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A Year of Slow Cooking

Friday, April 25, 2008

CrockPot Play Dough Recipe

Day 116.

In my former life, I used to run preschool centers. I've made lots of playdough. I've also bought lots of playdough---both generic and the Play Doh brand.

It's wonderful, it's now incredibly cheap, and it keeps your children entertained for hours.

And making your own is fun. You can add texture by throwing in some cornmeal or playground sand, add drops of essential oil for smell, or even add a packet of sugar free Koolaid for a bright color and strong kid-approved smell.
Homemade playdough makes great gifts for the holidays or party favors. If you have a gluten free preschool-aged child, I would highly recommend being the "playdough mom" who brings in a new batch (or the storebought) each month into your child's class. That way everyone plays with the same stuff, so there isn't a worry of cross-contamination, and the teachers will adore you for bringing new stuff regularly. Trust me in that you do not want to know how gross playdough can get after a month or two in a preschool classroom. 20/20 should do a segment on playdough germs...

This is easy to make, and children can help without the worry of being burnt by standing near a hot stove.

The Ingredients.

I have bought all of this in bulk from Smart and Final or Costco---except for the rice flour. I get rice flour at an Asian grocery store for 59 cents a bag.

--2 cups rice flour (if you are not gluten free, use plain ol' All Purpose)
--1 cup corn starch
--1 cup salt
--1/4 cup cream of tartar
--2 cups hot water
--2 t cooking oil (not a typo! that's all the oil you need!)

The Directions.

--Plug in your crockpot and turn to low to warm up slowly.
--Dump in your dry ingredients, stirring to evenly distribute.

Add the water and oil. Close the lid and switch the heat to high.

Set a timer and check your playdough every 30 minutes, stirring well each time. Our playdough took a little under 2 hours to make.

You will know it's done or close to done when the playdough begins to form a ball when you stir it.

When that happens, remove the stoneware insert from your crockpot and stir some more. Dump it out onto a smooth surface and begin to knead----be careful---- it's going to be hot. If your dough is overly sticky, add a bit of cornstarch; if overly dry, add a touch more hot water. Each time you make the dough, the water required will be a bit different, depending on the humidity in the air.

Separate the dough into manageable lumps and push a hole into the center for a few drops of food coloring--let the kids squish the dough around to distribute the desired color. Their hands will be a bit colored for a few hours...

The Verdict.

We prepared this during a playdate, and the kids had a ball. In order for everybody to see clearly and to "help"--I spread a vinyl tablecloth on the floor and used a mini-extension cord for the crockpot.

This recipe makes enough dough for 4-5 children to play with at a time.
Store in a ziplock bag or a tightly sealed plastic container. If stored properly, the dough will last 3-4 months.
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Randi said...

Love this! Great idea for my toddlers ... we'll definitely try it. Thanks for all your awesome ideas!

Carrie said...

Great idea! I will be making this for party favors for a my nieces birthday party. Adding some scented oil is a wonderful idea.
I don't know where you come up with some of your ideas, but they are great. I have mentioned your site on my blog. The play dough will be my fourth recipe from your site. Thanks Crockpot Lady!

Anonymous said...

So I'm wandering your recipies and I find one that says "If your crockpot is too big put an over safe dish in your stoneware"

OMG! That's genius! Now I can get more uses out fo my HUGE crockpot!

Stephanie C. said...

You win "Mom of the Decade" for this one! What an incredibly wonderful idea. My kids are too old for playdough (so I say), but I love this idea.
Question: why do you not add the food coloring with the liquid?

Crockpot Lady said...

thanks everybody for saying such nice things!

stephanie, just because it is fun for the kids to mix in and because it stains my wooden spoons..


cristie said...

Thanks for the gluten-free recipe! My kids and I get together with a good friend whose children have celiac disease. This playdough will be great to give her as a gift and for all of us to play with together

Amie said...

Playdough has been banned from our house. I HATE the stuff. So good of you to make it for your kids!

Susanne said...

My friend would be very interested in this. I'm linking this for sure.

Crockstar said...

Awesome!! My stepkids will be here this weekend and this will be a perfect activity. Thanks!


The Unrepentant Gallivanter said...

I make play dough all the time. (the kids in Italy call it pizza dough. If I say play dough G doesn't know what I mean.) I like the idea of having the kids squish the color in themselves! I always make the whole batch the same color - but this way we can have more colors and she can HELP! (they always love to help.) Thank you!!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

So, does it need to be gluten free incase they put it in their mouth or can it be absorbed through the skin? I will keep this in mind when we get together with our gluten free friends.

I love the kool aid idea.

Graceful Babies said...

My son has a gluten allergy and this is wonderful. I actually use to make my own for my daughter but stopped letting her play with it because of the fear my son might ingest it. Thank you Thank you! I actually never thought of this!

Katie, mama de ocho said...

Steph- Love your blog- have been enjoying it for a couple of months now. We've made the teriyaki chicken, lemon chicken, lettuce wraps, taco dip, bean dip, lazy chicken, bananas foster and tonight we made the play dough! Everything we've made has been great!!! Your blog makes me miss my CA Trader Joe's but we love NW Arkansas. Thanks for being a blessing in our lives!!! Keep it up!!p.s. you're hilarious too!!

GeorgiaPeachez said...

Aren't you clever! Thank goodness my kids are too old for playdough. xo, suzy

applesofgold said...

YOU ARE MY HERO!!!!! Playdough in the crock pot! My life is now complete!

nicole said...

