The Quickest Ever Salt Dough Recipe

Salt dough is a fabulous, quick and easy clay-type material to make at home or in the classroom with kids, but one of the big drawbacks is the time that it takes to dry. If you’re working with a time-limit like a class schedule or with impatient toddlers and preschoolers then that wait time can be unbearable. Good news!  With a slight adaption to the typical salt dough recipe, you can dry it in the microwave!

Quickest Ever Salt Dough Recipe


When I first published this quickest ever salt dough recipe (November 2012) our microwave was 10 years old.  We’ve since replaced the microwave, and I’ve adapted this recipe so that it works in our new “FAST” microwave. Instead of taking 3 minutes, some of the decorations we’ve made this year have taken all of 90 seconds to bake and be ready to decorate.

Salt Dough Recipe

1/2 cup of salt

1/2 cup of water

1 cup of flour

How to make the salt dough

Add the 1/2 cup of salt and 1 cup of flour to a bowl, and stir in the water adding it slowly.  You may not need all of the water. You want the dough to be dry. If it gets sticky add more flour. Knead the dough and then roll out and use as you want.

Once you have made the shapes you want then you need to dry them so you can paint them.. Traditionally salt dough is dried in the oven which takes about 3 hours at a low heat so they don’t burn. But instead,  you can swap your oven for a microwave and zap them for 3 mins.

Microwave Salt Dough Recipe

Salt dough recipe for the microwave

When you zap the salt dough in the microwave take it 10 seconds at a time.


Because each microwave is different and even your salt dough will be slightly different than mine. Water softness as well as the brands of salt and flour that we use can make a difference. Also, the thickness of our ornaments will be different. Microwaving for 10 seconds and checking means that you can avoid over-cooking, which can cause the salt dough to bubble.

quickest ever salt dough recipe

If, after 3 minutes, they are still a little wet then just put them back in for 10 second increments until they’re done. Let them cool, and then paint.

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Quickest Ever Salt Dough Recipe

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Cerys is the founder of Rainy Day Mum, a former Marine Biologist and Teacher she is now a stay at home mum to J and T. She can be found elbows deep in paint, glue, mud and sand at various times of the year and also behind the screen working on Rainy Day Mum and editing post for The Playroom on BonBon Break.

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  1. 3 boys mummy says

    Love this! Made decorations for our Christmas tree and made salt dough handprints to hang on the tree. All my boys loved it, the 2 14year olds and the 2year old. Great activity for them all to do together, thanks!

  2. Hannah says

    This worked fine – until we made 3D snowmen… which exploded and then caught fire.

    Worked really well for thin/2D shapes, not so much for 3D shapes!

  3. carol says

    Salt dough is not successful being microwaved and this is not just something I am telling you but something which has been proven and written about in books too. The dough rises and whilst on the outside looks puffy and cooked inside it is usually split apart and not cooked. I would recommend baking it properly or putting it on trays in the sunshine in the summer months to dry through. Clearly if you only are making things which are not works of art you might want to still try them in the microwave but I don’t bother but dry them in the oven low or outside.

  4. Jessica says

    Thanks You!!! You just saved my life with this recipe! We were supposed to make these tonight with a group of Young Women. Needless to say it was dumped on me at the last min. When I started searching… I saw a minimum of 2 hour bake time! We have 1 hour to be done. But the microwave once again saves the day!
    Thank You!!!!!!

  5. Carina says

    Great recipe! I used less water and so that they did not break or burn I microwaved for three minutes the first time, and one minute intervals after that.

  6. Kari says

    30 seconds in the microwave left me with lots of smoke a black puffed up cinder… Don’t know if ill ever get the smell out of here.

  7. Julia says

    Wow. 3 minutes WAAAAY too long in my microwave. Sat down to nurse youngest and house filled with smoke. eek. I guess this is super dependent on microwave wattage.

  8. Jemima says

    Just did this…. and the microwave just billowed with smoke! 2 frightened children here, thanks a lot!!

  9. Hayley says

    Never knew you could dry salt dough in the microwave! We made ornaments a few days ago and they still havent air dried- into the microwave this morning to take home today! Thank you for such a fab tip!

  10. Melissa Sprinkles says

    I used this recipe and it worked great, although I put it in for three minutes and after 2 minutes it was starting to burn. The next lot i just went for 30 seconds at a time which worked great!!

  11. Sarah says

    Did this recipe out of desperation for something to do…..only had SR flour in cupboard, so my shapes ended up a bit bigger!!!! But it still worked a treat. Microwave dries out dough in the same way as defrosting bread for too long in the microwave….rubbery, then rock-hard! Had trouble trying to persuade my 3 year oldnot to eat them.

  12. Erin says

    Ok, so if you were having the same burning problem as me, read on. I have found a solution! Microwave it for 1 minute, and pause the microwave every 20 seconds. That will prevent them from expanding and becoming distorted. It will still harden, and it takes even LESS time!

  13. Adam says

    I don’t think this is too good. Just set fire to my microwave, smashed a plate and burnt all the salt dough. Cheers

  14. Emma says

    I have tried this lots of times and love this recipe. I always make sure the plate is full of our creations and the are normally between 5-10mm thick.
    Thank you for sharing this great recipe.

