stamps and stamp ink to color them. Except the 2 solid colored we used water colors

  11. When I was a child my dad used a recipe very similar, we did not add any food coloring and instead of individually creating hanging ornaments individually we created a ornament wreath layering each of the cutouts. The entire reath was done in white I believe he is still at and very high gloss . To top it off we used a red bow at the top . It was so simple clean and so very beautiful . I think it is a great option for older children and families to do together, and a great great option.

  12. We use to make these a lot when I was a kid…I think u can still find a few of these ornaments lying around my parents house somewhere

  13. Bake for 2 hours? I’ve been reading a few other salt dough recipes and they have the same ingredients but 20 minute bake time? Big difference:)

  14. It is SOOOO funny you posted this! I was plaaning on looking into this for my kiddos tomorrow! Perfect timing I would say!!

  15. Thank you for posting this. I made them this evening and I am looking forward to putting the finishing touches on them with my 7yr old and her friends..
    thanks. Happy holidays

  16. Melissa Yancer – If you coat them with a clear varnish (from the hardware store) to prevent moisture from affecting them they will last for years and years. More details in the post.

  17. I’ve done these several times and I usually heat the oven to 200° and I bake them for 3 hrs. I use food coloring as paint and old shimmer powder from an old make up kit and I put it on before baking.

  18. This is such a great idea for the Holiday season. If you use a stand mixer to mix the dough, the time spend making the dough will be cut down so you can spend more time decorating and end up making more ornaments. I will definitely have to try doing this with my niece and nephew before Christmas! Thanks for the recipe.

  19. We have handprints in the oven right now! Did you flip the handprint ones that you did as well? Wasn’t sure if they’d lose their impression?

  20. I am trying these for the first time to do with my 2 1/2 year old. (Fingers crossed!!!) How can you be sure they are completely dry? I used the same snowflake cutter that was shown in the picture and the middles are raised (puffed out) a bit and a slightly different (darker) color than the arms of the snowflake. They have been in the oven for 3 hours. I cant imagine that they aren’t dry but I’m afraid I will ruin them if they aren’t dry and we decorate them.

  21. I did hand prints in my dough. My dough bubbled in some of the finger prints. Any suggestions? I also did stars and they all puffed up in the center.

  22. My boys had a great time making these and it was so easy. I’m only having one little problem, they’re not drying out very well. I have my oven set to 200 and they’ve been baking for 3 hours. I flipped them after an hour because the top seemed done, but since then the back hasn’t changed much. The dough still has a slight give to it after another 2 hours. Almost a rubbery feeling. The only thing I can think of was that I ran out of regular salt so I mixed in kosher salt to make up the difference. Any thoughts?

    • I made mine and put it in the fridge for when the kids woke up (maybe 2-3 hours) and it bubbled when i baked them. not sure what else to do

  23. How does one get the dough out with the smooth edges? mine seem to still to the cutter and take on a shape of their own? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

  24. Trying these right now for my children to decorate as the oldest wants all decorations to be hand made this year. I rolled them thin and it was a great dough to work with. Will it be ok to spray with protection after the holidays? Or does it have to be done the same day?

  25. Hello! Getting ready to make this with my counseling kids at school- based on the ingredients that you have listed, how many ornaments can you make out this? Thanks!

  26. My wife and I baked 120 ornaments today for the kids at church to decorate. For those having long bake times, keep in mind if you are baking a lot at once, it’ll greatly increase the time they need to be in the oven.

  27. Just did this n they didn’t come out as I expected they bubbled up n turned brown n stuck to the pans 🙁 very disappointing was making them for my husband ( used baby’s feet) its our first child together just wanted to create a memory!!

    • Hi Valerie, I’m so sorry they didn’t turn out as you expected. Is it possible that your flour was self-rising? From what I understand, that’s usually the cause of bubbling ornaments.

  28. Hello,
    Thanks for such a great way:)
    I have an urgent inquiry pleaseeeee. English is my second language and I didn’t understand what you meant by self rising flour, as it is really bubble up from me every time?? I need to make flat shapes.
    Thanks for your prompt reply
    have a nice day

  29. Just put ours in the oven and it seems like they may be starting to crack. Is this because I didn’t knead the dough long enough? I also used fine sea salt, so maybe that’s the issue.

    • Oven temps vary so set it lower next time. That might help. I usually have it set at around 50 and leave for as long as it takes.I’ve made a few ornaments including a Santa and a sheep. A garlic crusher is a great tool for beards, hair, fleece etc.

  30. Made these with my 5 year old. I like how nice and pliable the dough was. I baked them at 200 degrees for about 2 hours (250 was too hot–they started to get too brown). I had two problems with these: One, they stuck to my cookie sheet, and two, some of them got big air pockets underneath, and their undersides are rough and raised. Any suggestions? I would like to try this again with better results. Thanks!

