Gluten-free Play Dough

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Update September 9, 2011

When I was speaking with my daughter’s teacher last week, she told me that she likes to use play dough in the classroom. I told her that it would be a problem for my daughter, but that I’d be happy to make some gluten-free play dough for the class. For some classes in the past, I’ve purchased pre-made play dough, and my kids have just used their own personal supply of gluten-free play dough. But, I’ve also made play dough for the whole class to use. I’ve done well with the Kool Aid recipe below without problems, but I didn’t have the Kool Aid needed. And, I often had to add a lot of cornstarch to it after it cooked.

I decided to adjust the recipe to make it easier and faster to make. After one completely disastrous attempt, I came up with a recipe that was absolutely the easiest and fastest I’ve ever made. I kept Cream of Tartar in the recipe, but found that Xanthan Gum wasn’t needed. Five minutes of measuring and mixing, three minutes of cooking, and another five minutes of kneading in the color resulted in hours of fun! And, the texture was perfect – just like you would expect homemade play dough to be.

Easiest Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe


1 Cup White Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Cornstarch
1/2 Cup Salt
1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
1-1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 Cup Water, hot but not boiling
Food Coloring, as desired


  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium pot.
  2. Add the vegetable oil, then the water, and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Heat the pot on the stove over low heat for about 3 minutes. I like to stir frequently with a silicone spatula.
  4. When the dough starts to pull away from the sides easily, turn out the dough onto parchment paper. Let it cool briefly until you can work it with your hands.
  5. Knead food coloring into the dough until you get the color you desire.

Additional Notes:

  • Don’t overcook the dough. It shouldn’t need more than five minutes.
  • To add food coloring, I use the method I’ve used since I was a kid: Using your thumbs, make a well in the middle of the ball of dough and drop the food coloring into the well. Close up the well with the outside dough, keeping the food coloring in the middle of the ball. Then, carefully begin kneading it until the color is evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  • You don’t have to use the parchment paper. The dough shouldn’t be sticky. I use the parchment paper to simply keep residue and food coloring off my counter top. Wax paper or a plate would work just as well.
  • If needed, adjust the texture with small amounts of water (for dry, crumbly dough) or cornstarch (for sticky dough).
  • Makes about 2 cups of play dough, or about 2 baseball-size balls of dough.
  • Store in tightly sealed plastic bags or containers.

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Original Post January 28, 2009

We’re on our second snow day at home and the kids were happy to pull out the play dough for something to do. I was amazed that it was still good. It’s been a couple months since we’ve played with it, and about 9 months since we first made it! We’ve tried several recipes for play dough, but this one is our favorite. The Kool-Aid gives it a nice scent and additional color. You can use the additional cornstarch to adjust the consistency as needed. We store different colors in zip-type plastic bags and put them all together in a plastic bucket with a lid.

Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe


2/3 Cup rice flour
1/3 Cup potato starch or cornstarch
1/3 Cup salt
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
1 pkg unsweetened Kool-Aid
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Cup warm water

Additional food coloring optional
Extra potato starch or cornstarch for kneading dough – We use a lot to get a preferred consistency.


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the rice flour, potato starch or cornstarch, salt, xanthan gum, Cream of Tartar and Kool-Aid powder.
  2. Add the oil and the warm water to the flour mixture and mix well. (If you want to add food coloring, mix it first with the warm water.)
  3. Heat the mixture on medium heat for about one minute or until the mixture thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a cornstarch-floured surface or parchment paper.
  5. Knead in enough potato starch until the dough is no longer sticky.
  6. Store in an airtight container or bag when not in use.

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I used arrowroot (made from arrowroot, you’d be surprised!) not cornstarch because my darling is corn intolerant. Worked well.


Suzie — Thanks for sharing your modification! Glad it worked out for you.


