While tempera is one of the oldest forms of painting, dating back to ancient Greece and Rome, it is now a preferred choice mainly for classrooms and kids’ craft projects due to its affordability and low toxicity. Made out of water-based pigment mixed with a binding agent, tempera paint dries quickly with an opaque matte finish. It’s best for painting on porous surfaces, such as paper, cardboard, and poster board, and can be applied with brushes, sponges, or fingers. A highly versatile medium, it can be thinned with water; mixed with salt, flour, or sand to create a textured paint; or combined with white glue for extra stability. Our top picks below will help you find the best ready-to-use liquid tempera for your needs.
1. Colorations Washable Tempera Paints
For colors that will remain vibrant after drying, Colorations’ tempera paint is a great choice. This set of smooth, creamy paints in 11 rich, opaque colors comes in easy-to-use 16-ounce bottles. The paint dries matte and won’t crack, and it’s kid-friendly: AP-certified nontoxic, as well as free from many common allergens such as latex, dairy, egg, gluten, nut, and soy. The paints spread well over absorbent materials like cardboard, papier-mâché, plaster, and construction paper. With a super-washable formula, it easily rinses off skin and clothing, making it a stress-free choice for parents and teachers.
2. Crayola Washable Tempera
From a recognized brand in children’s art materials, Crayola’s tempera paint can be bought individually in 32-ounce bottles, allowing you to choose from 12 vibrant colors to get exactly what you need for your project. This paint is more heavy-bodied than others on our list, presenting a creamy formula that is nearly drip-free when at rest but becomes thinner as it’s stirred and shaken. It also takes very well to layering and doesn’t dry out as quickly as more watery paints. This AP-certified nontoxic paint is washable for safe, clean use and its smooth consistency provides excellent coverage on a wide range of surfaces.
3. Prang Ready-to-Use Tempera Paint
With a nonsettling formula that won’t separate, this set from Prang includes 12 high-pigment colors in 16-ounce easy-pour bottles. This AP-certified nontoxic tempera goes on smooth, blends easily, and leaves a matte finish. The product is not listed as washable, so you will want to be cautious when painting to protect clothing and surfaces from stains.
4. S&S Worldwide Liquid Tempera Paint
This S&S Worldwide paint set includes an assortment of 12 colors in 32-ounce easy-squeeze bottles, making it an economical option for classrooms or those looking for larger quantities of paint. A slightly watery consistency will give a thinner application than some other tempera paints, but it is an excellent choice to mix with white glue for fun, experimental paint-pouring projects. This tempera is AP-certified nontoxic and is washable for a safe and clean creative experience.
5. Handy Art Tempera Paints Set
A great introductory set from Handy Art Little Masters will give you a basic selection of six rich, opaque colors in 16-ounce squeeze bottles. These include your three primary colors, plus black and white—perfect for exploration with color mixing and paint application. This smooth-flowing paint is AP-certified nontoxic and won’t flake, chip, or crack when dry. This product is not listed as washable, so use caution to protect clothing and surfaces from staining.