Gluten-Free Playdough (RECIPE)

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Playdough is a fun and creative art medium.  However, for gluten-free kids, Play-doh is not an option, as Play-doh brand contains gluten. Since gluten can absorb through the skin and (if your kids are like mine) kids often eat playdough, so gluten-free playdough is the solution! I have made many batches of playdough – some a total failure – so I’m here to share my learning and the recipe that works every time. 3/4 Cup White Rice Flour 3/4 Cup Cornstarch 3/4 Cup Salt 1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar (same thing as tartaric acid powder – NOT tartar sauce) 2 tsp olive or seed oil 1 ½ Cup Water, hot but not boiling Food Coloring, as desired Directions: Add all dry ingredients in a pot.  Add vegetable oil, then the water, and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.  Then turn on heat.  Heat the pot on the stove over low heat – stir continuously for about 3 minutes. When the dough pulls away from the sides into a big ball, place dough into glass bowl Once cool enough to handle.  Divide into 3-5 pieces.  Add several drops of natural food coloring to the ball and massage until you get the color you desire.  I like to make an indentation in the ball, drop in the food coloring, fold the ball over so the color is in the middle, and slowly knead until color is blended.  If the dough is too wet, add cornstarch.  If it’s too dry, massage in a bit of water. I find that when I add coloring it gets a bit too wet and sticky. I usually let is dry out for a few hours here and there (maybe 2 or 3 hours a few times – too many hours and it will get crusty around the edges).  Then it’s the perfect texture and not sticky any more.  While you can also knead a bit of cornstarch in each batch, if you have a bit of sensory sensitivity like I must, you may not like that – it’s a bit tough for me so I use my palms. Store in an airtight container.  I do not store mine in the refrigerator and it stays very fresh. These are my hardboiled egg molds (that I got at a Japanese market) used as playdough molds.

Julie Matthews is a Certified Nutrition Consultant who received her master’s degree in medical nutrition with distinction from Arizona State University. She is also a published nutrition researcher and has specialized in complex neurological conditions, particularly autism spectrum disorders and ADHD for over 20 years. Julie is the award winning author of Nourishing Hope for Autism, co-author of a study proving the efficacy of nutrition and dietary intervention for autism published in the peer-reviewed journal, Nutrients, and also the founder of BioIndividualNutrition.com. Download her free guide, 12 Nutrition Steps to Better Health, Learning, and Behavior.

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20 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your recipe and for the recommendation of natural food colorings, too! My daughter is sensitive to rice as well as gluten. Do you have a suggestion as to what other gluten free flour may work well? I have on hand teff, millet, and amaranth.

    Reply
    • You might try any, but I often find sorghum is a good rice substitute. Something fine and not grainy/course would be best. I bet any of those you mentioned might work. Let us know how it turns out!

      Reply
  2. Hi Julie! Have you tried using another starch other than cornstarch? I wondered about arrowroot or tapioca starch for people allergic to corn?

    Reply
    • Hi Sueson! Yes, I have tried, several times, and each time it failed. I wish because I don’t love corn either. If you get it to work, let me know.

      Reply
    • I’ve made a good playdough from besan (chickpea/garbanzo) flour. I used that flour instead of wheat flour.

      Reply
      • Cool Bob! Thanks for sharing your experience. Do you have a recipe?

        Reply
  3. JusT made this tonight, and at first I got totally freaked out I’d done something wrong!
    It looked like soup at first! Lol. Then as I kept stirring and stirring, playdo formed right before my eyes!!! 😀 My 5yr old who has celiacs got to play with playdo for the first time in 3yrs!!! He was a happy camper!

    Reply
    • Yay Charity! So glad it worked for you and that you son was happy and enjoyed it!!!

      Reply
  4. Of course!!! Bento boxes… Sorry, totally off topic but a quick search naturally turned up the egg molds. I absolutely love the bento box idea. Buying egg molds today… Good cheap deals right on amazon 🙂 As you’ve demonstrated, they’ll double as an awesome gf play dough mold for my gaggle of celiac kiddos! Gracias mama.

    Reply
  5. Um, wow… The dough looks greate BUT I must admit the reason for my post is to point out how totally freaking cooooooool the boiled egg mold is!!!! Ive GOT to get a hold of something like that. Oh goooooogllllllle???? Got any tips as to where one might find such super cool items online if my search turns up blank?? Super neato.

    Reply
    • I get them from a Japanese shop – as I live near Japantown. But you can also get them on Amazon. They are really fun.

      Reply
  6. what type of natural food coloring do you use? i heard a lot of them go bad so you would have to throw out your playdough so looking for a good one 🙂 thanks!

    Reply
    • I use India Tree for everything except the blue colors which I use Seelect brand. They are great. They don’t fade too much and keep fresh and good color for 4-6 months at least. Red fades the most but you can add a bit more color if you want to freshen it up.

      Reply
  7. WOW what a great site for gluten free playdough!!

    Reply
  8. How long does it last when kept in an air-tight container? 🙂

    Reply
    • Months! If you keep it fresh and from getting dried out, I’d say 3-6 months at least, if not indefinitely.

      Reply
  9. can I replace the vegetable oil for coconut oil? or olive oil?

    Reply
    • Absolutely! I actually use olive oil. I’ve also used sunflower oil. Coconut may harden, I’m not sure.

      Reply
  10. LOVE IT – my daughter trys to eat playdough all the time and this should be better on her if she does….thanks

    Reply
  11. My son was excited but when he saw the playdough from the car mold he was over the moon!

    Reply

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