The Best Play Dough Ever

This recipe comes from my mother in law and I have to say, it really is the best ever ( I made a lot of this stuff when I taught preschool, so I’m something of a connoisseur.)

It takes about 7 minutes to make and it lasts 6 months in an airtight container, which is pretty much forever in the world of things that keep kids busy.

Here’s what you need:



  • 2 cups plain all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil (I used canola because that’s all that was in my house)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 TBS cream of tartar
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • Food coloring or Kool Aid packet (optional)

Here’s how you do it:

Put your water on to boil. Add a little extra to account for evaporation. If you’re using Kool Aid or food coloring, add it right to the boiling water. I used this weird mix my mother in law had at her house, but it made the play dough smell like grape, which was pretty sweet, despite the arsenic that it was probably laced with.


Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl.

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Once the water is boiling, add it a little at a time to the dry ingredients and stir continuously into it becomes a combined, sticky dough.

This is the most important part: Allow it to cool down a little, then take it out of the bowl and knead vigorously for a few minutes until all the stickiness is gone.

This is what it looks like when not enough water has been added yet,so keep going if you see cracks in the dough and it still looks flaky.


If it’s still a little sticky after more than 5 minutes of kneading, go ahead and add a touch more flour.

This is how it should look once it’s all ready to go. As a bonus, you’ll probably be sore from all the kneading if you’re as out of shape as I am.


Note: If you use regular Kool Aid or food coloring, your dough will come out more vibrant and not this strange shade of muted eggplant.

Then, let your kiddos go to town with it. Older kids can use cookie cutters, Play-Doh accessories, rollers, tweezers, etc. to get the most out of it. Younger kids will just enjoy touching and feeling as well as smelling the musty  delicious grape scent.

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This dough will keep for 6 months in an airtight container and withstand many, many uses by your little critters. Enjoy!

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Melissa Mowry

Melissa Mowry is a stay at home mom to 3 year old Chase and the slightly younger guy, Sam. She is the main voice behind One Mother to Another, which she started in July 2014 as a way to connect with other moms who felt just as lonely as she did some days. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Adam, and they live in their home state of Rhode Island. Melissa's work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Coffee + Crumbs and Mamapedia, among others. Her book, One Mother to Another: This Is Just Between Us is for sale on Amazon.
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