Gluten Free Play Dough Recipe and Tips
Play Dough– the ultimate sensory activity for preschoolers and older kids alike. Play dough will take a bad afternoon and turn it around. All that mooshing and rolling seems to just sump up chaotic energy and transform it into blue cookies and oddly shaped car garages.
Unfortunately traditional play dough is made with wheat and in our household that is a bit of a problem. I’ve found gluten free play dough with good reviews on Amazon, (Mama K’s Aromatic Play Clay for instance) but that’s no use when you need play dough NOW.
When I asked about a gluten free play dough recipe on the Creative With Kids Facebook page, Cait was kind enough to pass this one along. It makes for play dough very similar to the regular NON gluten free play dough.
Gluten Free Play Dough Recipe:
*Please see the notes for substitution ideas and tips
½ C Rice Flour
½ C Corn Starch or Arrow Root
½ C Salt
2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 C Water
2 T Oil
In a sauce pan mix flours and salt, mix in the rest of the ingredients and cook on low heat, stirring, until thickened (a couple minutes). Turn out mixture and, once cool enough, knead until smooth. Add food coloring if you like.
- You can sub in other flours for the rice flour, at least partly. I have a big bag of bean flour we’re not using so I added about a 1/4 cup of that.
- Likely tapioca starch or potato starch would work fine for the corn starch as well. This ingredient is the simple starch that helps “glue” the play dough together and adds a smooth feel.
- Cream of tartar is an acid. It acts as a stabilizer, extending the “shelf-life” of play dough.
You can substitute 1/4 tsp of lemon juice or white vinegar for each 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar. Be aware if you use vinegar, the play dough will have a vinegar smell!
- If, after a couple weeks in a jar, you find your play dough is kind of sticky (gross), you can add a bit more flour and oil to give it a little more life.
Yes, this is a recipe that involves cooking, but it really is easy and quick. If you’ve been missing out on play dough sensory play, GO! Make some!
I’m collecting recipes for gluten free play dough and play clay to try out. Do you have a gluten free play dough recipe you love?
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Diane Young Decker
To respond to your statement that tapioca flour should work fine. That might be a no. I used the leavings from an old box of a GF Flour blend containing both cornstarch and tapioca in your GF playdough recipe today. It was wonderful at first, but after an hour, it became extremely sticky. I had a small bag of tapioca flour that had broken open, so sprinkled some of that on my silicone mat and worked it in. Worked great for another hour. Then I heard a terrified wail from my 3 year old granddaughter. Her fingers were stuck together with hot pink play dough. I had to use a spoon to scrape off as much as possible, then carefully scrub her hands. Added more tapioca flour. Same thing happened. For some reason, the child would not leave it alone. This went on all day. No more tapioca for this grandma! I will go with straight rice flour and never use tapioca in play dough.
Oh, good to know, thanks!
Another gluten free recipe is 2 cups cornflour and 1 cup hair conditioner. Has a different and interesting texture
Thanks for this recipe! this works well for me because I am allergic to wheat and when my kids play with their play doh I’ve been suffering because its not fair for them not to be allowed to have play doh fun.
I don’t think I’d try Epson salt but you can use pickling salt. Morton table salt is available in large boxes as well.
I had a favorite play dough recipe that I used in my nursery school classroom but when my granddaughter was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, I needed to find one that was the same smooth consistency and this one fits the bill.
The play dough will keep for a few months if refrigerated in a Ziplock bag. I’d still suggest adding the cream of tartar. It’s easier to add the food coloring to the water instead of adding it later. I’ve heard of people using Kool Aid for color and to add a scent but haven’t tried it. I definitely recommend this play dough recipe!
Can you use Epsom Salt instead of table salt in this recipe? Is it safe?
I have no idea Mandy…I mean I think it would be safe enough, but I don’t really think it would work. I suppose you could do an experiment, which might be fun in its own way 😉
We just made 2 batches of the playdough and added essential oils to give it yummy smells. The dough is sticky after playing with it, but I am sure a little flour with make it better.
You can use kool aid to add color and smell 🙂 I like mine really brite so either two packs or one pack plus some coloring 🙂
Thank you so much for this can not wait to try it out. My daughter & I are going to have so much fun making our own play dough & colors/scents.
I’m making this today and wondered if “oil” can be any oil? We’ve been using coconut oil for most things lately and wondered if it might work well or make it too greasy? Seems nitpicky to ask, but considering we’re going to use some of our rice flour (not cheap) I’d rather get a good idea of if it will work before I potentially waste it. Plus, my kiddo wants “TONS of colors”, he says so I was going to make a double or triple batch.
Rice flour is much cheaper if you get a good blender and just pulverize your rice into flour. 🙂
Thank you for this. We just learned this week we need to go gluten free and are a bit overwhelmed… and that was before I learned that it would involve things like the play dough as well! This recipe looks very easy and I will get some made as soon as I buy the flour this weekend.
Chrissy @ The Outlaw Mom Blog
Great to have a gluten-free recipe in your arsenal and thanks so much for sharing! Now I know where to go when I need this for friends 🙂
I use bextartar which is a gluten and egg free cream of tartar so it’s good for sensitivities and allergies. I love adding scented oils or essences to make them special. Rose, lavender, peppermint and vanilla being the favourite so far.
Peppermint is good for morning play and lavender or vanilla for calm down times.
I use the no cook method which has boiling water but my class are very good and seriously prewarned about roaming fingers untill the water is off the table and the dough has cooled.
We have also explored coffee, strawberry juice, lime juice, carrot juice, beet juice and the pollen from irises to colour and scent our dough. (some worked some were so-so)
I also add a teaspoon of glycerine with the hot water and work in one more teaspoon as I kneed the dough cool to add extra elasticity to the dough! Great work out for those fine motor muscles!!
We just gave away all of our new, unopened Play-Doh (about 25 cans) and have been looking for a good alternative but the colors are all boring compared to real Play-Doh. Nice to know that I can create my own crazy colors with this recipe for my sensory-seeking little boy!
You mentioned that adding vinegar would give the dough a vinegar smell. I wonder, if it make it a little more interesting sensory-wise, if a couple of drops of an extract like peppermint or vanilla could be added to give it a nice smell? Maybe it won’t cancel out the vinegar entirely, but I add peppermint extract to my homemade all-purpose vinegar/water cleaner and it really improves the smell when I clean.
Thanks for posting this recipe! Re-pinning it now!