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4 Top Homemade Finger Paint Recipes Analyzed

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My daughter and I tested four different homemade finger paint recipes using ingredients that we already had in the pantry. We found that each finger paint recipe had a different consistency and that all were easy to make, but some took less effort than others.

DIY finger paint recipes for kids using ingredients you may already have.
The four recipes we tried — blue is easiest but yellow is best.

It’s likely that you may already have some or all of these ingredients already, too. We’ll give you the recipes, show you what they look like on finger paint paper, and mention how they may or may not stain clothing. 

Though my daughter enjoyed making and playing with each finger paint, of course, we do have a favorite. And, she enjoyed using a small paint brush to paint with in addition to her fingers.

Kool Aid Finger Paint Recipe

Whisking red Kool Aid finger paint recipe together in a glass bowl.
You’ll need hot water so young kids shouldn’t mix this one.

2 cups flour
2 packs unsweetened Kool Aid
1/2 cup salt
3 cups boiling water
3 tbsp oil

Directions: Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Notes: The finger paint was a little bit grainy but it smells good. It dries nicely, if not a little thick.

Homemade Finger Paint Kids Can Make (Uses Cold Water)

Whisking lumpy green cold water finger paint together in a glass bowl.
Cold water means that kids can safely mix this finger paint recipe.

2 cups white flour
2 cups cold water
food coloring

Directions: Put water into a large bowl. Slowly add the flour while your child is stirring (a whisk helps). After the mixture is combined, divide it into smaller bowls. Add your food coloring of choice.

Notes: We made a big batch of green, versus a mixture of colors, since we were making so many other recipes. My daughter (3 yrs old) could not whisk this recipe fast enough to avoid lumps so I stepped in and gave it a whirl. It was still a little lumpy.

Older kids may become frustrated by the way this recipe paints. When finger painting, the paint puddles together and doesn’t stick well to paper. It’s hard to cover any real area with this paint. My daughter still thought it was fantastic, though it’s probably the least effective. However, you’ll always be able to make this on a spur of the moment if you have flour in your pantry. I’m sure it will save me in a pinch when she needs to be entertained immediately.

The red in the photo below is the Kool Aid finger paint above.

Testing the green cold water finger paint and the red Kool Aid finger paint — the latter spreads better.
The cold water recipe (green) doesn’t stick to paper as well.

Easy Corn Syrup Homemade Finger Paint Recipe

My daughter paints with blue cornstarch finger paint on a paper plate.
By far, this is the easiest DIY finger paint recipe.

This is beyond easy, if you have corn syrup in your pantry.

1. Squirt some corn syrup in a bowl.
2. Add a few drops of food coloring.

Done and done.

Notes: This is sticky, but it paints very nicely. I have a photo below of all of the recipes on a sheet of finger paint paper. After they all dried, a sheet of paper accidentally flew on top of our samples. The corn syrup recipe was the only one to stick to the back of the paper, as it always stays a bit tacky.

However, we really liked this recipe because, again, it’s EASY and paints nicely. I also read that you can use condensed milk and food coloring, or pudding and food coloring. I like pecan pie, so we usually have corn syrup around, but I know that some people have an opinion regarding corn syrup.

Cornstarch Finger Paint: Our Favorite

Painting yellow cornstarch finger paint recipe on a paper plate.
This has a similar consistency to finger paint I remember as a kid.

1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
liquid food coloring

Directions: Mix cornstarch and water in a saucepan and boil until the mixture thickens. Allow the mixture to cool and then add food coloring.

Notes: It will start to look like this in the pan.

Cornstarch recipe thickening in a pan before food coloring is applied.
This DIY finger paint recipe thickens in the pan.

Next, you can separate it into different bowls and dye each a different color. We like this recipe because it has a similar consistency to store-bought finger paint. It dries without being sticky and is just fun to play with, though it can be a little gloppy (for lack of a better adjective). The colors turn our vibrant too.

Comparison and Staining

The various recipes tested in spots on a piece of finger paint paper.
Toddler = crinkled paper.

We put each recipe on the same sheet of finger paint paper. I made one more batch of green cornstarch finger paint and attempted to dye some cornstarch finger paint with natural food coloring using POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and a reduction made from fresh cranberries. It’s easier to buy natural food coloring than to create your own dye from fruit, despite the price, so I would recommend this.

Here they are on a new white towel.

The various recipes tested in a white wash cloth so that we can see how well the stains come out.

And, letting the towel sit like this for several days, I applied a few spritzes of Spray N Wash.

The towel came out of the washer almost completely clean, with the exception of a small, barely noticeable POM stain. It’s pomegranate juice, so I’m not totally surprised. How your finger paint recipe stains clothes depends on what kind of food coloring you use. We used McCormick’s and Wilton colors.

There you have it. In conclusion, your kids will likely enjoy any of these finger paints. It just depends on how much time you have to help them make a recipe and what ingredients you have in your pantry.

I’ve created a FREE download with our favorite recipes for playdough, finger paints, watercolor paints and slime.

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18 thoughts on “4 Top Homemade Finger Paint Recipes Analyzed

  1. I love this! I’ve never done this with my kids before. But, now that you’ve done all the research for us, I will definitely try it!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  5. It’s not surprising that food coloring came out easily. Artificial food colorings are actually acid dyes, and will only bond to animal fibers and nylon, not to plant fibers like cotton. If you put food coloring on wool, with vinegar and heat, the color will bind to the wool and be permanent.

    Food coloring can leave long-lasting stains on porous surfaces like wood or counters, so be careful with that.

    If you get food coloring on your hands or hair, try scrubbing your hands with a little baking soda and water!

  6. Hi! I’m wondering if you can make the corn starch recipe about a week in advance? Will it keep? Thank you!

    1. Hi! I’m afraid I don’t know the answer. I would assume so, however, I’ve never done it. We usually make and use within a day or so. I’ll save it next time and see how long it lasts!

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  8. Thank you so much for the recipe! I tried the one with corn starch and my kids loved it, I experimented a bit with natural coloring and added turmeric and it was a wonderful yellow 🙂

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  11. I was looking to do a craft with my first grandbaby born in march. Have you seen the butterflies made with baby feet? I want to make a planter for my daughter with butterflies from little Andrew’s feet. Thinking the cornstarch one then either shillac/clear coat over it so it will last. Any thoughts? Thanks so much. ( i miss san diego btw!)

  12. I am going to use this recipe to share with parents at my Primary School where I teach Kindergarten. We are coming up with activities for parents to do at home with their kids that are easy. We are cutting toilet paper rolls into designs (at the bottem) so students can stamp them on paper using paint. We needed a recipe for paint. This one looks like a winner!!

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