How to make salt dough figures

Updated March 23, 2017

Salt dough figures require just three ingredients to create. Even young children can perform the steps required to create the dough and sculpt figures, although an adult should be nearby to assist with baking. Children can use cookie cutters, baking moulds and even play dough moulds for inspiration, while more experienced artists can sculpt freehand. Salt dough figures make excellent ornament, decoration and gift ideas.

Pour salt and flour into a large mixing bowl. Pour water into the mixture. Knead together.

Sculpt the figure from the salt dough using tools, such as knives or cookie cutters, or freehand. If using cookie cutters or moulds, remove the dough from the moulds and place them on a flat surface covered with sand or flour to prevent sticking while you finish. Add any fine details with pencils or other tools before baking.

Place the pieces on a baking tray and bake at 121 degrees Cor an hour or two, until the pieces are dry. Thicker pieces will need to be baked longer.

Paint the figures as desired. Coat them with varnish to protect them from the elements. Salt dough figures that are not varnished will erode.


Add food colouring to the water before mixing the dough together. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. If the dough is not sticky enough, add more water. Keep thick areas hollow to expedite drying and prevent moisture from being trapped inside the figures. Design figures on paper before working with the dough. Draw them simply without much detail on a sheet of paper. Roll the dough out to less than a centimetre's thickness and place the paper drawing on top. Cut away the largest shapes through the paper first. Layer the shapes to create the final product. Attach layers with water before baking. Salt dough provides an excellent medium for preserving children's handprints. Cut out a circle or other shape and press the child's hand firmly and evenly into the dough. Turn the dough over and carefully write the child's name and the date in the dough with a toothpick before baking.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Cookie cutters or moulds (optional)
  • Baking tray
  • Oven
  • Paint (optional)
  • Varnish (optional)
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About the Author

Nicole Thelin has more than a decade of professional writing experience. She has contributed to newspapers such as the "Daily Herald" of Provo, Utah, and now writes for several online publications. Thelin is pursuing a bachelor's degree in education from Western Governors University.