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Salt Dough Recipe

Learn how to make your own salt dough ornaments with this easy Salt Dough Recipe.  You only need a few ingredients from your kitchen to make this salt dough! We cover all of our tips and tricks to make sure your salt dough ornaments will last for years!

Salt Dough Recipe Ornaments and Handprints

An Easy Salt Dough Recipe

One of our favorite things to do with salt dough is to make handprint ornaments. But you can also use this same recipe and use cookie cutters and paint shapes instead!

Don’t forget to add the year on the back of the salt dough ornament to keep track of the different years.

Salt Dough Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour (Note: you want regular all purpose flour, not self-rising)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1.5 cups warm water

How to Make Salt Dough

1. Combine all of your ingredients (flour, salt, warm water) and mix well until it starts to form a dough.

Mix Salt Dough Ingredients in Bowl

2. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead for at least 10 minutes.

The dough will likely be a bit on the dry side to start. If it is, add a little more water in (about 1 tablespoon at a time). Then continue to knead.

The dough should be smooth and roll out with not too many bumps. It should also be easy to press a handprint into it. If you’re finding it’s too hard or not smooth enough, continue to knead some more. If it’s still too dry, add a little bit more water (about a few tablespoons at a time -but not too much or it may get too wet).

Roll out the dough to between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. If the dough is too thick it will take too long to dry.

Press the hand into the dough.

Press Hand into Salt Dough

3. Use a circle shaped bowl to trace around your handprint.

Cut out the handprint with a knife (adults to do this part).

You can also print off a circle shape or heart shape to trace around with a knife (adults to do this part).

If you have a smaller handprint you can use a circle or large heart cookie cutter.

TIP: It’s easier to press the handprint first, and then trace around it. If you have dough left over you can roll it out again and do another handprint.

Cut out the Handprint from Salt Dough

4.  Using a straw, make a hole in the top of the ornament. 

Place Handprint on Baking Tray

5. Let the ornaments air dry for a day.

If you have time, let the ornaments air dry for a day.  This will cut down on the baking time required and help to prevent puffing. If you do not have time, you can bake right away instead.

Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 hours. Once the top of the ornaments look dry and solid, flip over and bake on the other side.

NOTE: It’s important that you check that your oven temperature is set to Fahrenheit. One of the most common reasons the ornaments burn and puff up is that the oven temperature is Celsius. If you have a Celsius setting then you’ll want to use the lowest oven temperature, closer to 120 degrees Celsius.

If your ornaments are still doughy, put them back in for another hour. It will depend on your thickness how long you need to bake for. The thinner ornaments will take less time but thicker may take more. If it’s taking too long in the oven, let them finish drying by air drying them for a few more days. Make sure to flip them over so the bottoms also get exposed to air. 

6. Once your ornaments are fully dry you can paint them.

Paint the handprint and leave the remaining ornament plain. Or you can paint the whole ornament white and then paint the center handprint once the base coat has dried.

If you want to add glitter into the handprint, decorate the whole ornament with paint first, then fill the handprint with glue. Shake glitter onto the glue.

Paint the Handprint

After the paint has dried, make sure to seal with with either mod podge or a clear glaze spray. Seal the ornaments after you paint them and the paint has fully dried.

7. Tie ribbon or twine through the hole for hanging on the Christmas tree. 

Why Is My Salt Dough Puffing Up?

The number one reason salt dough is puffing is due to the oven temperature. If the temperature is too high the salt dough will puff up. It is better to let your ornaments air dry for a day and then bake them. This will prevent the puffing. If you need to bake right away, bake at the lowest temperature (200-250 degrees Fahrenheit).

Note: Make sure to check your oven temperature is Fahrenheit and not Celsius.

You also want to make sure you are using regular, all purpose flour and not self-rising flour.

How Do I Seal Salt Dough Ornaments?

Once you are done, don’t forget to seal with either mod podge or a clear glaze spray. We like this spray for a durable finish. Adults should do the spraying and always follow directions of the product chosen.

Sealing the final ornaments will help stop them from cracking in a few years and prevent moisture from getting in.

What Kind of Paint Should I Use?

I like to use non-toxic acrylic paint for salt dough ornaments. The color will go on much thicker and more vibrant than kids paint. We like this brand of acrylic paint.

How to Decorate Salt Dough Handprints

You can use a heart for the shape around the handprints or you can use a circle.

For this one, we used a large heart cookie cutter as the handprints were small (baby handprints): 

How to Make Salt Dough Handprint Ornament Recipe

If you have larger handprints, you can trace around a heart print-out or use a knife (adults only) to draw a heart shape around the handprint.

We painted this one with acrylic red paint but you could choose green or even silver or gold. Then you can leave the handprint portion of the salt dough ornament either natural or use glue and add glitter to it like we did.

Salt Dough Glitter Handprint Ornament

How Many Ornaments Does this Make?

Depending on the handprint size and thickness of the salt dough – you can get approximately 8 handprints. If you’re using the dough to make small cookie cutter ornaments you’ll get approximately 15.

