Do you have some extra pumpkin purée leftover from Halloween? Use it to whip up a batch of edible pumpkin spice play dough for your child to play with! This easy fall play dough recipe is no-cook, gluten-free and make using real canned or homemade pumpkin purée. Such a fun sensory activity for autumn!
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Every year, in the fall, we take our kids apple picking. And since the orchard we go to also happens to have a pumpkin patch, we’ve made it a tradition to also pick a couple of pumpkins.
Typically, the pumpkins we pick get carved for Halloween. The kids always have fun helping us and playing with the pumpkin guts.
Once Halloween has passed, since we don’t want anything to go waste, we roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven and turn the flesh of the pumpkins into pumpkin purée. The pumpkin purée is then placed in large bags in our freezer, ready to be taken out the next time we want to make pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread.
We’re happy to have it on hand when pumpkins are not in season, but we usually end up with WAY MORE pumpkin purée than we actually need. So I’ve been searching for creative ways to use some of it up so it doesn’t just sit in the freezer taking up room—and this easy pumpkin play dough recipe is a great way to do that!
Not only does this fall-themed play dough smell amazing, but it’s made using real pumpkin purée (either canned or homemade). It’s also totally edible, which makes it perfect for babies, toddlers and preschoolers who still like to put everything in their mouths.
And if your child has a gluten intolerance, no need to worry—this play dough is also gluten-free. Plus, you don’t even need to cook or heat it, so your little one should be able to participate during every step while it’s being made.
If you’re looking for ways to use up your leftover pumpkin purée, this lovely pumpkin pie scented play dough is a great place to start. So make sure you save this recipe for the next time you find yourself cooking with pumpkin!
How to Make Edible Pumpkin Pie Play Dough
Here’s what you’ll need to make a batch of pumpkin scented play dough at home for Halloween:
- ⅓ cup baby rice cereal
- ⅓ cup cornstarch (you may know it as “corn flour” if you live in the U.K.)
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp pumpkin purée (canned or homemade)
- 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)
Note: In order to keep the texture consistent, I decided to use canned pumpkin purée when developing this recipe. That being said, you can absolutely use homemade pumpkin purée instead. You may need to adjust the texture slightly, but that’s really easy to do and I’ll explain how below!
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.
Please note that this recipe yields a small ball of play dough that is perfect for one baby or toddler. If that isn’t enough, you are welcome to multiply the quantities. But I don’t recommend making more than you need since it will only last a few days in the fridge.
2. Add Pumpkin Spice
Next, stir one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into the dry ingredients with a spoon. Combined with the pumpkin purée, this will make the play dough smell just like pumpkin pie. Such a lovely sensory experience!
If you don’t have any pumpkin spice on hand, you can try making your own or simply using cinnamon. The play dough will smell terrific either way!
3. Stir Wet Ingredients into Dry Ingredients
Pour the pumpkin purée, along with 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, into the dry mixture. Then, stir them together with a spoon as best you can.
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.
Note: If your pumpkin purée is really light in colour, you can also add a bit of orange food colouring before you pour the pumpkin into the dry ingredients. But we didn’t find that it was necessary, and we prefer to colour our play dough naturally whenever possible.
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.
5. Adjust Play Dough Texture
Once the ingredients have been fully combined, it’s time to adjust the texture!
As mentioned above, I used canned pumpkin purée when developing this recipe because I wanted the texture of the pumpkin purée to remain consistent from one batch to another. But I also had some homemade pumpkin purée in the fridge, so I was able to compare the texture.
What I found was that the canned pumpkin purée was a bit thicker than my homemade one—though of course, it’s possible that yours won’t be, since every batch is different.
If the purée is really thick and the play dough ends up too dry, stiff or crumbly, you can simply work in a bit more pumpkin purée with your fingers.
Or, you can try pouring a bit of water onto your hands and using your wet hands to knead the play dough—this will make the play dough stretchier while preventing you from adding too much water at once.
(Note: You can also do this during play if the play dough becomes a little too dry and you want to restore its consistency. I found that this recipe dried out pretty quickly, but adding water helped a lot.)
If, on the other hand, the play dough feels too sticky, add a bit more cornstarch and work it in with your hands. There is no perfect answer here, so just keep making adjustments until you’re happy with the texture.
Once you’re satisfied with the consistency of the play dough, it’s time to play! Like regular play dough, this play dough can be flattened with a rolling pin and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
Our kids had lots of fun with this recipe—and of course, they couldn’t resist sneaking a few bites. If your child enjoyed this activity too, let me know in the comments!
How to Store Pumpkin Pie Spice 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.
If the play dough is still in good condition after your children are done playing with it, place the remaining play dough in a sealed zip-top bag and store that bag in the fridge when not in use.
For best results, I recommend bringing the play dough back to room temperature before play time. You may also need to work in a bit more pumpkin purée, or simply to knead the play dough a bit with wet hands, to restore its consistency.
If all goes well, you should be able to get several uses out of each batch. But if it doesn’t, it’s so simple to make that you can always just whip up some more!
Edible Pumpkin Pie Play Dough (No-Cook)
- ⅓ cup baby rice cereal
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp pumpkin purée canned or homemade
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- Pour rice cereal and cornstarch into a medium bowl and stir until combined.
- Add pumpkin pie spice and stir until the spice has been well distributed throughout.
- Add the pumpkin purée 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.
- Adjust the texture of the play dough as needed by adding small quantities of cornstarch or water. Then, give it to your child to play with!
Related Edible Play Dough Recipes
Looking for more ways to make edible play dough? Check out these recipes:
- Baby Rice Cereal & Applesauce Play Dough
- Edible No-Cook Jell-O Play Dough
- 2-Ingredient Pudding Cup Play Dough
- Edible Marshmallow Play Dough
- 5-Minute Edible Frosting Play Dough
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