How to… make scented Playdough! A fail safe playdough recipe!

There are many recipes on the web for making playdough. I made three attempts, before I felt I got it right (I was making some for one of our “story + art” projects and had a very dissappointed Red Ted when the playdough didn’t come out right). So I decided, that I would write a post to show you “How to make playdough – a fail safe playdough recipe”! Thank you @nimblebee2 for your help!

When we first made playdough, I was a little worried he would want to eat it, as we do a lot of baking and he loves to lick the spoon. Surprisingly, he didn’t. Playdough is like a magic word! 

Homemade playdough tends to be softer and not “smell” as nice, but it is just as much fun.. and we add a sneaky bit of vanilla and cinnamon to make it that little bit lovelier!

And here is how:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • Vanilla essence or cinnamon
  • Food colouring, Red, Blue, Yellow

Very simple:

  1. Put all ingredients (minus colouring and vanilla/ cinnamon) in a pan (your child can help – the photo shows Red Ted on our 1st attempt, the remaining photos are the best recipe given above!).
  2. Stir over a medium (!) heat. Until smooth/ less sticky looking. If very sticky, cook a little longer. Probably a total of 10minutes? (that by the way is my finger doing a pinch test in the photo)!
  3. Let cool.
  4. Divide into three batches and add food colouring / smellies (one vanilla, one cinnamon, one plain)
  5. Store in fridge
  6. PS see Red Ted’s apron – check out the link below, but that is a NO SEW APRON! Woohoo!


 (My pitfalls: too little salt (misread the recipe) & then cooking it too hot too rapidly!)

 Some recipes state to put the colouring whilst cooking, this is great if you want to get a really nice strong colour, as I found if you add TOO much colour at the end the dough gets sticky again. But it does mean cooking 2 batches! Ditto if you want to add lots of vanilla – suggest you add DURING the cooking process and not afterwards like me!

Enjoy the playdough!

Previous How Tos:

Turn a T-shirt into a Halterneck (Guest Post)

Easy & effective Fish Pinata

Simple but effective paper frames (vlog) 

– How to make a Flower Pom Pom (guest post) – simply gorgeous – use as wedding decor! 

How to make a Paper Envelope  

How to make a No Sew Bib (out of an old shirt)  

How to make a Fabric Mâché Bowl (from old scraps of fabric!)  

How to make a Paper Flower (from newspapers)  (guest post)  


30 responses to this post.

  1. Interesting recipe. I used to make a no-cook playdough…just flour, salt and water. My kids loved it.


  2. LOL-think you needed to put the playdough in white bowls. I did a double take trying to figure out why u were mixing them with salad. LOL


  3. Posted by nimblebee2 on July 16, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    I’m really glad you found success with the recipe. I hadn’t thought of using smellies in the playdough, will def do that next time, thanks for the suggestion!


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on July 16, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      Yes, thank you again for the recipe 🙂 I think you need add a fair amount for the smellies to work!


  4. I’ve made my own for years but never thought to put smells in..fab!


  5. Thanks for article, I make my playdough with hot water no cooking and it works really well, also add in glitter which the kids love. If you put a flat slab in a flat plastic container, (for small hands the chinese takeaway containers are good) make hand impressions then pour in plaster of paris, wait til dry take impression out of container then the kids can paint their own hands and still play with the playdoh.


  6. Thanks for linking up to the Mad Skills party!


  7. humm… I never would have thought of adding smells! Great idea.

    Thanks for sharing!


  8. Handy recipe. I had to really suddenly make play dough last week (like you do with young demanding children) and I didn’t have any cream of tatar. Luckily it’s okay without it. Probably not perfect but the children didn’t mind. I added vanilla essence too. Love the glitter idea!


  9. I’ve wanted to make playdough for awhile. Thanks for finding the right recipe for the rest of us! I’d love it if you’d join my tuesday link party (tomorrow)!


  10. Oooh! Thanks for this recipe! I’ve made my own with peanut butter and powdered milk, but it’s REALLY hard to color. Will have to make this now! And I will definitely add the vanilla essence. Thanks! x


  11. My mom used to do this as a kid. I will have to try this when Laci gets a little older to give away as presents or something. I like that you can add scents to it too. Thanks for linkin to It’s Stinkin’ Cute Craft Thursday!


  12. Awesome idea!! I might give it a crack wth essential oils!



  13. So fun! Thank you so much for sharing this at Anything Related!


  14. Love the recipe – perhaps adding essential oils will be better as they have stronger aromas?


  15. Posted by Heather M on July 29, 2010 at 2:34 am

    I think I’m going to try with essential oils. I have Orange, Lavender, and Honey Almond! Yum Thanks for the recipe. Don’t have cream of tarter, but I’ll try it without.


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on July 29, 2010 at 6:27 am

      Sounds like a good idea. I would do this during the cooking process when you add the oil maybe? Would “worry” that if you add it at the end, it would make the dough all googey – but I guess you just have to give it go and experiement!


  16. Posted by vanitha on July 29, 2010 at 6:33 am

    I love this recipe.. I have done it with just plain flour, water and salt….. it is sometimes very sticky, and dries up fast….would u please let me know, what is cream of tartar. Will it dry up if i dont store it in the fridge.


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on July 29, 2010 at 7:16 am

      I am not sure what it is, but it is found in baking soda and bicarbonate of soda. Our is in powder form, so it last ages! But I do store the finished playdough in the fridge. Ours lasted weeks, the after 2-3 weeks (when most people bin it) salt crystals form, but once you have played with it again, the salt is “reabsorbed”.

      You can probably make the playdough without, I think it woud just be slightly less smooth…


  17. I have a problem with the smell of homemade playdoughs and I never thought of adding vanilla. I will remember to add it during the cooking process. Thank you very much. I will have a problem though if I show the play dough on that colored plate. My daughter will definitely think it’s an ultra cool dessert! lol!


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on July 29, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      LOL, I think we do have to take care on the “funky desert” front!! 🙂 Especially if it smells of Vanilla!!! You do have add a reasonable amount. Would alos be curious to try essential oils as some readers have suggested!! Have fun! Maggy


  18. Posted by Heather M on August 3, 2010 at 3:32 am

    Well my first batch didn’t work, but then I realized I forgot salt AND used bread flour. NOT SMART.
    My second batch worked Without cream of tartar it just doesn’t have elasticity. I only used vanilla though, no essential oils. But next time I will try!


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 3, 2010 at 6:15 am

      LOL I did that with my first batch – only added a teaspoon of salt for some random reason!!! Big stick mess!!!


  19. Posted by Heather M on August 7, 2010 at 4:53 am

    How long does this last?


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 7, 2010 at 9:13 am

      We have had our is in the fridge for a few weeks now. The salt crystals reform and then we just knead them back in.


  20. […] Posted September 1, 2010 by Red Ted Art in Kid's Craft, crafts, stART. Tagged: Barbapapa, failsafe playdough, make failsafe playdough, make playdough, playdough, red ted art, redtedart, Story + Art, story + art great start. Leave a Comment Let’s delve straight in, this week’s story + art project involves previous craftiness – our egg carton boats and scented playdough! […]


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