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Homemade Play Dough Recipe With Natural Dyes (Plus A Gluten-Free Option!)

Affiliate Disclosure | in Crafts, Everything Else | by | with 96 Comments

Homemade Play Dough Recipe WIth Natural Dyes (And A Gluten-Free Option!)

Have Thing 1 and Thing 2 . . .

homemade play dough recipe with natural dyeInvaded your house, drawn mustaches on all your family portraits and released the goldfish into the commode? Oh no, that was your KIDS? It sounds to me like they could use a little distraction on this rainy/excessively sunny/busy/whatever day before they try to decoupage your drivers license. No fear, mama, I have the answer!

Homemade play dough is cheap, easy to make and oh-so-fun! Help your kids whip up a batch and then sneak away with a cup of tea. You may find them so preoccupied that you get to go to the bathroom by yourself!

How To Make Natural Dyes With Stuff From Your Fridge

Homemade Play Dough Recipe WIth Natural Dyes (And A Gluten-Free Option!)

There is A LOT of wiggle room for this part, so have fun and experiment! To get started making your own play dough dye, just put veggies/fruits in a pot of filtered water and bring to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria that might cause mold and then simmer for 10-30 minutes depending on how intense you want the color to be. For spices, just warm the water up and mix until dissolved. Here are some color ideas I grabbed from my post on naturally dyed Easter eggs.

homemade play dough recipe with natural dye


I used: 2 cups water +1 cup shredded beets for the intense pink

3 cups water, 1 cup tightly packed purple cabbage simmered for 20 minutes for the light pink

Other possibilities: cranberries/ cranberry juice, raspberries, strawberries, red grape juice or beet kvass


I used: 2 cups water + 1 cup packed onion skins

Other possibilities: grapefruit, orange or lemon peels, carrots, chamomile tea, celery seed, green tea, saffron


I used: 1 cup water + 3/4 tsp turmeric for the bright yellow

1 cup water + 1 ½ cups shredded carrots for the orange

Other possibilities: carrots and paprika


3 cups water + 1 cup tightly packed purple cabbage + baking soda*

Other possibilities: blueberries

* To make the cabbage water blue rather than purple, simply add small amounts of baking soda until you get a color you like!


I used: 1/2 cup of spinach + 1 ½ cups of water.

Other possibilities: kale, asparagus


Elderberry, dried or fresh!

I haven’t tested this, but I think blackberries would work. You could also try mixing red and blue.

How To Make Homemade Play Dough

Homemade Play Dough Recipe WIth Natural Dyes (And A Gluten-Free Option!)

Basic Play Dough Recipe


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup of naturally colored water (see above) OR 1 cup water and natural food coloring
  • Optional: a few drops of essential oils for fragrance. Citrus oils like orange, lemon and lime are good choices that are safe for small children. (where to buy orange essential oil, where to buy lemon essential oil, where to buy lime essential oil)


  1. Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a medium-sized pot
  2. Add oil and colored water and stir until ingredients are well blended.
  3. Place pot on the stove over low/medium heat. Cook the dough – stirring often – until begins to pull away from the sides of the pot (about 3-5 minutes)
  4. Allow the dough to cool a little and then knead for a minute or so.
  5. Store in an airtight container

Gluten-Free Dough Recipe



  1. Mix flour, cornstarch/arrowroot, salt and cream of tartar in a medium-sized pot
  2. Add oil and colored water and stir until ingredients are well blended.
  3. Place pot on the stove over low/medium heat. Cook the dough – stirring often – until begins to pull away from the sides of the pot (about 3-5 minutes)
  4. Allow the dough to cool a little and then knead for a minute or so.
  5. Store in an airtight container


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96 Responses to Homemade Play Dough Recipe With Natural Dyes (Plus A Gluten-Free Option!)

  1. Cathy S says:

    What are the chances tapioca flour/starch would work in place of the cornstarch? I have not used it much but have a larger quantity of it than arrowroot and am not having corn in my home at this time.

  2. Jenny says:

    How long would this last in an airtight container?

  3. My daughter is finally getting interested in play dough, which is great since she got some homemade stuff for Christmas! I can’t wait to try some of your colors when her stuff dries up….

  4. Jenn B says:

    I made pink (cranberry) and purple (blueberry) play dough this afternoon. The dyes were really easy to make and the texture was silky and pleasant. Best of all, I didn’t have to worry when my 9 month old tried to eat her big brother’s play dough. Thank you!

  5. Donna says:

    Have you tried using these dye’s in foods? I am curious how they would would work in some kind of frosting.

  6. I have been wanting to find a recipe for natural play dough since my son put some playdough in his mouth while he was at his cousins! he is out of the putting in thr mouth stage but i guess they looked like food to him. Now i can supply himwith fun without worrying about much! I was so excited to see this!!! I can not wait to make it.

  7. […] Homemade Play Dough Recipe With Natural Dyes (Plus A Gluten-Free Option!) by Mommypotamus – gluten free Play Dough is expensive and this turned out so pretty! […]

  8. Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing! I might be able to use this as a DIY kid’s activity for my daughter’s upcoming b-day party next month.

