How to Make Salt Dough Ornaments

Use spices and seeds from your pantry to decorate ornaments.

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Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

By Arlyn Osborne for Food Network Kitchen

If you've never made homemade ornaments, you are in for a holiday treat! You most likely have all the ingredients in your pantry and it's fun and easy to decorate with assorted spices, nuts, seeds and dried beans to create festive designs. The ornaments will keep for years too with a clear spray-on sealant (and careful storing!).

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see Cook's Note), plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm tap water

Decorations 

  • Whole spices, nuts, seeds and legumes such as:
  • Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Black peppercorns
  • Pink peppercorns
  • Pink Himalayan salt
  • Star anise
  • Coriander seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Corn kernels
  • Dried green split peas
  • Dried red lentils
  • Dried white navy beans
  • Sliced almonds
  • Pecan halves

Equipment

  • 2 baking sheets
  • Parchment
  • Small bowls (for assorted decorations)
  • Large bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rolling pin
  • Holiday cookie cutters
  • Small offset spatula
  • Straw or wooden skewer
  • Fork (for imprinting, optional)
  • Clear acrylic spray sealer (such as Mod Podge, from a crafts supply store)
  • Ribbon or string

Food Network Kitchen’s Salt Dough Ornaments.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Salt Dough Directions:

Before you begin:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and have ready your cookie cutters and other supplies. Gather your assorted decorations, placing them in separate small bowls so they are easy to pick and choose from. Whole spices, seeds, corn kernels, nuts and dried beans and legumes in various colors are perfect for creating festive designs.

Make the dough:

Combine 2 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup kosher salt in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of warm tap water and stir with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed, until soft and pliable, 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should be smooth and less sticky after kneading.

Cut out shapes:

Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes with assorted holiday cookie cutters. Use a small offset spatula to transfer the cut-outs to the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Use a straw or wooden skewer to make a hole in the top of each ornament. Gather the scraps and repeat rolling the dough and cutting out more shapes.

Decorate:

Use the assorted decorations to make fun and festive designs. Be sure to press the decorations at least halfway into the dough so they don't fall off after baking. You can also imprint designs with the tines of a fork. If needed, go back and re-punch the hole in each cookie. (The decorations can tend to shift things around.)

Bake:

Bake the ornaments until dry, firm and the bottoms are golden brown, about 1 hour. They should feel and sound hard when you tap on them. Let cool completely.

Preserve:

To keep the ornaments for future holidays, spray them all over with several coats of clear acrylic sealer, allowing it to dry between each coat (and following the directions on the label). You'll need to coat one side and let it dry before flipping and coating the other side.

Finish:

Cut strips of ribbon or string about 6 inches long and loop one strip through the hole of each ornament. Tie into a knot and trim any excess.

Cook's Note: When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measurement cup and level off excess. Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.

  • Yield: about 2 dozen ornaments (depending on the size of the cookie cutters) 
  • Active Time: 1 hour 
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes (includes cooling time)
  • Ease of preparation: easy 

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