How to make coloured cloud dough with 3 easy ingredients.
We’ve done it! We’ve successfully made a batch of vibrantly coloured cloud dough! If you’ve never heard of it before, you can find out how amazing cloud dough is here, in an article I wrote a couple of years ago.
If you are familiar with cloud dough, you know how heavenly it is to run your hands through a bin of the stuff. It smells so good, it feels just amazing, and it looks so… umm… pale and pasty. Am I right? How can something so awesome look so boring?
Every time we play with it I can’t help thinking that it needs a big punch of colour, and then it would be just perfect.
I’ve been unsure about how to colour it though because cloud dough is oil based, and food colouring is water based and the two don’t mix. The oil in the dough resists the food colouring in the water, and you end up with a very pale, speckled dough at best.
I put my thinking cap on the other day however, and the hooligans and I experimented. We did quite a bit of experimenting actually until we found something that worked! Check out how VIBRANT our this cloud dough turned out!
So, you want to know how to colour cloud dough?
Well, first let me tell you how NOT to colour cloud dough.
#1 Do NOT add 2 packets of Cherry Coloured Kool-Aid Packets. Your dough will not turn red. Your dough will not smell like cherries. Try it if you don’t believe me, but really, you should just take my word for it. It’s a waste of time, and those two packets of Kool-Aid would be put to much better use making a batch of homemade playdough.
#2 Do NOT add a box of Cherry Jell-O Crystals. Once again, no colour, no scent – I think the oil must trap and smother the life out of the scent molecules (listen to me thinking I’m a scientist – I’m not. I just know the Cherry Jello-O was also a bust). Bummer.
So, after two failed attempts, I was feeling rather discouraged that we were still staring into a bowl of white cloud dough, and then it hit me…
Want to know what we use to make our coloured cloud dough?
Tempera paint powder! YEP! That’s how you’re going to colour your cloud dough! You’re just going to add a big ol’ spoonful of Tempera Paint powder to it. Yay!
Ok, here’s your coloured cloud dough recipe from start to finish:
For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links.
- 8 cups all-purpose (regular, white) flour
- 1 cup baby oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon of Non-Toxic Tempera Paint Powder
In a large bowl or container, stir your oil and flour together well. A pastry cutter or a potato masher work well to get everything really well blended into a smooth, crumbly powder.
Add a heaping tablespoon of Tempera Paint Powder .
Continue to mash and blend until the colour is completely mixed into the dough.
Add some scoops, cups, moulds and play dough toys to your gorgeous bin of coloured cloud dough, and you’re ready for play!
Want a cloud dough recipe that doesn’t contain baby oil?
Get our toddler-safe, non-toxic cloud dough recipe here. No baby oil means its perfect for little ones who may still be tempted to taste while they’re playing.
*Cloud dough can be messy. I personally advise playing with it outside. If you’re playing indoors, I would suggest placing a plastic tablecloth or drop cloth on the floor to make clean up easy.
*Although we’ve never had any problems with staining, you might want to protect your child’s clothing with a smock or apron.
More fun activities for toddlers and preschoolers:
GIANT Homemade Bubble Recipe
Dino Dig – Melting Ice with Salt and Water
Easy, Homemade Water Wall
2-Ingredient Clean Mud
Get the 3-5 Playful Preschool e-Book!
25+preschool activities, 10 printables, plus links to 50 bonus activities not featured in the book all for $8.99.
Follow the Hooligans on Facebook
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
This is great Jackie! I’ve been trying to figure this one out too! Thanks for sharing!
We tried the simple recipe for cloud dough. White flour and baby oil. It killed the grass and seems like it has permanently stained the colored, stamped concrete. So proceed with caution. The kids had a blast but we need to look into something with less side effects to the home.
Very strange. We’ve played with this dozens of times in our yard, and never had any problems with our grass. Mind you, we’re not dumping or leaving heaps of it out there to suffocate the grass or anything, but just the normal spills that occur when we’re playing with it hasn’t had any ill effects.
I was wondering as i read this……there is oil based food coloring (you use it to color the candy melts used for cake pops) they are oil based and regular food coloring doesn’t color them properly. Smaller quantity of coloring, dual use for it?
