No-Cook Playdough


Making and handling dough is a creative and relaxing sensory play activity. Colorful, non-toxic playdough is simple to make at home using common ingredients. This no-cook recipe doesn’t require cooking over heat, so it’s perfect for children of all ages. 

What We’re Learning and Skills We’re Building

  • Sensory development – learning about textures using the sense of touch 
  • Measurement – using liquid and dry measuring cups for the correct amount of ingredients
  • Learning about change – when mixed together, flour, salt, water, and oil form a new substance (squishy dough) 
  • Problem solving – finding the best way to knead the dough, and figuring out if more or less of an ingredient is needed   


(Safety: Please make sure children do not put playdough in their mouths or consume it. It is extremely salty!)



  • 2 cups flour 
  • ½ cup table salt 
  • 1 cup warm water (warm/hot water helps dissolve the salt and relax the dough)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil 
  • Mixing bowl 
  • Spoon
  • Food coloring or (non-toxic) liquid watercolor paint

Optional Materials

  • Kitchen tools for play (rolling pins, child-safe cutlery, straws, plastic cups, biscuit/cookie cutters, potato masher, colander, garlic press, etc.)
  • Outdoor materials for play (leaves, rocks, flowers, shells, sticks, etc.) 
  • Toys for play (cars, trains, train tracks, dolls, plastic animals, etc.) 


  1. Combine 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of salt in a mixing bowl. 
  2. Fill a liquid measuring cup with 1 cup of warm water. Stir in 5-7 drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor paint. Add the water to the dry ingredients. 
  3. Add 1 tbsp of cooking oil. Knead all of the ingredients together with your hands, or mix them together with a spoon, until a ball of squishy dough forms. (Note: Food coloring might temporarily stain hands!) 
  4. (Optional) If the color of the playdough is not vibrant enough, add 1 or 2 more drops of color. 
  5. (Optional) A stand mixer with a dough hook can also be used to knead the dough.
  6. Start exploring and playing with the colorful playdough! 


(Note: If the dough is too dry, add 1-2 tsps more warm water or 1 tsp more oil. The dough might be sticky at first, but wait a few minutes before adding more flour. If, after a few minutes, the dough is still too wet, sprinkle more flour on it and knead until it stops sticking to your hands.) 


The playdough will last for 1-2 weeks if stored in a sealed ziplock bag or a Tupperware container in the refrigerator.


Ideas for Exploring the Playdough

  • Playdough is great for building, rolling, molding, cutting – you name it! First, encourage your child to use their hands to explore and play with the playdough. 
  • Introduce the safe kitchen tools (listed under Optional Materials) one at a time.
  • Create shapes, figures, and structures with the playdough.
  • Make patterns and impressions in the playdough using outdoor materials and toys (listed under Optional Materials). For permanent art, dry the imprinted playdough in the sun.
  • Divide the batch in half and roll each half into a ball. Put one ball of dough in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Microwave the other ball for 10 seconds. Take both balls of dough out and have your child feel each of them with their hands. Ask, “Which one is warm? Which one is cool? Are there other ways in which the two balls of dough feel different? Do they look different from each other?”

For super squishy playdough, try our classic recipe! This recipe involves cooking the ingredients on a stove, so adult participation is required.