Spiriteds, I have never loved playdough. It crumbles. I find it on the floor, in between my toes, and ground into the kitchen floor grout. I would rather step on a LEGO than clean up playdough. And both of those things have happened to me in my actual real life. So when we discovered a wheat allergy in our family and also that store-bought playdough contains wheat, please note my not-so-maternal glee at saying bye-bye to that madness. Until now. Lately, we’ve been getting super crazy in our house with sensory activities, and it was just a matter of time before we made our way back to playdough. This time Gluten-Free Playdough made with rice cereal, cornstarch, olive oil, and applesauce.
And I don’t hate it. I don’t hate it at all. Gluten-Free Playdough is my new jam. And lest you think my distaste for traditional store-bought playdough is a motherhood thing, let me clarify – I didn’t love playdough as a child.
It’s true. Except for that time I wanted the playdough beauty parlor kid where you could trim playdough hair, I wanted nothing to do with that stuff. I think I was in my Steel Magnolias phase with an overwhelming desire to be Truvy Jones and playdough was the closest I was gonna get.
Fast-forward all the years, and here we are. I’m not a hair stylist, and I’m not nearly as cool as Dolly Parton. But I did try making traditional playdough with gluten-free flour and nearly burned down our house.
Go with God. This is my best self. It’s like I don’t even have a best foot forward. But I did congratulate myself to K-Hubs when I relayed to him that I did indeed salvage our saucepans to as-good-as-new status. You wouldn’t even know by looking at them that danger had been lurking in the name of gluten-free arts and crafts.
There are a few notes worth mentioning (that might also possibly explain why I love this Gluten-Free Playdough recipe so much):
- It lasts for about a day. This recipe isn’t going to last forever, but it will do the trick. We did find, however, the best play opportunities were right after we made it.
- Line the surface you’re playing on. I added a little extra oil to my batches and wasn’t the least bit sad about it. But the dough is going to be more moisturized than dry. Just a little FY on the I.
- It is a blast to make! I prepped the initial batches to see how well the process worked. And after the initial mixing (because cornstarch floats EVERWHERE with the smallest provocation), the girls could take over, with a little help. That’s some serious muscle building right there! I got winded making my batches!
Let’s talk now about how to make it. I originally worked with Asia Citro’s Edible Gluten-Free No-Cook Playdough recipe from her book, 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids. This recipe and others like it can be found on her blog, Fun at Home with Kids. What started out as a mishap, I halved the rice cereal and cornstarch but not the oil, turned out to be a happy mistake.
What I found was that I could control the texture and consistency of the gluten-free playdough by how much of the olive oil and cornstarch I added. The more…
- …olive oil I used, the softer the dough. This made it almost like a putty or a slightly firmer play slime. More oil is perfect for more malleable play.
- …cornstarch I added, the stiffer and more clay-like it became, which was perfect for creating specific shapes or models.
Essentially, from the recipe in this post, you can modify your Gluten-Free Playdough to create countless different types of consistencies, even within the same batch. Whenever you’re ready to change up your dough, add either olive oil or cornstarch to achieve your goal. We love to use wood sticks, cookie cutters, scissors, and cups with our dough.
As for the applesauce, I couldn’t find a large jar of unsweetened applesauce on the shelves that particular night I was at the store. So I bought the individual snack containers, and like the olive oil debacle, this turned out happy as well. The little containers were perfect for extended play opportunities.
Now we use Gluten-Free Playdough in all kinds of loose parts play, sensory play, and open-ended play activities. And when we’re through, we’re through. No padding through the kitchen for a late-night snack only to find orange Play Doh stuck to the bottom of my heel. Nope. When the fun’s done, the fun’s done. When we’re ready for more fun, we whip up another batch, experiment with the consistency we want, and go to town!!! And now the only thing I step on is LEGO pieces. As for the playdough beauty parlor kit, I haven’t ruled that out. Be still, my youthful heart.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 15 mins
- 1/2 cup baby rice cereal
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup unsweetened/unflavored applesauce
- Liquid watercolors or food coloring, optional
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- In a medium bowl, combine rice cereal and cornstarch together. In a separate small bowl, mix applesauce with desired amounts of liquid watercolors or food coloring, if using, and then add to dry ingredients. Mash with a fork until lumps form and cornstarch is matted down.
- Add olive oil and continue mashing the ingredients until they are blended enough that you can start kneading the mixture by hand.
- Continue to knead the mixture until you reach your desired consistency. For a softer dough, add more olive oil, and for a firmer dough, add more cornstarch.
- Use immediately for optimal play.
To add more oil or cornstarch, I find it helpful to have a little dish of either the oil or the cornstarch next to where I knead the dough. If I decide I need more of one, I place the dough in the little dish to gather a small amount and go back to kneading, much like if I were preparing pizza dough and needed a little extra olive oil or flour. I then continue to knead the dough with a little extra of either ingredient until I have the consistency I want.