Homemade Play Dough Recipe With Natural Dyes (Plus A Gluten-Free Option!)

Heather Dessinger

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Homemade Play Dough Recipe WIth Natural Dyes (And A Gluten-Free Option!)

Have Thing 1 and Thing 2 homemade play dough recipe with natural dyeinvaded your house, drawn mustaches on all your family portraits and released the goldfish into the commode? Oh no, that was your KIDS? It sounds to me like they could use a little distraction on this rainy/excessively sunny/busy/whatever day before they try to decoupage your drivers license. No fear, mama, I have the answer!

Homemade play dough is cheap, easy to make and oh-so-fun! Help your kids whip up a batch and then sneak away with a cup of tea. You may find them so preoccupied that you get to go to the bathroom by yourself!

How To Make Natural Dyes With Stuff From Your Fridge

Homemade Play Dough Recipe WIth Natural Dyes (And A Gluten-Free Option!)

There is A LOT of wiggle room for this part, so have fun and experiment! To get started making your own play dough dye, just put veggies/fruits in a pot of filtered water and bring to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria that might cause mold and then simmer for 10-30 minutes depending on how intense you want the color to be. For spices, just warm the water up and mix until dissolved. Here are some color ideas I grabbed from my post on naturally dyed Easter eggs.

how-to-dye-easter-eggs-naturally

Pink

I used: 2 cups water +1 cup shredded beets for the intense pink

3 cups water, 1 cup tightly packed purple cabbage simmered for 20 minutes for the light pink

Yellow/Orange

I used: 1 cup water + 3/4 tsp turmeric for the bright yellow

How To Make Homemade Play Dough

Homemade Play Dough Recipe WIth Natural Dyes (And A Gluten-Free Option!)

Basic Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup of naturally colored water (see above) OR 1 cup water and natural food coloring
  • Optional: a few drops of essential oil for fragrance.Lavender essential oil is a good choice that is safe for children.

Instructions:

  1. Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a medium-sized pot
  2. Add oil and colored water and stir until ingredients are well blended.
  3. Place pot on the stove over low/medium heat. Cook the dough – stirring often – until begins to pull away from the sides of the pot (about 3-5 minutes)
  4. Allow the dough to cool a little and then knead for a minute or so.
  5. Store in an airtight container

Gluten-Free Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Mix flour, cornstarch/arrowroot, salt and cream of tartar in a medium-sized pot
  2. Add oil and colored water and stir until ingredients are well blended.
  3. Place pot on the stove over low/medium heat. Cook the dough – stirring often – until begins to pull away from the sides of the pot (about 3-5 minutes)
  4. Allow the dough to cool a little and then knead for a minute or so.
  5. Store in an airtight container

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About HEATHER

Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com 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. 

Leave a Comment

102 thoughts on “Homemade Play Dough Recipe With Natural Dyes (Plus A Gluten-Free Option!)”

  1. What are the chances tapioca flour/starch would work in place of the cornstarch? I have not used it much but have a larger quantity of it than arrowroot and am not having corn in my home at this time.

    Reply
  2. My daughter is finally getting interested in play dough, which is great since she got some homemade stuff for Christmas! I can’t wait to try some of your colors when her stuff dries up….

    Reply
  3. I made pink (cranberry) and purple (blueberry) play dough this afternoon. The dyes were really easy to make and the texture was silky and pleasant. Best of all, I didn’t have to worry when my 9 month old tried to eat her big brother’s play dough. Thank you!

    Reply
  4. I have been wanting to find a recipe for natural play dough since my son put some playdough in his mouth while he was at his cousins! he is out of the putting in thr mouth stage but i guess they looked like food to him. Now i can supply himwith fun without worrying about much! I was so excited to see this!!! I can not wait to make it.

    Reply
  5. Thank you for sharing! I might be able to use this as a DIY kid’s activity for my daughter’s upcoming b-day party next month.

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  6. In my experimentation, tapioca starch gives it a “glacky” sticky consistency. It was fun to slap around a bit, but no way similar to playdough..

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  7. I LOVE to make playdough esp when it is colored with natural pigments. I wonder do you find that the tumeric stains? I have wanted to try it but haven’t b/c I am worried about sending kids home from preschool with yellowy hands… The colors you made are just lovely and the GF option is great, I must try it!

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  8. This has been keeping us entertained all morning! We made the g-free option. It gets pretty stuck to our hands and toys after a bit. Is that just the nature of homemade? Mom made it for us many, many moons ago, but I don’t remember if it got sticky after a while.

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    • Hi Hilary! It sounds like you might want to add a smidge more flour. Some batches absorb less moisture than others and that can make them a bit sticky.

      Reply
  9. I make 2 batches of this exact recipe every week and I’ve been using yucky regular food coloring and cringing but my kids love it and they seriously go through that much! SO this is a fantastic recipe for us. I do have a question. It looks like most of the colors make up 2 cups of colored water but the recipe is for 1 cup of water. I like to make 2 colors at a time. Could I freeze the leftover cup or so of water and use it next week? Thanks!

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  10. I think it is really dry! Followed the recipe exactly, any clue?? It was silky for two seconds, than turned dry and brittle on me :/. Thank you, and good luck pushing nr 3 out any day now :).

    Hugs!

    Reply
      • It’s ok, just added a bit more oil and they are fine again. Some citrus essential oils and they were perfect (except for the faint hint of ‘funny’ smell the cabbage colored one has, hehe)

        Reply
    • Cream of tartar adds acidity so it won’t spoil as quickly….salt helps in this way too. I would hesitate to leave it out if you want your playdough to “last”…however, maybe a splash of vinegar in place of some of the water might work.

