Mixing, kneading and making handprints in salt dough is a lovely, sensory activity for children of all ages. And, because you can then bake it after you make it, you end up with an colourful, arty masterpiece to paint and then put on display – result!


We've heard a lot of talk out there recently about 'salt-dough fails' but this recipe is a proper, tried-and-tested one – and it's worked for our MFM crafters every time.

It worked really well! It was easier than I expected and Annabelle and Samuel had lots of fun playing with the leftover dough
Sarah, MFM Crafter and mum to Annabelle, 5, and Samuel, 3

One thing to note before you start, though: the salt dough does take quite a while to bake in the oven, so you might prefer to do the decorating bit the day after you've made it...

Here’s how to make salt dough hand prints:

You will need:

  • Plain flour - 400g (plus extra for kneading)
  • Salt - 200g
  • Mixing bowl
  • Baking tray
  • Baking parchment
  • Water - 200ml (feel free to add more as you go along)
  • Rolling pin
  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic paints
  • Permanent marker

Step 1: Preparing the Dough

Preheat your oven to its lowest setting (we baked ours at 100ºC/212ºF/Gas Mark ¼). Line your baking tray with baking parchment and pop to one side. Put the flour and salt in your mixing bowl.

How to make salt dough hand prints
Pic: Sarah Cummins

Step 2: Mixing and Kneading

Add your water to the flour and salt, and mix until it comes all together. Add more water if you feel you need to.

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When it's starting to come together, put your hands into the bowl and (this is the fun bit!) knead it for several minutes, trying to get the dough as smooth as possible

How to create salt dough hand prints
Pic: Sarah Cummins

Step 3: Making Handprints

Tip the dough out of the bowl onto a floured work surface and roll it out to about ½ cm thickness. It should be rolled out big enough to fit all the family’s hands on.

Each person then pushes their hand into the dough.

TIP: We found that firmly placing your hand straight down, then lifting off again quickly works best.

If you need to, trim the edges of the dough so there are no big spaces on the outside of the handprints

Put the finished dough on the lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 3 hrs – or until firm. Leave out to air dry for a few hours.

How to create salt dough hand prints
Pic: Sarah Cummins

Step 4: Painting and Personalizing

Once the dough has cooled, you can start painting it with your acrylic paints. Begin with each handprint (maybe painting each one a different colour), then paint in the background colour, tidying up any messy bits as you go.

Write in your family names with a permanent marker (a fine tip is best) and add on the date.

How to create salt dough hand prints
Pic: Sarah Cummins

Making metallic hand and footprints

How to create salt dough hand prints
Pic: Charlie Fletcher

To give an extra shine to your dough, use metallic paints. Silver or gold make a great background colour and then you can add personalised colours for the prints themselves.

Take hand and footprints of your baby or young child as a lovely keepsake, as mum Charlie Fletcher created (above).

Create a rainbow handprint with acrylic paint

Pic: Laura Bristow
Pic: Laura Bristow

MadeForMums community member, Laura Bristow, created this gorgeous salt dough hand print with her daughter Lola. In order to paint the rainbow colours, Laura used porcelain paint pens, which you can buy from Baker Ross, and are a little less messy than painting with a brush.

Laura found the pen painting easier than expected. "It turned out better than I expected," she enthuses.

Buy porcelain ceramic paint pens from Amazon (£11.99) and Baker Ross from £8

To preserve your salt dough prints

Your salt dough handprint keepsake will last for a long time if you keep it in an airtight container wrapped in tissue or kitchen roll.

You can also buy a spray sealer varnish, which will seal it and give it a hard-wearing gloss or matt effect.

Buy spray sealer from Amazon - Gloss (£14.88) and Matt (£14.37)

Our crafters' top tips:

  • If your dough still feels a little soft after baking, leave it out to dry overnight.
  • If you have any leftover dough, you can get creative and use it to create anything from Christmas baubles, to picture frames, to foods for a toy kitchen (below) – the possibilities are endless!
Salt dough toy food
Pic: Sarah Cummins

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Dani Graph
Danielle GraphCommunity Manager