Christmas Ornaments: Salt vs. Cornstarch Dough

homemade christmas ornaments

There are a lot of dough recipes floating around good ol Pinterest land and I’ve been eager to try a few out.  Since it’s been especially frosty. . . highs of 3 degrees, in fact, and we had some special friends coming over, the conditions seemed perfect to test out some of these doughs out.

I put two recipes to the test today and will list the pros and cons so you know what you’re getting into before you turn your kitchen into a winter wonder flour land and deplete half your Christmas cheer.  I’ve had one too many craft projects suck the life right out of me and now is not the time for soul sucking crafts. . . you have Christmas cookies and cards to make after all!

My dear friend, Suz, and her little one came over with treats from Great Harvest (next time you are there try a pumpkin muffin-oh man) and after devouring every crumb, we got to work.  I decided to start with the Cornstarch and Baking Soda dough recipe because it had a shorter bake time.

Take a look at both recipes and see which one works best for your Christmas festivities.

handmade dough christmas ornaments

Cornstarch and Baking Soda Dough

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 cup baking soda

3/4 cup water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Combine cornstarch, baking soda, and water in sauce pan.  Stir over medium heat until dough forms and is the consistency of dry mashed potatoes.  Remove from heat and place in bowl with a damp cloth over dough ball (to prevent from drying out) and let cool.  Once the dough is cool to touch, sprinkle cornstarch on the counter surface and roll dough out to desired thickness-we did about 1/4 of an inch.  Cookie cut away.  You can use a toothpick to make holes for string to make ornament.

Lay ornaments on baking sheet and bake in oven for about 30 minutes.  Take out and let them continue to dry on a flat surface.

Pros:

  • Quick baking time
  • Dough is sturdier than salt dough so it’s really easy for small hands to handle
  • Dough is whiter than salt dough making it look like more like plaster

Cons:

  • Blemishes in dough are extremely noticeable (like indents or scratches from transferring dough from counter to pan)
  • Baking too long will promote cracking in dough
  • You need to cook dough in a sauce pan (an extra step compared to Salt Dough)

Salt Dough

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1/2 water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in bowl until dough ball forms.  If dough is tacky, add a little more flour.  Roll dough out on floured surface and cut shapes.  Use toothpick to make holes for string to make ornaments.  Transfer to cookie sheet and bake for 2-3 hours.

Pros:

  • Dough is quick to make
  • The baked ornaments are more rustic looking and hide small blemishes better
  • Seem less delicate once baked

Cons:

  • Dough is extremely elastic and soft-dificult to get good hand prints from wiggly babies and kids
  • Salt really dries out hands (no fun in winter!)
  • Dough takes a longer time to bake

Here’s my conclusion. . .

The cornstarch dough was great for squirmy hands.  It was sturdier and seems easier for little ones to handle and play with.  The dough dries very smooth making it an easy surface for kids to paint.  If selecting a Christmas craft to do with your kiddos (especially if they are tiny), I would recommend the cornstarch dough.  You’ll at least get one good handprint :)

If you are more interested in actually making (*ahem) decent looking ornaments for presents or gift tags, then I would go with the Salt Dough.  I think the finished product looks prettier and the texture of the dough when it dries is really nice.

rolling out the dough

Rolling out the dough!

handprint in the dough

Trying to get handprints for grammas!!

handprint in dough

Handprint fail.

What a fun day inside with our friends!

goodbye

Goodbye Ben!!

Hope this helps with Christmas crafting!!

Let me know which one you try and like the best by leaving me a comment below.  And feel free to share dough ornament tips you’ve learned.

Merry Christmas!

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3 thoughts on “Christmas Ornaments: Salt vs. Cornstarch Dough

  1. I hope I’m getting an ornament! I also hope the weather will allow flights out to get to warm sunny Florida. Love, grammie

  2. Thanks for this. I was hoping to try out the corn starch dough recipe this weekend. I used to make salt dough a lot as a child but always found that I couldn’t get it smooth enough for more intricate details. Your post has confirmed that corn starch dough would be worth a go as I will need to handle it a fair amount. Thanks again!

    • Yay! You sound super crafty! I would be sure to monitor the bake time because some of my cornstarch ornaments baked a little too long and became a little warped. I hope they turn out great! Happy New Year :)

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