Scented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (2024)

If you are a preschool teacher, you probably go through a lot ofplaydough.Scented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (1)If you are a preschool parent, you probably go through a lot of playdough, too. It can get pricey, which is why you need this absolutely perfect no-cookplaydough recipe without cream of tartar, and it really is…well…absolutely perfect.

Plus, check out all best playdough recipes and tips for how to make playdough at home.

Scented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (2)

I love this playdough recipe because, not only is it quick and easy to make and smells delicious, but it’s also the perfect consistency for hand strengthening.

Preschoolers need hand strengthening activities to prepare them for life skills. It also prepares them for learning the correct and mature pencil grasp. Playdough is also a great accompaniment to a variety of preschool themes andmath activities.

And, did I mention it’s cheap? I don’t know about you, but with the quantities of play dough made around here, cream of tartar can get pricey. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve used the last of it in your mom’s best snickerdoodle recipe and now you have none left for play dough.

So, a playdough recipe without cream of tartarScented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (3)is a really valuable thing!

Playdough Recipe with No Cream of Tartar

This recipe does not call for cream of tartarScented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (5) to stabilize it, and the recipe doesn’t call for expensive extracts or essential oils for fragranceScented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (6), although they can easily be added.

Aside from this playdough recipe being so extremely affordable, the playdough itself really is just perfect.

Watch the how-to video on this page and you’ll see how it is malleable, but not sticky, holds its shape beautifully, but without being crumbly.

Other perks include the fact that this is a no cook playdough recipe, which makes it super fast and easy to make. This is easily our favorite recipe. It has juts the right texture for activities like our cupcake playdough mats, too.

Disclaimer: I have had my fair share of play dough fails. Remember this Facebook post of my failed red play dough that brought my sweet daughter to tears? Well, tears no more, because I’m also sharing some tips and tricks to making play dough perfect the first time!

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Playdough Recipe Without Cream of Tartar

This is always my go-to homemade playdough recipe because it is such an easy playdough recipe! It’s pretty fool-proof.

It’s a small batch recipe, making just over a cup of playdough, but it can easily be doubled or tripled for larger groups.


Cooking Supplies Needed for No-Cook Play Dough

Cream of Tartar Substitute for Playdough

We’ve all been there when we’re ready to cook or bake something and ate we are out a key ingredient. For DIY homemake playdough recipes, that often means you have no cream of tartar.

However, there are a lot of cream of tartar substitutes that will work just as well.

This playdough recipe uses lemon juice, but any kind of vinegar will work just as well. In a super big pinch, you could even use plain yogurt or buttermilk. You might need just a little bit more water.

How to Make Playdough without Cream of Tartar

Measure the water and lemon juice into a heatproof, microwavable 2-cup measuring cup. Heat in the microwave until nearly boiling, about 2-3 minutes. Do not heat the water to an actual boil.

Meanwhile, mix together the flour and salt.

If using Kool AidScented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (21) for the fragrance, slowly (and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y, because the mixture will foam a bit) pour the kool-aid packets into the HOT water and lemon juice mixture and add additional food coloringScented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (22) to intensify the color if desired.

Caution: While this is a “no-cook” and very simple playdough recipe, it does involve very hot water, so please be careful and always supervise children while they are helping.

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Slowly pour the liquid into the flour and salt mixture, and stir with a wooden paddle until it just barely begins to form a dough.

Drizzle the tablespoon of cooking oil over the dough and stir again until it forms a ball. At this point, you may want to knead the dough with your hands.

It may feel a bit sticky, too, but DO NOT add more flour. As the dough cools it will thicken and become less sticky. (Just like how gravy turns to sludge once refrigerated).

Now, once the dough is completely cooled, you may add flour a tablespoon at a time until it is the perfect consistency.

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Allow the dough to cool a bit on a sheet of aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. By the time you finish the next batch of play dough, the first will be cool enough to store.

I love to store playdough in these freezer jam containers because the screw on lids are more airtight than snap-on lids.

How to Fix Playdough

This recipe if practically fool proof, but it the texture isn’t 100% perfect, then try these tips.

How do I fix sticky playdough?

Not using enough flour or salt result in sticky playdough, and so will using too much water. If you used the correct quantities in this recipe and your play dough is still sticky, it probably needs to cool a little longer. Once the dough is completely cooled, it should have the right consistency.

But if the dough is completely cooled, and it the playdough is still sticky, try kneading in some more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until you get the desired temperature.

How do I fix crumbly playdough?

If you end up with crumbly or dry playdough, it’s probably because you didn’t use enough water and lemon juice. To fix crumbly playdough, just add a little water, one tablespoon at a time, and knead really well. It’s going to be messy at first, but just keep kneading.

To avoid adding too much water while trying ti fix dry playdough, add leave the newly kneaded playdough in a plastic baggy overnight to let the water fully integrate before adding more.

Why do I need lemon juice in my playdough?

Like cream of tartar, lemon juice, or even vinegar, helps stabilize the dough, giving it that malleable playdough texture we all love. It also acts as a preservative, making the dough last longer.

Scented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (25)

This recipe has always turned out, and it’s definitely an added bonus that this playdough recipe doesn’t call for cream of tarter. Save that stuff for Snickerdoodle cookies!

And if you have a preschooler in your life and you make loads of playdough, my 45 Playdough Recipes E-book is for you! It is a collection of all my greatest recipes for making playdough.

More Easy Playdough Recipes

Homemade playdough s a staple in my preschool classroom. We use it nearly every day. Because of that, I am always coming up with new and unique playdough recipes. Here are some of our favorites:

How to Store Homemade Playdough

This playdough recipe will last a long time, especially if you keep it in the fridge, which is another reason why preschool teachers love this recipe. It will keep on the shelf for up to three months if storied in an air-tight container. I like to use freezer jam containers.

This recipe will keep for up to three months, but be sure to have your preschoolers wash their hands before playing with the playdough. DIY playdough recipes don’t have additives that will increase shelf-life like commercial Play-Doh does, so a good hand washing before playing is a great idea.

Get Your FREE Printable Playdough Recipe Here

Think you’ll be making this playdough recipe a lot? Print a copy of the recipe to save it for later. Just click the image below to have it sent to your email.

Try Some of My Favorite Playdough Accessories

Scented No-Cook Playdough Recipe without Cream of Tartar (27)

Best Playdough Recipe Without Cream of Tartar

Yield: a little over one cup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

No cream of tartar? No problem! This no-cook playdough recipe doesn't call for cream of tartar to stabilize the dough.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup of waterminus3 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 packets kool-aid (optional for fragrance and coloring)


  • large mixing bowl
  • heat proof glass measuring cup
  • measuring cups
  • parchment paper
  • wooden paddle or spoon


    1. Mix water and lemon juice in a glass, microwave-proof mixing cup. Heat until boiling, about five minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, mix together flour, salt and oil in a medium size mixing bowl. Set aside.
    3. Add the kool-aid packet(s) to the boiling water and lemon juice mixture. Be careful, this could foam. Whisk until the kool-aid dissolves.
    4. Pour the liquids over the flour mixture and mix well.
    5. Turn out onto the counter and knead until the flour is well combined.
    6. Cool completely before play.


The consistency of this playdough will be slightly sticky while warm. Allow to cool completely before adding additional flour to adjust consistency.

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Sarah Punkoney, MAT

I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.

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