Homemade self-drying play dough

Since my parents have left I’ve had to get back to doing all that stuff I used to, like putting away the dishes, doing my own laundry, and playing with the tot. Needless to say this week kicked me hard in the tushi and I was in need of some serious help keeping things together – including my daughter from having a complete and utter boredom breakdown.

In the gift-opening panacea that was the holidays blended with the tot’s birthday, we got several small containers of play dough, which were played with for hours and hours while Gamma was here. The thing is, all that play dough blended together into an unappealing looking green blob – and left this chemical-ick smell on our hands.


So the other day we tossed together some of our own handmade play dough – with a spin. Instead of going through all that work to heat and stir and cook, I simplified things by adding hot liquid to the flour and salt. And, to combat that wallpaper paste smell of flour and water, we added some fresh grated lemon zest and juice to the hot water.

What’s really fun about this play dough is you can add food coloring and some scented oil to make things different. We tossed in a few drops of lemon food coloring to add to the already yellow tinged dough. Once your child gets tired of squishing with the play dough, the finished creations can be left to air dry, or baked in the oven on low heat for about an hour, creating a nice, hard little sculpture they can paint or put on display for everyone to admire.

We used a few cookie cutter to make fun shapes, which we then put together into a mobile….


4 c flour

1 c salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 1/2 to 2 c hot water

Zest of one lemon plus its juice (optional)

Food coloring (optional)

Scented oil (optional)


Measure and add the flour and salt to a big mixing bowl.

Bring the water to a boil along with the zest and juice from the lemon.

Add the hot water to the flour and salt mixture, along with the vegetable oil (along with the food coloring and scented oil), and give a good stir. If things feel too stiff, add a bit more water. Or, if things are too watery, add a bit more flour.

Dump the dough onto a work surface and knead until everything is nice and smooth without being sticky.

It’s that simple!

*To bake finished items, place in a 250 F oven for an hour.

3 thoughts on “Homemade self-drying play dough

  1. I have this same recipe and have used it in class many times but never knew you could cook it!!! Thank you so much – now my students will be able to keep their treasures!! We made it today in class as a “procedure” and tomorrow will make Olympic icons for the 2012 Olympics! Thank you!!!

    • It’s totally edible – but it doesn’t taste good at all. But because it is made with ingredients from your pantry, totally OK if your child decides to chomp on it.

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