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.
Everyone loves salt dough crafts. It’s inexpensive, fun and non-toxic to work with for kids and family, especially around holiday time. So, what is the best easy 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?
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 .
How to make salt dough
The ingredients for salt dough are very simple: just flour, salt and water. 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. ( See our tests in next step to find the best salt dough recipe!)
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, knead a little bit until smooth, that’s it! You can make salt dough ahead of time and store them in airtight plastic bag or container for about 5 days or even longer.
Testing the best salt dough recipe ratios
I tested the following ingredients ratios using all purpose flour and regular table salt.
*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?
We tested each dough by making some stamped salt dough ornaments using rolling pin and cookie cutters. Recipe 1 has the most salt and the texture 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 recipe is the best for making impressions such as salt dough handprints?
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. They should all be great for salt dough handprint ornaments ad keepsakes.
If you want to make a project like these stamped vintage salt dough Christmas ornaments below with small details, choose recipe 3 or 4!
Is it better to bake or air dry salt dough ornaments?
The short answer is: it is better to bake your salt dough at 190 to 200 Fahrenheit oven temperature on a baking sheet. 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 the amount of time it takes to dry. For 1/8” to 1/4” thick dough, it can take 3 to 6+ hours.
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 Christmas ornaments 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?
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 the best sealer to seal homemade salt dough crafts?
Mod Podge is great for sealing homemade salt dough ornaments and crafts, such as these DIY salt dough photo ornaments we just made here! Some people use varnish, polyurethane spray or resin for even more durability, especially when they intend to sell their salt dough creations.
If you paint the salt dough with acrylic paints, that can act as a sealer as well.
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!
Hi, I’m not sure if this question will be answered as it’s an older thread but fingers crossed. My 1cm thick salt dough ornament has been in the oven for 6 hours at 80c then I put it up to 100c for the last 2 hours, I let them cool overnight but they still aren’t rock hard, I’ve turned them aswell but if I press my nail in it leaves a mark, I’ve put them back in the oven again. HELP. X
hi Donna! 1cm is very thick, so it could take longer. you can leave them air dry for a few days in a dry and warm place. 🙂
how do you get recope 3 to make dough and not get the cornstarch-flour to not just form big clots
hi! if you mix the salt and flour together first, then add all the water at once, it will be easier to knead without forming clumps 🙂
I was wondering the same. So when you say repeat a few times you mean like 2 to three times for each batch correct? or do the 20 min turn off and then in the morning they will be good?
hi Angelina, yes it’s 2 to three times for each batch, and doesn’t have to be overnight. you can do this over a few hours to let the residual heat do the work. 🙂
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! 🙂
Thank you for all of the great information!
Can the dried salt dough be painted with regular school paints? (Washable acrylic or tempera pucks)
hi Darra! yes you can paint dried salt dough with any paints! 🙂
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Good instructions. What I want to know is how to make the pictures on the salt cookies
hi Susan! tutorial and supplies list here- https://www.apieceofrainbow.com/salt-dough-christmas-ornaments/
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!
hi Danielle! would you clarify if you prefer a darker or light color after baking? 🙂
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..
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! 🙂
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 .
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!
hi Sylvia! thank you so much and happy holidays! 🙂
Wow this is really too good about the best dough recipe thanks sharing this article
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
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! 🙂
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!!