How To Store Your Bread Dough


Bread dough can be a challenge to make and tricky to figure out how to store it. Whether you made the dough beforehand or didn’t have time to bake it the same day, you’ll want to figure out what to do with it. Let’s answer the question, how do you store bread dough?

How to store bread dough:

  1. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl or airtight bag.
  2. Place the kneaded dough into the container.
  3. Cover the bowl tightly or seal the airtight bag.
  4. Store in the refrigerator and use within 48 hours for best results.

The method above is a baseline method for storing dough. There are other crucial factors to consider when storing the dough covered in detail below.

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Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

How To Store Bread Dough

1. Lightly Oil a Large Mixing Bowl or Airtight Bag

Fully coat the inside surface of a large mixing bowl or an airtight container with oil prior to placing the dough inside.

Another option is to lightly oil the outside of the dough prior to placing it into the storage container. For most people, coating the container instead of the dough is easier and more efficient.

2. Place the Kneaded Dough Into the Container

All stored dough should be stored in a sealed container, like a bowl or an airtight bag. The bowl or bag should be two to three times larger than the size of the dough. This is so because the dough will continue to rise before it’s completely cooled.

A plastic food storage bag like a ziplock may be used. In addition, a reusable airtight silicone bag may be used. Doing so prevents any tearing until you’re ready to use the dough.

Kneaded and unkneaded dough should be stored the same but will rise differently. 

Kneaded Dough

Kneaded dough is the preferred method for storing. To store kneaded dough, lightly oil the bowl or bag and place the dough inside. With kneaded dough, refrigeration will be the first rise 1.

Before using refrigerated kneaded dough, remove it from the refrigerator, punch it down and allow it to rest for around 10-15 minutes before shaping. 

If you’ll be using the dough more than once, try to take out as much dough as needed while leaving the rest in the airtight bowl. Never refrigerate the dough more than once because it will dry out and ruin the integrity of the dough. 

Unkneaded Dough

Refrigerating unkneaded dough requires a slightly different process than kneaded dough. Both need to be sealed in an airtight vessel, but unkneaded dough needs to be punched down a few more times. 

To refrigerate unkneaded dough, punch down the dough while still warm (around every 30 minutes). Once cooled, punch it down every 24 hours. Similar to kneaded dough, unkneaded bread dough is best when used within 48 hours of refrigeration.

3. Cover the Bowl Tightly or Seal the Airtight Bag

If using a bowl it should be tightly covered with a lid or covered with plastic wrap. If using an airtight bag, the bag should be sealed tightly. Do not let air get into the bowl, as the dough can lose moisture and crack.

4. Store in the Refrigerator and Use Within 48 Hours

Bread dough needs to be refrigerated to slow the activity of the yeast. Yeast feeds on sugar found in the other ingredients in the dough and expels carbon dioxide as a result. 

You’ll find yeast is mixed into warm water and sugar in recipes for bread dough before the other ingredients so it can activate. For yeast to remain active and continue rising the dough, it needs to be warm. Refrigeration slows this process, keeping the dough fresh 2. 

Refrigerating bread dough is important because it slows the yeast while allowing the dough to sit. Meanwhile, resting dough is essential as it allows the enzymes in the flour to convert starches to sugars, making a more flavorful bake.

Many people want to know, can I leave bread dough out to rise overnight?

Bread dough should not be left out to rise because it can over prove. The sugars are consumed by the yeast cells, resulting in a crumbly loaf of bread or a pizza crust that falls apart easily when handled.

Many people ask, is it okay to refrigerate bread dough overnight?

Refrigerating the bread dough overnight is the best way to store it if it’s unused the same day. Bread dough should be refrigerated as soon as possible after the dough is made to slow the proofing process. 

Proofing is when the dough is untouched (or resting) to allow the yeast to rise the dough the last time before baking. The proofing process must be slowed by refrigeration to allow the dough to remain fresh 3.

Do you bake or love garlic bread? Learn the best way to store it and if it can be left out at room temperature in my article here, 5 Tips on Storing Garlic Bread & More.

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Can You Freeze Bread Dough?

Bread dough should be frozen after the first rise and shaping. When freezing bread dough, add double the yeast to account for some of the yeast dying after being frozen. Active dry yeast should be the only type of yeast used for freezing dough. 

