Homemade Gluten-free Play Clay

Posted In: Arts & Crafts

Homemade Gluten-free Play Clay

Annie from Alphabet Glue is with us to share a fun gluten-free play clay recipe. Over the last few months I have slowly started to remove gluten from my diet and have notice a huge difference in my energy level. I am hearing more and more about children who have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance as well. I hope this recipe is helpful for all of you who are currently on that journey with your families…

When my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease about a year and a half ago, I didn’t immediately realize just how many non-food considerations were going to be coming our way. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that art supplies were going to be tricky territory, and that many formerly favorite materials were possible sources of gluten contamination for my kid, who was becoming more and more sensitive to tiny amounts of gluten the longer that it was out of her diet. From the time that she was tiny, I had always kept homemade playdough on hand, and even at eight years old, she was lamenting the loss of playdough as a leisure time activity on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Although it is more of a modeling clay than a soft playdough that will keep indefinitely, this baking soda based mixture has turned out to be a remarkably nice solution to our playdough problem. It is incredibly easy to mix up, and can be used as a playdough for a few days when kept in an airtight container between uses. Better yet, now that my daughter is increasingly interested in making more detailed clay sculptures and models, the clay can be easily dried overnight and then painted or otherwise decorated for use as a more permanent piece of art. We experimented with a handful of variations on what seems to be the favorite basic recipe for this clay, eventually deciding on the following combination of ingredients.

Homemade Gluten-free Play Clay

What you will need:

1 cup cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water

canola or vegetable oil

food coloring (leave this out if you just want plain modeling clay to paint later)

What you will do:

Begin by pouring the water into a saucepan set over medium heat on the stove. Whisk in the baking soda, and once it is smoothly incorporated into the water, add the cornstarch, continuing to whisk to avoid lumps. Using a spoon, continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens and resembles a soft clay. I’ve heard other websites say that is should vaguely resemble mashed potatoes. Add more water if you feel like the clay is too dry. Mix in food coloring as desired. Remove from the heat and scrape from the pan onto a lightly oiled plate. Shape into a patty or ball, allowing it to cool until it is ready to use.



Annie Riechmann is an educator, blogger and mama to two small people who lives in the Burlington, Vermont area. Annie is also the creator and publisher of Alphabet Glue, a literacy themed e-magazine for families, and is an associate editor for Rhythm of the Home. She is an unapologetic lover of striped knee socks, avocados, and field guides, and wishes that she was better at flying kites. You can check in with Annie at her blog, Bird and Little Bird, where she writes about everything from books and babies, to laundering snow pants.



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  1. Thanks for this recipe. We’ll have to try it out. I have had celiac for 8 years but haven’t noticed it when I touch playdoh, but thankfully my kids’ tests have come back negative (so far).
    Sarah M

  2. So happy I found your site, Having a Hanukkah party and would love for the kids to make dreidels (tops) out of clay. One of our guests is allergic to gluten and hoping I can make a clay everyone can partake in. Wondering how much clay this made. If making for a crowd of 15 kids, how many times should i multiply the recipe.

    1. Oh, that is a good question! I would think that each batch would get you a good number of dreidels. Maybe you would want to do three or so batches for that number of kids?

    1. No! I just wasn’t super clear, I think. I use the oil to grease the plate a bit so that the dough doesn’t stick as it cools.

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