[…] they will try to give it a taste. Here’s the recipe I normally use (and here’s a good gluten-free play dough recipe I’ve used in therapy if you need one of those). In addition to the play-dough-in-the-mouth […]


Hi Heather,
I am a teacher and passed Celiac to both of my kids. I want to thank you for the recipe. My colleague made it for her class to avoid contamination for one of her students. I made it tonight for my son’s class. I multiplied the recipe by 5 so we would have enough to keep at home. It worked great!! We are also allergic to soy. So, I sub Palm Oil in all my cooking. The play do is awesome!! It was a bit gooey when I first took it out of the pan but I used your advice to add corn starch and it worked great!! Thanks again for posting!


Heather — I’m so glad it worked for you! Thanks for sharing your modification with the Palm Oil, too.


This is such a great,fast,easy recipe. My grandson , he has celiac, enjoyed helping measure and mix dry ingredients. Then the magic began when he added the water and I stirred. I do not think it even took three minutes . I used cold water , did not read recipe correctly, also I added food color to the water
Thanks ????


Cindy — Glad it worked out for you, even with cold water. 😉


Totally did not work. The consistency never got to that of play dough. It’s either slimy or crumbly. When we make a ball, it starts to deflate and ooze out. When it’s slimy, I added more corn starch, when it got crumbly, I added water. Just never the right consistency. Glad it worked for others, not for us. My 2 year old made the best of it.


Helen – Oh, darn! Did you substitute any of the ingredients, or use different flours?


I have tried the recipe that is updated (without the xantham gum) and it comes out super super sticky. I did it exactly the way you have it written out. When I add more corn starch, it doesn’t really make a difference. If anything, it got more sticky. Any ideas?


Jada — I’m not sure what went wrong. Did it pull together at all? If it did, but then got sticky after it cooked a few minutes, it may be that it cooked too long. If it never pulled together (without being sticky), maybe the water wasn’t hot enough or maybe it didn’t cook at a high enough temperature. You could also try reducing the amount of hot water. Sorry. If you figure out what works better for you, let us know. Some other readers might benefit from your experience. Thanks!


I used the easy recipe and made a double batch for my son’s preschool class. Yes it was sticky at first. I just slowly added more flour and worked it together until it was not sticky any more. It was a hit!! I had enough to keep a good amount at home and my kids play with it often. I keep it in Ziploc Freezer bags. It has been several months and the play dough is still great to work with.
Thanks for the recipe!!!!


I meant that I added more corn starch, not flour!!!


Heather — Thanks for letting us know what worked for you!


I will have to try it again and see what I can do. Maybe I will have to just let it sit and cool for a long time before I try to work it around. My first couple of batches were very sticky. I had a hard time even getting it off my fingers! But I will try again.


[…] I personally like to use homemade play dough. Here’s the recipe I normally use (and here’s a good gluten-free play dough recipe I’ve used in therapy if you need one of those). In addition to the play-dough-in-the-mouth […]


I’ve used this as my base recipe a few times and found the following to be helpful for those that it didn’t quite turn out for:

Use about a quarter less of the water.
Canola oil works the best for me.
If you don’t have cornstarch, tapioca or arrowroot work pretty dang great. In fact, I like to use a mixture of the corn starch with the tapioca.

If you find that your mixture is still too wet, when rolling out your dough sprinkle rice flour out onto the board, or wherever you’re rolling, and knead into that, and keep applying more rice till you get consistency you like. If you find that it’s sticking to the sides too much, just apply a little more oil.


Layna — Thanks for all the tips! I appreciate you sharing your experience with us.


I know this is an old post, but I wanted to comment for those out there searching for a recipe.

I have made this recipe in the past and it was an epic fail. Way too gooey. I think a big part of my problem was I used gluten free flour mix. I made the recipe again today using rice flour I made myself in the magic bullet (so not as fine as store bought rice flour), and this turned out much better than previous attempts. You know when you have failed because it is like sticky glue. I did use a little less water than a full cup, and still added cornstarch when kneading. After it was cooled, I added in some koolaid powder, and that gives a nice color and somewhat masks the rice smell. I was so happy this finally turned out because finding a decent play dough that doesn’t dry out can be challenging. Handwriting without tears makes a gluten free play dough (my daughters preschool teacher uses this), but I can’t find the dough for sale individually without the letter set.

