Making your own playdough is quick and easy and a fun activity for everyone. When you have a child with food allergies, making your own safe allergy free playdough is a must. This simple method takes just 5 minutes to 10 minutes and the colourful dough will keep well in the fridge for hours of fun.
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Why make your own playdough?
Why make your own playdough when there are plenty of ready made modelling clay available to buy?
Food allergens in playdough
While playdough isn’t food and isn’t meant to be eaten, we all know that curious children are going to taste it at some stage. And even if they don’t, playdough is a hands-on play experience where dough comes into direct contact with little hands and fingers. Playdough, modelling clay and other craft supplies all need to be allergy free to keep our children with food allergies safe.
According to Habro, the makers of Playdoh(R) brand, their original Playdoh product is a proprietary mixture of water, salt and flour. Hasbro doesn’t disclose the exact ingredients but does say on its website that Playdoh doesn’t contain any peanuts, tree nuts or milk ingredients. It does however contain wheat (and gluten).
If your child has a wheat allergy or coeliac disease, wheat free playdough is a must. And if you want to be sure that your playdough is free from all relevant allergens for you, making your own is the way to go.
Other advantages of making your own playdough
Apart from ensuring your playdough is food allergy safe, making your own is:
- quick and easy;
- inexpensive, and uses commonly available ingredients;
- a fun activity to do with the kids at home (under supervision of course).
And as a bonus, you can make whatever colours you like. (Although of course we all know that once all the colours get mixed together you are going to end up with a murky brown!)
Allergy free playdough ingredients
For this allergy free playdough recipe you’ll need:
- 1 cup of gluten free plain (all purpose) flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 2-3 drops of food colouring (or more to achieve your desired colour)
Are the salt and cream of tartar necessary?
There are lots of different recipes for playdough. Some modern recipes have only 3 ingredients and some are even edible. However, we prefer the traditional way of making playdough with salt and cream of tartar. This is not only because of the stable consistency, but also because it will keep for much longer in the fridge. The salt and cream of tartar act to preserve the dough longer.
Salt is also supposed to stop little people from eating it.
Gluten free flour
You can use your normal safe gluten free plain/all purpose flour in this recipe. We used some left over White Wings gluten free flour which is made with maize and tapioca starch, rice flour and vegetable gums.
Allergy safe food colourings
We have never had any allergy issues with the usual store bought food dyes from the supermarket, but you may prefer to use something more natural and with less food chemicals. There are quite a few vegan natural food dyes available now.
Hopper Natural Food Colours are a a great option for chemical free food dyes. They don’t use any gluten, dairy, egg, or nuts in their manufacturing. In Australia you can buy Hopper Natural Food Colours online from Happy Tummies or direct from HopperHQ.
McCormick Nature’s Inspiration food colours made from plants vegetables and seeds are another allergy friendly and vegan friendly option.
You could even use your own food ingredients to colour your dough, taking into account any food allergies. Try a little saffron or tumeric for yellow, paprika for orange, matcha for green, beet for red/pink or even coffee or cocoa for brown.
Place all of your ingredients together in a medium saucepan and combine. For a single colour batch, add the food colouring to the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Stir continuously over low heat until the dough starts to form a pliable ball.
Remove from the heat to cool and then mould into a ball with your hands. You may need to knead the dough to spread the colour evenly.
Making multiple allergy free playdough colours
If you would like to make more than one colour per batch, simply cook the dough without the colouring first. Then remove half of the dough into a separate (colour safe) bowl. Add one food colour to this half of the dough and mix well with a a metal spoon or fork. Add another colour to the dough remaining in the saucepan and mix well to combine.
Larger quantities, storage and tools
This recipe can easily be doubled to make larger quantities of playdough.
Playdough can be stored in an air tight container or plastic zip lock bag in the fridge for several weeks. If the dough becomes mushy or forms a hard salt crust it is time to throw it away.
More food allergy-friendly ideas
If you have little ones with food allergies, you’ll love our allergy friendly recipes and other tips on safe play, including how to safely enjoy hatching chicks at school with egg allergies.
If you or your child have a wheat allergy, you night like our post about whether gluten free and wheat free are the same thing.
How to Make Your Own Allergy Free Playdough
- 1 Medium saucepan
- 1 mixing spoon
- measuring cups and spoons
- 1 cup gluten free plain (all purpose) flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2-3 drops food colouring
- Place all of ingredients together in a medium saucepan and combine.
- Stir continuously over low heat until the dough starts to form a pliable ball.
- Remove from the heat to cool and then mould into a ball with your hands. You may need to knead the dough to spread the colour evenly.