How Long Can Bread Dough Last In The Fridge?

If you have ever wondered how long can bread dough last in the fridge, then this dough guide is for you. Learn how to store your dough in the refrigerator so that you can bake homemade bread when it’s convenient for you!

Two dough balls on parchment paper.

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Picture this: you are kneading dough to make delicious homemade bread only to discover that you don’t have time to finish the rest of the recipe. We have all been there! As a baker myself, I have been in that exact situation and was frantic because I was out of time.

However, I learned exactly how to store bread dough in the fridge so that I can bake it when it is convenient for me. In this post, I am going to go over everything I have learned as a home baker when storing dough in the fridge, how long to store it, and how to bake the bread dough the next day. If this is your first time, don’t worry; you will feel like an expert baker after using my dough tips!

FAQ Summary

How Long Does Bread Dough Last In The Fridge?

Bread dough can last in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. If you need to store it for longer, consider freezing the dough. 

Can I Refrigerate Bread Dough After Rising?

Yes, you can refrigerate bread dough before rising and after rising. You can also freeze it and bake it later.

Can You Keep Uncooked Bread Dough In The Fridge?

You can keep uncooked bread dough in the fridge for up to three days. After that time, you will need to bake it, freeze it, or toss it.

A person's hands dusted with flour. There is a round dough ball on the table.

How Long Does Dough Last In The Fridge

In general, dough can last in the fridge for 2-3 days as long as it is stored properly. However, the amount of time that dough can be stored in the fridge depends on various factors such as the ingredients used, the recipe instructions, and the specific conditions of your refrigerator. For instance, doughs with any dairy products won’t last as long compared to doughs that are daily-free. 

If the dough that you want to refrigerate has any dairy products, then you have to be cautious as these can quickly grow mold and bacteria. Sure, the cold temperature in the fridge slows down the bacterial growth of milk-based ingredients. However, I would not recommend storing this in the fridge for longer than two days. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Moreover, the amount of time a dough can last in the fridge also depends on if it has commercial yeast. During cold bulk fermentation, we risk the dough over-proofing in the fridge, causing the dough to lose its structure. This will lead to a lackluster final result. 

Unlike yeast doughs, non-yeast doughs such as flatbread will last longer in the refrigerator.  

If you need to store the dough for longer than three days, you should consider freezing it. Frozen bread dough can typically last for several weeks.

Yeast Bread Doughs

This type of dough contains commercial yeast, which is the living organism responsible for giving rise to bread. Due to the yeast, these doughs can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. 

The good thing about putting yeast dough in the fridge is the added flavor! During cold proofing, this dough develops extra flavor and tanginess due to the fermentation process.

Since these doughs contain commercial yeast, you will need to keep an eye out in case your dough overproofs. When that happens, the dough texture changes and it loses its structural integrity. It can also 

When you are ready to bake the refrigerated dough, you might need to allow the dough to come back to room temperature. Always use your best judgment when working with refrigerated dough.

Before and after the first rise of the dough. The dough is in a plastic container and has doubled in size.
Before and after the first rise.

Letting Dough Rise Overnight In The Fridge

An added benefit to putting your bread dough in the fridge is the added flavor! In the cold temperatures of the refrigerator, the yeast activity slows down. This enhances both the flavor and the texture of the bread. 

Letting the dough rise overnight in the fridge will add a tanginess to the bread that is similar to sourdough bread. Many bread lovers are obsessed with this taste. 

Sourdough Dough

Sourdough bread dough can last in the refrigerator for much longer than other yeast doughs. Since the activity of the wild yeast in sourdough is slower than that of commercial yeast, the fermentation process takes longer. 

If you would like to learn the differences between sourdough and commercial yeast, make sure to check out the guide I wrote.

Instructions For Refrigerating Bread Dough

In general, there are two ways to refrigerate bread dough and that depends the following factors:

  • If the dough has yeast or no yeast
  • If the dough’s first rise has already happened
  • If you want to let the dough rise overnight in the fridge (the first rise)

Refrigerating Bread Dough After The First Rise

Follow the recipe and shape the dough. Place it in its proper container. For instance, if you are making sandwich bread, then you should use a loaf pan. Cover the container that the dough is in with plastic wrap or a lid. Place in the fridge for up to two days. When you are ready to use it, let it come to room temperature then proceed with the rest of the instructions in the recipe.

Bread dough that has been shaped. It is in a bread pan and will be put in the freezer.
Shaped sandwich bread dough that will be put in the freezer to bake at a later time.

Steps To Let The Dough Rise Overnight In The Fridge

After you mix all the ingredients and knead the dough, place it inside a greased bowl. You can use olive oil or whatever cooking oil you have. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for up to two to three days. When you are ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and place it on the counter. Let it come to room temperature and then continue following the rest of the instructions in the recipe.

