Best Salt Dough Recipe for Ornaments & Crafts

Our test results for the best salt dough recipe for DIY ornaments, crafts, gifts & Christmas decorations, with great tips on baking & drying.

What is the best salt dough recipe? Why does my salt dough puff up when baked? Is it better to bake or air dry salt dough? What’s best to seal salt dough?

the best salt dough recipe for DIY ornaments, crafts, gifts & Christmas decorations

These were the questions many of us had when creating our first salt dough projects. So I decided to test 4 most popular recipes, different baking temperatures and techniques to find the best salt dough recipe that is most durable and easy to work with.

Today I am going to share all my findings with you, plus some beautiful salt dough Christmas crafts and decoration ideas to make!

* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .

Testing the best salt dough recipe ratios

The most popular salt dough recipes call for the ratio of 1 cup of flour, 1/2 to 1 cup of salt, 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water. So I tested the following ratios using all purpose flour and regular table salt. 

best ratios for smooth salt dough

*NOTE: add 1-2 tablespoon more water if the dough is too stiff 

  • Recipe 1: 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of water*
  • Recipe 2: 1 cup of flour, 2/3 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of water*
  • Recipe 3: 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of water*
  • Recipe 4: 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of salt, 1 cup of water

Final results: recipe 2 and 3 are my favorites! Now let’s go into details of why.

IMPORTANT: keep our furry friends safe! Many things safe to humans such as salt dough, play dough, and even chocolate, can be harmful if eaten by dogs or other pets. So please take necessary precautions, and remind others too!

Which salt dough recipe is the easiest to work with?

rolling and stamping salt dough

Recipe 1 has the most salt and it felt gritty to work with. Recipe 4 was nice but a little soft and sticky, and it took longer to bake than the others. I would add a little more flour to this recipe to make it better in future.

Recipe 2 and 3 are both nice and smooth to work with.

Which salt dough recipe dries the fastest and strongest?

They were all very durable without any cracking. I was able to break a test piece made from recipe 1 when I tried very hard, but I could not break any pieces made with the other recipes. 

Which salt dough recipe is the best for making impressions?

making salt dough leaf impressions

As you can see, they are all good enough to catch the fine details in these leaf impressions. However recipe 3 and 4 retains the most details.

If you want to make a project like these stamped vintage salt dough Christmas ornaments below with small details, choose recipe 3 or 4!

stamped vintage salt dough Christmas ornaments

Is it better to bake or air dry salt dough?

The short answer is: it is better to bake your salt dough at 190 to 200 Fahrenheit. The salt dough ornaments will come out with nice color and retain their shape much better than those baked at hotter temperatures. My favorite is actually a “hybrid” method of baking and air drying salt dough, which I will share below!

If you have some kind of heat vent that create hot and dry air, you can definitely put your salt dough creations near the vent to air dry. Otherwise, air drying in normal to cool temperature takes a very long time, and the salt dough can discolor over the course of a few days.

How long does it take for salt dough to bake until dry?

The thicker and wetter the dough, the longer it takes. For 1/8” to 1/4” thick dough, it can take 3 to 6+ hours.

baked salt dough Christmas ornaments & gift tags

However, you don’t have to leave you oven on the entire time. My favorite way to bake salt dough is to put them in the oven, let the oven heat to 200, leave it on for about 20-30 minutes, then turn the oven off so the dough keeps drying in the residual heat for the 1-2 hours, or overnight if it’s bed time.

Repeat this process for 3-5 times, your salt dough ornaments will be ready for decorating!

Why do my salt dough puff up?

Salt dough can get puffy like a pita bread, or curl in all directions if we bake them too hot. 

It is totally understandable we want to bake them hotter so they dry faster. If you don’t mind them getting a little puffy or darker in color, go for it! 

However, if you want them relatively flat, bake them at 200 Fahrenheit, or use a flat weighted sheet pan on top to keep them flat if you bake them at 225 F to 325 F. Keep in mind the dough turn a darker color if baked at these temperatures.

Is there a no-bake salt dough recipe?

homemade air dry clay ornaments

Yes! Here’s our homemade air dry clay recipe with baking soda / cornstarch and glue! It is also more white than salt dough. I have to say I like both salt dough and the air dry clay for different reasons!

What’s best to seal salt dough?

Mod Podge is great for sealing homemade salt dough ornaments and crafts, such as these salt dough photo ornaments we just made here! Some people use varnish or resin for even more durability, especially when they intend to sell their salt dough creations.

That’s it for today! If you have any questions or tips to share, feel free to leave us a comment and we will make sure to reply!

Stay tuned for more slat dough projects! See you soon!

18 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Hi! I was hoping to use this to make handprint ornaments for a Pre-K class. It currently has 20 students. Should I double, triple or quadruple the recipe? Also, can I make the dough the night before or should I make it in class that day? Thank you!

    • hi Faith, you can make the dough even a few days ahead. 🙂 i each recipe is enough to make 6-10 ornaments depending on size and thickness, which you can use as a measure to see how much dough you need! 🙂

  2. Thank you for all of the great information!

    Can the dried salt dough be painted with regular school paints? (Washable acrylic or tempera pucks)

    Thanks again!

  3. Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this website. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s difficult to get that “perfect balance” between usability and visual appearance. I must say that you’ve done a very good job with this. Also, the blog loads super quick for me on Firefox. Excellent Blog!

  4. Hi there! Thank you for all these tips! Do you have any idea how to help dried ornaments go back to the darker color they were before baking? I created some with cinnamon and the top side is much lighter than the back side that wasn’t exposed for the first half of baking which I wanted, the dough looked more tan before baking. Thank you!

  5. Thank you so much for these great tips! Definitely saves me time as I make some last minute gifts 🙂
    Just wondering – is there an easy way to tell when the dough is completely hardened/dry? Thinking of leaving them in the oven for about 2 hours then turning it off and leaving them overnight or for a few more..
    Thanks again!

    • hi Whitney! yes when the dough is fully dried they are hard like rocks! 🙂 i think leaving them overnight with oven off is a good idea. just remember to flip them a couple of times during the first 2 hours! 🙂

  6. wow, this is amazing tips about best salt dough recipe. this is really very helpful. thanks for sharing this amazing article and recipe of best salt dough .

  7. Just to say, I so enjoy seeing all your creativity even if I do not have time to spend doing it myself right now! But… I saved them all up from the day I started, so hopefully will be able to go check them out one day.

    Absolutely love the ideas! Gorgeous!

    Thank you for sharing, Ananda!

  8. I have a question about drying the salt dough cookies. You said to put them in the oven at 200 degrees and leave the oven on
    for about 20 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave them in the oven for a couple of hours or overnight. Then you said
    do this 2 or 3 times. Originally it said it takes 3 to six hours to dry. If I leave them in the oven overnight isn’t that enough to dry
    them??

    • hi Arlene! so the “3 to 6 hour” is when you bake them continuously. the on-off method is to only bake 20 minute at a time, then let the residule heat do the work, and repeat the process a few time. hope that helps! 🙂

  9. This is really good to know! I was looking for the best salt dough recipe to make botanical impressions, and I think I just found it. Thank you!!

Send this to a friend