How to Make Hot Chocolate Playdough for Christmas-Themed Play

Chocolate playdough is one of our favourite playdough options for the winter months. Not only does it smell gorgeous, but it really evokes the rich scents of Christmas-time hot chocolate.

The image shows an IKEA Glis box that has been used to store chocolate playdough, cinnamon sticks, Christmas stamps and cupcake cases

As you probably know by now, I’m a huge believer in following the seasons. Seasonal play helps children to connect to the world around them and understand the passing of time in a hands-on way. We create activities such as hot chocolate playdough as part of our seasonal rhythm.


How to Make Hot Chocolate Playdough 

This is a no-cook hot chocolate playdough recipe, meaning it’s also a great one to get young children involved with. Playdough can be a great introduction to baking and cooking because there isn’t the pressure to get the recipe ‘perfect’.

Read on to the bottom of this post to find our playdough care tips. 


  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup salt
  3. 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder
  4. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  5. 2 tablespoons of cream tartar
  6. 1-2  cups warm water – added gradually
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Mixing bowls
  2. Whisk or spoon for mixing
  3. Measuring cups and spoons
  4. Airtight containers for storage – or an IKEA Glis box for play invitations

a 5 year old girl decorates cookies that are made from chocolate playdough


  1. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, cream of tartar and unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix these dry ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Add Wet Ingredients: Pour in the vegetable oil, warm water, and vanilla extract. Stir until the mixture starts to come together.
  3. Knead the Dough: Once the ingredients are well-mixed, transfer the mixture to a clean, flat surface. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and pliable. You may need to add a bit more flour if it’s too sticky or a little more water if it’s too dry.
  4. Optional Add-Ins: If you want to add miniature chocolate chips, glitter, or food coloring to your chocolate playdough, this is the time to do it. Knead these additives into the dough until they’re evenly distributed.
  5. Store for Later Play: Once your no-cook chocolate playdough is ready, store it in airtight containers to keep it fresh and ready for Christmas-themed fun!


hot chocolate playdough invitation displayed in an IKEA Glis box

Homemade Play Dough Care Tips

To preserve the hot chocolate playdough for longer, here are four tips to try:


After spending the first half of the year in Austria without being able to source cream of tartar, I can honestly say that it makes the biggest difference in the success of the play dough. We tried using lemon or lime juice instead but it just wasn’t the same. I’ve since started bulk ordering cream of tartar from Amazon (is that crazy?!) and it’s made the biggest difference!

Without cream of tartar, the dough would get crumbly fast, but now we have lovely soft, smooth play dough again – yay!


You’ve gone to the effort of making the play dough, you need to store in correctly. We tend to wrap ours in ziplock bags (which we reuse for new batches) then we seal the dough inside a IKEA GLIS container.

Generally speaking, keeping the dough in a cool dry place will be enough to make it last for up to 4 weeks. However, in the summer we have occasionally kept the dough in the fridge to stop it from going sticky.


If your child has been playing for some time with the hot chocolate playdough then it is likely to get dry. If needed at the end of a play session, we add a drop or two of water or a teaspoon of oil to the dough using a pipette to revive it. Works like a charm!


When making dough, the best thing we’ve found is to knead it by hand to get all of the stickiness out. If you’re still finding the texture a little too much on the sticky side however, keep rolling into small amounts of flour until you get the right, ‘springy’ consistency.

a young girl makes cookies from chocolate playdough

More Sensory Play Activities

If you enjoyed this blog post on how to create hot chocolate playdough, you might also enjoy some of our other sensory play ideas too:

20 Simple Toddler Play Ideas for the IKEA Flisat Table 

5 Benefits of Sensory Play + How to Get Started 

10 sensory play ideas for Autumn 

Sunflower Sensory Play

How to make Lavender sensory rice 

How to make apple playdough + 15 ideas to try 

How to make cranberry and orange playdough

Simple Hot Chocolate Sensory Bin 

Orange and Cranberry playdough 

Do you need more help with sensory play?

Sensory play is more than just the activity itself. If you are worried about starting sensory play (or you hate it), I have just the course for you!

Head on over to my membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’, to access the mini course ‘Starting Sensory Play’.

Topics covered include:

  • The importance of Sensory Play
  • How to plan and prepare for sensory play
  • Do you need to use food in sensory play?
  • Essential sensory play resources
  • Simple Sensory play activities + 80 page guide


Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.