It is important to remember that the activity of commercial yeast slows down significantly due to the colder temperatures. This leads to a slower rise. During the next day, if you go to your fridge and discover that the dough has not doubled or fully risen, then take the bowl out of the fridge. Let the dough finish its first rise on the counter. After the dough has doubled and is at room temperature, then continue with the rest of the recipe. 

Refrigerating Non-Yeast Doughs

After mixing the ingredients together, place the dough inside a greased bowl. If the dough isn’t too sticky like pasta dough, then you can wrap it in plastic wrap. Place it in the fridge for up to three days.

When you are ready to bake the dough, let it sit on the counter until it comes to room temperature. Follow the instructions of the recipe.

Dough Over-Fermentation

Whenever you are baking with yeast, whether you plan on placing the dough in the fridge or letting it rise on the counter, you need to watch out for over-fermentation. 

Overfermentation occurs when the dough rises or ferments for an extended period of time. During the fermentation process, yeast consumes sugars and produces carbon dioxide gas which is responsible for the rise. If the process continues for too long, then the yeast runs out of food, which will lead to a loss of activity. This can lead to undesirable results and ruin the bread. It can change the flavor, the texture, and the final structure of the bread.

To prevent overfermentation while your bread dough is sitting in the fridge, monitor it by checking on it during the day. If you notice that the dough has rised significantly, it is best to bake it as soon as possible. However, if it has overfermented to the point that it does not hold its shape and is beginning to collapse, you might want to throw it away or turn it into focaccia bread instead. 

Signs The Bread Dough Has Spoiled

Throw out your dough if you notice any of the following:

  1. Bad Smells
  2. Mold Growth
  3. Dough Is Discolored

Mold and bacterial growth can occur while the dough is in the refrigerator, so always be cautious and double check your dough for any signs of spoilage. When you are working with refrigerated or frozen dough, you will need to use your best judgment. If you notice any of these signs and you believe that the bread has spoiled, then it is time to toss it into the trash can.

Important Tips For Best Results

Refrigerating dough is simple and does not have to be overcomplicated. However, there are important tips to remember so that you get the best results.

Watch Out For Over-Fermentation

Due to the extended proofing time, the dough can over-ferment in the fridge. Once this happens, it will have several negative effects on the quality of the final baked bread. The bread can be collapsed, taste different, and have a different texture and structure. 

To combat over-fermentation, make sure to monitor while the dough proofs in the fridge. Periodically check to see the rise of the dough. If it has more than doubled, then you need to bake it as soon as possible.

Make Sure To Cover The Dough Properly

Now, this seems like an easy tip to remember. However, there have been times in the past when I did not cover the dough correctly. I opened the fridge the next day to discover that the dough I worked SO hard on was dried out! I do not want this happening to you so please learn from my mistakes.

Give The Dough Room To Rise

Even though the yeast works at a much slower rate in cold temperature in the fridge, it still remains alive and can rise in the fridge! The bowl you use should be big enough for the dough to double. It should be covered to prevent the air flow from drying out the dough. However, you should not use an airtight container. An airtight container will prevent the dough from rising correctly.

Bread dough in a loaf pan. It has risen and is ready to be baked
Once the dough has finished its second rise, it is time to be baked

Do Not Refrigerate Overnight After Shaping

Although you can refrigerate dough after its first rise, I do not recommend refrigerating overnight after shaping (also known as the second rise). There is a chance that they dough can become overproofed if you refrigerate them after they are shaped. When this happens, the dough can rise and collapse before you have a chance to put it into the oven.

If you have already shaped your dough, consider baking it and then storing the fresh bread. However, if you are out of time and would like to bake it for another day, then you can freeze the it. 

Baking Refrigerated Dough

When you are ready to bake your refrigerated dough, let it sit on the counter until it comes to room temperature. Once that happens, continue following the rest of the instructions on the recipe.

However, if you see any signs that the dough has spoiled, such as weird smells or visible mold, it is a good idea to throw out the dough.

Consider Freezing Your Dough

If you need to store the dough for longer than three days and you cannot bake it right now, then you should freeze your dough. The dough will last in the freezer for up to one month. Yes, freezing the dough is a long time compared to storing it in the refrigerator. However, there is still a shelf life that you must keep in mind.

To freeze your dough, you should knead it and let it rise on the counter until it has doubled. Once it has risen, then shape the dough and store it in a freezer-safe container. 

The container that you use when you freeze the dough depends on the bread recipe and what you’re making. Different recipes have different ways of shaping the dough. For instance, if you are freezing the dough of a sandwich bread loaf recipe, shape and place the dough into the loaf pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or place it in a plastic bag. 

If you plan on freezing dinner roll dough, then shape each dinner roll first. Afterward, you can place the dough balls on a tray or in a plastic bag. There are lots of different types of bread that you can freeze.

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