How to Make Homemade Play Dough with Food Ingredients

Making homemade play dough is a great activity to do in the summer with your kids. We give it a twist by using food ingredients to give it a natural coloring and an amazing scent!

  • By Jess Smith
  • May 15, 2017

You’ve probably been playing with play dough for most of your life, but we bet you’ve never made play dough using food ingredients. That’s right – we’ll show you how to use your pantry to make play dough in a rainbow of colors that are scented too.

Before we start, we need to issue a warning: This play dough will smell incredible. (Especially if you’re using cocoa powder.) It will make you and your kids want to eat it. We strongly advise against that. Yes, the smell is intoxicating and they look like ice cream, and even though all the ingredients used to make the play dough are edible, we assure you that it won’t be very tasty. 😉

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s begin!

Step One: Dig Through Your Pantry

Dig through your pantry to find items you can add to your play dough. Be creative! Almost anything in your spice cabinet will work, but we also recommend not using anything with chili peppers or spicy ingredients. Those can hurt your kids’ hands and eyes!

The ingredients we tested in this photo below, from left to right, are unsweetened cocoa powder, paprika, ground thyme, crushed dehydrated strawberries, mustard powder, and black sesame seeds. Some other suggestions include ground allspice, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, matcha green tea powder, any kind of crushed dehydrated fruits and ground rosemary.

Step Two: Make the Play Dough

This recipe is for one batch of scented play dough. You would need to make this several times, depending on how many “flavors” you want to make.

This play dough recipe is so easy to make, your kids can make it entirely on their own. Depending on their age, they will require adult supervision. You and your kids can also watch the video below to get a better sense of how to make homemade play dough.

1 4

Homemade Scented Play Dough

Enjoy a fun kitchen activity with your kids that allows you to rummage in the pantry and make scented play dough.

Cook time: 5 min

Total time: 5 min


  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Salt
  • 2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 2 Tbsp Dried spice of choice (see above for some suggestions!)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Oil, Cooking
  • 1 cup Water



  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, cream of tartar and spice. Stir it all together.
  2. Place a nonstick saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Pour dry ingredients and then oil and water into the heated pan.
  4. Cook, stirring until dough forms a firm but flexible ball, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Set play dough on a cutting board until cool enough to handle (careful – it will be very hot!)

How to Make Play Dough with Kitchen Spices

Give homemade play dough a twist by using food ingredients to give it a natural coloring and an amazing scent in this fun-filled food project for kids!

Step Three: Play Time!

Once the play dough is cool enough to handle, let your kids go wild with their imaginations. When they’re done playing for the day, you can store the play dough in sealed containers or plastic bags, and it will last for weeks.

We created this project as a way for kids to exercise their creativity and continue learning and exploring when summer hits and school is out.

In addition to homemade play dough, we have created 3 other food experiments in our #KidsFood series to keep kids entertained. Check them out here:


How to Make Fruit & Veggie Stamped Tea Towels

Add some meaning and color to your kitchen space with food stamped tea towels made by your kids. Read more.


How Do Plants Absorb Water?

Turn your kids into little scientists and teach them what happens when they water plants! Our fun project will allow… Read more.


What Foods Grow Mold?

We’re calling all little scientists for a food mold experiment! With our fun project, your kids will get a first… Read more.

We would love to see your kids’ play dough creations, so do share with us on Instagram or Pinterest with hashtag #KidsFood, so we can find them!

Have fun building anything you can dream up!

As always, we’re here to help you live your best life in the kitchen and provide delicious memories for you and your family. Join our cooking community by signing up for our newsletter below, and we’ll send you great cooking tips and resources that will help you raise your kitchen IQ and cook with confidence.

How to Make Homemade Play Dough with Food Ingredients | Cook SmartsHow to Make Homemade Play Dough with Food Ingredients | Cook Smarts

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