Homemade Play Dough Recipe

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Today’s recipe for how to make homemade play dough came about because of a couple other old things in my life – some old crayons and an old recipe.

Yes, I still have my 30 year old recipe for how to make your own play dough.

Back before Pinterest . . .
Back before Google . . .
Back before the internet and cell phones. . .

. . . I was already making my own play dough for my kids! In fact when I told my daughter I was getting out the old recipe and trying it again she said, “oh gosh, I can still remember how that stuff smelled!”  Not sure if that’s a good memory or not. 🙂

How to make your own play dough - this recipe for homemade play dough uses crayons to color the mixture too!

I also had some old broken crayons around and remembered seeing something about how you could use those to color homemade play dough. So I decided to combine my old broken crayons with my old recipe and see if I could come up with some new homemade goodness!

How To Make Your Own Play Dough

To start off with, here’s my old recipe. I remember it made a large batch and I only made it in one color. We played with that one big lump of homemade aqua colored play dough many, many, many times back in the day.  My handwritten recipe card reads as follows:

Mix together 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 4 tsp cream of tartar, 2 Tbl vegetable oil, 1 tsp food coloring, and 2 cups water. Cook on medium/high heat for 3 minutes stirring constantly. It will be lumpy at first, then turn to a solid mass.  Let cool before handling. Store in airtight plastic container.

Vintage Homemade Play Dough Recipe

Now if you would like to make that recipe, I’m sure you will like it!  As mentioned above, I remember it lasted a long time and we got lots of fun play time use out of it. My updated recipe that follows is just a little twist on that original to make a smaller batch so that you can make different colors in smaller amounts, and uses the option of tinting the mixture with old pieces of coloring crayons.

The recipe that follows is actually 1/4 the size of the original. Also, rather than just dumping all the ingredients together right at the beginning, it heats the liquid ingredients first and then adds in the dry ingredients.

When I made my play dough I got out my old thrift store pot that I use when I don’t want to damage my good pots. I thought this might be smart because I was melting a waxy crayon. BUT, the pan washed up perfectly so that turned out to not be an issue after all. The process goes pretty fast too so it’s a good idea to have all your ingredients ready to go before you head over to the stove.

Make your own homemade play dough using simple ingredients

You only need one crayon for each little batch of this updated play dough (or enough little broken pieces to equal about one crayon). Even though I tried other batches with more crayons, I found I was quite happy with the color results when I just used one crayon too. After all my batches were done, I also wondered if different colors of crayons had slightly different effects on the final product. For instance my orange and pink dough were very soft, while the blue and green seemed to feel a little sturdier. If your finished product isn’t as soft as you want it to be once it’s cooled, simply massage in a little bit more water.

And of course you could also just color this mixture with food coloring like the original recipe did too. It’s all good.

How to make homemade play dough

So if you have some old crayons around, and you have some basic pantry items around too, you can make this homemade play dough in just a few minutes! It’s a fun and easy craft that gives kids lots of creative play time.

Here’s how to do it:

Homemade Play Dough

Save money and make your own play dough using pantry ingredients. You can add color to your play dough by using old crayons too!
Author: Beverly


  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1/4 cup Salt
  • 1 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 2/3 cup Warm Water
  • 2 tsp Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil
  • 1 Crayon – with paper wrapper removed


  • Mix together the flour, salt, and cream of tartar and set aside.
  • Place the oil and the unwrapped crayon in a small saucepan. Heat on the stove over medium heat until the crayon has melted. This will go pretty quickly.
  • Slowly add in the cup of warm water, stirring as you go. Continue to stir over the heat for about 30 seconds more to heat things together.
  • Then add in the flour mixture, a bit at a time, stirring as you go. You will probably be able to remove the pan from the heat for this step.  If you feel it is not coming together yet, put it back on the heat.
  • As you continue to stir, the ingredients will all come together into a ball. Remove from the pan and set your ball of play dough on a piece of wax paper. Let it cool slightly and then knead the ball a bit for a final mixing of the ingredients.
  • Store your homemade play dough in a container with a tight fitting lid.


You may be able to leave the cream of tartar out of the recipe, however my understanding is that it makes the mixture a little smoother.
You could also try tinting this recipe with about 1/4 tsp of food coloring instead of the crayon. 
This recipe is a smaller version of my old recipe. If you would like to make that larger original recipe it is: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 4 tsp cream of tartar, 2 Tbl vegetable oil, 1 tsp food coloring, and 2 cups of water.  Combine and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture turns into a more solid mass.

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