  9. Elise says:

    Do the dyes rub off on the hands easily?

  10. Jdw says:

    In my experimentation, tapioca starch gives it a “glacky” sticky consistency. It was fun to slap around a bit, but no way similar to playdough..

  11. I LOVE to make playdough esp when it is colored with natural pigments. I wonder do you find that the tumeric stains? I have wanted to try it but haven’t b/c I am worried about sending kids home from preschool with yellowy hands… The colors you made are just lovely and the GF option is great, I must try it!

  12. Cherilynne Churchill says:

    I love you!

  13. […] The next meeting will be Friday morning, April 19th, at 9:30. We will be exploring with the child as we get our hands into some play dough. The recipe link: […]

  14. […] any good, Pinterest-addicted parent, I pinned this natural dye play dough recipe with every intention of making it. The idea fitted so nicely in my vision of a picture perfect […]

  15. […] Homemade Play Dough Recipe With Natural Dyes (Plus A Gluten-Free Option!) | The Mommypotamus | organ… […]

  16. Hilary says:

    This has been keeping us entertained all morning! We made the g-free option. It gets pretty stuck to our hands and toys after a bit. Is that just the nature of homemade? Mom made it for us many, many moons ago, but I don’t remember if it got sticky after a while.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Hilary! It sounds like you might want to add a smidge more flour. Some batches absorb less moisture than others and that can make them a bit sticky.

  17. LeaG says:

    I make 2 batches of this exact recipe every week and I’ve been using yucky regular food coloring and cringing but my kids love it and they seriously go through that much! SO this is a fantastic recipe for us. I do have a question. It looks like most of the colors make up 2 cups of colored water but the recipe is for 1 cup of water. I like to make 2 colors at a time. Could I freeze the leftover cup or so of water and use it next week? Thanks!

  18. Monifah says:

    I think it is really dry! Followed the recipe exactly, any clue?? It was silky for two seconds, than turned dry and brittle on me :/. Thank you, and good luck pushing nr 3 out any day now :).


  19. […] DIY Play-Doh (Includes Gluten-Free Option) […]

  20. Does it stain? Beets and turmeric especially worry me.

  21. I haven’t had any problems with them staining and we’ve made lots of batches :)

  22. Any substitutes for cream of tartar?

    • misty says:

      Cream of tartar adds acidity so it won’t spoil as quickly….salt helps in this way too. I would hesitate to leave it out if you want your playdough to “last”…however, maybe a splash of vinegar in place of some of the water might work.

  23. Tina Warren via FB says:

    Is it edible?

  24. Laura Marshall-Lambert via FB says:

    Liz Taran Mekya Escobar-Ausman thought you might like this. :)

  25. SO AWESOME! Thank you!! I have been on the look out for recipes to make a couple batches for my DD for a Christmas gift, but didn’t find any recipes/food coloring advice I liked. This is perfect!!

  26. Jessica Mary via FB says:

    Kylee Gregory

  27. April Paventi via FB says:


  28. Amy- pretty sure I have these ingredients if you guys want something fun to do tomorrow.

  29. Tina Warren- It doesn’t taste very good, but yes. My son has taste tested it quite a few times :)

  30. Tina Warren via FB says:

    Thanks! That’s what I figured!

  31. Kylee Gregory via FB says:

    Thanks Jessica Mary! I actually think my turn is coming up to make some for G’s school

  32. Tiffany Ellis via FB says:

    Pooravi- I used vinegar as a substitute for the creme of tartar in our play dough. I made it a year ago and it’s still perfect.

  33. Angela Foley via FB says:

    Why gluten free option? Lol

  34. Nikki Wallace Flory via FB says:

    thankful for a gluten free option! I have all of those ingredients! I don’t have any wheat flour in our house.

  35. Nicole Stidham via FB says:

    Angela because some conditions such as Celiac the sufferer can’t even touch gluten.

  36. Kari says:

    Great post! Blueberries make a gorgeous, deep purple and cocoa powder can be used for brown (bonus, it smells yummy too!). I’ve also replaced the water with tea (4 tea bags to 1 cup of water), apple spice tea gives it a wonderful scent and a nice, light, pink color.

  37. Deborah Baughman Davis via FB says:

    But the big question is: Are these dyes WASHABLE???

  38. Olga Shapiro Signer via FB says:

    How long is the dough good for? How much dough does one batch make? Can’t wait to try it!

    • Kate says:

      One batch is about enough for one kid so I always make a double batch. As for how long it lasts, my first batch (I used the GF recipe) lasted almost a year and even then I tossed it because it started to smell a little funny to my pregnant nose, not because it had dried out.

  39. MaryAnn Davis via FB says:

    I assume these dyes will stain some things and not stain others… be careful.

  40. Olga Shapiro Signer – If stored in an airtight jar it can last for 6+ months. I’m not exactly sure how much a batch makes in terms of cups. We usually make a couple of colors at a time and it is enough for my kiddos.