I doesn’t have any powdered tempera (nor do I want to buy a huge amount)
Wow! I didn’t know there was such a thing as oil based colouring, Monique! I would certainly think it would work! I’m going to have to look for some!
There are oil based food colorings/flavorings used in candy making that might work. No idea if it would “color” the kids hands or not. 🙂
Where did you get the ice cream cones?
I’ve actually lucked out and found some of them at second hand stores, April. One of them came with our playdough ice cream factory years ago though. You could try amazon.com
You can get scoops, cones an asst. Of molds, In the sweet treats playdoh kits.
I used the oil based candy coloring with great success! I guess it should’ve occurred to me to share that little tidbit when I discovered it and saved you from the failed experiments…my bad.
Haha! No worries Dana. We had fun with all the experimenting.
I’ve made several colored batches using the newfangled Frosting Creations by Duncan Hines! I have a tub of green “mint chocolate chip ice cream” cloud dough, threw in some dried black beans for the chips! Works perfectly for me 🙂 My preschool class absolute loves this stuff!!
Really, Miranda? That’s great to know! I’ve heard of those. Not sure if I can get them here in Canada, but you can bet I’ll be looking! Thank you!
Yes we can get them here. Safe ways and Co-op for sure have them.
that’s an adorable idea Miranda! thanks!
Dried black beans are available in the ethenic food section of Superstore.
I am in Ontario and our local Independent Grocer (Loblaws chain) sells the Duncan Hines Frosting Creations. I imagine they would sell them at most larger chain grocery stores.
Thanks, Natalie! Great to know!
I never do have tempera powder around, but I did have something that made cloud dough SUPER vibrantly colored AND it smelled oh so good!!! I’d love for you to check out my post on it here: http://munchkins-and-moms.blogspot.com/2014/03/secret-ingredient-cloud-dough.html
Yes! I’ve had several people tell me it can be made with those, Clarissa! And I was so happy to hear one person say she’s in Canada, so I know I’ll be able to get some here! I have plans to try it with our next batch!
Can this be used in a sand table instead of sand???? Will it keep?? Of do I need to take it out after playing with it???
It would be great in a sand table, Tanya. As long as it doesn’t get wet, it will last indefinitely. 🙂
I would need to try this with gluten free flour.
Go for it, Kristen, and let me know how it turns out. I’ve had readers ask if they can do it that way, but I’ve never tried to.
Stacy of KSW (@stacyofksw)
Fantastic, thanks for the tips about how NOT to do it too 🙂
For a non gluten containing recipe you can try one part conditioner to two parts cornstarch it works the same and regular food colours work.
Angela R McKinney-Yates
Your blog had me laughing so hard that I think I may just have to try this stuff!!! lol. Kids would love it.
Where is your recipe for cloud dough without baby oil? My little one would love this but she’s still in the phase of sticking everything in her mouth. Is the alternative something that would be safe if ingested? Thanks! I’m in love with this blog now!
Thanks, Liz! Hoping to get that post written up this week. 🙂
I’m anxious to find out the alternative!!!! 🙂
My little boys and I made your clod dough this morning. I would post pics, but it would be too graphic. Lol. They loved the feel of it so much they stripped their clothes off to play naked in it. Hilarious. Love your stuff, we have done tons of it and have lots more planned! Thank you!!
I saw a recipe where it’s colored with a lavender colored sidewalk chalk, and lavender essential oil for the sensory experience of a soothing scent; and the mother uses it as a calm-down activity for her children right before bedtime. Can’t wait to try it!
How so you store this when not in use? I.e air tight container? X
Yes, that’s right, Michelle. 🙂
Why not mix the powdered colour with the flour before adding the oil?
Go for it, Nancy! I can’t see what difference it would make. 🙂
I can’t get powdered tempera paint where I live…only the liquid. Would that work or would it ruin the cloud dough?
I don’t know about the liquid paint, Emily. If it contains water at all, the oil in the dough will repel it. I’ve heard you can use candy food-colouring though because it’s oil based. Maybe check to see if you can get that at your grocery store.
Can we use regular vegetable oil instead odf baby oil?