I’m glad I gave this a try again, and my lesson learned is the gluten free flour mix is not the same as rice flour alone.


Kate — Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sure it will help some other readers who maybe want to try the same thing. Glad you were able to find a solution that works for you!


It’s sticky! I used extra cirnstarch for the sticky it didn’t work??


You can mimic the fancy glitter Play Doh!  Just make a well in the dough, dump in some fine glitter, and knead it like crazy!  It comes in lots of colors.  My kids love the glitter dough.


[…] Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe – taken from Celiac Family […]


Has anyone used a GF flout blend with any luck? Mine has rice flour, potato starch, ea fiber, tapioca starch and xanthan gum.


Felicia — The biggest issue with using a flour blend, is that the blends often have other ingredients (like xanthan gum) which make them good for cooking and baking but may result in an unsuccessful play dough. Another consideration is the ratio of flour to starch. So, I would say review the ingredients of the flour blend and make adjustments, if you think it’s needed.


Mine is too liquids, any suggestions??


Mine is cooking and not really solidifying. Should I add more cornstarch?


Carrie Ann — Sorry you’re having trouble. Did it start to pull together like dough, and then get thin? If so, you may have cooked it too long. If it’s just sticky, adding more cornstarch should help.


Tough Dough?….I just made several batches adding Wilton Color and a flavoring for sent. (kids holiday party)
I cooked 2-3 min. until sides of pan pulled free n clean. The bottom never did. Followed all directions. Needed to add a bit extra water to get ingredients to blend prior to cooking then again during kneading to try n soften texture. It started out soft then turned tough while kneading in color and sent. Used parchment and gloves. Did I not cook it long enough?
How can I FIX the texture to soften it up but not sticky?


Kim B — Hmmm. Not sure what to tell you. I haven’t had anyone tell me it was tough. Maybe the temperature was too high? Most people who have trouble say that it’s too sticky. So, the fact that you added more water makes me think that you might have had the temperature too high.?? If adding water to it at the end makes it sticky, maybe try adding a little oil a drop or two at a time. Sorry I don’t have a magical fix solution, but I hope it helps!


[…] made a new batch of beautiful, taste-safe, gluten-free play dough for the library using this recipe after my normal go-to gluten-free dough stopped working. This recipe calls for rice flour which […]


I seldom (ok, never) have vegetable or canola oils on hand (and I don’t have palm oil). Do you think grapeseed or coconut would work? I may get really crazy and even try adding a drop of essential oil, like lavender…


Rebecca — I haven’t tried either, however, I would think that the grapeseed oil would work just fine. With some essential oil, it would be fabulous, right?! The coconut oil may be a little different. If you buy the oil that is solid at room temperature, it may create a tougher dough. If you give them a try, let us know how it works. Good luck!, and thanks!


Has anyone tried freezing this for use later on?


Kelsey — I haven’t tried freezing it. I will say, however, that I have kept it in Ziploc bags and sealed containers for months at a time without any problems.


Thanks Heather, I’ll give it a try and see what happens.
I coloured mine with turmeric, spirulina, and beet powder. They turned out great! A deep green, golden and pink colours. I also used essential oils in them. A drop of peppermint, orange, and gentle babies, even two or three drops would be ok I think. She loved it!


Kelsey– Oooh, what a great idea!! I’m going to try that next time. Thanks for sharing!


Made with great success, ours kept in the fridge for over a month.


I’m not sure if you are aware, but, many brands of food coloring have gluten in them so check your labels carefully.if it doesn’t say gluten free, it most likely has gluten in it.


Connie — Thanks for the reminder that it’s always good to check the labels!

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