How Long Can Pizza Dough Sit Out? And When To Avoid Using

Pizza dough – it’s the basis for one of the world’s most treasured dishes – thanks Italy! The quality of the dough can make the difference between an average and world-stopping pizza!

But what happens when life gets in the way, and you can’t bake your pizza right away? Sounds like a nightmare…

How long can pizza dough sit out before it goes bad? Pizza dough can sit out at room temperature during the proofing process, typically for 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size. However, if you’re storing prepared dough, it should be refrigerated after 2 hours to prevent bacteria growth.

As a chef I’ve made thousands of pizzas, so let’s dive into the finer details and find out more.

How Pizza Dough Is Made

Pizza dough left on the counter.
Pizza dough left on the counter.

Let’s take a look at the science behind how pizza dough is made because this will help you understand the reasons why pizza dough can only last so long.

Pizza dough typically consists of flour, water, yeast, salt, and sometimes sugar and oil. When mixed together, the yeast begins to ferment the sugars in the flour, producing carbon dioxide gas. This gas is what causes the dough to rise and become light and airy.

The Importance of Temperature

The temperature at which your dough rises is crucial to its success.

Ideally, you want to let your dough rise in a warm, humid environment between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature is too hot, the yeast can over-ferment and your dough can become sour or “off.”

On the other hand, if the temperature is too cold, the yeast will become sluggish, and your dough won’t rise properly.

Room Temperature Dough

If you’re letting your pizza dough sit out at room temperature, it should be used within two hours.

After that, the risk of spoilage increases rapidly – if your dough has a lot of yeast and sugar, it can last for up to four hours.

If you’re unsure if your dough is still good, give it a sniff – if it smells sour or off, it’s time to toss it out.

Cold Dough

If you want to slow down the fermentation process, you can place your dough in the refrigerator, where it can last for up to two days.

However, takeaway: if your dough still has added yeast, use it within 48 hours.

Cold dough takes longer to rise than room temperature dough, so plan accordingly.

When you’re ready to use your cold dough, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before using it.

My First-Hand Experience

As a chef with years of experience working with dough, I’ve seen my fair share of pizza mishaps.

Once, I forgot about the pizza dough I had made earlier in the day and was left at room temperature for well over four hours, and against my better judgment, I used it.

When the time came to make and bake the pizza, the dough was unworkable – it had over-fermented and became off.

My lesson learned was always to follow the two-hour rule when it comes to room temperature dough.

To Sum It All Up

Trust me; it’s better to start over with fresh dough and get it right the first time.

To sum it up, pizza dough can sit at room temperature for up to two hours, but it’s best to use it within the first hour if possible.

If you need to keep your dough longer, store it in the fridge for up to two days.

Be sure to smell your dough before using it to make sure it hasn’t gone bad.


Can I Still Use My Pizza Dough If It’s Been Sitting Out For Four Hours?

It’s not recommended. The longer pizza dough sits out, the more at risk it is for spoilage. It’s best to use it within the first two hours if possible.

Can I Still Use Cold Pizza Dough After Two Days In The Fridge?

If you still have added yeast, you should use it within 48 hours. If your dough has been in the fridge for longer than that, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it out.

How Can I Tell If My Pizza Dough Has Gone Bad?

Give it a sniff. If it smells sour or off, it’s time to toss it out and start over with fresh dough.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.