How to Make the Best Pumpkin Spice Playdough

I will be honest here; I am not the biggest pumpkin spice flavor fan. But, I did enjoy making this pumpkin spice playdough with my kids. The fragrance was not overpowering for me, and strong enough that the kids believed that they were getting to play with real pie dough. So, win-win!

The playdough turned out to be a big hit with the kids! Usually, I would be lucky to get them to play with our playdough three or four times before interest died out. However, with the scented playdough, the kids stayed engaged longer and became interested in creating ways to make playdough-based baked goods for the past two weeks now.

The most exciting part of all of this is that the pumpkin spice scent has held firm, despite my initial concern that it would fade or become unnoticeable after a few days. Each time one of the bags is opened, the pumpkin spice’s smell is still very much present in the dough.

Pumpkin Spice and Fall Fun for Kids

If you choose to color the dough with Fall colors, kids can cut out or model leaves to match the leaves that are changing color outside. You can talk about why leaves come in different shapes and why some turn red while others turn yellow. Pick up a set of leaf-shaped cookie cutters for the kids to use, and they can create leaf-shaped cookies, leaf art, pie decorations, and more.

The brown-colored dough that we made worked for pretend pie crusts, and the yellow, orange, and red would become pumpkin, apple, or berry fillings. Thin leaf cut-outs made with the leaf-shaped cookie cutters made a fancy pie crust topping. 

Adding in other media like cinnamon sticks or small branches from outside can increase the potential of the baking play or autumn scenes that kids can create. A cinnamon stick campfire for pumpkin spice snowmen to sit around is now a thing in our house. :)

Pumpkin Spice Playdough Recipe

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup salt
  • 2 table spoons vegetable or coconut oil
  • 4 tsp cream of tarter
  • 4 tsp pumpkin spice extract 
  • 2 cups warm water


In a large pot, add the flour, salt, and cream of tartar and mix. Over medium heat, add the water and oil and combine the mixture. While the mixture is still liquidy, add in your extract, starting with 3tsp and adding more if the scent is not strong enough. I ended up using 4tsps for this batch.

Stir the mixture frequently to prevent sticking and to help the dough to come together into a ball. The dough will begin to set up quickly within a few minutes, so keep mixing and bring the pot off the heat at the first sign that the dough may be cooking. 

Once you’ve pulled the pot off the heat, keep stirring the dough with a spatula to help form it into a ball. When the dough is cool enough to handle (grownups only!), transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl and continue to work the dough until it reaches that lovely playdough consistency. 

At this point, you have a warm, pumpkin-spicy playdough that is ready for fun, but I highly recommend taking it a step further and adding colors to the dough. Separate the dough into even-sized balls for the number of colors you wish to make. We made four, as you can see. Then, add your coloring according to the instructions on the food coloring you are using to achieve the desired vibrancy. 

How to make playdough softer or less dry

If your playdough did not come out as soft as you’d like, or has dried out over time, don’t worry because it is salvageable. The playdough’s consistency is decided by how much water was allowed to evaporate during the heating step.

  • Place your dough back into a mixing bowl
  • Add teaspoon amounts of water at a time to the dough. If you have a dropper, this would be preferable.
  • After each addition of water, work the moisture into the dough to incorporate and determine if the dough has reached a desired consistency.
  • Repeat the process until the dough is revived to the desired softness.

What to do if the playdough is too wet

If for some reason your dough is not at the right consistency, or other accidents befall your dough, do not worry because it can be fixed.

  • Place the dough into a mixing bowl
  • Add a pinch (an amount you can hold between your thumb and two fingers) of all-purpose flour to the dough.
  • Kneed the dough to incorporate the flour and repeat this process until the dough reaches the desired consistency.

Be sure to use small amounts of flour each time you mend the dough so that you don’t get into a loop of too dry and then too wet.

How to store homemade playdough

Since this is homemade playdough, it does not have the kinds of preservatives that a brand-name dough will have to keep it pliant for a long time. That said, with proper storage and a little diligence on your part, your homemade playdough can stick around for a surprising amount of time.

As soon as the dough is done being played with, immediately place it into a plastic sandwich bag that will create an air-tight seal. Before fully closing the bag, press out any extra air that is trapped in the bag to create as close to a vacuum as possible. Place the bags of playdough in a tin or box for safekeeping so that nothing sharp can puncture the bag.

Wrapping Up

We hope that you enjoyed creating a wonderfully-scented pumpkin spice playdough for your preschool or elementary school children to enjoy. If you happened to make a mess on the carpet, be sure to check our guide on getting playdough out of the carpet. We love that this dough is easy to make with ingredients that are already around the house and how soft it stays even weeks later. This playdough would make a fun gift for family, friends, or coworkers with young children, so please share it with someone you love!