How Long Can Pizza Dough Sit Out? [Ingredient & Temp Based]

It’s happened to everyone; one minute, you’re focused on getting the pizza dough ready for dinner. The next, you get distracted only to remember the dough a few hours later. And now you’re wondering, how long can my pizza dough safely sit out?

Most pizza dough recipes or store-bought variations can sit out for 4 hours without compromising texture or flavor. And, you can typically use pizza dough left out for up to 18 hours if you don’t mind flat crusts. 

However, any pizza dough using dairy or egg products should not remain unrefrigerated for more than four hours, or it can begin developing dangerous bacteria. In general, it’s best to keep pizza dough in the fridge if you won’t bake it in the next 4 hours after its proofing process. 

Pizza Dough Can Sit Out For Several Hours Before Going Bad. But There Are Exceptions

Pizza Dough

There are a lot of nuances when it comes to preventing pizza dough from going bad. For example, calculating how long a dough can sit out at room temperature depends on the ingredients, whether it is store-bought or homemade, and even the home’s temperature.

Dough Ingredients Impact How Long Dough Can Sit Out

Most pizza recipes consist of four main ingredients: flour, yeast, water, and sugar. But, many recipes include variations like milk, beer, cornmeal, and olive oil. Any additions to dough can change how long the dough can stay out at room temperature. 

Dairy Or Egg Products

Including dairy products like milk, eggs, or butter in the dough helps soften the crumb of a pizza crust but is prone to going bad quickly when left at room temperature. Therefore, the USDA recommends not eating any dairy products left out longer than two hours.

Beer

Beer-based pizza dough has a unique flavor, and uniquely, the beer replaces yeast in most recipes. However, beer-based dough left out more than four hours can become sour and flat. 

Spices

Spices

The addition of fresh spices like basil, garlic, or oregano does not generally pose a risk for bacterial growth in the dough.

Home Temperature Significantly Impacts Dough Safety

The temperature of a home can impact how long dough can rest at room temperature before going bad. “Room temperature” colloquially covers a range between 68-degrees Fahrenheit and 77-degrees Fahrenheit. Anything warmer than 77-degrees promotes increased bacterial growth and can compromise the dough’s ability to rise.

Storebought vs. Homemade Dough Have Different Rules

Generally, the store-bought dough comes in two styles: crust and dough. Storebought crusts require no work from you to prep should only sit out long enough to come to room temperature before baking (about thirty minutes to one hour.) Most store-bought doughs require stretching and a period of rising, usually two hours or so, before baking. 

Homemade Dough

Homemade pizza dough is more forgiving. Provided no dairy or raw eggs are in the dough, most homemade pizza dough can rest at room temperature for up to twelve hours, but the longer it rests, the sourer the dough will grow.

Keeping Pizza Dough In The Fridge Can Improve It Overall

Many bakers and pizza lovers opt to store their dough in the fridge. When properly stored, the dough can keep for up to a week in the refrigerator without risk of losing flavor or elasticity. 

Benefits To Keeping Pizza Dough In The Fridge

Pizza dough left to rise in the fridge can create an easily stretched, elastic dough with plenty of air pockets for texture. Plus, storing pizza dough in the refrigerator allows you to prep the dough for a meal later in the week. 

Pizza Dough Is Freezer Friendly!

Plenty of people like to make large batches of pizza dough to freeze and keep for future meals. Well-wrapped pizza dough can last up to three months in the freezer. However, it’s important to note that you should not attempt to refreeze frozen pizza dough once you thaw frozen pizza dough. 

Benefits of Keeping Pizza Dough In The Freezer

Frozen pizza dough does not lose its elasticity or flavor. Additionally, keeping the dough in the freezer can help reduce the work needed for family pizza nights for the next few months.

What Happens To Pizza Dough Left Out Over Night?

Accidentally leaving out pizza dough overnight is bound to happen to the best of us. But what actually happens when the dough sits out at room temperature overnight? Well, it depends.

Some recipes for pizza dough call for the dough to rest out for twelve hours to produce a specific taste and texture. Dough left out for longer undergo a lengthier fermentation process, producing CO2 and ethanol. When this occurs, the dough becomes relaxed and easier to stretch. 

Additionally, dough left out to ferment longer, the yeast flavors become more pronounced. The result is a crust with a malty, beer-like flavor. 

