Things have been a bit quiet around here on the blog, but now that our second book (The Curious Kid's Science Book) is off at the printer, I'm hoping to get back to posting more regularly. I'm excited to kick it off with a new and easiest ever method for making your own playdough! We love making our own homemade playdough, but it usually takes a fair bit of time and creates at least a handful of dishes. I was wondering if I could create a one-dish microwaveable playdough recipe that only took a few minutes. Because easy is always better! And fast is awesome. This playdough is great - same texture that you love, plus from start to finish it only takes 5 minutes. It will keep for 4-6 months on average if you store it in an airtight container.
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First, you want to start by adding 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and some food coloring or liquid watercolors to a large microwave safe bowl or container. (Here we've used green liquid watercolors and a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup).
Next, add 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1/3 cup of salt, and 1 cup of flour. Whisk it VERY well. If there are any lumps, you'll get lumpy playdough (which is still fun to play with - just warning you).
Next, cover the dish with a paper towel and microwave it for 30 seconds.
Remove it and carefully scrape along the top edges and the bottom of your dish to mix in all the just-beginning-to-form playdough. You can see some of it on the rubber spatula below. Make sure you get all of that mixed back into the remaining liquid, re-cover the dish with the paper towel and return it for another 30 seconds (bringing the total time you've microwaved up to 1 minute)
After another 30 seconds, your playdough mix will start looking like this. A little more playdough, a little less liquid. Stir and scrape really well and return it for another 30 seconds (bringing the total time in the microwave up to 1 minute and 30 seconds). Repeat the process a 3rd time (scrape, re-cover, and microwave for an additional 30 seconds - bringing the total time in the microwave up to 2 minutes).
At this point, if you've got a 1500 kW microwave, you'll have a nice solid looking top to your playdough mix when you pull it out. If you mix it up, it should look like this below. If you have a 1200 kW microwave, you'll need to microwave for an additional 30 seconds to get here (bringing the total cook time up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds). If you have a 1000 kW or weaker microwave - I didn't have a chance to test, but I suspect you'll need an additional two sets of 30 seconds bringing the total cook time up to 3 mins.
Once you have that nice firm top to your playdough and it looks like this when you stir it, stir well and let it set for 3 minutes. At that point it should finish cooking and be cool to the touch. Start kneading it by hand to combine it and you should have smooth (not sticky) playdough. If for some reason it's still sticky or mushy, return it to the microwave for an additional 10 seconds at a time, testing for doneness in between. You'll know it's done when the playdough no longer sticks to your hands while kneading it. To get a better idea of the texture, check out the video at the end of the post.
And voila! Great playdough! Play with it as much as you'd like and once you're done, be sure to store it in an airtight container. It should last between 4-6 months, depending on the humidity where you live and other factors (like how often you use it).
And there you have it -- super easy, one bowl microwave homemade playdough!
Here's a video showing the steps and texture of the playdough: