DIY Pumpkin Scented Play Dough With Just 5 Ingredients

Love the smell of fall? Then you'll love this Pumpkin Play Dough recipe!

By Sara Yaniga, publisher of Macaroni KID Chicago, Ill. October 8, 2021

We love kitchen creativity and sensory play in our family, so it only seemed natural that we adapt our favorite play dough recipe for the fall and Halloween season. 

Yep, that's right: Pumpkin Play Dough! Smells just like pumpkin pie. We wanted to share how we did it, and how you can too with just five ingredients. And there's a good chance you might already have everything you need in your pantry!


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2-3 TBSP pumpkin pie spice*
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water


Mix in a saucepan over medium heat while stirring. The mixture will get lumpy and form into a dough. Once cool to the touch, you can knead and play!

* You can make your own pumpkin pie spice blend with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

The recipe and steps are simple enough for the kids to help prepare the ingredients, while a grown-up or older child can help when it comes time to simmer it on the stovetop. Our daughter has always enjoyed measuring and mixing the ingredients right into the saucepan for me before we put it over the heat and its a great way to safely bring younger children into the activity.

You should end up with enough dough (about four tennis ball sized pieces) for multiple children to play with one batch, or enough to share if you wanted to gift some to a friend! Pumpkin Play Dough can become a sweet homemade gift — simply place the dough and a few fall themed cookie cutters into an airtight clear jar, attach a note to the lid and — voila! — an instant gift and activity to delight all the senses this season!

If you want to amplify the "pumpkin" theme, you can add red and yellow food dye to the mixture, while stirring it over the heat, and create a beautiful orange color, or if you leave it natural, the spices will leave you with a nice shade of brown. 

You may notice we created a fall-inspired red, green, and orange collection of dough. We did this AFTER cooking — which is possible, but definitely messier! I took three balls of dough, pressed my thumb into the top to make an indentation, and added food coloring and then kneaded each ball to distribute the color evenly. My takeaway advice is to WEAR GLOVES if you choose to do this if you do not want red, green, and orange hands. 

Please remind your children that this dough is not edible! The spices work together to make it smell so amazing, like a pumpkin pie, but it is not for consumption. 

Sara Yaniga is the publisher of Macaroni KID Chicago, Ill.