Homemade Play Dough Recipe- Gluten Free, Chemical Free

 photo IMG_1430_zpsacb1fbb6.jpgThe other day my kids went over to their friend's house and had a fun time playing with play dough, and asked to have play dough at home as well. The thing is- I prefer not to buy play dough since it is usually filled with all sorts of nasty chemicals, and all the homemade recipes I've seen call for wheat flour- something we don't keep in the house due to gluten sensitivity (even small amounts) and for cream of tartar, something I haven't been able to find locally.

Today I came upon this recipe for a homemade play dough that is without gluten or cream of tartar, and it worked pretty well, and is easy to make. I colored mine with natural food colorings and the kids had a great time playing with it.

Homemade Play Dough Recipe- Gluten Free, Chemical Free

2 cups baking soda
1 cup potato starch or corn starch plus a LOT extra for after
1 1/2 cups water
Turmeric, paprika, or cocoa powder for coloring


1. Mix the baking soda with the water and the starch. Mix well. It won't mix easily at first, but eventually you'll be able to. Use a whisk to make this easier.

2. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.

3. Lower the heat to medium, and mixing constantly, wait for it to thicken. You want it to become as thick as mashed potatoes. It is inevitable that there WILL be a bunch of dough stuck to the bottom of the pot, no matter how well you mix it- just try not to let more than necessary get stuck there.

4. Put the play dough onto a plate, cover with a damp wet cloth, and let it cool off to harden.

5. Once cool, you may find a hard crust on the top. Mix it in. You'll probably find the dough to be too sticky to easily work with.

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6. Since you're using powdered food colorants, you will want to divide the dough into sections, sprinkle the table with the colorants, and knead them into the dough until you get the color you desire. I was trying to make yellow play dough with turmeric, but it must have interacted with the baking soda, because the turmeric play dough ended up an orangey red, as you can see below.

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You can also use paprika for red. Feel free to try other dry powders, such as spirulina, to get other colors. I used cocoa powder to make brown. Alternatively, if chemicals aren't a concern for you, you can used some mashed makeup like eye shadow or blush to color your dough.

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7. Your dough will likely still be sticky. Knead in a lot more potato or corn starch until you get a good, workable consistency that isn't too sticky.

8. Use/play with as you would any other play dough. This will dry if kept outside too long, so keep it covered and refrigerated in between uses.

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Have fun!

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Once dried out, it will harden, so you can make shape and set to dry, and paint afterward, as you would with salt dough.

If your kids like playing with play dough, I highly suggest you try out this recipe. :-D P.S. I buy my baking soda in bulk, so I get it even cheaper than it usually is.
You can easily halve this recipe, since it makes quite a lot.

Are you (or rather your kids) a fan of play dough? Ever made from scratch? How did you make yours? If you've made gluten free play dough, how did you make yours? Does this look like a recipe you'd try out?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Any reason why you avoided using food coloring or wheat flour in this recipe? Were you afraid your kids would eat the play dough?

    1. A few reasons. Firstly, because people who have celiac (which I suspect I have, but i cant confirm for various reasons) shouldn't even breathe in flour dust that gets in the air when baking/cooking, so I would never make something with wheat flour. Secondly, because I am sensitive enough to cross contamination that I dont want to make anything with wheat flour in my pots, nor do i want it on my stuff in my house... Thirdly, yes, my little one does sometimes try to put stuff in her mouth... Fourth, since our skin does absorb things, I do try to keep even what we put on our skin as healthy as possible.

  2. I love this! My 4 yr old daughter is Celiac. I've been looking for a gluten free play doh. The ones I found at toy stores are just too expensive. Thank you

  3. I love this! My 4 yr old daughter is Celiac so I've been trying to find a gluten free play-doh. The ones I find at toy stores are just too expensive. Thank you

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