Makers Gotta Make


naturally dyed playdough

Homemade Playdough Using Botanical Dyes

August 11, 20233 min read

This is hands-down my favorite playdough recipe, and I have been using it for a loooong time (we have four kids and six Sugar Babies). What makes this basic playdough special is that the colors are derived from botanicals that you make into a safe, natural dye!

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First Things First:

  1. While this recipe uses ingredients commonly found in the kitchen, the play dough it’s not considered edible.

  2. My favorite recipe just happens to be created is on the stove. Therefore, the rules are that adults do the cooking part, and the kids get the playing part. Capische?

Use plants and spices to make natural dyes for playdough.


Prepare the Botanical Dye

When choosing the plants that will make your natural dye, be sure to use only plant materials that you know to be safe to eat. No one should be putting the playdough into their mouths, but please take this precaution in case someone decides to take a bite anyway. Blueberry, onion skins, beets, red cabbage, spinach, cranberries (or juice), hibiscus tea, turmeric, marigolds, and grape juice make good color choices.


Gather Your Materials and Supplies:

Botanical Dye Directions:

  1. Pour one cup of water into the pot on the stove.

  2. Add a big handful of veggies, berries, or flowers to the pot. The more plant materials you use, the stronger the color.

  3. Bring the pot to a boil and then turn it to low, allowing it to simmer for about 20 minutes.

  4. Using the strainer or cheesecloth, strain out the plant materials to separate them from the dye.

  5. Once the dye is cool, it's ready to add to the playdough. Set your botanical dye aside and make the playdough.


Best playdough recipe ever.

Now that the natural dye has been made, let's make the playdough!

Gather Your Materials and Supplies:

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 cup salt

  • 1 TBSP cream of tartar

  • 1-1/2 cups water

  • 1/2 cup of your botanical dye 

  • 1/4 cup oil

  • Pot

  • Stove

  • Big bowl

Homemade Playdough Directions:

  1. Put all the above ingredients into the pot on the stove. Whisk the mixture together to break up all the flour bumps. Turn stove on to a low to low-medium heat.

  2. Using a wooden spoon, stir the ingredients continuously. The mixture will pull away from the sides of the pot. Continue stirring the dough until it really pulls away from the sides, gets deeper in color, and becomes a big ball.

  3. Turn off the stove, take the dough out of the pot, and put it into a big bowl to cool off.

  4. Store playdough in a plastic container or a Ziploc baggie.


Extra Shots

Nothing is written in stone here...there are other ways to do it!

Make smaller playdough batches so there's a variety of colors. Simply divide uncolored playdough into equal parts. Pull on some latex gloves and in separate bowls, punch down into the center of each one creating a crevice in the dough. Then add a different dye color to each part, kneading it thoroughly.

homemade playdoughbotanical dyeplaydough recipeplaydough with natural dye
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I 'm Chris

Gardening has been a driving passion in my life, which led to my career as a garden writer and author for the past fifteen years. That said, for decades I've been neglecting this undeniable pull to share my other lifelong obsessions surrounding sewing and handcrafts.

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