play doh recipe

Homemade Play Dough Recipe


Author: Lisa Childs

Comments: 6

Instant Pot Recipes

Published Date: March 8, 2019

Updated Date: November 16, 2022

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Homemade Play Dough is fun, cheap, easy, and even therapeutic! This simple recipe (only 2 ingredients!) is pillowy soft and perfect for little hands. My kids call this toddler sensory activity “Ice Cream Dough” because it’s sweet-smelling and soft.

Graphic of Homemade Play Dough Recipe with a picture of hair conditioner, cornstarch, and balls of play dough

I’m usually only sharing my favorite recipes in the Instant Pot, air fryer, or some yummy kid-approved recipes!

Today, I’m sharing with you one of our favorite sensory activities that only requires two ingredients!

Ice Cream Play Dough Recipe

My friend worked at a childcare center and said they called this “Ice Cream Dough”! So now we do as well. It’s such a fun name for this super soft, pliable concoction!

NOTE: This play dough is NOT safe to consume.

top view of glass bowl filled with cornstarch and green conditioner in front of corn starch and conditioner bottles

HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH NO COOK

There are many different play dough recipes out there! Some you have to cook, while others require random ingredients. 

I discovered this play dough recipe about two years ago. We LOVE it because it’s cheap, easy, and no cook!

Simply mix together two basic ingredients for the best play dough for toddlers.

PLAY DOUGH RECIPE WITHOUT CREAM OF TARTAR

Many diy playdough recipes call for cream of tartar. Cream of tartar is a dry, powdery, acidic byproduct of fermenting grapes into wine. In a homemade play dough recipe that requires cooking, it helps the final product become stretchy and elastic.

However, I find that most people don’t always have cream of tartar on hand in the kitchen. This is inconvenient when you’re looking for a quick boredom buster. 

If you’re looking for an easy homemade play dough recipe without cream of tartar, you’re in the right spot. My recipe uses two basic ingredients that almost everyone has on hand!

Ingredients for INEXPENSIVE Play Dough

All you need for this play dough recipe is cornstarch and cheap conditioner. Emphasis on the CHEAP. Cheap conditioner is slightly more watered down. The extra liquid helps create the right texture you’re looking for.

ball of play dough on counter top surrounded by corn starch

I’ve tried it with my (not even expensive, but decent) conditioner. It wasn’t even close to the same. Just trust me on this one.

Just “spring” for the cheap stuff, and you can thank me later 😉  I get mine at the grocery store for seventy-nine cents! Don’t forget to pick a yummy scent, because that’s what the dough will smell like.

Best Conditioner for Play Dough Recipe

Our favorite is the Strawberries and Cream variety. We use this exact conditioner, though it’s not as cheap on Amazon. I recommend you find it at the dollar, grocery, or drug store.

playdough made into various shapes: pretzel, flower, ball in a blue silicone bowl and a circle with lines cut inside and a plastic knife placed on top

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH

  • In a medium bowl, combine conditioner with 3/4 cup cornstarch. You will get a bit of a pasty consistency.
  • Sprinkle half of the remaining 1/4 cup cornstarch onto a clean surface such as a cutting board, and dump the dough onto it. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch on top, and lightly knead until no longer sticky and it feels pliable and soft. It should not stick to your fingers at all when ready. Add additional cornstarch or conditioner as needed.
  • When the play dough gets dry and crumbly, return it all back to the bowl and add more conditioner into the cornstarch and mix until you get the desired consistency, about 1 tablespoon at a time. 
  • DO NOT EAT. This is not safe to consume. 

This diy play dough for toddlers keeps a long time in a tupperware with a lid. Just make sure to add a bit more conditioner when you open it up!

This dough is perfect for babies and for kids. Just make sure they don't eat it! It smells soo good, they might be tempted!

DRY PLAY DOUGH

WHY IS MY HOMEMADE PLAY DOUGH CRUMBLY?

Play dough usually starts to crumble if it’s dry. If your play dough gets a little dry and crumbly, just squirt some more conditioner into it. It’ll be just like new! 

My kids love using their cookie cutters and play-knives to cut it up. I like rolling it and squeezing it…it’s like a stress ball! This activity is fun for the whole family.

These little hands love this fun and easy toddler activity! Great sensory activity and creative activity for kids!

STICKY PLAY DOUGH

WHY IS MY HOMEMADE PLAY DOUGH STICKY?

