How to Easily Make Several Colors of Play Dough

Step by step play dough tutorial to help you easily make several colors of play dough.

celebrate play dough

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My kids love playing with play dough, but for a long time I would make only one color at a time. Then I realized that I could easily make several colors of play dough at a time – by making an entire batch of play dough and adding color as you cook a little bit at a time, rather than messily kneading the colors in at the end. This may seem obvious to some of you, but it was a revelation to me, so I thought I would share it here, along with my absolute favorite play dough recipe – with the steps photographed, this time!

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How to easily make several colors of play dough

The Best Play Dough Recipe

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp cream of tartar (I buy cream of tartar in bulk)

1 cup water
1 Tbsp oil
Food coloring (I recommend these Wilton gel food coloring bottles – you can mix to get pretty much any color, and they are the ones I used for this set)

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add in the wet ingredients, whisking until smooth. Cook over medium heat until the play dough is nearly set (no longer sticking to the edges of the pan). Remove the play dough from the heat and knead on a flat surface until cool. Store in a zip lock bag or airtight container. Try some of these fun ways to play with play dough:

How to easily make several colors of play dough

If you want to make several colors of play dough, make this batch (or triple it, as I did). Then pour a little bit of the batter into a pan at a time, add your food coloring, and start stirring. If you plan out your colors, you can make all of them without having to wash out your pan. For this particular set of play dough, I made yellow first, then red, then blue, then green, and then purple. The purple was an after thought; ideally I would have made it in between red and blue, but I didn’t have any issues with making it after green. I know that some readers have struggled to understand the play dough making process in the past, so I photographed the process in my windowless kitchen:

how to make the best play dough

Here are a few helpful notes to go along with the pictures:

  1. Notice how smooth the batter is. If you want nice, smooth play dough, you want your batter to be smooth like cake batter. Since I was making several colors at once, I added the food coloring once the batter was in the pan.
  2. My kids love to watch the food coloring swirl into the batter. Notice that, even though I made pink play dough before this batch, the blue play dough isn’t very affected.
  3. Here the food coloring has been fully mixed, but the play dough needs to cook more.
  4. You can see here that the play dough is done. You want to pull it off the heat as soon as it looks like this. It will firm up as you knead it. You can also see a few flecks of pink play dough from our previous batch if you look closely here. This is why you want to plan your color order out carefully. A little bit of pink play dough won’t show up in the final blue play dough, but it may have affected green.

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MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

11 thoughts on “How to Easily Make Several Colors of Play Dough”

  1. Elisa | blissfulE

    Wow – those colours Emma is holding are so vibrant! And your pictures make this nearly foolproof. I’m looking forward to trying it!

  2. I struggled for ages to get play dough right and was so frustrated with all the play dough posts I read because I just couldn’t get them to work. I was so excited when I finally found a recipe that worked for me – this tutorial would have been so helpful back then. Having the photos as a guide makes a big difference and I’m sure this post is going to help so many people. I really love the vibrant colors you got and the tips about mixing a big batch ahead and planning your colors so you don’t have to clean the pan. So smart and will save me tons of time. Thank you!!

  3. rollthesnowball

    This is absolutely THE BEST play dough recipe! I used to make a cooked play dough just like this when my kids were little and it was always the perfect consistency, unlike the store-bought kind. The only difference was that I would add about a tablespoon of flavoring like peppermint, lemon or vanilla. I’d use a different scent for each color. Your post brings back fond memories!

  4. I tried first time to make any kind ov dough. First 2 colours turned well. Third was too sticky, tried to fix it but could not.

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