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Homemade Playdough Without Cream of Tartar: Super Easy

Crafting playdough without cream of tartar is so much fun — creative play on a budget.

Are you looking for a way to entertain your kids without breaking the bank or exposing them to mysterious chemicals? Homemade playdough is a huge hit for little ones!

We’ve crafted step-by-step instructions for making homemade playdough without cream of tartar (as cream of tartar can be pricy). With just four essential ingredients and five simple steps, your kids will have tons of fun in no time.

We’ll also share creative ways to switch up the playdough with different colors, smells, and textures to keep your munchkins entertained for even longer. Let’s get ready for some budget-friendly, non-toxic fun!

What Do You Need To Make Playdough?

Creating homemade playdough without cream of tartar is super easy, and it’s a no-bake recipe! It’s also a great activity for preschool kids since it provides a sensory and creative experience.

All you need is:

  • Two cups of plain flour.
  • Half a cup of salt.
  • Two tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  • One cup of water.
  • Food coloring (optional).

Traditional homemade playdough recipes may include cream of tartar, which helps ensure it is soft and pliable and acts as a preservative, ensuring it lasts longer. However, you can leave the cream of tartar out of your recipe.

If you want to replace the cream of tartar, two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar is a great substitute. Since it’s acidic, it will react slightly with the other ingredients, helping make a soft and fluffy texture. Making playdough with vinegar also stabilizes the dough mixture, preventing the sugar and fat from crystallizing.

Extra Ingredient

You may also make homemade playdough with lemon juice. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice with the wet ingredients (but leave out the distilled white vinegar). The lemon juice can add softness and a fresh scent. It also acts as a natural preservative.

How To Make Homemade Playdough Without Cream of Tartar

Get ready to provide buckets of fun for your kids with this super simple homemade playdough recipe without cream of tartar.

What You’ll Need

  • Two cups of plain flour.
  • Half a cup of salt.
  • Two tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  • One cup of water.
  • Two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar (optional).
  • Food coloring (optional).

1. Mix the Dry Ingredients

Mix the dry ingredients (flour and salt) together in a large mixing bowl, stirring them to combine evenly.

2. Add the Vinegar

If using vinegar, add it to the mixture and stir well.

3. Add the Wet Ingredients

Pour the wet ingredients (vegetable oil and water) with the flour, salt, and vinegar. It can help if the water is boiling in order to dissolve the salt, but this isn’t necessary. Mix well to combine the ingredients.

4. Add Coloring

If adding food coloring, divide the dough into smaller portions and knead in a few drops of food coloring.

5. Knead the Dough

Transfer the mixture to a floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Now it’s time to play!

Variations on the Playdough Recipe

We’ve already suggested adding food coloring to help spruce up this crafty activity. This is especially fun if your kiddos want to make different things according to color, like rainbows or animals. Here are a few other things you can add to playdough recipes:

  • Glitter: Make sparkly playdough!
  • Essential oils: Add essential oils, like citrus or mint, to give your playdough a nice scent.
  • Cocoa powder: Mix cocoa powder with your dry ingredients to create a chocolate scent and brown color.
  • Cornmeal: Add cornmeal to create a gritty texture (this is great for sensory play).
  • Beads: For older kids, add sequins or beads to the mixture for a more tactile experience.
  • Herbs: Add dried herbs to create fun scents and textures.
  • Glow-in-the-dark paint: Add fun glowy paint and let your kids play in the dark!
  • Glue: Add a small amount of clear glue to the playdough for extra stretchiness.
  • Rice: Adding rice to the playdough adds a whole new texture. Again, it is great for kids who enjoy a sensory experience.
  • Vanilla extract: Add a drop of vanilla to the dough for a sweet, warm scent.

Tips for Making Playdough

Following a homemade playdough recipe without cream of tartar can be pretty easy, but it might be trial and error the first few times. To save you time, frustration, and money, below are 10 tips for making the best uncooked playdough for your little ones.

  • Use precise measurements: Don’t eyeball the measurements. Use measuring cups for accurate measurements.
  • Knead for 10 minutes: Knead the dough for at least five to ten minutes to achieve a smooth and elastic texture. Set a timer to keep you on track.
  • Mix well: Mix the ingredients evenly to avoid dry or wet spots and air pockets.
  • Use boiling water: If possible, use boiling water to dissolve the salt and get a more smooth texture. You may also want to experiment with water amounts. Water acts as the binding agent. If you feel the dough isn’t binding together well or it’s too dry, you may need to add a little extra water at a time.
  • Add vinegar: If not using cream of tartar, adding vinegar can help achieve a smoother texture.
  • Add food coloring last: Don’t add food coloring with the wet ingredients. Add it in last as you are kneading the dough.
  • Don’t experiment with salt styles: Stick with fine salt instead of coarse salt to help it dissolve easily and smoothly.
  • Adding textures: When adding textures, like sand or herbs, add only a little and add them gradually so the texture isn’t too gritty or crumbly.
  • Using the right oil: Use vegetable oil for a smooth texture and ensure it’s evenly distributed.
  • Avoiding sticky dough: If the dough is too sticky, add small amounts of flour until you reach your desired consistency.


What Will Happen if We Don’t Use Cream of Tartar in the Play Dough?

When you skip the cream of tartar, the playdough might not be as stretchy or stiff, making it harder to craft into figurines. The playdough may also not last as long since the cream of tartar acts as a preservative. However, you can replace the cream of tartar with distilled white vinegar to achieve similar results.

How Long Does Playdough Last?

Homemade playdough without cream of tartar will last anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. We recommended putting the playdough in an airtight container and storing it in the fridge. You can expect it to last at least two months this way.

Be aware that keeping the playdough in the fridge might make it stiff when you take it out. You may need to wait a few minutes for it to warm back up again. You can keep it in a cupboard as long as it’s cool and dry, but it might not last the same length of time.

Top Tip

Regularly check the playdough for signs of deterioration. Check the smell and color changes, and look out for mold. If you notice any of these signs, toss the playdough out and make a new batch.

Is Homemade Playdough Edible?

Homemade playdough is non-toxic and won’t harm little ones if they sneak a taste, but it’s not made for consumption. So don’t encourage kids to eat it as a snack! Homemade playdough contains large quantities of salt and flour, which isn’t safe to eat.

If you want to make edible playdough, combine one cup of powdered sugar, peanut butter, and ½ cup of honey. Gradually add three cups of powdered milk to the ingredients, stirring well to create a dough. Knead for about 10 minutes to create a pliable dough.

This recipe is edible, but make sure kids only eat little bits at a time.

Playdough for Cosy Play Sessions

Homemade playdough is an easy DIY activity to do at home. Traditionally, homemade playdough recipes include cream of tartar, but that can get expensive. A cheap replacement is white vinegar or lemon juice — or skip these ingredients altogether if you’re in a pinch!

Making homemade crafts, like playdough, clay, slime, and sock puppets, is a great bonding activity with kids. Not only does it keep them busy, but parents can rest assured that such creations are non-toxic and much safer for children.

With these step-by-step instructions for creating homemade playdough, you can have the activity ready for your crew in just about 15 minutes. How won-dough-ful!

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a Scottish freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. She is a mum to a young boy, and believes that it truly takes a village. When she’s not parenting, writing about parenting, or working, she can be found reading, working on her novel, taking photos, playing board games or wandering through the countryside with her family.