The Secret to a Vibrant and Soft Homemade Play Dough

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It’s no secret that we love play dough around here. It seems like daily I am having to whip up another batch. While learning how to make play dough I ran into a couple different frustrations like reds that looked more like pinks and dyeing processes that left my hands stained and my kitchen a mess.

The Secret to Vibrant and Soft Play Dough

For the longest time I used and loved our easy play dough recipe. It is a fail proof way to make an amazing play dough that lasts. We even discovered how to turn the easy play dough recipe into a glow in the dark play dough recipe…But I have to be completely honest and say that I really wanted to find a method that was even easier than that. So I hopped on Pinterest and got to researching. A lot of people suggested using gel food dyes which I ADORE, but I was still coming up with washed out colors. Then I came across Sugar Aunts Crayon Play Dough Recipe and a light bulb clicked. Mixing a little bit of all three we discovered a play dough that has by far been the easiest to make and our favorite!

Items Needed to Make a Vibrant Homemade Play Dough

(per color)

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of flour (substitute coconut flour to make gluten free)
  • Gel Food Dye, if desired (buy here)
  • 3-6 Broken Crayons
  • 2-4 tbsp. Sweet Almond Oil (buy here)
  • 3 tbsp. Cream of Tartar (buy here)
  • Ziplock Bag (buy here)

The Secret to Vibrant and Soft Play Dough

How to Make a Vibrant and Soft Play Dough

This entire process took me about 5-10 minutes per color. Because of how fast this goes I only did one color at a time. To start, bring your water to a boil. Add the broken crayon pieces, a scoop of gel dye (I didn’t measure just spooned a bit out), and the sweet almond oil. Continue boiling until all of the crayons have melted.

The Secret to Vibrant and Soft Play Dough

When it came to picking out crayon colors I didn’t worry about matching shades. I figured that the variety would give a nice solid color – which it did! I also chose to use sweet almond oil because it is an amazing moisturizer which helps not only make a soft dough, it also helped moisturize our hands when we played with it.

Once all your crayons are melted add the flour directly into the pan and remove from the heat. Then stir!

The Secret to Vibrant and Soft Play Dough

You are going to want to do that step fairly quickly so you do not burn your dough. During this step you can add in some cream of tartar if you would like, but it is not necessary. Cream of tartar is used as a preservative so if you are worried about your play dough molding I would add in 2-3 tbsp. 

The Secret to Vibrant and Soft Play Dough

As soon as the color is fully mixed in (like the picture above) transfer your dough into a ziplock bag, seal shut, and set aside until it cools down. I have found that if I skip this step I get a very hard dough so I do think that the moisture the closed bag provides is a necessity as the play dough cools down.

The Secret to Vibrant and Soft Play Dough

Once your play dough is cool enough to touch PLAY! We absolutely love this recipe and hope ya’ll do too!

The Secret to Vibrant and Soft Play Dough

EDIT: Ok ya’ll so I have gotten some questions over on Facebook and email. If you have a question about this post the easiest way to get a quick answer is to post a comment below. I avoid my inbox and Facebook for most of the day otherwise they suck up all my productivity.

1. Is there an alternative to Almond oil for people with nut allergies?

YES! Grapeseed oil is a fantastic alternative. Olive oil will also work but might require a little more flour to be used. When we use olive oil I usually have to do 1 1/2 cups flour to get a nice consistency. I have an entire post on carrier oils and while it is aimed towards essential oils it is also a great reference for picking out oils for play recipes!

2. Aren’t crayons overkill? Can’t you create this same level of color with gel food dyes?

You know what? I am sure you can with a good amount of gel food dye. That said, gel food dye isn’t something most people just have laying around whereas most people with kids are going to have crayons somewhere. Also gel food dye can be spendy. What is the point of making play dough with gel food dye if you have to make a trip to the store to get it and you have to spend more on the dye than a container of play dough would cost?

The crayons help not only with the color of the play dough, but also the texture. If anything is overkill it is the gel food dye here. When I use gel food dye with this recipe I use it to correct colors (for example adding in some yellow to an orange that looked a little too red). A cheaper alternative is always a good thing 😉

If your family makes this vibrant homemade play dough we would love to see the fun! Tag us on Facebook with @Parenting Chaos or on Instagram with #ParentingChaos!

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