If you are a preschool teacher, you probably go through a lot of play dough. If you are a preschool parent, you probably go through a lot of play dough, too. It can get pricey, which is why you need this absolutely perfect no-cook playdough recipe without cream of tartar, and it really is…well…absolutely perfect.
I love this playdough recipe because, not only is it quick and easy to make and smells delicious, but it’s also the perfect consistency for hand strengthening. Preschoolers need hand strengthening activities to prepare them for life skills. It also prepares them for learning the correct and mature pencil grasp. Playdough is also a great accompaniment to a variety of preschool themes and math activities.
And, did I mention it’s cheap? I don’t know about you, but with the quantities of play dough made around here, cream of tartar can get pricey. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve used the last of it in your mom’s best snickerdoodle recipe and now you have none left for play dough.
So, a playdough recipe without cream of tartar is a really valuable thing!
Aside from this playdough recipe being so extremely affordable, the playdough itself really is just perfect. It is malleable, but not sticky, holds its shape beautifully, but without being crumbly.
Other perks include the fact that this is a no cook playdough recipe, which makes it super fast and easy to make. This is easily our favorite recipe.
Disclaimer: I have had my fair share of play dough fails. Remember this Facebook post of my failed red play dough that brought my sweet daughter to tears? Well, tears no more, because I’m also sharing some tips and tricks to making play dough perfect the first time!
Scented No-Cook Playdough Recipe Without Cream of Tartar
- cooking oil
- lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
- Kool-Aid(optional for scent and coloring) or essential oils for fragrance
- Food Coloring (optional)
Cooking Supplies Needed for No-Cook Play Dough
- large mixing bowl
- glass, heatproof, microwavable 2-cup measuring cup
- measuring cups and spoons
- aluminum foil, parchment paper or wax paper
- wooden paddle for stirring
Playdough Recipe Without Cream of Tartar
***I created this recipe to make small batches so it would be easy and quick to make several colors. Each batch makes just a bit over one cup of play dough. If you want to do rainbow colors like the above photo, begin with white and work your way all the way through the rainbow. This way you won’t have to wash or rinse in between batches.***
1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
3/4 cup of water minus 3 tablespoons
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 packets kool-aid (optional for fragrance and coloring)
Directions for Making Play Dough without Cream of Tartar
Measure the water and lemon juice into a heatproof, microwavable 2-cup measuring cup. Heat in the microwave until just boiling, about three minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the flour and salt.
If using Kool Aid for the fragrance, slowly (and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y, because the mixture will foam a bit) pour the kool-aid packets into the HOT water and lemon juice mixture and add additional food coloring to intensify the color if desired.
Slowly pour the liquid into the flour and salt mixture, and stir with a wooden paddle until it just barely begins to form a dough.
Drizzle the tablespoon of cooking oil over the dough and stir again until it forms a ball. At this point, you may want to knead the dough with your hands.
It may feel a bit sticky, too, but DO NOT add more flour. As the dough cools it will thicken and become less sticky. (Just like how gravy turns to sludge once refrigerated).
Now, once the dough is completely cooled, you may add flour a tablespoon at a time until it is the perfect consistency.
Allow the dough to cool a bit on a sheet of aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. By the time you finish the next batch of play dough, the first will be cool enough to store. I love to store playdough in these freezer jam containers because the screw on lids are more airtight than snap-on lids.
I’ve never had this recipe not turn out, and it’s definitely an added bonus that this playdough recipe doesn’t call for cream of tartar. Save that stuff for Snickerdoodles!
And if you have a preschooler in your life and you make loads of playdough, my 45 Playdough Recipes E-book is for you!
Now Play with that Scented Play Dough!
My daughter took a giant whiff of blue raspberry lemonade scented play dough. As far as a scented play dough recipe goes, the possibilities are endless! Literally. We made grape scented play dough. Apple scented playdough. Peach mango scented playdough. It’ll make your kitchen smell like a fruit orchard! (Or a Bath and Body Works shop).
Do you have a favorite no-cook playdough recipe without cream of tartar?
Try Some of My Favorite Playdough Accessories
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I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction