gluten free salt dough ornaments

the paint cut paste history of salt dough ornaments goes something like this: i used to be able to eat gluten, and when i did, the homemade play dough squished all over our kitchen. when N was almost 2.5 years old (2009,) we made these (yummy smelling!) cinnamon dough ornaments (yep in the summer; we like to plan ahead) and when she was almost 3 years old, (near christmastime, like normal people) we made salt dough ornaments. close to valentines’s day 2010, we made these salt dough hearts into garland.

last christmas (2010) we skipped the dough ornament part of our christmas tradition altogether because our kitchen became gluten free a few months prior, and i found it daunting enough to cook with weird and expensive flours. at the time, gluten free crafting seemed like way too much. i guess i’ve adjusted because i now know it’s not. we created the simplest of gluten free salt dough ornaments yesterday.

i was (p)inspired by a lot of pretty salt dough ornaments i saw around the web this year, like these and these, and the lovely ones tinkerlab posted yesterday. so yesterday afternoon, i figured we’d give a gluten free version a shot, and i searched for recipes. the one we ended up using is from the spunky coconut. they made cute pretend fruit with their dough, so it took a while for them to bake their thick pieces, but even our thin ornaments were not quick at all! here’s what we did:

  • bring 1 cup of water to (barely) a boil
  • add 1 cup of salt, stir and dissolve for about a minute (not all of the salt dissolves. i guess that’s okay.)
  • pour salt and water over 1 cup of cornstarch and mix together
  • add 1/4 cup of cold water
  • add 2 tbsp oil (i used canola. you might want to go with 1.5 tbsp instead, in hindsight)

  • mix and kneed the clay like dough. if the dough is too wet and sticky, add more corn starch till it has a playdough consistency. (i had to sprinkle ours a few times with corn starch.) N and i both loved how white and smooth (and a bit oily) this dough felt to play with!

N rolled the dough until it was about 1/4″ thick. she’s a sucker for a rolling pin.

we cut some circles (large and small,) stars, and a few trees (with fingerprints in them to be decorated later.) we used a straw to make holes in each one for stringing. i even stamped a few (with regular rubber stamps) to see if i could get snowflake patterns and such to show up, but this sort of dough didn’t take well to that detail once baked.

for the first hour, i baked the ornaments on parchment-lined cookie sheets at 200 degrees F. then, i increased the temperature to 220 degrees because they were still quite soft. a half hour later, i put it on 245 F. all in all, these took about 3 hours to bake, and some of the thicker ones are still a bit soft in the centers. my advice is to make sure they’re rolled out pretty thin, then start out by baking at 245 degrees F.

they are pretty sweet because they’re very white, have a salt-sparkle to them, and are translucent once they’re baked. they also have a bit of oil on the surface. i’m wondering how this will effect our plans to paint them. maybe use a smidge less oil if you try this.

N is excited to paint them. i have ideas for some stamping, as well. stay tuned…


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  • You did it!! They look fantastic and you’re doing the GF community a huge service by sharing. Too bad it’s not as simple as replacing flour with rice flour and kudos to whoever figures these recipes out!

  • amy

    I think I stopped with salt dough ornaments before I was diagnosed with celiac… I know we made them when my boys were smaller. One year I carefully traced around my (only, at that time) child’s 2yo hand four times, baked the hand shapes, he painted them, my husband sprayed them with some protective something or other (I was VERY pregnant), and I glued on a magnet. Those were our Mother’s Day presents to grandmothers that year. (NONE of them, in my opinion, appreciated this effort enough.) Of course, that was back before people had blogs… 🙂

    Lovely job by you and N with the GF dough!

  • Heather N

    I saw some lovely posts about making salt dough ornaments (with gluten). I was feeling a little down because I have been avoiding gluten for some time now but really wanted to make some. Thank you SO MUCH for figuring out a gluten-free alternative. My daughter and I are going to do make these for sure.

  • Maria

    Hello from Greece!This recipe is very very old here.People used to make “ornaments” to cover breads offered at weddings or engagements.
    The.. project and signs are about good life,health and euphoria.
    Thank you for this reminder!

    (Many families keep this tradition and I have many photos to share if you show me the way)

  • Lee

    ok, you’re not going to eat these, so why use sea salt? sea salt’s granules are larger so why not go with the cheaper smaller salt? I would like to think the smaller granules will disolv. I made a similar recipe that did not call for warm water so all you see is the granules of salt. I plan on trying the recipe again only using warm water, but regular cheaper salt …