  31. We used to do these over 40 years ago……if u would rather just put on cookie sheet or cooling rack on waxed paper and wait a week for them to dry on their own. my oven has warm feature I use and keep checking for dryness…..usually a couple hours

  32. i made a handprint had it in for 3 hours took it out let it cool off then i painted it, after painting it the thing seems not hard now will it be ok to bake it again with the paint on it to see if it hardens up

    • They have to be completly dry before painting or sealing. Any moisture still indide will be trapped, and will have no way to escape.

  33. I have tried to do foot prints and every time input them in the oven they rise so I can’t see the footprint I use plain flour as well please could u help me fix this thank you

    • Make sure your oven is not too hot. Over 200 and they can bubble. Also, if they do start to bubble, a prick with a pin will release the trapped air inside. Justvprick and gently press it back down. Start the baking with your good side down. The salt rises to the top, so it looks whiter. Flip half way thru. Hope this helps, good luck!

  34. I tried this project and my ornaments look very white in one side and then the other side looks brown. They came out soft in the middle after 3 hours at 200F. I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions?

  35. It is rainy and the temperature is low here. I noticed yesterday that my finished salt dough crafts have become moist and soft so I baked them again and it worked, they hardened again. But when I wake up this morning, and it’s still cold, my crafts become moist and very soft (again)! 🙁 Is it because I didn’t put any finishing paints? Please check out my instagram to see the photos of my work, ”mom.preloved”. Please help me. Thank you!

  36. I made this dough using 2 cups flour 1 cup salt then I added water….that’s where I goof up. I added to much water. How can I fix this without messing up more. Can I add flour to it? Or salt? Will it still bake right?

  37. Hi Heather,

    I just found your salt dough ornament recipe on Pinterest and have to tell you your blog with your kiddos included is so cute! I am going to use your recipe to make Michigan shaped ornaments to decorate a tree my work is sponsoring at an event called Circle of Trees. I can’t wait to start making and decorating the ornaments!

    Thanks for sharing your recipe.
    Karlee Miller
    Creative Administrator
    Michigan Insurance Group

  38. A friend of mine have me this recipe last year and had a blast with both my grandsons. This is a great ideal. But what do I seal it with to put outside in my flour garden ?

  39. Hi Heather, I’m interested in the sealer (clear finish) you linked to for sealing the ornaments, but I see that some reviewers mention a strong odor. Can you tell me if you found the product to have a noticeable odor?

  40. I make gingerbread houses and believe I have a few tips for your readers.
    Use plain flour only. Read the label, it should not read self-rising or contain baking powder or soda in the ingredients.
    Roll dough out on a piece of parchment that will fit on your cookie sheet. Use pencils or wooden dowels on each side as you roll so that dough is uniform thickness. Only roll the dough in ONE direction. Rolling back and forth can create the large flat air pockets.
    Press cookie cutters into the dough. Dip them into salt or flour if dough comes back up with cutter. Don’t move the cookie shapes. Instead, lift away the excess dough.
    Slide the parchment paper onto cookie sheet and place in oven.
    Hope you don’t mind me sharing.
    Merry Christmas!

  41. we made these over 40 yrs ago. They are now cracking, crumbling, and flaking. i have glued them together several times. Is there something i can do to preserve them ? what is the best adhesive to bond the broken pieces ?

  42. Hi there, Heather!! The varnish you recommend in this recipe is out of stock…is there another one that you recommend that’s available on Prime?! 🙂

  43. We made your recipe for salt dough ornaments this morning – thanks!! Unfortunately I totally forgot the ribbon holes, so we’ll have to just tie ribbon around them. But they look like they’re going to come out well anyway! Thanks for posting!

  44. I made these last night with my puppy and had her paw print pushed into the salt dough and it turned out soooo dang adorable. I even zapped it in the microwave at the end to make the drying time quicker!

  45. Thanks for this simple recipe! We referenced your blog on ours! Feel free to stop in and check out how ours turned out :). Happy Holidays!

  46. The last week of April I made handprint ornaments with my daycare kids using this recipe for Mother’s Day gifts. Today I attempted to apply the varnish and the varnish itself immediately separated, clumped and became crumbly. So After I brushed all that off the handprint ornament I attempted to apply spray varnish. I thought this was going to work until the varnish began to peel, like glue, over the whole piece. The only thing different that I did was I applied the acrylic paint in the dough instead of painting the item later. Do you have any suggestions or tips I can try to remedy my disaster?

  47. 5 stars
    This brings back some wonderful memories of my son & I making these for our tree and for Christmas gifts – about FORTY years ago (he’s 49 now). I still have one set and hang them on my tree every year.

  48. I realize the article is a few years old, and it’s wonderful that you’re teaching your children, however, you’re teaching them incorrect measuring techniques. The glass measuring cup is for liquid volume, the metal/plastic measuring cups are for dry ingredients.