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How to Store Pizza Dough: Should You Refrigerate it or Freeze it?

The easiest solution to how to store pizza dough is using airtight containers. Or you can cover it with plastic wrap.

That’s going to be the focus of my post, how to store pizza dough in airtight containers in the fridge.

Nevertheless, I’m going to take it a bit further and then talk about how to freeze pizza dough because that’s also a good pizza dough storage option.

Plus, we must also establish what type of airtight containers are the best for pizza dough storage and how long you can refrigerate dough for.

How to Store Pizza Dough on the Counter

this is how to store pizza dough correctly

Basically:

  • you start off by making and kneading a large dough first
  • it first goes through bulk fermentation for 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size
  • that can happen in a bowl covered with a towel or plastic wrap
  • once the dough has risen enough at room temperature, the dough is shaped, divided into smaller pizza dough balls, which are left for another hour to rest and rise – this second rise is called proofing

One the counter, a normal pizza dough can sit for about 4 hours.

When I say normal pizza dough, I’m referring to a pizza dough made with a considerable amount of yeast, which is the case with most recipes for pizza dough.

A large quantity of yeast is used in order to speed up fermentation so the dough can rise more quickly than a bread dough so that you can make the pizza faster.

Using a smaller quantity of yeast

If you make the dough with a smaller quantity of yeast then then fermentation process is slowed down so you can let it sit on the counter for up to 12 hours.

If you’re using less yeast, the flavor will be deeper. Some people like experimenting with this concept.

You can go as low as using one quarter of the standard amount of yeast that a recipe indicates to be used.

The initial rising time will definitely increase, it can even take 8 hours for the dough to rise. It depends on the room temperature and how much you decreased the yeast quantity.

How to Store Pizza Dough in Airtight Containers

If you are into the habit of making a larger batch of pizza dough then knowing how to store pizza dough successfully so that you can take a pizza dough ball whenever you want it crucial.

The very good news is that pizza dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It can also be frozen for up to 4 weeks. Both are pretty good periods of time.

For the first part of this post, let’s focus on how to store pizza dough in airtight containers in the fridge.

Whatever the size and shape of the airtight container that you choose to use, there are a few common steps to follow:

  1. mix and knead the dough
  2. beside the usual four ingredients (water, yeast, salt, and flour) you can also add olive oil
  3. place it in a bowl or leave it in the bowl where the kneading was done and cover it with a towel
  4. let the dough rise until it doubles in size on the counter
  5. you can check to see if the bulk fermentation is complete by sticking two fingers until the second knuckle in the dough, if the indentations aren’t filled in by the dough immediately then you can proceed to the storage step (in normal conditions it would take about 2 hours)
  6. punch it down
  7. divide it and shape it into pizza dough balls, the size depends on what you’re used to
  8. grease the container with olive oil or whatever oil you cook with or maybe you prefer using a cooking spray
  9. you can brush the dough with olive oil, too, not just the container – you don’t need an actual brush, use your fingers
  10. place the dough inside and then seal it in the container by placing a lid on top or by using plastic wrap – it will prevent the dough from making a crust
  11. you can store pizza dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks

Store Pizza Dough in the Fridge for More Complex Flavor

Before going into the whys, I just want to recommend something.

The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is a book about bread that covers exactly that: the easiest way to make dough and then storing it in the fridge for the next two weeks and what recipes you can make with that dough.

It’s a great book and a good guide on refrigerating bread and pizza dough.

The obvious advantage of understanding how easy it is to store pizza dough in the fridge is that you can double or triple the ingredients for a pizza dough recipe and use it for making pizza whenever you feel like it throughout the duration of 2 weeks.

But there’s another reason for storing pizza dough in the fridge besides the readily available dough.

The other option is to let it go through a slower fermentation in the fridge, due to the much lower temperatures.

That slow fermentation helps it develop a deeper more delicious flavor.

That deeper delicious flavor is the very important reason why some of us refrigerate our pizza dough at least overnight.

If we’re more patient, we let is sit in the fridge for 24-72 hours and then we proceed with making the pizza. In this case, a smaller quantity of yeast can be used since we’re not in a hurry to go through fermentation.

The dough is also easier to handle when cold.

When the dough rises at low temperatures we avoid overproofing the dough. If we’re overproofing the dough, the gas that should be trapped inside the dough by its gluten structure will escape, which will mess up the shape of the dough.

If the pizza dough balls overproof, deflate them, shape them once again into balls, and then let them proof a second time. Read my post on proofing dough if you’re interested in finding out more.

Pizza dough is always proofed in the shape of pizza dough balls because proofing always happens after shaping. And we shape it in individual pizza dough balls.

How to Choose Airtight Containers for Pizza Dough Storage

When it comes to food storage containers there are a lot of options to choose from. They’re all shapes and sizes. Reusable plastic containers can be found everywhere.

You can use small round ones if you want to refrigerate individual pizza dough balls.

Or you can use a large plastic container and store the pizza dough in its entirety, without first portioning it in balls.

The other option is to use a food storage box where you can divide the dough into balls and quite a few of them will fit in the same box. Food storage boxes can be stacked one on top of the other so you can fit a lot of them in the fridge.

How to Freeze Pizza Dough

The freezing of pizza dough is not as straightforward as knowing how to store pizza dough in airtight containers in the fridge but it’s still a pretty simple process.

The easy steps for how to freeze pizza dough are:

  1. let the dough rise until it doubles in size
  2. punch the dough down
  3. divide it into pizza dough balls
  4. wrap each ball of dough in plastic wrap
  5. place the wrapped pizza dough balls into freezer bags

The dough can be kept frozen for up 4 weeks.

Thawing the dough

When you’re ready to use it, you need to let the frozen dough balls thaw. You can let it thaw on the counter at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

You can place them in the same airtight containers that we’ve talked about above. Grease them with olive oil first.

Since the dough has already gone through its first rise, after it thaws it needs to go though the proofing stage (the second rise phase).

It might take twice as long a a normal proofing does. To check when the dough is done proofing, make a small indentation with your fingerprint, if the indentation remains then the proofing is complete. If it’s filled in immediately, it needs more time.

Freezing pizza dough is definitely simple enough but the proofing after thawing takes much longer.

Storing pizza dough in the fridge is definitely simpler and now you know how to store pizza dough properly.