Best Homemade Play Dough Recipe Without Cream of Tartar

This soft and squishy play dough recipe without cream of tartar is quick-to-make, endlessly interesting, and inexpensive. It's a wonderfully relaxing activity for both children and adults alike. With only a few household ingredients, you can mix up a batch in no time and enjoy for hours.
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A stack of colorful balls of homemade play dough.
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Squishy, squashy, soft, and stress-relieving! This play dough recipe without cream of tartar has it all. A batch of this silky smooth dough is a joy for both children and adults. You’ll find it impossible to stop molding, mushing, and you may find you’re mesmerized for hours. (Such a great tension-releasing tool or before-bed relaxation!)

If you’ve never tried making your own, this is the time. Find your favorite friends, children, and fun-loving adults for a fabulous play dough party! Ask everyone to bring their own sensory supplies (see below for suggestions) and beloved scents to boost up their finished blob.

To start, collect a small list of ingredients from the kitchen and spread out the supplies over a large counter space or kitchen area. A waterproof or worn out table cloth works perfectly. Select a few spoons, several bowls, and a bunch of reusable towels or rags.

If you’re ready, let’s get started!

Homemade playdough without cream of tartar made into fruit shapes.

Making Your Own Playdough

The main ingredients for playdough are seriously simple—flour, salt, and water. Woo! This recipe also includes a bit of oil and cornstarch to create the softest and smoothest texture. When making your own dough, you can adjust the ingredients any way you wish…add a little more or less oil, cornstarch, fragrance, or color. It’s all up to you. That’s the beauty of this vegan play dough recipe.

How to Make Playdough Soft

In order to make your play dough recipe without cream of tartar soft, the key is to knead, knead, knead. Then, knead again! This is why it’s such a perfect recipe for kids. They can go on working the dough forever and having fun.

The best way to keep your DIY play dough recipe soft and pliable is to keep it sealed in an airtight container when not in use. Here are some suggestions for storing:

  • Wrapped dough in a soy wax or plastic wrap.
  • Add to a container with a secured lid (like a mason jar, food storage container, or aluminum tin)
  • Or, keep in a fully-sealed silicone bag, like a Stasher bag.
  • Keep out of the direct sun and high heat.

Step-by-Step Instructions

This homemade play dough without cream of tartar is so quick to make, you’ll have a fun, malleable dough in no time! Here’s a simple tutorial with step-by-step photos so you know exactly what to do. For exact measurements, reference the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step One: In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and oil well. You can use a rubber spatula or your hands to mix it all together.

Flour, salt, and oil in a mixing bowl.

Step Two: Add the food coloring to the warm water and mix well. 

Step Three: If using a scent, add this now to the water mixture. Use ½ teaspoon (40-50 drops) of scent or essential oil.

Step Four: Slowly add the colored water to the flour mixture in the bowl. Start out slowly and mix thoroughly to avoid adding too much water. 

Water and food coloring added to the bowl and mixed to create a green dough.

Step Five: Once the dough becomes malleable in your hands (it may be a tiny bit sticky at this point), sprinkle 2-4 tablespoons of cornstarch onto the dough and knead well until it becomes springy, smooth, and very slightly dry to the touch.

That’s it! Now you have a fun dough to play with all week long! Make sure to keep it wrapped in plastic wrap or a damp cloth and store in a sealable container in the refrigerator for maximum freshness.

Scented Homemade Play Dough

To elevate your homemade playdough without cream of tartar to the next level, consider adding a super scented experience! Choose your all-time favorite scent for the entire batch or make multiple batches, each with a unique fragrance. It’s wonderfully fun to experiment with all different kinds of lovely odors. Sniff-tastic!

Feel free to add non-toxic scents, fragrances, or flavoring extracts to the dough. For alcohol or water-based scents, mix the drops with water before adding to the flour mixture. Use approximately ½  teaspoon (40-50 drops) of scent or essential oil per recipe or to your liking.

Essential oils should be mixed with the oil before the oil is added to the flour mixture. Kid-friendly essential oils include lavender, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, chamomile, peppermint and vanilla.

Essential Oil Brands that are Vegan-Friendly (& Cruelty-Free!)

Vegan-Friendly Fragrances for the Best Play Dough Recipe

Suggestions for Scented Extract

These edible extracts may even add a little bit of color. This fancy set gives you luxurious tastes of rose, raspberry, chocolate, and lavender. J.R. Watkins Extracts are a nice, vegan-friendly choice, too.

  • Almond
  • Lemon
  • Mint
  • Orange
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla

Note: Even better if you’re able to find plant-base glycerin extracts instead of alcohol-based ones, but it doesn’t matter too much in the end.

Easy Homemade Playdough Colors

What could be more fun than to have a super cute collection of rainbow playdough colors? It’s much easier than you think. All you need to do is to add the food coloring (paste, gel, etc.) to the warm water (or oil if the dyes are oil-based) before adding to the flour mixture. This way, you save your hands from getting temporarily dyed crazy colors and the color is more saturated and even.

Make a full batch of your favorite color or, if you’d like less of each color, just reduce this recipe by half before mixing in the color. Whether it’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, or some wacky new shade you made up yourself, it’s incredibly exciting to create your own personal set of colorful, homemade dough!

Homemade play dough recipe made into a rainbow.

Non-Toxic, Vegan-Friendly Food Dye Brands

Fun Additions to this Easy Playdough Recipe

This is absolutely the best part! The ideas are infinite for things you can add into your play dough. Keep in mind the age of the person you’re making the dough for. If it’s an adult, anything is possible. If it’s for a baby or toddler, make sure that the items are over 2 inches in diameter to prevent choking. You can also buy this object tester to check.

