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How Long Can you let Pizza Dough Sit out?

Pizza dough proofing

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced pizzaiolo, dough proofing can be a tricky process to get right.

Even if you are following an expert’s recipe, chances are that the results you will be getting won’t be exactly as you expected.

This happens due to the dough’s sensitivity to different factors such as the ambient temperature, humidity, and even the type of flour you are using.

Even small changes in those factors can lead to a longer or shorter proofing time.

But why does it matter to you?

Well, whether your pizza night was delayed by a few hours and your dough is already proofing, or you just want to know if the dough you left out is still good to go – it is important to know how long can pizza dough sit out.

In this guide, I’ll be sharing some basic info that will help you determine how long your dough can sit out, as well as some tips on how to expand its life span.

Table of Contents

1. What factors affect the proofing length?

When it comes to pizza dough, there are a few key factors that affect the proofing time. Those factors include the following:

– The type of flour you are using. For example, all-purpose flour will take longer to proof compared to some pizza fast-proof flour types.

– The amount of water in the dough. A wetter dough will take longer to proof than a drier one.

– The ambient temperature. A dough that is left out at room temperature will proof faster than a refrigerated dough (The higher temp, the faster the proof will be).

– The amount of yeast in the dough. A dough with more yeast will proof faster than a dough with less yeast.

– The type of yeast you are using. Fresh yeast will take longer to proof than instant yeast.

2. How Long Can you let Pizza Dough Sit out?

As you can assume, giving this question an exact answer is complicated as the proofing time will vary depending on the factors mentioned above. 

From my own experience, proofing mainly depends on the ambient temperature you’re proofing at. Here is a quick example:

When I followed a direct 6-hour proof recipe in the summer (I live in a warm environment), I noticed that the dough was fully proofed after half the time.

As a general rule of thumb, if you are going for a direct proof on your dough, it can sit out for about 6-8 hours before it will over-proof and get ruined. 

But, as those times will vary, I’d say that dough can sit out as long as it still has not over-proofed.

However, if the dough is sitting in the fridge it can be good to use even after 48-72 hours. 

It is important to keep in mind that these times are just general guidelines and that your results may vary depending on the factors I listed earlier.

3. How to tell if pizza dough has gone bad

Bad and sticky dough

If your pizza dough has sat out for an extended period of time, and you suspect that it has gone bad, here are a few telltale signs to look out for.

– The dough is wet and sticky and doesn’t hold its shape.

– The dough has an unpleasant alcoholic odor.

– The dough is discolored or has black spots.

– The dough is very hard to stretch.

If you notice any of these signs, chances are that your dough isn’t savable and you’ll need to throw it out. But, if your dough just looks over-proofed, and doesn’t have any of the signs listed above, don’t throw it just yet.

In short, over-proofed dough can easily be saved by just forming the dough into new balls and letting them rise again.

4. How to make sure your pizza dough lasts as long as possible

So, you’ve just made a batch of pizza dough, and you’re not sure how long it will last. Well, don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to make sure your dough lasts as long as possible.

– First and foremost, if you already have ready-to-use dough and don’t want to use it right away, your best option will be to place it in the fridge. The low temperatures of the fridge slow the fermentation process and can keep the dough good for up to 72 hours.

– Make sure to keep the dough sealed at all times. This will prevent the dough from drying out and help it stay fresh for a longer period of time (even in the fridge).

– If you’re not planning on using all of the dough at once, you can freeze some of it for later use. To properly freeze your dough, the most important thing is to freeze it before you let it proof. 


Can you leave pizza dough out overnight?

Pizza dough should not be left out overnight as it will over-proof and become unusable. If you do wish to keep the dough for the next day, you can let it rest overnight in the fridge and it should be fine to use.


Do I have to let pizza dough rise?

Well, technically yes.

Basically, What happens if you won’t proof pizza dough is that you will get a dense and hard-to-digest cracker, topped with tomato sauce and cheese. And trust me, you won’t rank it in your top 10 favorite pizzas.

Proofing is not just responsible for the airy crust on a pizza, it is also responsible for gluten development in dough. 

And without gluten, forget about that chewy, soft and delicious pizza crust. So, even though you can technically skip the proofing step, I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to enjoy your pizza.


What should you do if Pizza dough is over-proofed?

Pizza dough that has been over-proofed can be a huge disappointment. However, don’t throw it just yet, there are a few things you can do to salvage it.

– First, if the dough just seems big with too much air, you can still give it a shot and try stretching it. The dough may be harder to work with so you’ll need some patience.

-If the dough seems impossible to work with, try reforming the dough into new balls and let them rise again. This may take a little bit of time, but it can help to bring the dough back to life.

-Finally, if the dough is sticky and has a strong alcoholic smell, the gluten has probably lost its structure and you won’t be able to save it. Unfortunately, in this case, you’ll need to throw it out and start over.