How To Freeze Pizza Dough (And Thaw It Quickly)

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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 shortcuts are good to have on hand.

You can freeze pizza dough after it has had one rise and been balled into dough balls. Freeze on a flat surface until firm, then wrap individually in plastic and use within 2 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for 3 hours before use.

Freezing does not kill yeast, it just slows it down, but the ice crystals formed can damage some of the yeast cells.

When the frozen dough thaws, the undamaged yeast will reactivate and ferment again, but the damaged cells won’t. Using slightly more yeast in the recipe can be a way to counteract this.

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 in 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 them 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 them up – a sheet pan or dough box from Amazon works 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 them 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 it will last in the freezer

Dough typically 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, it’s 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 skin doesn’t form on the dough.

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

How long it takes to thaw

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 referred 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 to the final 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.

Pizza dough will rise again after being frozen and thawed. The yeast is dormant when frozen but becomes active again and starts fermenting the flour to produce gas.

Depending on 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 to 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 a 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 it in water doesn’t affect the final dough.

How Freezing Changes The Taste And Texture

The key thing freezing does is turn water into ice which means it expands. These crystals can break through cell walls and change the texture slightly – a 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 oxidizes and dries out things in the freezer. So to counteract this, you should wrap the dough balls in a 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 to prebake pizza dough to freeze

Stretch your dough balls as thin as you can. Then bake them as normal in a very hot oven (I recommend using a pizza steel) 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 from 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 them 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 its production of 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 a guide 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 well for 48 hours. It then starts getting a bit weak and can tear easily.

Best to refrigerate pizza dough after it rises

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 airtight. Then thawing out should be easy and quick, with a few tricks included here to speed up that process too.

Tom Hambly

Tom Hambly is the founder of Crust Kingdom. As a self-taught cook, he has been perfecting making pizzas at home for over a decade. Now he runs this site to help millions of people make pizza every year. About Tom Hambly.

4 thoughts on “How To Freeze Pizza Dough (And Thaw It Quickly)

  1. Tom,
    I am not sure why you can only have your dough in the refer for 48 hours. When I make my dough, I use sub 1% Bakers Percentage yeast as well. I mix the yeast with water BEFORE adding the water to the flours/salt (assuring even distribution in the dough). I always wait 10 minutes to verify that the yeast is active.
    I never KNEAD my dough if it will be refrigerated or long risen. The yeast is VERY happy to do this for me, and after 3 days my dough can still be too elastic. 3 days is usually the prime time for maximum flavor development, too much longer and flavors change again.
    When the dough will not relax I stretch it out a little then come back in a few minutes and repeat until the pie is large enough.

    1. It could be the flour – some will last better than others because of using stronger wheat. You can certainly store it for many days but it gets harder to work with, in my experience.

  2. Will this dough work in the new home version pizza oven’s i.e. Ooni ? What would be the best temp in said Ooni 12″. How big would that 275g ball make (12″) ?

    1. Doug,
      Yes, it will work in the Ooni – get it as hot as possible if you want a puffy and airy Neapolitan style. Or lower the temperature for a thinner, crispy NY style. The dough ball makes roughly 12″ pizza.

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