Salt Dough VS. Cornstarch Clay

As part of my holiday craft to-do list, I decided to try and make ornaments/gift tags this year. Not wanting to go to the store and get any special ingredients, I was able to make a batch of salt dough and a batch of corn starch clay. I will also cheat and use this as part of my December Photo Month (DePhoMo) entry; one photo, every day.

Corn Starch Clay Recipe:

(There are a lot of different variations of the same recipe, and for the life of me, I can not find the exact recipe I used)

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  1. Combine ingredients in large sauce pan and stir until dough is thick and can no longer be stirred (takes 5-10 minutes)
  2. Dump onto parchment paper or flat surface to cool
  3. Knead until smooth once dough has cooled enough to do so
  4. Mold into shapes or roll out and cut shapes out with cookie cutters

Salt Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  1. Blend ingredients until flour and salt is well incorporated
  2. Take out of bowl and knead until smooth
  3. Mold into shapes or roll out and cut shapes out with cookie cutters

(Check out Katy Elliot for some pretty ideas!)

Now onto the comparisons:

The dough:

Salt Dough (Left) Corn Starch Clay (Right)

  • The corn starch clay was much more smooth and more pleasant to knead. It was also a nice white color.
  • The salt dough was an off-white white color and the salt was obvious.

Rolling and cutting out:

  • Salt dough was easier to remove from complicated cookie cutters (like the snow flakes)
  • Salt dough looks better cut out thick, than the cornstarch clay – next time I would make thinner clay cut-outs
  • Note: I used a straw to make the holes in the ornaments/tags


  • When I first stamped the ornaments, the salt dough looked nicer – the stamp imprints more on the dough.
  • As the shapes dried, I liked the clay – the salt in the dough made a speckled pattern

The troubles:

  • The clay cracked
  • The salt dough, for whatever reason, is taking forever to dry, even after a couple hours in the oven and 3 days on the counter.

The Verdict: I think next time I will use the cornstarch clay and roll out the dough thinner.

Or, I could try this Porcelain recipe from the junk wave.


32 thoughts on “Salt Dough VS. Cornstarch Clay

  1. Thanks for the comparison. We made the salt dough, and they were great for a country look, but I love how the cornstarch have a very white clean appearance. I also didn’t like how long it took the salt dough to dry. thanks for sharing your results!!! I’ve been intrigued by the pocelain as well… there may not be enough time before Christmas to get all this crafting goodness in… then again, if i’d get off the computer and get something done….

  2. Have you tried making cinnamon dough ornaments/gift tags? I made them every year as a teacher- I have had some for 10 years and they still smell like cinnamon. You simply take applesauce, cinnamon, and perhaps a bit of glue (depends on the recipe you use). Mix it up and roll it out. Then use cookie cutters to cut out various shapes, use a straw to punch out a whole for the sting. They look like gingerbread and smell divine. Just do a search for cinnamon applesauce ornaments. Super easy, and depending on thickness can take 1-3 days to dry (no baking). Good luck!

  3. its almost next year!!!! lol

    i did salt dough last year didnt go so well.. not sure if im brave enough to try the corn starch clay…

  4. So, do you heat the cornstarch and baking soda in that saucepan? It says to let it cool, but you never say that it should be on the stove and heated to any temperature. I assume you’d heat it on low maybe?

  5. Thanks soo much for the comparison! I promised my children we would make ornaments today and I was not sure if we should attempt the salt-dough or the cornstarch. After reading your page I’m thinking we will try the cornstarch first, I love how smooth it looks!

  6. I mixed in some white glitter to the cornstarch clay when I kneeded it. Still nice and smooth and white with a beautiful sparkle! I love how these turned out. Thanks for the comparison!

  7. Hi, I absolutly love this craft and will be making some today! I had a quick question what temp do I hear my oven to and for how long do I bake these? I’ve seen other posts say 2 hours, does that sound about right?

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  9. This has been my problem ever since I found the two recipes. U like the cornstarch look, but if you cook it a little too long it becomes useless. I ruined many batches of dough like this 😦 I finally stuck with the salt dough and never had problems with it drying in the oven. After a few days of it being dried I painted with acrylics and let about a week pass and then lacquered it with clear lacquer from a hardware store. They lasted about 7 years before starting to get very small hairline cracks. I wish I could find a recipe that is like the cornstarch recipe but no need to cook while preserving the ornament’s shape while drying. Thanks for your comparison.I see Im not alone 🙂

    • Hi ivonne24 – When I make playdough recipes for school I boil the water first then add the water to the dry ingredients– that way it never over cooks on the stove but also gets hot enough to turn into a dough. Just a thought! 🙂

    • I left it on my counter, but it took a long time (in December, for at least a couple days) to dry. I would probably put it in the oven at low heat next time, unless I made them in the summer, they might dry faster with warmer heat.

  10. Hello the way I learned it (may explain the wetness) we used 1 cup salt, 2 cup flour and just enough of water to make it like clay (just alittle)almost perfect texture 🙂 and we added sokme of the water in the salt to help make the salt melt.

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  12. I love the site. I have a question for you, in the UK we don’t use cup measurements do you have equivalent measurements in Ounces please? Thanks

  13. Hello, I have made corn dough and it just cracked apart. How can it be that it does ? Hope for answers….
    Regards / Irene

  14. I made salt dough starfish ornaments this year. I had read somewhere on the net, “if you want white salt dough, you have to add white paint.” I measured part of my water and then added about 1/4 to 1/2 of a 2 ounce bottle of acrylic craft paint. I stirred the paint into the water, added more water to make the correct amount of water called for and then mixed into the dry ingredients. They dried perfectly white!

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  16. Thank you for all this info,but no one has mentioned how the clay ornaments will
    curl while drying. I could be rolling them too thin, not sure. I usually let them air dry. I haven’t tried the salt recipe.

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