One young Catholic family on a Journey towards Intentional and Communal Sustainability. One Artist, one full time Mama and two babies, we'll tell you about all our successes, and failures, as we try to make it in our overly Consumeristic society on just the bare necessities.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Best homemade play-dough recipe EVER! - Perfect Playdough by Grammie Shelley

BEST play dough EVER!  So smooth and elastic!
Ok, I almost never had store bought, brand name, Play-doh growing up.  But I was never sad.  Why?  Because my mother mastered the art of making homemade play dough, and I can honestly say that she is absolutely the best play-dough maker I've ever known.  Maybe the 4 kids plus all the pre-school teaching she did over the ages had something to do with it, but she'll be the first to admit that it was partially selfish.  She used to have bad arthritis in her hands when we were younger, and kneading the warm play dough was like heaven to her joints.  But beyond that, we were all thrilled with the best play dough on the block!  Even better than store bought because it didn't have that weird chemical smell.  Sure, it only lasts a couple of days, a little longer in the fridge in a plastic baggie, and is always best the first day, but since Mom made it, we could have it almost whenever we wanted!
Stir over medium heat.  It looks like goop, but it'll get there.

Keep stirring until it starts to clump into a ball, and clean off the sides of the pot

My trick- knead the oil into the dough right out of the pot- it's hot, so if you can't handle it, you can mix it in in the beginning.

Really- just buy the cheap stuff, but I only had the good stuff on hand

I actually added about a teaspoon more to get the color.  Add with a drop of oil to help it incorporate better

Grammie Yellow Play Dough!
 Charlotte has been asking for Play Dough a lot lately.  I don't always make it for her, partially because it calls for white flour, and I usually only have whole wheat sitting around, and whole wheat play dough is both ugly and course.  But when I do, I LOVE the result!  Today, because it's too hot to play outside, and so hot that we've actually broken down and turned the AC on (something I only do if it breaks 95 or I absolutely can't stand it), I'm making it for her.  And it will be her favorite color- Yellow- without any crazy ingredients or chemical food coloring. 

I hesitated before posting this not because of anything in the recipe itself, but because my mother's recipe is her own, and it's so perfect it really should be secret.  But then I realized that there's no reason to have a "secret recipe" for play dough!  Everybody should be able to give their kids the gift of the Perfect Play dough!

So in honor of my mother, Shelley, I am letting you in on the little secret, and I hope you all enjoy it!

Grammie Shelley's Perfect Playdough
2 cups flour
1/2 c salt
1 1/2 c water
4 tblspoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil.
You can add more water or flour at anytime.  Cook over med. heat until it forms a ball. Cool, and knead when cooled. 

Charlotte's Star!
 My suggestions:  Add the oil in at the end, when you're kneading it, instead of when you're cooking, unless you're worried about oil stains on furniture, which I never am.  Use a vegetable oil, but other than that, it doesn't much matter which.  Also, to color the play dough yellow, add about 2 teaspoons of Tumeric when you're kneading.  Add more if you want, but if you're kid likes to eat it, keep it low or it will be extra spicy.  It makes the most beautiful, south of France yellow. 
She tried it, and I didn't worry because everything is healthy, let alone non-toxic!  Also, yes, she's sitting in a tupperware shoebox.
As a fun aside, Grammie Shelley, myself and Charlotte all have something in common- Yellow is all our favorite color!


  1. I love making playdough too, I think my recipe is the same of yours so I'm glad I've been using a good one. I got my recipe from a book called something like "green crafts for kids" and it had lots of fun (inexpensive) projects like playdough.

  2. Logan- So glad you're able to post now! Anyway, I guess either mom gave up the secret years ago, or it wasn't really a secret to begin with. :) probably the later. Also, just now I told Charlotte that if she was a good girl, and helped me at the store she could have a special treat, and she said "like Play-dough?!" love it.