How to... make scented Playdough! A fail safe playdough recipe! - Red Ted Art's Blog : Red Ted Art's Blog

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

| July 16, 2010 | 45 Comments

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!

Note: Update: I have since become a HUGE fan of “no cook playdough”, which we link to via this Apple Playdough play post here.

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)

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Comments (45)

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  1. Miri says:

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

  2. Susie says:

    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. nimblebee2 says:

    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!

  4. Chris says:

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

  5. Sarah says:

    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. J. Hill says:

    Thanks for linking up to the Mad Skills party!

  7. Audra says:

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

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Emily O says:

    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. imtopsyturvy says:

    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. Jessica says:

    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. Bianca says:

    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. Heather M says:

    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.

    • Red Ted Art says:

      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. vanitha says:

    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.

    • Red Ted Art says:

      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!

    • Red Ted Art says:

      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. Heather M says:

    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!

    • Red Ted Art says:

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

  19. Heather M says:

    How long does this last?

    • Red Ted Art says:

      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. 6kidsandMe says:

    Thanks so much, i have just made up a batch now, I used a drop of red paint as Im out of food colouring, seems to have done the trick, LittleMiss cant wait for it to cool down so she can start creating.

  21. Muminator says:

    So good! I made these this morning with my son! He loved them, thanks for the detailed guide :)

  22. RICHI says:


    I tried it it came out really nice my kids played with it for whole day but nextr day it softened and became MUSHY, What can we do to last is long….

    Richi K

  23. Vicky says:

    Hi Maggie
    These are great instructions! We also made our play doh on the hob and added glitter! See

    Never thought to store it in the fridge, we just keep it in old Play doh pots. It goes a bit crunchy round the edges due to the salt but it soon softens up again :)

  24. Niki says:

    We just tried the recipe with our toddlers and it is fantastic! Worked in one go (even without the cream of tartar) and only had to heat it for 4 minutes (induction cooker)! Absolutely fabulous!

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