How To Freeze Pizza Dough (And Thaw It Quickly)


Pizza dough recipes usually make multiple balls of dough which you might want to use later. It can be a lengthy process to create good dough, so some short cuts are good to have on hand.

Can you freeze pizza dough?

Yes – it is best done after it has had one rise and then been balled into individual dough balls. Freeze on a flat surface until firm, then wrap individually in plastic and use within 2 months. When removing, defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for 3 hours before use.

Does freezing pizza dough kill the yeast?

Yeast activity slows down as the temperature drops. In the fridge it is slowed down, and in the freezer the activity practically stops. Freezer temperatures do not kill yeast, but the ice crystals formed can damage a minority of the yeast cells. When the dough thaws, the undamaged yeast will reactivate and produce gas to rise the dough again, the damaged cells won’t. So while not perfect, freezing can be useful for dough preparation. Using slightly more yeast in the recipe can be a way to counteract this. Will it rise again after being frozen? Yes it will.

Steps For Freezing Pizza Dough

You can freeze pizza dough after it rises, and has been balled up. This ensures it has built some flavor from yeast fermentation, and it is also in a convenient shape to thaw and use quickly.

1. Start With A Good Dough Recipe

Follow my pizza dough recipe here – Crust Kingdom Pizza Dough. This makes two dough balls but you can scale up the recipe by multiplying it two or three times for four or six dough balls.

2. Let You Dough Rise Once

Once the dough is mixed and kneaded, you want to allow it to rest and ferment as one piece. This bulk fermentation stage builds flavor and character to the dough. One to two hours at room temperature, or 24 hours in the fridge.

3. Ball The Dough

Split the dough into equal portions and form into medium-tight rounds. Pull the edges into the middle so that you have a smooth face, and then place face-up on a worktop. Roll it around with your hand so that it builds tension on the surface. Put these balls on a flat surface and cover up – a sheet pan, or a box work well. Ceramic plates aren’t so good as the dough balls freeze solid to them. Remember that this needs to go in the freezer so use a container that will fit there.

4. Freeze The Dough Balls

You can now transfer these dough balls to the freezer to firm up – put the whole pan in the freezer. Once they are solid (several hours), you can remove the flat tray they are on and move to a freezer bag. It’s best to wait until just firm to move to a freezer bag otherwise they can stick to the pan. To prevent “freezer burn” you need to get them airtight – wrapping individual dough balls up in plastic wrap first is best.

How long will it last in the freezer?

Dough typical lasts about two months in the freezer. As with anything in the freezer, the quicker you use it then the better it will be. Ideally you would use the dough within one month.

How To Thaw Frozen Pizza Dough

To thaw the dough, its best to do this on a flat surface. Either a plate if a single ball or a baking sheet or box for multiple. This keeps its nice round shape to make a base later on. Remove the plastic wrap but keep it covered so that a skin doesn’t form on the dough.

Thawing can happen in the fridge or at room temperature, depending how much time you have.

How long does it take to thaw frozen pizza dough?

At room temperature might take 3 hours depending on the temperature. In the fridge is best if you want to wait longer, such as overnight. Remember that it still needs to warm up for an hour or two after coming out of the fridge, otherwise you can’t stretch it.

Proofing frozen pizza dough

Proofing is refered to as the last rise before baking. Once the dough ball is at room temperature, the yeast will be active again so it will rise its last amount. This adds a bit more flavor from fermentation and also the dough relaxes so it becomes easier to shape. You can proof it for a few hours at room temperature, but then the dough ball becomes weak and hard to use without tearing. Aim for max 4 hours after thawing.

Will pizza dough rise after being frozen? Yes it will rise again. The yeast is dormant when frozen but becomes active again and starts fermenting the flour to produce gas. Depending how much yeast was used and how long a rise you gave it before the freezer will determine how much it rises after thawing out.

How do you thaw frozen pizza dough quickly?

There is a trick to speed up thawing pizza dough. You can take a bowl of warm (not hot!) water, and submerge the unwrapped pizza dough balls for 10-15 minutes. Then remove and continue to thaw as usual on a baking sheet covered up with plastic wrap or lid. This kick starts the thawing and will cut the time taken to completely thaw by about half – 1.5 to 2 hours depending on ambient temperature. Briefly submerging in water doesn’t affect the final dough.

Will Freezing Change The Taste Or Texture?

The key thing freezing does is turn water to ice which means it expands. These crystals can break through cell walls and change the texture slightly – fresh dough is always a bit better as you would expect.

Freezer burn is the white or brown dry spots on frozen food. This happens when air oxides and dries out things in the freezer. So to counteract this, you should wrap the dough balls in wrap so that no air is in contact. Doubling up with a freezer bag is even better.

As for the taste, this remains unchanged. That is unless you get it tainted by some other food in the freezer. So keep your dough balls away from other strong foods.

Freezing Prebaked Pizza Bases

There is a second option in freezing pizzas and that is freezing the parbaked bases, also called “skins”. You can then retrieve these, thaw them out and then top and bake for a quick and easy pizza.

How do you prebake pizza dough to freeze?

Stretch your dough balls as thin as you can. Then bake them as normal in a very hot oven until they are firm, but not brown. Depending on how thin you can stretch them, you will notice that the middle of the pizza might rise or bubble up when cooked. This is because no toppings are there to hold it down. If this bothers you, you can give the base a thin layer of tomato sauce which stops bubbles forming. Also delicious is a brushing of olive oil and herbs – these are great just on their own.

Once cooked, allow to cool and then wrap up tightly for the freezer to avoid freezer burn. When ready to cook, you can thaw them in 1-2 hours, and then top with more sauce, cheese and toppings. Cook them like a normal pizza until the crust is browned.

Storing Pizza Dough In The Fridge

Just like the freezer, the fridge can also help store your dough for longer. This is because the cooler temperatures slow down the fermentation of yeast. This reduces it producing CO2 gas and the byproducts which can cause your dough to become sour.

How long it lasts in the fridge will depend on the yeast quantity of your dough, and the temperature of the water used to mix up the dough. I have an article on how long pizza dough lasts.

I find with my recipe (it has 0.1% yeast as a baker’s percentage) that it can last pretty good for 48 hours. It then starts getting a bit weak and can tear easily.

Can you refrigerate pizza dough after it rises?

Yes this is the best way to do it. You can rise the dough in one bulk piece at room temperature to get the yeast active. Once you’ve balled it up, then transfer the balls to the fridge. The dough can relax and the flavors will improve if you let the dough rest overnight.

Conclusion

Freezing pizza dough is a really great way to be convenient in your pizza making. Just remove a few dough balls after work and you can be eating pizza for dinner without all the preparation.

Remember to ball them up individually and keep them air tight. Then thawing out should be easy and quick, with a few tricks included here to speed up that process too.

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