      Reply
    • I have seen another recipe, that has the same flour amount, call for 3 tablespoons of lemon juice instead of cream of tartar. This comment may be a little late for you, but hopefully this helps someone. Lemon juice would smell much nicer than vinegar. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  11. SO AWESOME! Thank you!! I have been on the look out for recipes to make a couple batches for my DD for a Christmas gift, but didn’t find any recipes/food coloring advice I liked. This is perfect!!

    Reply
  12. Pooravi- I used vinegar as a substitute for the creme of tartar in our play dough. I made it a year ago and it’s still perfect.

    Reply
  13. Great post! Blueberries make a gorgeous, deep purple and cocoa powder can be used for brown (bonus, it smells yummy too!). I’ve also replaced the water with tea (4 tea bags to 1 cup of water), apple spice tea gives it a wonderful scent and a nice, light, pink color.

    Reply
    • One batch is about enough for one kid so I always make a double batch. As for how long it lasts, my first batch (I used the GF recipe) lasted almost a year and even then I tossed it because it started to smell a little funny to my pregnant nose, not because it had dried out.

      Reply
  14. Olga Shapiro Signer – If stored in an airtight jar it can last for 6+ months. I’m not exactly sure how much a batch makes in terms of cups. We usually make a couple of colors at a time and it is enough for my kiddos.

    Reply
  15. I ordered your DIY organic beauty recipe on Black Friday. I only got detox no beauty recipe. I felt like I got ripped off. I didn’t want detox body. I was more untreated in beauty recipe. Very dissapointed. False advertising..

    Reply
    • Hi Mandeep, can you clarify for me if the wrong ebook was delivered to you or if the book was not what you expected? I am emailing you now to see what I can do to resolve this.

      Reply
  16. I am making the gluten free dough for my boys, for Christmas. It is way too sticky!!! Help! It was a major splurge just to buy the ingredients πŸ™ Any advice?? I put it back on the stove maybe I didn’t cook it long enough? I also added more rice flour

    Reply
  17. I haven’t tried it, but I wonder if using fermented colored water would work to help it last for those looking for a cot sub. I have some fermented beets and theliliquid is very red. Idk its too precious for me to use in playdough!

    Reply
  18. Hi there! I wanted to say thank you for sharing your recipe with us! I have one question and didn’t see it asked above. I am wondering if there is a need to ‘clean’ the playdoh since children can transfer all kind of things into it, like bacteria, dirt, etc. I wasn’t sure if the salt continues to naturally kill the bacteria or do we need to some how clean it? I have a child with a low immune system, so I try to keep things as clean as I possibly can. Thank you for any positive answers you can give me.

    Reply
  19. Hi I made this but it turned out v soft. The store play doh is a lot harder and therefore easier to make into different shapes. The home made version tends to just collapse. Is that normal of did I do something wrong?
    Thanks

    Reply
  20. Hello,
    I tried making this yesterday. I made all of my colors first then mixed with the dry ingredients and cooked like instructed. my beets one worked, the tumeric one worked. However, green and blue were another story. I had never done the cabbage thing with baking soda, so doing science on my stove top was very exciting. I decided to make blue, purple and green from cabbage, since I had enough. However, everytime I mixed the liquid color with the dry ingredients, science would occur again and the color would dissapear, making the dough a fleshy color. It seemed to have a reaction with either the salt or cream of tartar. I have searched high and low for a recipe for blue, and apparently it is the hardest color to make naturally and synthetic. So, I was wondering since you did not have a picture of it, have you tried this yourself and did it work? am I doing something wrong? I know of a non cooking recipe that uses the same ingredients as yours, but you just mix boiling water with the dry ingredients and it turns to dough, so I was going to try with that recipe. I see that there are people selling natural dough on the internet that obviously have mastered blue, wish they would share how they do it. Any help from anyone is appreciated! Thanks!

    Reply
  21. In case no one else has said it, blackberries actually make more of a red rather than purple. Did that for valentine’s day.

    Reply
  22. Can you tell me what the purpose of the salt is in this recipe? I mistakenly forgot the salt in my first batch. My second batch I added it. My first batch is wonderful and the second batch with salt is very rubbery and sticks to my child’s fingers. I will probably not use the salt in the rest, but wondered what its purpose is.

    Thank you,

    Layne

    Reply
  23. Heather you are an inspiration to me as i am a brand new mother to my daughter ann who is 3 months old.
    Thank you for always giving me advice on what to do with my home and family. I cannot thank you enough.

    Reply
  24. i am looking for an alternative to expensive modeling clay. Do you think this would work? I would like to know the approximate yield for the basic recipe as i will probably need to double or triple it. If left out would it dry? Shrink? I am also concerned about odor long term; would adding baking soda help with this or would it alter the final result? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
  25. Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. Does it need to be stored in the fridge or can it just be placed in a really good air tight container?

    Thanks

    Reply
  26. Hey there I’m an after school program leader and we are planning to use this recipe for Christmas gifts for the kids! I’m just curious as to much play dough one batch makes as we need to make enough for 45 kids. How many batches would you suggest?

    Thank you so much!

    Reply
  27. Heather,
    I work with K-State Research and Extension — Shawnee County (Topeka, KS). I am creating a variety of videos we will post to our website to give parents ideas for involving children in cooking at home while we observe a Safe at Home mandate. One video uses features the book Jamberry, and I have a “story stretcher” making playdoh with fruit-flavored gelatin. Could I get your permission to copy your photo of the hand print in the play-doh to use on my story stretcher handout? I would cite the source as “Photo used courtesy of mommypotamus.com”
    Please let me know either way. Thank you for your consideration.

    Reply
  28. 5 stars
    Oh my god Heather thank you very much for the receipe the homemade playdough came beautifully… my 2 year old loved playing with it … much love. Wish I can send you pics!

    Reply