Making Play Dough from British Ingredients

One of Lucan’s favourite activities is playing with his Play Doh, but having recently run low on this colourful modelling material we decided to make our own.

Invented in the USA in the 1920’s as a cleaner for wallpaper it was not until the 1950’s that it was used as a kids toy. Like most American made toys it was made in the states until the 1980’s when production moved to China. However, making your own British alternative is both easy and fun.

You will need:

  • 2 cups flour (Tesco Everyday flour – Made in UK)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup salt (Cornish sea salt makes this process quite expensive!!)
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (Tesco veg oil at 25p is also surprisingly now made in the UK)
  • 1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (We could not find this produced in Britain but it is an optional ingredient that helps with elasticity)
  • Food colouring of your choice (or make your own)

The basic method is to throw all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Lucan loved the pouring, mixing and generally making a mess. Then you heat the mix in a saucepan over a low heat until the mix binds together and becomes the correct consistency. If the mix is sticky you simply need to heat it a little more. Once cool enough to handle knead in your food colouring on a non-porous surface.

It’s that simple…. or you could buy some British made play dough from The Playdough Factory:

If you are feeling really adventurous you could even make your own natural dyes with things like beetroot (red),  oak tree bark (brown), camomile flowers (yellow) or blue berries (purple/blue).

– James



  1. Nice to see you sharing the recipe. I used to make this for my daughter 25 years ago. When it got dirty or all mixed up, we just used to make some more…wonderful stuff!

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  2. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge and it will last for weeks. The salt is a natural preservative.
    Just for interest, where is the cream of tartar made? It is tricky to buy outside the uk.

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  3. Lizzie Baker says

    You should be able to find cream of tartar in the baking section. It’s usually sold in a tub like baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. I can’t tell you where it’s made unfortunately.

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  4. All of the cream of tartar that we could find said produced in the EU…. from experience this likely means Poland. I would be a bit offended if I was Polish that nothing I produce as a country is willing to admit to it.

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