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How Long Does Dough Last In The Fridge?

Norah Clark
How Long Does Dough Last In The Fridge?

Yeast-based doughs can be kept for around two days in the fridge when properly stored in a well-sealed and oiled container. The longevity of dough depends on the type, so it’s essential to consider specific storage requirements and usage guidelines.

One of my favorite pastimes is baking.  I know it's weird considering I'm in in the kitchen at work. So, it's important to know not only how to make the best dough, but also how to store it, especially when regularly preparing items such as pizzas, bread, flatbreads, or pastries.

Discover the best practices for preserving dough and learn how to recognize when it’s no longer suitable for use.

How Long Does Dough Last In The Fridge?

Dough typically consists of sugar, water, salt, yeast, and flour. Individually, these ingredients have a long shelf life. However, once combined to form a dough, the countdown begins. Why is this the case?

When yeast is incorporated into the dough, it initiates the fermentation process, generating carbon dioxide gas. This gas contributes to the dough’s soft, fluffy texture and facilitates its expansion, sometimes doubling in size.

Following the completion of fermentation, the dough starts to deteriorate in texture. This decline is not immediately apparent and may take about 48 hours before noticeable changes in dough quality become evident.

After several days, the dough hardens and becomes challenging to work with, losing its original texture and flavor. While still usable, it won’t deliver the same results as freshly kneaded dough.

Once the dough has reached the desired size, it can be used immediately or refrigerated for later use. You can freeze the dough, such as pizza dough, for future use. Pre-shape the dough for convenience before freezing. For example, form the pizza base before storing it in a lightly greased, freezer-safe plastic bag. This way allows the dough to last up to a month!

To thaw the frozen dough, leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight or transfer it to a plastic-wrapped container and let it sit at room temperature for 3-5 hours.

Preserving Non-Yeast Dough

When discussing non-yeast dough varieties, the storage conditions and duration differ slightly from the yeast-based dough.

For example, flatbread dough typically consists of salt, water, sugar, and a combination of all-purpose and white flour. The non-yeast dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, though it is recommended to use it within 3-4 days after mixing.

To refresh this dough, add water and gently knead it into a ball to release the gluten fibers within. The dough may darken over time due to oxidation, but it remains usable for several days. If desired, you can remove the darkened layer by cutting it off or incorporating it into the fresh dough to minimize waste.

The non-yeast dough can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To make handling and defrosting more manageable, divide the dough into smaller portions before freezing. Store these dough balls in a lightly oiled, freezer-safe plastic bag. Thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator, as using a microwave may cause it to lose moisture.

Keep in mind that various types of dough exist, and determining the ideal storage method for each can be challenging. The strategies provided here serve as a general guideline applicable to most dough types.

Refrigerating Dough That Has Risen

It’s best to store dough after it has finished rising. The carbonation process is delicate, and any disruption may result in a coarser dough texture.

Allow the dough to rise after kneading, then deflate and let it rise again. Once the dough is refrigerated or frozen, the yeast becomes dormant, slowing down and eventually stopping the rising process. Storing the dough after it has risen helps preserve its texture, quality, and flavor.

To preserve yeast dough, place it in a lightly greased container with a plastic cover and store it in the refrigerator at approximately 40°F (4°C). Ensure the dough has fully risen before refrigerating—this process may take up to 12 hours after kneading.

Can You Bake With Frozen Or Cold Dough?

Yes, you can bake with the cold or frozen dough by transferring it directly from the freezer or refrigerator to the oven.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven, place the dish inside, and follow the baking instructions. The dough may take longer to bake, but it should yield similar results to the regular dough if stored using the methods described above.

How Can You Tell If Dough Has Gone Bad?

There are several ways to ascertain if your dough has gone bad. Here are a few common indicators:

Visual Inspection

A simple visual inspection can reveal signs of spoilage, such as mold growth. Look for green discoloration, fuzziness, or unusual expansion of the dough, which may indicate contamination.

If you spot mold, discard the entire dough instead of trying to salvage it by removing the affected area. Mold may only be visible on the surface, but it can permeate the entire dough, making it unsafe to consume.

Tactile Inspection

The fresh dough should feel smooth, dry, and slightly oily (if oil was added to the mixture). If the dough exhibits a sticky or slimy texture, it’s time to dispose of it.

This sliminess may result from harmful bacterial growth, which can compromise the dough’s integrity and safety. The presence of an unpleasant odor may accompany the sliminess, but even in its absence, it’s best to discard the dough and start anew.

Extend Dough Shelf Life With Preservatives

Modifying the chemical composition of dough can prolong its shelf life. One effective method involves using commercial-grade bread enhancers, which contain special ingredients that improve the dough’s baking properties, flavor, and longevity.

You can find bread enhancers and similar products in stores, typically located near yeast and other bread-related items. Read my guide on yeast packet measurements for guidance on incorporating preservatives. Each product comes with specific instructions for use.

Typically, these enhancers are added during the mixing of dry and liquid ingredients, but experimenting with various recipes can yield even better results. Dough made with these enhancers can last about a week in the refrigerator and several months once baked (or as specified).

Consider using a sweetener instead of sugar in your dough. This substitution may alter the taste but can extend the dough’s shelf life.

Another option is using a sourdough starter. This type of dough promotes the growth of “good” bacteria responsible for its unique flavor and texture, while also inhibiting mold development. Sourdough can remain fresh in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

If you need your dough to last longer than a week without compromising its quality, freezing is the most effective solution. Keep in mind that properly stored frozen dough can last for months. Simply allow the dough to thaw and reach room temperature before using it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you mix fresh dough with old dough?

You can mix the old and fresh dough, provided the old dough is not spoiled. Start by thawing the older dough and allowing it to reach room temperature, being careful not to let it sit for too long or overnight.

How long can raw dough stay in the fridge?

Raw dough can be stored in the fridge for approximately two days.

How long can you refrigerate bread dough before baking?

Bread dough can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours before baking.

How long can you keep dough after it rises?

Once the dough rises, it can be kept in the fridge for about 4-5 days or longer if frozen.

Profile Image Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

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To Amos…..seriously?

Tom McNicholas

Thanks for the informations provided on dough. But showing hands on dough with wrist bands isn’t hygienic.


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