Quick and Easy Homemade Puffy Paint Recipe

Create - Child using fingers to apply Puffy PaintThis recipe is super quick to make and the finished creations are great. Using just three basic kitchen ingredients (and the magic of a microwave!), your kids can create fantastic 3-D works of art.

Little ones always seem to enjoy being involved in making any type of concoction. Especially when it’s time to add food colouring.

Mr 2 was a bit heavy handed squeezing out the colours, but it did make for some gorgeous paints!

Create - Child painting with homemade puffy paintWhen cooking or painting with kids it’s always a good idea to put a plastic table cloth or towel under the area to protect your floors. Once the painting has been ‘cooked’ it’s fun for the kids to feel the different texture of the set paint.

We’ve made puffy paint pictures a few times using different types of cardboard. The inside of empty tissue boxes and cereal boxes work well and is something we usually have on hand. We cut open the boxes and trim the cardboard pieces so they’re small enough to fit on the turntable in our microwave.

Create - child painting with puffy paint a toy bulldozer

Mr 2 even used a biodegradable paper plate at one point and that worked too. He insisted his bulldozer join in for a few paintings, so we can vouch that the paint washes easily off hands, and bulldozers!

Depending on how thick or thin you make and apply your paint will determine how ‘puffy’ it gets (i.e. if it’s very thinly applied, it won’t be able to puff up much). For some reason the paintings seem to vary in how long they last. Miss 5 made a puffy paint picture using this recipe a year ago and it only recently started to deteriorate. Other paintings we’ve made more recently started to crack within a few days. Either way, it’s a fun and creative activity and perfect for a rainy day.

Although your picture may not last forever (take a photo if you’d like to keep a record), they’re great fun to make and will certainly last long enough to put on display to admire.

Below images:

Miss 5’s ‘Rainbow Mermaid with Rainbow Hair’ on corrugated cardboard and our ‘Colourful and Creative Blobs’ on cardboard from an empty tissue box.

Puffy paint ‘before’ puffing up in the microwave:

Create - Homemade Puffy Paint - 'before' photo of artwork


Create - Homemade Puffy Paint - 'after' photo of artwork

Quick and Easy Homemade Puffy Paint Recipe


  • 4 tablespoons self-raising flour
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • Food colouring (four different colours)
  • You’ll also need:
  • A microwave to ‘puff’ the paint
  • 4 small bowls, ramekins or cups
  • Cardboard
  • Cotton buds (q-tips) (or use fingers) to apply the paint


  1. Combine flour and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Add water a little at a time and stir until you get a smooth, thin paste (similar consistency to stirred yogurt). If mixture becomes too runny, add a little more flour. It it’s too thick, add a little more water.
  3. Once you’re happy with the consistency, divide the mixture evenly between the four bowls.
  4. Add a few drops of food colouring to each bowl (a different colour for each) and stir through.
  5. Use cotton buds or fingers, to paint onto cardboard.
  6. Once the kids have completed their artwork, heat on ‘high’ in a microwave for about 30 seconds. That’s when the paint will puff up!
  7. Take care removing from the microwave as your artwork will be warm. Heat for a few seconds longer if it doesn’t look ‘cooked’ or hasn’t puffed up.
  8. Admire your artwork!
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Recipe adapted from Happy Hooligans