How do you freeze bread dough? To freeze bread dough:

  1. Divide the bread dough into the preferred size needed for each baking project.
  2. Place the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Place the baking sheet into the freezer.
  4. Once frozen, remove the baking sheet and transfer the bread dough to a plastic freezer bag.
  5. Remove the excess air and seal the bag.
  6. Write the date onto the bag.
  7. Place the frozen bread dough into the freezer and store up to four weeks. 
The best way to remove excess air from a plastic bag is to use a vacuum sealer. They are one of those items making you wonder how you did without one before purchasing it. Amazon has many affordable ones. Check out their current prices here, Vacuum Sealers.

How Do You Thaw Frozen Bread Dough?

The best way to thaw frozen bread dough is to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator. Keep the sealed frozen bread dough in the refrigerator until it’s fully thawed.

To use frozen dough, take out only the amount you’d like to bake with the night before. After thawing, place in a lightly oiled pan and allow the dough to rise for a second time (proofing) before baking.

Many people recommend against freezing unbaked bread dough. This is because home freezers take longer to freeze the dough than commercial freezers.  This increases the risk of damage to the yeast and dough structure resulting in a lesser quality bread.

Therefore, it’s better to freeze baked bread than unbaked bread dough 4. Although following the freezing method above 5, helps to prevent the damage to the bread dough. 

How Long Can Dough Be Stored?

Bread dough should be stored no longer than 48 hours in the refrigerator and four weeks in the freezer. Never take the dough out for a long period of time, then refrigerate a second time. This will ruin the baking and can cause the dough to dry out and crack.

The “ripe test” is an excellent method to tell if the bread dough is in good enough condition to be shaped, especially after longer refrigeration times. 

To perform the “ripe test” on once risen dough, stick one or two fingers into the dough before punching down. If the indentations of the fingers remain, the bread dough has retained its integrity. The dough can now be shaped into the chosen form. 

In addition, the “ripe test” can be performed on the second rise. The process is similar, but instead of sticking your fingers down into the unbaked bread, lightly press the fingertip into the dough. The integrity remains if the indentation stays 6. 

FAQs

Is it okay to refrigerate bread dough overnight? 

Refrigerating the bread dough overnight is the best way to store it if it’s unused the same day. Bread dough should be refrigerated as soon as possible after the dough is made to slow the proofing process. 

Proving is when the dough is untouched (or resting) to allow the yeast to rise the dough the last time before baking. The proofing process must be slowed by refrigeration to allow the dough to remain fresh.

What is the purpose of resting the dough in the refrigerator?

Resting the dough in the refrigerator provides the following benefits:

  1. Results in a better tasting bread.
  2. The bread becomes more visually appealing.
  3. Better texture.
  4. The convenience of splitting up the preparation time of baking bread.

Slowing down the yeast and increasing the rising time improve the flavor of the bread. The baked bread will have a darker, more vibrant crust color and better texture.

Baking can be a whole day process. By splitting up the preparation time allows you to prepare the dough one day and bake the next.

What are some handy, affordable bread dough tools and appliances?

Making homemade bread elevates bread to a different level. Check out some affordable bread makers on Amazon, Bread Makers.

Amazon has many stylish, affordable bread boxes for any kitchen. Check out the current prices here, Bread Boxes.

I never realized how much better it is to cut bread with a knife made for cutting bread. Check these out on Amazon, Bread Knives.

Make the perfect width bread slice every time with these appealing Bread Slicers on Amazon.

Wrapping Up The Bread Dough Storage

Making and storing bread dough can be a tricky process to complete. Using the methods above can give your baked bread the best texture and rise possible.

Whether you decide to freeze or refrigerate your bread dough, making sure it stays cold until using it is the most important method to keeping the dough fresh. 

Storing dough properly is essential to keep it from over-proofing, drying out or going bad. Remember, refrigerating dough only slows the yeast from proofing.

Try baking within 48 hours of refrigerating. For frozen dough, use within 3-4 weeks and use the technique in the above section for the best baking experience 7.

Read Next – More Food Storage Articles!

7 Ways To Store Meat In The Freezer Without Plastic

How To Store Bok Choy

How To Store Bread Yeast

How To Store Sourdough Bread

How To Freeze Cooked Cabbage  

 

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  1. Red Star Yeast: Yeast & Baking Lessons[]
  2. University of Georgia: Food Storage for Safety and Quality[]
  3. Wikipedia: Proofing (baking technique) []
  4. ResearchGate: Combined effects of freezing rate, storage temperature and time on bread dough and baking properties[]
  5. K-State Research and Extension: Freezing Yeast Dough[]
  6. University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Home Food Storage[]
  7. Online Wiley Library: Quality Of Bread And Cookie Baked From Frozen Dough And Batter Containing B-Glucan-Rich Barley Flour Fraction[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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