The texture of this playdough should be smooth and soft. If you find that your play dough is too sticky, simply knead it with a little extra cornstarch until you reach the desired consistency.

HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE PLAY DOUGH

I store my diy play dough in a tupperware with a lid. Play dough dries out when it’s exposed to air for too long, so make sure your lid is tight! It would also store well in a sealable storage bag (like Ziploc). 

If it has dried out at all in storage, just add a little more conditioner when you open it up!

How long does homemade playdough last? For me, it typically lasts about 2 days when stored in an airtight container. It may be a little dry, so I add a little extra conditioner and knead it in.

various shapes of play-dough creations on a baking sheet sprinkled with corn starch in front of conditioner and corn starch bottles

COLORFUL DIY PLAY DOUGH FOR TODDLERS

This play dough recipe does not include any added coloring. The homemade play dough takes on the shade of the conditioner, creating a soft, subtle, and beautiful color. 

If you’d like different colors, simply use different flavors of shampoo! It won’t be super vibrant, rather a nice pastel shade.

I’ve had readers ask if they could add food coloring to this recipe. I wouldn’t recommend it because it would likely dye your hands and surfaces.

I love this recipe because, without the added dyes, it cleans up easily!

Cheap Conditioner and Cornstarch are all you need to make your own play dough recipe

HOW TO GET PLAY DOUGH OUT OF CLOTHES

Play dough is a wonderful sensory activity for toddlers and kids. But I understand from experience that toddlers can sometimes be unpredictable. 

I know many people avoid play dough completely because they don’t want a mess on clothes, or even worse, carpet and furniture.

This recipe is actually great for cleanup! It uses basic, water soluble ingredients. 

Don’t worry if you, or your littles, get this homemade play dough on clothes. Without added oils and coloring, it doesn’t typically stain. Simply wash it out with water!

HOW TO GET PLAY DOUGH OUT OF CARPET

My homemade play dough recipe is unique because it doesn’t have added oils and coloring. Thus, it doesn’t typically stain. 

I recommend playing with playdough in the kitchen or dining room with hard, easy-to-wipe surfaces.

But sometimes accidents happen, especially with toddlers and kids. If this homemade play dough ends up on your carpet or other soft furnishings, first let it dry. Then scrape off as much as you can and vacuum. Finally, spot treat any remaining areas with a damp rag. 

Graphic of Easy, No-Cook Play Dough Recipe with two pictures of a bowl of play dough being mixed and formed dough balls
Ice cream play dough

Homemade Play Dough

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Homemade Play Dough is fun, cheap, easy, and even therapeutic! This simple recipe (only 2 ingredients!) is pillowy soft and perfect for little hands.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornstarch, divided
  • 1/2 cup cheap conditioner

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine conditioner with 3/4 cup cornstarch. You will get a bit of a pasty consistency.
  2. Sprinkle half of the remaining 1/4 cup cornstarch onto a clean surface such as a cutting board, and dump the dough onto it. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch on top, and lightly knead until no longer sticky and it feels pliable and soft. It should not stick to your fingers at all when ready. Add additional cornstarch or conditioner as needed.
  3. When the play dough gets dry and crumbly, return it all back to the bowl and add more conditioner into the cornstarch and mix until you get the desired consistency, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Store in a container with tight-fitting lid and add additional conditioner to regain consistency.
  4. DO NOT EAT. This is not safe to consume.

Notes

This recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc.

If the play dough is too crumbly or dry, add additional conditioner and knead together.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

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Leave a Reply

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      Author
    1. Post
      Author

      Hmm.. I’ve never added food coloring, but I wouldn’t advise it since it will probably dye your hands. instead, use a color of conditioner that you want. It won’t be super dark, but it will be the right color. let me know if you try using food coloring!

  1. I did not care for this playdough. It became crumbly and dry after only about 10 minutes of my daughter playing with it and ended up with a huge mess! Won’t be making again!!

    1. Post
      Author

      If it’s dry, you should add a bit more conditioner! Also, it’ll definitely be dryer if you don’t use the super cheap conditioner that has lots of water in it. I find that my kids can play with it for at least an hour without it drying out so I hope you’ll give it another chance!

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Hi! I'm Lisa!


I founded Tried, Tested, and True in 2019 to help moms like me develop confidence and joy in the kitchen.

Since then, I have taught millions of home cooks around the world through our tried and true recipes and Youtube tutorials.

In 2021, I wrote my first book called, “I Love My Instant Pot: Cooking for One”!