However, dough with dairy or egg products do not fare well with extended exposure to room temperature air. Recipes with such perishable ingredients can produce dangerous bacteria that may cause food poisoning when consumed.

Proofing Pizza Dough In The Fridge Is Easy

You can proof your dough in the fridge and leave it to rest overnight. The process of proofing dough is slower in the cooler environment of the refrigerator. Generally, dough that would typically rise in an hour or two will take twelve hours or so to rise in the fridge.

It’s an excellent solution for pizza lovers who want to prep their dough for the next day. 

Interestingly, pizza dough that proofs or rises in the fridge tends to have a very stretchy composition that is easier to work with. The texture of refrigerated dough tends to have more air pockets, a softer crumb and is less likely to over-proof.

How To Safely Bring Cold Pizza Dough To Room Temperature

When preparing to bake the pizza dough, it’s essential to bring any chilled dough to room temperature first. Cold dough will not stretch or form into the desired shape and will take longer to bake.

To bring a frozen dough to room temperature, do the following:

  1. First, remove the dough from the freezer but keep it in the storage wrap or bag. 
  2. Next, fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water. 
  3. Place the dough (still wrapped) into a cold water bath. Let the dough sit in the water for two hours before removing it from the bath. 
  4. Then, allow the dough to rest in a dry bowl for one hour to come to room temperature.

To bring a refrigerated dough to room temperature, do the following:

  1. First, prepare a dry, room temperature bowl by greasing it lightly with olive oil.
  2. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and place it in the bowl.
  3. Let the dough rest in the bowl for about two hours to come to room temperature. 
Pizza Dough

Once the dough has come to room temperature, you can safely form it into pizza dough.

Signs Pizza Dough Has Gone Bad

Pizza dough gives several signs when it goes bad, including:

  1. Sour, rotten smell. 
  2. A dry, difficult to stretch texture with a crusty film at the edges. 
  3. Gray flecks in the dough. Gray-colored dough indicates dough was either improperly frozen and has freezer burn or dying yeast activators.

Food Poisoning Is A Risk of Eating Spoiled Pizza Dough

Consuming rotten pizza dough puts you at risk for food poisoning. Bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli. and mold both grow in expired or improperly stored dough. Consuming spoiled dough, even after cooking it, can lead to an upset stomach, vomiting, and other gastric illnesses.

You Can Take Steps To Prevent Premature Pizza Dough Spoiling

To prevent dough from prematurely spoiling, do not leave it out at room temperature for longer than four hours unless a recipe specifically calls for it.  

Additionally, when making dough, always keep your ingredients in mind. For example, do not grease bowls with butter or wash dough in egg whites unless the dough is baking in the next few hours. Over-exposing dairy or eggs to room temperatures can cause bacteria to grow on the dough.

Finally, never sample or consume under-baked dough. Consuming raw dough can lead to food poisoning. Make sure pizza dough is cooked through before eating it. Check the underside of the crust; it should be crispy and golden brown. If the crust is still white, it is not cooked through.

Tips For Storing Pizza Dough

Fridge Storage Options:

  • Store pizza dough in a bowl with a lid. Pro tip: Lightly oil the bowl with olive oil before placing the dough in the bowl.  
  • Tightly wrap pizza dough in plastic wrap before storing it in the fridge. Pro tip: For easy removal of the wrap, coat dough balls in a light layer of olive oil before wrapping.
  • Store pizza dough in a large zip lock bag. Pro tip: squeeze out all the air from the bag before sealing it and placing the dough in the fridge.

Freezer Storage Options:

  • Lightly oil the pizza dough before storing it in a freezer zip lock bag. Pro tip: remove all air from the bag before sealing the bag.
  • Tightly wrap pizza dough in two layers of plastic wrap. Then, place in an air-tight container before storing in the freezer to prevent freezer burn.
  • In a pinch, store pizza dough in two or three layers of plastic wrap in the freezer. 

Final Thoughts

Pizza dough is a fairly forgiving dough. It can rest at room temperature for up to four hours and still produce delicious, elastic dough. Additionally, if the dough is left out for twelve hours, it can usually be salvaged.

However, it’s best not to push it with pizza dough – if there are any signs it has gone bad, put it in the trash and start over. Happy baking!

Leave a Comment