Good idea. I will have to try this.

tammiemarie said...

cool, we have to try this!

Canadian Saver said...


mom2kchmw said...

WOW!! I never would have thought of this on my own. Gonna have to try it. My kids are going to love it! I will mix the coloring in with the liquid though. I don't like the mess of them doing it themselves.

Angela's Kitchen said...

You ROCK! Thanks a TON!

Who would'a thunk it?

alison said...

You are so cool. I have been meaning to get my s*** together and make some gf playdough (and post a recipe), so I will be linking to this one soooon.

gfcfmom said...

i have made GF playdough before and it has been oily and yucky. This recipe was great. Thankyou!

lamamanaturale said...

No freakin' way!! Who would've thought~ I'm new to the site...and just love it! I was so ready to buy a crockpot recipe book today...but instead I happened to come across your site while visiting ?'s left me...mama brain...sorry! Anyway, I'll definitely be trying this and a few others! :) So cool.

Randi said...

We made your playdough today and it was great! They're busy playing with it right now. Thanks for the neat recipe!

Crockpot Lady said...

yay, Randi! I'm glad it worked out well for you1

ours is still holding up strong.

emily said...

We have a very rainy Saturday here, so this morning the girls (age 20mos and 3yrs), helped me put all the ingredients in, stir, and set the timer. Ours was done in 45 minutes and they are still playing! This is awesome!!! The consistency, no nasty hand feeling, no worries about who puts what where.

Thank you so much! You make things I would be scared to do - look easy and I try it and I love it :)

Note: We didn't have the full amount of cream of tartar but it worked out fine!

Gabrielle Smith said...

THANK YOU so much. My daughter starts preschool on Monday and I needed a recipe that was safe for her (wheat allergy). We just made it and she had a blast AND it works great in her playdough toys! Question: does it need to be refrigerated after?

Crockpot Lady said...

Hi Gabrielle!
nope, we store it in a ziplock. We're still using the same batch since April!


dancingpandasoap said...

Dear Steph--You never did answer the question "My Ice Cream Diary" asked all that time ago: Why exactly does the play dough need to be gluten-free? Fear of accidental ingestion, or does it get absorbed through the skin? Curious to know, as I have friends who have gluten-free kids. Wouldn't want to have them over for a playdate and cause unintentional injury.

Crockpot Lady said...

Hi dancingpandasoap,
thank you for alerting me to this. The concern is that the playdough could get under fingernails, stuck to fingers, etc. and be ingested. Some with gluten-intolerances also get skin rashes, and a few moms I know state that they can tell from behavior changes that the gluten was absorbed through the skin. I haven't had that experience, knock-on-wood.


dancingpandasoap said...

Thanks for clearing that up! Can you tell we don't have children of our own yet? *grin* I never would have thought about it getting stuck under their fingernails. I appreciate the information. :)

Anonymous said...

hi! i literally just made this and it couldn't have been easier! i even forgot about checking it after 30 mins. and only remembered at the 45 min. mark. it was perfect!! thanks so much for this recipe, now we can get creative with playdough again!!

MaryP said...

I've had this bookmarked for a couple of months now, and finally made it this morning when our last batch had died.

Two hours? Wow. I found that it was COMPLETELY done after the first 30 minutes. In fact, when I lifted the lid, the top layer was dry and crusty. I thought the batch was ruined!

I scraped the top off, though, and the rest was fine. Any idea why that happened? (I was using a 6 litre pot. Was it maybe too big?)

marijkesaim said...

This is probably a dumb question but if using the cool-aid do you need to mix it with water first or just have them use the powder? Thanks! I love this idea I'm gonna have to try it with the kids I babysit. Love your blog =]

Stephanie O'Dea said...

It's not a dumb question! Nope, no need to mix the Koolaid powder with the water, it'll all mix together just fine. We love the koolaid playdough!

xoxo steph

Sarah said...

My mom used to make homemade play dough for me and my brother. She used to stir in packets of Kool Aid to give it a nice scent and some color.

anneinnj said...

Is it a tablespoon full of oil or a teaspoon? Thank you so much for this. My allergic wheat kindergartener thinks you are fantastic.

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Hi Anne,
only teaspoons. The kids and I actually just made a double batch last sunday. I've found that once it hits ball stage, to let it cool a bit, then break into soft-ball size lumps to let the kids knead. You may need a bit more water, add just with your fingertips.
have fun!

Anonymous said...

this is my new Go-To website. Love it. Wish though, that in addition to gluten-free you were dye-free ( petroleum-based dyes, e.g. red #40 yellow # 5 etc)
No worries though- - -love ya!

Suzanne said...

Super glad to have found a gluten free recipe for play dough! One thing I haven't been able to find cream of tartar here in Sweden is there something that can be used instead? I have seen another recipe in swedish that called for citric acid would that do the same in your recipe?

Regina said...

This worked out awesome....mine was done in about 30 min and used some kool aid to color it and a little food color too..but kool aid worked great...except for the grape...grape kool aid does not make play dough makes it black...LOL oh well...We will have fun for a long, long, time...thanks for sharing your recipe..

Suzanne said...

What a wonderful way to teach patience, too. They love playdough and would surely be anticipating being able to play with it, but will have to wait. Perfect!

Kyle Tuttle said...

This worked out fantastic but it definitely took less than 2 hours... We mixed everything together, made a batch of koolaid, stirred again and it was ready... Maybe 15 to 20 min all together

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