If you’re hoping to make this for a classroom or with a larger group of kids, I would recommend bringing an extra batch just in case. The quantity can vary depending on size of cookie cutters, handprints and thickness of the dough. I like to roll out the dough and continue to knead together the scraps to use as much as I can.

Tips for Making Perfect Salt Dough

  • Knead well to make the dough smooth – I like to knead at least 10 minutes.
  • Let the ornaments air dry for a day first, if possible. This cuts back on the oven baking time and helps to prevent puffing.
  • Don’t forget to flip the ornaments when baking or air drying so that the bottoms will be exposed to air.
  • Seal with our recommended sealers mentioned above so that the ornaments will last for many years.
  • Store the ornaments in a cool, dry place and keep away from moisture. Sealing the ornaments also prevents moisture from getting in.

Salt Dough Handprint & Ornament Recipe

Handprint Ornament
5 from 17 votes

Salt Dough Recipe – for Handprints & Ornaments

An easy salt dough recipe!
Prep Time15 minutes
Active Time2 hours




  • Combine all of your dry ingredients and knead for 10 minutes. If your dough is too dry add a little bit more water in (a few table spoons at a time) and continue to knead. The dough should be smooth and roll out with not too many bumps. It should also be easy to press a handprint into it. If it's too hard or dry, then add a little bit more water and continue to knead.
  • Roll out the dough to a thickness that you'd like your salt dough ornament to be. We like between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness.
  • Using a large cookie cutter, cut out different shapes for your salt dough ornaments. If making handprints, place the handprints first and then trace around them.
  • Have your child place their hand into the salt dough ornament. If the dough is too hard to get an imprint it may be too dry. Continue to knead until smooth. You can also add in a little bit more water.
  • Using a straw, make a hole in the top for where you want to hang your salt dough ornament.
  • If possible, let the ornaments air dry for a day.
  • Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 1-2 hours. If your ornaments are still doughy, put back in for another hour. (It will depend on your thickness how long you need to bake for. The thinner ornaments will take less time but thicker may take more).
  • If you encounter too much puffing, roll out thinner ornaments and this will help reduce the puffing. If the ornament is still a bit doughy, bake for longer or let sit out a few days to harden before decorating.  The thickness of the dough will determine how long you have to bake them for. We prefer to bake them at 250 degrees Fahreneheit for longer and let them air dry for a few days to prevent puffing.
  • Once cool, you can decorate by painting with non-toxic acrylic paint.
  • Spray with a clear glaze finish or finish with mod podge. Do this before adding the glitter.
  • To make the hand glittery, fill the handprint with glue then sprinkle glitter on top of the glue, shake off the excess and let it dry.

Kids will love helping to make this salt dough recipe. They will also have fun decorating the salt dough ornaments by painting them.

Finally, just a friendly reminder to keep these out of reach of pets (they can be toxic to dogs due to the salt content).

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161 comments on “Salt Dough Recipe”

  1. Pat Bernard

    Hi Kim, My grandchildren are older and I want to make their handprints in a pie tin to hang on a wall. Can you guide me through doing this since it will call for a thicker, larger amount of dough.

    1. If you are open to using a clay instead I think that might create a better lasting piece for you. For a thicker salt dough, you just need to make sure you bake long enough but use a very low heat. I would air dry first both sides for one day each to cut down on the baking time.

    1. That should be fine, just make sure you refrigerate and allow it to come to room temperature for quite a while before you try to roll it out.

    1. Yes that should be fine. You may need to get an acrylic paint marker if the permanent marker does not write nicely.

  2. haven’t made yet but can I add ground clove or cinnamon to give it a nice smell? I know a few years ago I made some like this but they broke and were very brittle.

  3. 5 stars
    Love it! Used this for Father’s Day. My dough is still flimsy though after baking and drying. even though it’s been a week or so, should I put it back in the oven?

    1. After a week I would think it would be fully dry. It doesn’t hurt to pop it back into the oven at a low temp. Make sure when you’re air drying that the bottom is exposed to air also.

  4. Thie is a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to try this with my preschoolers.

  5. I loved this project working with two year old toddlers. The child development center provided training classes at childcare resources who gave the idea too.

  6. 5 stars
    The was a wonderful Valentines project with 5yro granddaughter.
    I did bake twice and let them sit a week until my granddaughter’s next visit to Nana’s House.
    Brought back many fun memories from childhood when my mom would make this dough for our family fun time.
    Ours turned out perfect and the spray mod podge made a big difference. We will start a new tradition with holiday ornaments.

    1. The Best Ideas for Kids

      Yes you can make the night before and place in the refrigerator wrapped tightly in saran wrap. Just give it some time to come back to room temperature and warm up before you try to roll out and use it the next day.

  7. 5 stars
    What else can I use if I don’t have access to Mood podge or Clean Glaze Spray? I live in an isolated northern community so there is no immediate way to get any of them. How much jewelry does this recipe make? I want to make it with a little class. This will help me determine how much I need. Thanks.

    1. The Best Ideas for Kids

      You can mix some white glue with water to apply a glaze that way. Just test one first before applying it on all to make sure it dries clear.

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