Baby Rice Cereal & Applesauce Play Dough (Gluten-Free!)

Published: June 22, 2022 · Updated: February 22, 2024 by Sacha — This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure.

Does your baby try to eat every sensory activity you prepare? This homemade sensory dough made from rice cereal and applesauce feels very similar to regular play dough, but it is no-cook, gluten-free and 100% safe to eat!

This no-cook sensory dough is super simple to make, and because it’s made from edible ingredients, it is safe for babies and toddlers who like to put things in their mouths. This recipe would be a great way to use up old rice cereal that is cluttering up your pantry.

And because this play dough is naturally gluten-free, it is also a great alternative for kids with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity—even if they are old enough to know not to eat it.

This baby-safe play dough holds its shape very well and doesn’t get crumbly or messy, and its texture is unlike any of the other edible play dough recipes I’ve tried. It feels almost exactly like regular homemade play dough…minus the salt.

It took me a few tries to get this one right, but I’m glad I kept experimenting. Who would have thought that you could make such awesome homemade play dough using applesauce and rice cereal?!

(If you love this recipe, you’ll also love these Edible Play Dough Recipes.)

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Required Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to whip up a batch of baby-safe play dough for your infant or toddler to play with:

Ingredients to make baby rice cereal and applesauce play dough.
  • ⅓ cup baby rice cereal
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch (you may know it as “corn flour” if you live in the U.K.)
  • 3 tbsp applesauce (sweetened applesauce can work, but unsweetened is better if you can find it because the added sugar in sweetened applesauce can make the play dough sticky)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (you can also use coconut oil, but it has a tendency to seize up when it gets too cold, so I recommend that you use vegetable oil if you have it)
  • Food coloring (liquid or gel) or your favorite natural alternative

Note: Want to switch things up? Try using unsweetened Kool-Aid powder instead of food coloring to add a fun scent to your edible baby cereal play dough!

How to Make Taste-Safe Play Dough with Baby Rice Cereal & Applesauce (Step-by-Step)

1. Combine Rice Cereal & Cornstarch

Start by pouring ⅓ cup of baby rice cereal and ⅓ cup of cornstarch into a bowl. Stir them together with a spoon until the ingredients are well combined.

Bowl with cornstarch and baby rice cereal mixed together.

This recipe yields a small ball of play dough that is perfect for one baby or toddler.

If that isn’t enough, you can always make several colors or multiply the quantities. But I don’t recommend making more than you need since it will only last a few days in the fridge.

Because each ball is so small, one box of baby cereal should get you pretty far—I was able to make seven balls of play dough with mine while I was experimenting with quantities, and I still had enough left over to make at least one or two more!

2. Add Food Coloring to Applesauce

Place 3 tablespoons of applesauce in a small bowl and stir in some food coloring.

Small bowl of red applesauce next to food colouring bottle.

This recipe only makes a small amount of play dough, so a little goes a long way. I used about 4 drops of liquid food coloring and the color was quite vibrant; I also made a batch using gel food coloring and only needed a few small squirts.

It is really up to you to choose how much you want to use. And if ever you’re not happy with how vibrant the color is, you can always knead some more coloring into the finished play dough!

3. Stir Wet Ingredients into Dry Ingredients

Pour the colored applesauce, along with 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, into the dry mixture. Then, stir them together with a spoon as best you can.

Wet play dough ingredients being mixed into dry ingredients with a spoon.

If ever you have trouble combining the ingredients with a spoon, don’t worry—that’s totally normal. Just stir them as much as you can, then move on to the next step.

4. Knead Play Dough

Once you’ve gotten as far as you can go with the spoon, set it aside and start combining the ingredients with your hands. Keep kneading until the ingredients are fully combined and the dough feels soft and elastic.

Ball of smooth red baby rice cereal and applesauce play dough.

If needed, you can add a bit more cornstarch if the play dough feels too sticky, or a bit more applesauce if it feels too crumbly. Just keep making adjustments until you’re happy with the texture.

I was actually blown away at how much this applesauce dough felt like “regular” play dough even though it doesn’t contain any flour, salt or cream of tartar. It doesn’t even require any heating or cooking, yet it feels really similar to cooked play dough!

Hand squishing a ball of red baby cereal and applesauce play dough.

Because this rice cereal play dough has a consistency that is so similar to that of salt-based play dough, you can do all the same things with it, including flattening it with a rolling pin and cutting it into different shapes using cookie cutters.

And unlike some of the other cornstarch-based play dough recipes that we’ve tried, which became crumbly pretty quickly, this one retained its elasticity for quite some time. (I’m guessing it has something to do with the rice cereal.)

At 18 months, our youngest is past the rice cereal stage. But now that we have this recipe, I’ll probably keep a box on hand just in case. Having one more taste-safe play dough recipe in my arsenal will definitely come in handy!

Stack of 3 colourful balls of baby rice cereal and applesauce play dough.

How to Store Homemade Rice Cereal & Applesauce Play Dough

Unlike traditional play dough, this baby-safe play dough recipe doesn’t contain any salt or cream of tartar that would help preserve it. Therefore, like all edible sensory play activities made from perishable food ingredients, it won’t keep for more than a few days.

After our kids were done playing with the play dough, I placed each color in a separate zip-top bag and placed all the bags in the fridge. When they were ready to play again, I took the bags out of the fridge and was amazed to find that the dough was still very elastic and not crumbly at all.

I recommend that you keep your baby play dough in the fridge too, since once of its ingredients is applesauce, which needs to be refrigerated. If needed, bring it back to room temperature or add a bit of applesauce to restore its stretchiness before play.

Make sure to discard any pieces of dough that look filthy before you put it away, and when you take the play dough back out, check for mold and signs of spoilage before letting your child play with it. If all goes well, you should be able to get several uses out of each batch!

Box of baby rice cereal next to three balls of rice cereal and applesauce play dough.

Baby Rice Cereal & Applesauce Play Dough

Does your baby try to eat every sensory activity you prepare? This no-cook sensory dough made from rice cereal and applesauce feels very similar to regular play dough, but it is 100% edible!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Play Dough
Cuisine American


  • cup baby rice cereal
  • cup cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp applesauce
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • liquid or gel food coloring as needed


  • Pour rice cereal and cornstarch into a medium bowl and stir until combined.
  • In a small bowl, add some food coloring to the applesauce and stir until the color is evenly distributed throughout.
  • Add the applesauce and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients. Stir with a spoon to combine.
  • When stirring with a spoon is no longer effective, set aside the spoon and continue kneading with your hands until the play dough feels smooth and elastic, adding more cornstarch or applesauce as needed to improve the texture of the dough.
  • Repeat the previous steps with as many colors are you would like to make, then give it to your child to play with. Play dough can be stored in a zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days when not in use.


This recipe yields a small ball of play dough that is perfect for one baby or toddler. If you would like to make a larger quantity of play dough, repeat the process to create multiple different colors or multiply the recipe quantities to make one big ball in a single color.
Have you tried this?Mention @thecraftathomefamily or tag #thecraftathomefamily to let us know how it went!

Related Taste-Safe Play Dough Recipes

Looking for more edible play dough recipes to make for your infant or toddler? Check out these recipes:

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2 thoughts on “Baby Rice Cereal & Applesauce Play Dough (Gluten-Free!)”

    • Unfortunately I’ve never tried it with oatmeal, so I can’t confirm whether it would work. It would probably change the texture since some of the play dough’s stretchiness comes from the texture of the rice. If ever I try it, I will update the article with the results!


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