Not only do little items add another level of sensory play to this hands-on recipe, it also makes the piece of modeling dough more personal. Some may love sparkle, but other might prefer texture. Have fun with this and look around the house for interesting items to add.

  • Beads
  • Corks
  • Dried Beans
  • Dry Pasta
  • Eco-Friendly Glitter
  • Faux Flowers
  • Foil
  • Legos
  • Magnets
  • Marbles
  • Mini Figures
  • Nuts and Bolts
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Rocks
  • Sand
  • Seashells
  • Yarn

Vegan Playdough Brands

If you’re low on time or just can’t face a creative art project right now, no worries! There are a number of playdough brands you can buy with just a click of a button. Some of these brands do contain cream of tartar, so if you are sensitive to this ingredient, please stay clear. It’s reassuring to know that this play dough recipe is made without cream of tartar, even though this additive is vegan.

Play dough in different rainbow color, that have been shaped to spell out "vegan" with other stars, hearts and shapes around it.

Playdough Recipe Q&A

Is Play Doh vegan?

Yes! The brand Play Doh is vegan. Their list of basic ingredients includes the basic salt, water, and flour, just like our recipe below. We’ve also learned that it does not contain any peanut or dairy products, such as peanuts, peanut oil, or milk by-products. Though it is certified non-toxic, it is made with wheat.

What’s in store-bought play dough?

Most store bought play dough consists of some proportions of water, flour, and salt. They also may include preservatives (most likely chemical), fragrance, and color. That’s why this recipe is so helpful. You can make a batch whenever you want, it’s inexpensive, and you can leave out any ingredients that you don’t want or that you or your family are sensitive or allergic to. It’s a win-win!

Rainbow colored balls of homemade playdough with various colorful shapes scattered around.

More Delightful Vegan DIY Recipes

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Homemade Play Dough without Cream of Tartar

Author: Gina House | World of Vegan
4.78 from 9 votes
A soft and squishy dough that is quick-to-make, endlessly interesting, and inexpensive. This is a wonderfully relaxing activity for both children and adults alike. With only a few household ingredients, you can mix up a batch in no time and enjoy for hours.
A stack of colorful balls of homemade play dough.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 1 Cup

Equipment

  • 1 Medium Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Rubber Spatula
  • Plastic Wrap or Damp Cloth Towel
  • 1 Sealable Container (plastic zip bag or silicone bag)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup table salt
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 3-6 drops vegan-friendly food coloring, gel, or paste
  • 2-4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon fragrance or essential oils (or 40-50 drops), (optional)

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and oil well with a rubber spatula or your hands.
  • Add the food coloring to the warm water and mix well. 
  • If using a scent, add approximately ½  teaspoon (40-50 drops) of scent or essential oil to the water mixture.
  • Slowly add the colored water to the flour mixture in the bowl. Start out slowly and mix thoroughly to avoid adding too much water. 
  • Once the dough becomes malleable in your hands (it may be a tiny bit sticky), sprinkle on 2-4 tablespoons of cornstarch onto the dough and knead well until desired texture. It should be springy, smooth, and very slightly dry to the touch.
  • To store, wrap the finished dough in plastic wrap or a damp cloth and store in a sealed container or bag for up to a week or so. Keep in the refrigerator if you would like it to last longer. The salt and the refrigeration will help to keep it fresher longer.

Notes

  1. Double, triple, or quadruple this recipe to make multiple colors of dough. Or, if you’d like less of each color, just reduce this recipe by half. It’s incredibly exciting to mix up colors and create your own personal set of homemade dough!
  2. Consider adding eco-friendly glitter, marbles, magnets, beans, foil, beads, dry pasta, mini figurines, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, nuts and bolts, faux flowers, corks, legos, yarn, seashells, rocks, etc. So many options!
Course — Craft
Love this Recipe? Leave a Rating!And follow @Vegan on Instagram for more.

This playdough recipe without cream of tartar was written by Gina House and edited by Rachel Lessenden. Photos by Amanda McGillicuddy for World of Vegan, all rights reserved.

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Recipe Rating




11 comments
  1. 5 stars
    Definitely need to make a few so my kids can have fun and I won’t have to worry about ingredients

  2. Rachael Lucatorto says:

    3 stars
    Not good introductions when my daughter mixed it it got really sticky and no matter how much cornstarch and flour we added it still was sticky and when she tried to wash her hands it was hard to come off but we had fun making it

    • So glad to hear you had fun making it! To help reduce the stickiness, you can add a little bit of water at a time and mix until you reach the right consistency. This will help prevent using too much water and having a sticky dough. Hope that helps!

  3. 5 stars
    So nice to find a recipe without cream of tartar in it! My two year old loved it and it turned out so nice and soft! He has had hours of playing! I did use normal gel food coloring, not vegan (sorry I know it’s an vegan website) and it worked great!

  4. Beatriz Buono-Core says:

    5 stars
    Such a cool activity to do with the kiddos!

  5. 5 stars
    I love this homemade dough even more than any commercial brand. Plus, I get to choose the colors and scents I like best. Win, win!

  6. Andrea White says:

    5 stars
    how cool! i’ve never made my own play dough before and this looks so easy! thank you!

  7. 5 stars
    I love this play dough recipe so much!! My little one loves making his own fun “pretend” cookies, shapes, and more. We’ll be using this for years to come!

  8. 5 stars
    This homemade play dough was a hit with my friend’s kids. Thanks for this awesome idea!!

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