Learn how to make salt dough with step-by-step pictures. The best part about making this salt dough recipe is it’s easy! You probably already have all the ingredients right in your cabinet– salt, flour, and water.

Smiling girl  wearing a salt dough bead necklace with green and yellow beads and a large green shamrock. -Skip To My Lou

This salt dough recipe is not just great for beads,  try your hand at making salt dough ornaments.  It also works great to make keepsake salt dough handprint ornaments.

Related: If you love squishy crafts at your house! Learn how to make slime (this recipe really works)  or whip up my playdough recipe. Making kinetic sand  (aka moon-sand) is also another fun activity. My kid’s favorite gooey fun activity is to make oobleck.

Do remember to allow time for making salt dough ornaments and beads. It takes an hour to bake and then it is a good idea to let them air dry for a few days before decorating.

Salt Dough Recipe Ingredients

  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1 Cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil (optional – however, I think it gives the dough a nice consistency)
  • 3/4  to 1 cup water

How to Make Salt Dough

  • Combine flour, salt, oil, and water in a bowl. 
  • Mix well.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and knead the dough for about 5 – 10 minutes on a floured surface. If the dough is too dry, add a little bit more water. If too sticky, add a little bit of flour. Be sure to adjust with tiny amounts of flour or water. You can always add more. 

How to Make Salt  Dough Ornaments and Beads

  • Begin making beads by rolling small pieces of dough between your hands.
Smiling girl rolling salt dough between her hands.  -Skip To My Lou
  • Use a skewer to make a hole in the middle of the bead. Make the holes really large. The dough will shrink during baking.
Child forming salt dough bead and using a small stick to poke a hole in the middle. -Skip To My Lou
  • To make  Christmas ornaments and pendants for a necklace use cookie cutters to cut out the dough into various shapes.
  • If making an ornament and want to use something wider than string for hanging use a straw to make the hole at the top of the ornament. 
  • Roll or press dough about 1/4  – 1/2 inch thick.
  • Allow ornament or beads to dry. Drying time depends on size and thickness. The thicker the dough the longer it takes to try.  It can also be heavy so for pendants and Christmas tree ornaments so you might want to make those thinner.
Cutting salt dough with heart cookie cutter. -Skip To M Lou

How do you dry out salt dough?

Once all the beads are made they need to be baked.

  • Bake beads,  pendants, or ornaments on a baking sheet at 300 degrees for about an hour (turning once).
  • Once the dough is completely dried it will be super hard and ready to paint.
  • If you have time allowing them to dry a day or so after baking will ensure they are ready to paint.
Salt dough  with one cut into a heart and several beads before painting. -Skip To My Lou

What kind of paint do you use on salt dough?

Yes, you can paint the salt dough after it is dry!  After the beads have been baked, cooled, and completely dried they are ready to paint. Acrylic paint works great for painting.

Tip: If painting isn’t your thing consider tinting the dough with food coloring. The colors do become a bit dull after baking but it really is good a mess-free option.

In the background bottles of acrylic paint. Child is painting a bead red and has already painted the heart red.  -Skip To My Lou

How do you seal salt dough ornaments?

Preserve the salt dough with a sealer. 

  • Once the paint has dried, give the beads a coat of clear spray paint. You can also use a thin layer of Mod Podge.  I recommend at least two coats of sealer. Allow each coat to dry before reapplying more.
Painted salt dough beads with can of clear spray paint. -Skip To My Lou
  • Use a yarn needle to thread the beads onto crochet thread (what we used), embroidery floss, or yarn. Placing a clip on the end will keep the beads from slipping off the end while stringing.
Salt dough beads in red and blue with a cut out flower painted pink and blue. A threaded needle with binder clip on end of the pink string. -Skip To My Lou
  • Carefully thread the beads onto the thread. We used this opportunity to talk about patterns and symmetry.
Childs hands stringing red salt dough beads with needle and thread. -Skip To My Lou
Child putting salt dough beads on string. -Skip To My Lou
  • Place necklace around neck and tie in the back. Now you have some bling!
Girls wearing salt dough necklaces made from the salt dough recipe. -Skip To My Lou

Salt Dough Recipe

This easy salt dough recipe is lots of fun to make on a rainy day or any day!

Salt Dough

Easy recipe for making the best salt dough!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Author Cindy Hopper


  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1 Cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil optional
  • 3/4  to 1 cup water


  • Mix well and knead with hands.

All of your questions answered….

Can you use kosher salt for salt dough?

Yes, but regular table salt will produce a smoother dough.

Is salt dough poisonous to dogs?

Homemade salt dough and also playdough contain large amounts of salt which can be toxic to pets when ingested. If you make salt dough Christmas ornaments hang them high on your tree out of your dog’s reach.

How many years do salt dough ornaments last?

I have an ornament that was made 25 years ago. As long as they were allowed to dry completely and were sealed with a protective coat they should last years.

Why is my salt dough puffing up?

Try rolling out the dough a bit thinner. Also, make sure you use all-purpose flour and not self-rising flour.

More Fun Kid Crafts

Did you make Christmas ornaments or beads with the salt dough recipe? What other ideas do you have for using the salt dough? I would love to hear about your crafting adventures, post in the comments.

I would love to keep you fully stocked with creative ideas, yummy recipes, fun crafts, and loads of free printables. Subscribe to Skip to my Lou to get new ideas delivered to your inbox. Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram for all my latest updates.

About Cindy Hopper

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