Your little ones are sure to love this easy homemade Jell-O play dough that is not only super soft and stretchy, but also smells amazing! Use different flavours of Jell-O to create a whole rainbow of vibrant, scented play dough for your children to play with.
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If this isn’t your first time here, you’ve probably noticed by now that we LOVE play dough.
Cloud dough, foam dough, bath dough, colour-changing play dough, play dough with rose petals in it, glow-in-the-dark play dough, edible play dough made from frosting or from marshmallows—you name it, we’ve probably done it.
Scented play dough recipes are particularly popular in our house, and unsweetened Kool-Aid powder is a great way to make play dough that feels soft and smells great.
Which got me thinking… can you use Jell-O to make play dough, too?
As it turns out, the answer is yes. And making play dough with Jell-O is not only easy, but it smells amazing.
So if you’re looking to entertain a toddler, preschooler or school-aged child who loves to explore the world through their senses, this play dough made with Jell-O is the recipe for you!
How to Make Jell-O Scented Play Dough
Here’s what you’ll need to whip up a batch of homemade Jell-O play dough:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (optionally baked on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes at 350°F if you need the recipe to be taste-safe)
- 6 tablespoons table salt (we buy ours in packs of three at Costco)
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (if you’re going to be making lots of homemade play dough, I recommend buying this item in bulk—it lasts forever and you’re sure to go through a lot of it!)
- 3-ounce package Jell-O powder
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Note: I’ve never seen them in Canada, but if they sell 6-ounce packages of Jell-O where you live, make sure to get the smaller size for this recipe.
The quantities listed above will allow you to make one colour of Jell-O play dough. To make several colours, repeat all the instructions as many times as you like using different flavours of Jell-O powder. But since each batch actually yields quite a bit of play dough, there’s no need to make more than one unless you want to!
1. Combine Dry Ingredients
Start by stirring together 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 6 tablespoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar and an entire 3-ounce (not 6-ounce) packet of flavoured Jell-O powder.
You can do this in a mixing bowl if you like, but if you want to have fewer dishes to clean up, feel free to pour them straight into the saucepan you’ll be using to cook the play dough.
2. Add Water & Oil
Add 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and stir until combined.
3. Cook Play Dough
Turn on the element on medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a ball of dough that no longer sticks to the saucepan.
4. Knead Play Dough
Remove the dough from the pot or wok and set it aside to cool. Once it’s cool enough, knead it with your hands until smooth and it will be ready to play with!
We wanted to make several colours, so we repeated this process five times using lime, lemon, orange, strawberry and grape Jell-O.
To make things easier, instead of repeating the entire measuring process five time, I measured out each ingredient only once and poured the correct quantities into five different bowls before tackling the next ingredient.
The grape play dough was was a lighter shade of purple, but the other balls of play dough were really gorgeous and vibrantly coloured. And this Jell-O play dough has to be the best-smelling play dough we’ve ever made!
It has an interesting texture, too. It’s not quite identical to regular play dough because rather than only being soft, it also has a bit of stretchiness to it, as if it were a cross between play dough and silly putty. It was really fun to experiment with!
(Note: To allow you to see all the colours, I broke off a piece of each ball of play dough when taking pictures. In reality, each batch is quite a bit larger than pictured and would be enough for one or two kids to play with—see the photo below for a more accurate idea.)
Is Jell-O Play Dough Taste-Safe?
Technically, yes—though I do recommend baking the flour in the oven for a few minutes to kill any bacteria if you think your child is likely to put it in their mouth.
But one of the things I like about this recipe is that although the play dough may smell good, it doesn’t taste good. This means that while your child won’t be harmed if they put it in their mouth, they also won’t actively want to eat it. That’s always a plus in my book!
How to Store DIY Jell-O Play Dough
Once our kids were done playing with this play dough, I gathered up each colour of play dough, flattened it into a disk and placed it in a medium-sized freezer bag with all the air removed. I then left the bags on the counter until the next time they asked to play with it.
Storing your Jell-O play dough this will allow it to keep for quite some time. While it does contain food ingredients, the salt will help preserve it and it won’t need to be refrigerated.
I’ll update this article once I have a better idea of how long this play dough keeps, but in the meantime, just make sure to double-check its appearance before giving it to your kids and it should be fine to play with as long as it looks unchanged!
Jell-O Play Dough
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tbsp table salt
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 box (3 oz) flavoured Jell-O powder
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Combine flour, salt, cream of tartar and Jell-O powder in a medium saucepan.
- Add water and vegetable oil and stir until combined.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes a ball of dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the wok. This should take no more than 5 minutes.
- Set the play dough aside to cool. Once it’s cool enough, knead it with your hands until smooth. Then, give it to your child to play with!
Related Scented Play Dough Recipes
Love combing sensory experiences? Check out these easy play dough recipes that also happen to smell great:
- Rose Petal Play Dough (Perfect for Valentine’s Day!)
- Edible Vanilla Frosting Play Dough
- Homemade Chocolate Play Dough
- DIY Bubble Bath Play Dough for Kids
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