Playdoh has made an excellent company out of something that is really such a breeze to make. Mix together some flour, water, cream of tartar, oil and salt, add a few minutes of heat and you have perfect playdough.
But what do you do if you or your child is food allergic? Play-doh’s ingredients are proprietary, so they won’t tell you exactly what’s in there, but we know for sure there is wheat (and can guess that there are likely soy and corn by-products of some sort). So, if you are celiac or allergic/sensitive to any of these ingredients – No play-doh for you!
There are a few gluten-free or all-natural playdoughs out on the market, but they are expensive and hard to come by. I just knew that making gluten free playdough had to be as easy as making regular playdough…I was up for the challenge.
Rummaging through our warehouse (and my own pantry), I came across several likely ingredients: rice flour, potato starch, guar gum, Xanthan gum, corn starch, etc. And so, I set out, with a group of willing participants (my children and their friends), to try to make a playdough as close as possible to the real thing while being as allergen-free as possible.
Didn’t work out quite as planned…
I followed a few recipes I found online that were soy, corn, and gluten-free and included potato starch and zanthan or guar gum. They all congealed and worked well as a sensory project, but they were much too elastic, hard to cut, mold and shape and wouldn’t stay in place at all with cookie cutter shapes like playdough does.
After several failed attempts, I gave up on trying to make a corn free version (sorry all you corn free folks) and used corn starch instead of the potato starch/gum combo. And finally, I had a workable, dare I say it, pretty good rendition of gluten-free, soy-free playdough.
Here’s the recipe that finally made the grade:
- Mix all dry ingredients in a large pot.
- Mix water with food coloring (as desired) for even distribution.
Note:We tried adding coloring after the playdough was cooked, as mentioned in some recipes, but it didn’t work as well as mixing it into the liquid prior to cooking – see pic below.
- Add oil to the dry ingredients in the pot then the colored water. Mix thoroughly.
- Stirring constantly, heat the pot on the stove on low heat until dough begins to form and pulls away from the sides of the pot (around 3 minutes).
- Take the dough out of the pot and begin to knead as soon as it cools enough to do so.
Note:To be sure you don’t leave food coloring behind on your countertop or table, you should knead the dough on parchment, wax paper, or a plate. The playdough should NOT be sticky at this point as all the liquid should be absorbed, but if it is for some reason, just add a little bit more corn starch and knead into the dough.Happy playing!