Wednesday, March 6, 2013

DIY JELL-O Playdough

DIY, jello, playdough, flour, clay, modeling

My kids adore playdough, and although most of it ends up ground into the fibers of my area rugs, I still continue to buy it. Today I took the insanity a step further and by made our very own homemade playdough.  I found a lot of recipes online and after I had settled on my favorite, I starting reading the (mixed) reviews.  Comments that the dough was too sticky and others that said the dough ended up covered in mold after a few days (although apparently refrigeration will keep the dough mold-free for two weeks) were enough to turn me away.  I began to question if the reason for the sticky and moldy results could possibly be due to the high content of sugar in the Jell-O mix. So, I decided to carry on with my playdough journey using sugar free Jell-O and crossing my fingers that I don't open a jar full of sticky moldy playdough.  I have not confirmed this theory by the way, but will update when I have.

  • 1 cup of white flour
  • 1 cup of water 
  • 1/4 cup of salt 
  • 2 TBS of cooking oil 
  • 1 pack of sugar free JELL-O
NOTE: Many recipes called for 1-2 TBS of Cream of Tartar.  I made the play-dough with and without and noticed no difference. Do yourself a favor and save the money.  I wish I had! 

NOTE: What I found to make the biggest difference in consistency was the cook time.  Overcooking the play-dough definitely made it dry and not as pliable.  

DIY, jello, playdough, flour, clay, modeling
Mix all of your ingredients in a pan and heat on low for about 5 minutes. Don't overcook or it will by dry and yucky.  

DIY, jello, playdough, flour, clay, modeling
Here you can see that the play-dough is starting to cook.  Once it is almost entirely cooked, remove it from the pan. 

DIY, jello, playdough, flour, clay, modeling
Knead your play-dough until it is smooth.  If it seems to still be a little sticky,  add a little flour coating and continue to knead. 

DIY, jello, playdough, flour, clay, modeling
The finished product.  It smells good, and yes....YES I DID LICK IT!! and NO NO NO it does NOT taste good! Just think salt block.  HAHA!! 

DIY, jello, playdough, flour, clay, modeling, jars
These are 8oz Ball canning jars.  The amount of dough you see in these is about 1/3 of how much the batch made.  

DIY, jello, playdough, flour, clay, modeling, jars Devin Cash McGrath
As you can see, my sweet boy kept himself busy while mommy and sissy were cooking.  

DIY, jello, playdough, flour, clay, modeling, jars Autumn Grace McGrath
So far it's a big hit....2 hours later :)

Three days later and the playdough is still in great shape, soft, and not moldy.  It is currently being pushed to the limits by eight little hands and after a LONG and crazy day, it seems to be taking a very therapeutic effect on the subjects!

The final bit of playdough has been thrown out and I am happy to report that it was not because of mold like many users of the other recipes were reporting.  Colors had gotten jumbled together beyond recognition and it was just time to go.    


  1. This is great Emily! I always add the cream of tarter only because it helps preserve it and its supposed to last longer. I've never made it without though so no clue if it's true!
    So so colorful!

    1. Thanks Kari! From what I read it seems that the cream of tarter is used to help the salt absorb or something or other. I'm not so sure it was necessary though because the one that I made without the cream of tartar is still the silkiest. The salt is to prevent it from molding so I'm really not sure. All I know is I paid a lot for it and don't really think (yet) that I had to!

  2. Great idea. I am been too leery to try all the different play doh recipes. Knowing that you did it and experimented with it makes me want to try it out that much more. Thanks for the share and doing the dirty work.

    1. Paulena, I was a bit worried (still am) because a lot of people were saying that these mold. I'm hoping that these wont!! Wait a few weeks and I'll let you know!

  3. That looks like so much fun! I love how beautiful the colors look in the jars. Thanks for sharing this recipe Emily!

  4. I'm a preschool teacher and I'm going to try this.

  5. do you have to use sugar free jello ?!

  6. I've been making playdough for over 20 years and it makes a huge difference if I don't use cream of tartar. If it doesn't matter then leave it out. I run programs for children and it does matter to me. Also, I don't use jello because of the additives and unnatural scents(a lot of people are sensitive to them). Instead I use essential oils like lavender, which is very calming. This time of year I use cloves, cinnamon and ginger. It's no wonder so many children like to eat playdough.

  7. The cream of tartar is a preservative. helps to prevent the mold. Yet mold can also happen because of bacteria from dirty kids hands.

  8. Hi there! I tried today!! It worked SO well!! Thanks so very much for sharing!


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