  15. MadamBlondie says

    Rainy day……and bored kids!! not a great combo until I search the tin-tin-net for salt dough. Kids happy and me even happier. Think I will stick to the oven drying tho, as I don’t think my kids will be too impressed If I blast to bits or cremate their little works of art!!!! :)

  16. LJ says

    700w microwave, (which I thought was quite a weak one?) tried two rectangles 11cm X 15cm x 3cm and got serious cracking and puffing up issues. first was two minutes then 30 seconds stops, second attempt was even less than this. Probably will be sticking to oven or air dry from now on to be honest 😛

  17. Deemee says

    I have used my microwave oven several times for my salt dough projects. The only time that I burned my salt dough was when I set it at a medium low temp for 4 minutes straight. The next time, I set it at low 2-3 minutes interval, switching it on at around 3-5 more times depending on the item.I had to turn the other side everytime.So convinient.

  18. Lauren says

    Dough recipe was perfect; I’m a speech therapist and I used it with my kids as a sequencing activity to accompany the Gingerbread Man story. Microwaving also worked great for the first 4 cookies I tried…but I would recommend letting your microwave rest before trying the 5th batch, because I definitely started a small fire in the teacher’s lounge. Everything turned out okay, but I think it’s safe to say I ruined parent-teacher conference day. Whoops.

  19. Misha says

    Eish! DO NOT MICROWAVE! My microwave caught on fire. The call to the insurance people tomoro is going to be very embarrassing.

  20. Lauren says

    Oh no! I wish I had read these comments before putting my kids’ works of art in the microwave. They became wrinked and puffed up. Quite upsetting really that they had spent so much time on these, getting them nice only to have them come out leathery and wrinkled. Author should perhaps put a disclaimer on to advise that this may ruin your kids’ craft!!

  21. Becky says

    i used to make and do salt dough with my mum wen i was younger but now i am a childminder i like to do it with the kids now and brings bk memiors xx

  22. carol says

    Fantastic they turned out fab. You do need to keep an eye on them in microwave you cant just bung them in and leave them.

  23. Nicola Byron says

    I did this with my 2.5yr old daughter today and she loved it!
    We baked ours in our halogen oven, 10 minutes on 150c and they were perfect, slightly dark(NOT burnt just ever so slightly darker than if microwaved).
    Will be doing this again!

  24. Joy says

    I made this recipe, only I baked in the oven, and my kids’ handprints puffed all up instead of staying flat. What happened????

  25. Madeleine says

    DO NOT DO MICROWAVE!!!!! Whole house smelt awful burnt the craft and the PLATE which was china. DO NOT!!!!

  26. Alyssa says

    I tried this before I used it in the classroom. I was so glad that I did. I checked the dough every ten seconds and finally it was 10 seconds too long. It burnt and billows of smoke came from the microwave. It was a disater and I was lucky I acted quickly so that the fire alarms didn’t go off. I’m sticking to the oven.

  27. Tina says

    Hi Rainy Day Mum! I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for this easy and fun salt dough recipe! I still remember in a haze when I was a child and created salt dough art! Nowadays? Not so much, I had no idea where to start, so I googled and stumbled over your awesome page! While I do some paper art projects with my kids, I haven’t done other arts and crafts for a long time. Anyway, I read ages ago of a craft for dad: collect little rocks, make salt dough and arrange rocks into the letters: “DAD ROCKS” Sounded like a fun project and great Christmas (or father’s day) gift for daddy (w/ help by mom) from the kids! …And it turned out GREAT! (I started before on Fathers Day, but the rocks I had collected where too big, …and then I kind of ran out of patience. Well, fast forward to today: I started again, collected small rocks this time, and tried it on your salt dough recipe, which was super easy, even for somebody clumsy and impatient like me, lol!. So if anybody wants to try this salt dough out, go ahead, it’s indeed super easy and FUN! And the “DAD ROCKS” will make a fun and super gift from my 4yr old to daddy! :) MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! PS: I did not set the kitchen of fire! :)

  28. says

    Just made these last night with two busy toddlers. They turned out pretty well, we added cinnamon and nutmeg so the dough smelled nice. A couple rose too much in the middle but we reduced that by flipping the ornaments every so often as they microwaved. Really easy, and quick enough that I don’t mind if they turned out slightly lumpy. Gives them character, right?

  29. says

    Just made these last night with two busy toddlers. They turned out pretty well, we added cinnamon and nutmeg so the dough smelled nice. A couple rose too much in the middle but we reduced that by flipping the ornaments every so often as they microwaved. Really easy, and quick enough that I don’t mind if they turned out slightly lumpy. Gives them character, right?
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  30. Erica says

    I absolutely LOVE the ability to put this in the micro! I have one question though: Do you think that I could put pony beads into the salt dough creations and still microwave them? I realize that a regular oven would melt them but am wondering about the micowave. I know we COULD let it airdry but I am just as impatient as the kiddo!! Thanks, Erica

  31. Terese Martinez says


  32. Shannon Dzikas-Verret says

    This did not work in the microwave! It puffed up and turned brown. I’d rather air dry them! I like the idea but it doesn’t seem safe, too many variables. Wish I had read the other comments before I did this. I was in a hurry.

  33. says

    You just saved my day. Was looking for a crafty indoor activity and this sounds great here. Will try it out in a minute. Thank you for sharing! :-)

  34. says

    It maybe that your microwave has a higher setting than mine. Mine is quite old so a D or C setting. Instead of blasting at full heat try reducing the heat to 80% and taking it at 30 second intervals. (This is what I had to do at a friends who had a new microwave)

  35. Tina says

    I tried a hand print at the same time I did my other project (see above)- I luckily had no problems with it puffing up. You might want to try with a tiny bit f water. The first time I took it out the microwave to look at it -impatience got the better of me 😉 I had 2 tiny cracks in there, but I dabbed a teeny bit of water on it and put it back in and it came out great after that!