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Make Your Own Play Dough

Keeping your home safe for young children with food allergies and sensitivities goes beyond what food goes into their mouths. It includes the toys they play with. Take Play-Doh, the popular children’s clay. It contains wheat products – off limits for kids with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy.

What to do? Happily, safe alternatives are available. Gluten Free & More’s test kitchen gathered a few tried-and-true homemade play dough formulas and substituted allergy-friendly ingredients. We tried different gluten-free flours and starches until we found the combinations that yielded the smoothest pliability and best workability.

Your child can have fun and be creative – and you can relax – with these fun, do-it-yourself recipes.

Play Clay


If not used immediately, store in an airtight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.

1 cup potato starch or cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
1¼ cups cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil of choice
2-3 drops food color, optional

1. Mix together potato starch and baking soda and pour into a saucepan.

2. Mix water and oil in small bowl. Add food coloring, if using.

3. Heat the saucepan and pour in water and oil, stirring constantly about 3 minutes or until clay holds together in a ball. (Small lumps will appear and then clay will hold together.)

4. Turn off heat. Spoon clay onto parchment paper and let cool slightly.

5. Roll clay in parchment paper forming a cylinder and let cool completely. Knead a little before using.

Salt Dough


If not used immediately, store in an airtight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.

1 cup table salt
1 cup white rice flour
½ cup water, more as needed
2 drops food color, optional
1 teaspoon vegetable oil, if needed

1. Mix together salt and flour in a saucepan. Pour in water and add food coloring, if using.

2. Cook over medium heat until dough forms into a ball. If dough is too dry to hold together, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

3. Spoon dough onto parchment paper and let cool slightly.

4. Knead until smooth and shape into a ball. If dough is too hard, knead in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil until it’s well distributed.

Deck the Halls

To make Christmas ornaments, prepare Play Clay or Salt Dough. Roll out dough into a circle ¼-inch thick. Cut out holiday shapes with cookie cutters. Carefully make a hole in the top of each ornament. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Turn off heat and place ornaments in the oven. Let sit 1 hour. Remove from oven and let dry completely overnight. Decorate or paint, as desired. Thread a string through each hole and hang.

Good Buys

For ready-made play dough that’s gluten free or allergy friendly, check out these websites.

no wheat, dairy, nuts, soy

no gluten, dairy, eggs

Websites may feature some products that are not gluten free or allergy friendly. Check ingredients carefully. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly.

Recipes by Madalene Rhyand, director of Gluten Free & More’s test kitchen.