  41. Erica Newton Penton via FB says:

    <3 the natural dye part. Thanks for sharing….:)

  42. Jessica Franklin via FB says:

    I need this for my preschool class. One of my boys keeps putting the commercial play dough in his mouth….

  43. mandeep says:

    I ordered your DIY organic beauty recipe on Black Friday. I only got detox no beauty recipe. I felt like I got ripped off. I didn’t want detox body. I was more untreated in beauty recipe. Very dissapointed. False advertising..

    • Heather says:

      Hi Mandeep, can you clarify for me if the wrong ebook was delivered to you or if the book was not what you expected? I am emailing you now to see what I can do to resolve this.

  44. Julie Nelson via FB says:

    Becky Putzer – they make a gluten free version too!

  45. Jaymee Grass via FB says:

    I gave homemade play doh to my niece and nephew last year for Christmas.

  46. Dianne Cooper via FB says:

    This entertained my kids for many

  47. Dianne Cooper via FB says:

    Years without allergic reactions to the scent in the brand name dough.

  48. Ashley Sparks via FB says:

    Thank you!!!!

  49. Kimberly Arms Green via FB says:

    Can this b made w coconut flour & tapioca instead, as we cant have any grains containing gluten in our home.

  50. Katrina Glasgow via FB says:

    Mum always had this ready for us on the holidays, we never went without, best colours and memories.

  51. Joanna Stiner Schneider via FB says:

    KyleBeth J. Hartman….gluten free play dough recipe! (Scroll to the bottom) 😉

  52. Julie Walker via FB says:

    Ammie Macpherson

  53. Tara says:

    Any suggestions for a GAPS-friendly play dough recipe?

  54. Kara says:

    I am making the gluten free dough for my boys, for Christmas. It is way too sticky!!! Help! It was a major splurge just to buy the ingredients :( Any advice?? I put it back on the stove maybe I didn’t cook it long enough? I also added more rice flour

  55. […] how about making homemade, non-toxic play dough and spend time together making fun […]

  56. […] some Dye-Free Playdough! Send a kid outside to collect a few leaves, rocks, sticks, ferns, etc. for making […]

  57. […] would prefer to use natural dyes if I can. Two things that came to mind were beets and turmeric.  Here is a recipe for play dough using natural dyes (includes gluten free) from […]

  58. april says:

    Do you need the vinegar for the dye if your using it for playdough or is that just with eggs?

  59. Danielle says:

    I haven’t tried it, but I wonder if using fermented colored water would work to help it last for those looking for a cot sub. I have some fermented beets and theliliquid is very red. Idk its too precious for me to use in playdough!

  60. […] Homemade Play dough Easter Egg with natural dyes […]

  61. […] in our playdough to make ours look like a lemon, but you could make it in any color! Or even try natural playdough dyes like they used over at […]

  62. […]  Make Your Own Playdough With Natural Dyes […]

  63. Bekah says:

    what can you use in replacement of cream of tartar?

  64. Hi there! I wanted to say thank you for sharing your recipe with us! I have one question and didn’t see it asked above. I am wondering if there is a need to ‘clean’ the playdoh since children can transfer all kind of things into it, like bacteria, dirt, etc. I wasn’t sure if the salt continues to naturally kill the bacteria or do we need to some how clean it? I have a child with a low immune system, so I try to keep things as clean as I possibly can. Thank you for any positive answers you can give me.

  65. Gopika says:

    Hi I made this but it turned out v soft. The store play doh is a lot harder and therefore easier to make into different shapes. The home made version tends to just collapse. Is that normal of did I do something wrong?

  66. Cindy says:

    FYI tapioca flour DOESN’T WORK!!

  67. Stephanie says:

    Hi! These look lovely! Have you tried baking this dough at all?


  68. […] fun, easy homemade playdough recipe uses stuff you probably already have in your fridge/pantry, and there’s a gluten-free option […]

  69. romina says:

    I tried making this yesterday. I made all of my colors first then mixed with the dry ingredients and cooked like instructed. my beets one worked, the tumeric one worked. However, green and blue were another story. I had never done the cabbage thing with baking soda, so doing science on my stove top was very exciting. I decided to make blue, purple and green from cabbage, since I had enough. However, everytime I mixed the liquid color with the dry ingredients, science would occur again and the color would dissapear, making the dough a fleshy color. It seemed to have a reaction with either the salt or cream of tartar. I have searched high and low for a recipe for blue, and apparently it is the hardest color to make naturally and synthetic. So, I was wondering since you did not have a picture of it, have you tried this yourself and did it work? am I doing something wrong? I know of a non cooking recipe that uses the same ingredients as yours, but you just mix boiling water with the dry ingredients and it turns to dough, so I was going to try with that recipe. I see that there are people selling natural dough on the internet that obviously have mastered blue, wish they would share how they do it. Any help from anyone is appreciated! Thanks!

    • Heather says:

      I had trouble with green too – I used spinach and it came out a fleshy colour like Romina’s did. What are we doing wrong?

  70. Susan says:

    In case no one else has said it, blackberries actually make more of a red rather than purple. Did that for valentine’s day.

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