Yes, you can, Jenn. 🙂
Just made a batch of this and we substituted crushed Crayola sidewalk chalk for the tempura powder. The color was nice (crushed 2 sticks per half batch) and way cheaper!
here’s a suggestion to those who can’t find the Tempera paint. I know I won’t be able to find it from where I come from. Anyway, I can find powdered food colouring so I am sure it will work wonders. 🙂 Can’t wait to try this with my little one!
Would crushed watercolors work for this??? Also water-based . . . just a random thought/question 😀
I have no idea, Moon. You could try it. Let me know if it does!
Tammy Crosby Donaldson
Has anyone thought of smashing up colored chalk (sidewalk chalk) ???
Hi Nez from Sydney Australia here. We just tried it and loved it! Tempera paint worked a treat to colour it.
Yay! So glad you tried it!
Hi. I am from australia too. Would love to know where you found the powdered paint? Thanks!
Where in Canada can I find tempera paint powder? I have called a few stores but I have no idea really where to start looking.
(I’m in Canada)
I really don’t want to wait to order online. Such a hassle.
I’m in Canada too, Khayejae. I would try Michael’s crafts or a teacher’s supply store. If you have a specialized art store in your area (We have a Curry’s Art Supply in Whitby), they might carry it. If all else fails, see if you can get it from Amazon.ca. Most things that I order through them arrive the next day. Seriously! Less than 24 hours later. They’re amazing.
Can I use the liquid tempera paint instead of powdered tempera paint for the cloud dough?
If it’s water-based, I don’t think it will work.
Just did this today (No added color) with my summer camp group. LOVED IT!!!! Everyone in the camp came to see what we were doing. Smells great and although it was a bit messy, it was soooo worth it! I am forever searching around for fun things to do with my kids and your ideas are by far the best! So glad I found you!
Yay! So glad you enjoyed it!
I do not have any children of my own yet. My first, boy, is due August 9th, 2014. I’ve come across this page on my Facebook and because I’ve planned my son, still planning I will definitely be bookmarking this site for future activities! 🙂 I do have nieces that I think would LOVE something like this so I may even get a chance to “practice early!” Thank you so much for all these fun, creative activities!!
You’re so welcome, Tawny! And guess what! Your boy is due on my birthday!! Congratulations to you and your little man! Hope to hear that he’s doing our activities one day. 🙂
I can’t find powder paint where I’m staying but still wanted to have colored cloud dough. Chanced upon another blog called ‘Blog me mom’ and her recipe calls for baking soda and oil before adding the liquid food coloring and corn flour. The results is beautiful! I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil though as it’s expiring soon but I think the key difference is in the baking soda.
That is so funny. I just discovered your site and found the recipe for the cloud dough and you were trying to figure out how to color it. The whole time I was thinking tempera paint. Then I went to this page and scroll to the recipe and there it is. Glad it worked. I will be making this for my kids.
Baby Oil…..read the ingredients please, it’s mineral oil a carcinogen. Don’t put it on your babies & don’t give it to your children to play with!
Couldn’t find tempra powder at any of my local stores and I wanted to use it tomorrow. So I had some glitter on hand. A small tube added some great sparkle
I’m in Toronto and I found the Duncan Hines frosting creations stuff at Walmart. It’s like a buck for a pack. I used three packs for our batch so that the colour is vibrant. How much is the powdered tempera paint?
Even with three packs of the frosting creations it’s still not as vibrant as yours.
I’m not sure, Debbie. I found about a dozen tins of it at the second-hand shop, so I got mine for a steal You could check the Michael’s Crafts website. They probably carry it.
Is this safe for my 2 1/2 year old? She’s not putting everything in her mouth anymore, but want her to b safe. Thanks!
If you use vegetable oil, then the contents will be veg oil, flour and tempera paint. Tempera is non-toxic, so while I wouldn’t want her actually eating it, it’s not toxic if she gets a small amount in her mouth. Remember though, it’s flour, and if you wouldn’t feel safe with her playing with loose flour, because of choking risks, then I would wait until she’s older before offering it for play.
Do we have to put baby oil ❓❓❓
Nope. If you scroll to the bottom of the post, you’ll see how we make it without baby oil. 🙂