Pizza dough takes time to make, so many people opt to make a large batch and freeze it. Others buy it frozen from the grocery store to begin with. Working with frozen pizza dough isn’t difficult at all, but many people struggle when it comes to how and when to defrost it.
The best way to defrost pizza dough is by letting it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the dough to slowly rise in temperature without over proofing or changing the texture. The next day, take the fully defrosted dough out of the refrigerator and let it proof at room temperature for roughly 1-2 hours before shaping it or rolling it out.
While this is the best way to defrost pizza dough, it’s not the only way. Some people need to defrost their dough in a hurry, which is also possible. Let’s go over the best way to defrost pizza dough, the quickest way to defrost pizza dough as well as some best practices for freezing dough in the first place.
How To Defrost Pizza Dough – The Best Way
When defrosting pizza dough, there really is a best way to do it. However, this way requires nearly 24 hours to complete so you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared in advance.
The problem with simply taking a frozen ball of pizza dough and leaving it on the counter to defrost is that the outside and inside of the dough will thaw at different rates. This means that outside of the dough will defrost quickly and begin to proof and ferment while the middle of the dough remains cold and frozen. When this happens, you’ll wind up with a pizza dough that’s uneven and not fully proofed.
To counter this, we want to slow down the defrosting process as much as possible. The best way to do this is leaving it to defrost in the fridge overnight.
To defrost frozen pizza dough, the best way is to take it out of the freezer and let it rest in the fridge overnight. The next day your pizza dough should be completely thawed but not puffed up and proofed, which is exactly what we want. Roughly 1-2 hours before baking time, take the defrosted pizza dough out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature. During this time the dough can expand and proof before you use it.
What I like about this method is that, by thawing it in the fridge, your not dealing with a “frozen” dough anymore. In fact, it’s really no different than any other pizza dough you’ve left in the fridge to cold ferment overnight. This way, freezing and defrosting your pizza dough shouldn’t lead to any compromise of taste or texture.
The Best Way To Defrost Pizza Dough:
- Take frozen dough from freezer the night before and place it in the fridge.
- The next day, the dough should be completely thawed, but still very cold.
- 1-2 hours before baking time, let the dough proof at room temperature. During this time the yeast will activate and the gluten network will relax, making it easier to work with.
- When the dough is fully proofed, shape or roll it into a pizza crust.
How To Defrost Pizza Dough – The Quick Way
Sometimes you just don’t have 24 hours to wait before you need to use your frozen pizza dough. If this is you right now, don’t worry. There are a few methods you can use to get your pizza dough defrosted and ready to use in a hurry.
Water is an excellent conductor of heat, which means it’s great at warming things up that are cold. This is exactly why things like hot water bottles and steam powered radiators have been used successfully for hundreds of years.
Water is also a great way to defrost frozen pizza dough. However, make sure your pizza dough is securely placed in a plastic bag before trying any of the methods below. If you let water touch the raw pizza dough it will defrost unevenly and throw off its natural hydration level.
To defrost frozen pizza dough in cold water, put the dough inside a closed and secured plastic bag and place it in a large mixing bowl. Then, fill the mixing bowl with cold or room temperature water and let the bag of dough sit in it for several hours.
The frozen dough ball will act as a kind of ice cube for the water, so if you want to speed up the process slightly you can change the water every 30 minutes or so.
When the dough is completely thawed and no longer frozen in the middle, let it proof at room temperature for 1-2 hours before shaping into a pizza crust.
Tip: Don’t poke the dough to see if it’s still frozen in the middle. This can make the dough uneven, let gas escape and ruin the gluten structure you spent so much time creating when you made the dough in the first place. Just use your best judgement instead.
What I like about this method is that the water defrosts the dough while still keeping the temperature quite low to avoid premature proofing or an uneven consistency. It won’t be quite as even as if it was defrosted in the fridge overnight, but it’s very close and a lot faster.
If cold water is great at defrosting a frozen pizza dough, wouldn’t that mean warm water could get the job done even faster? Yes, but there’s a catch.
Warm water will indeed defrost your frozen pizza dough fairly quickly but it also poses the risk of premature fermenting, or even cooking, the dough in the process.
To defrost frozen pizza dough in warm water, simply place the bag of dough in a large mixing bowl and fill it with warm (but not hot) water. The water will cool very quickly so you’ll need to change it periodically to keep it warm. Depending on the temperature of the water, the dough should be defrosted within a few hours.
When the dough is no longer frozen in the middle, transfer it to the counter and let it proof for 1-2 hours. During this time the yeast will activate and the dough will expand.
Tip: Heat causes gas to expand so make sure you remove all the air from the plastic bag before submerging it in warm water. This way you won’t wind up with a dough filled balloon!
Watch the dough carefully as it thaws for any signs of premature fermentation or cooking. The challenge of using warm water is that you run the risk of activating the yeast on the outer edges of the dough while the yeast in the middle is still frozen and dormant. So if you see any bubbles starting to form on the outside of the dough early on in the process, considering transferring it to room temperature water to slow down the process.
For many people, the microwave is the go to kitchen appliance when it comes to defrosting anything frozen from the freezer. You can use a microwave for defrosting frozen pizza dough as well but you need to be extra careful because you run the risk of cooking your pizza dough very quickly and without warning.
To defrost frozen pizza dough in a microwave, place the dough on a plate (not in the bag) and cover it with a bowl to prevent direct exposure to the microwave’s heat. Set your microwave on defrost mode and let it go for about 2.5 minutes. When the pizza dough comes out, it should be warm and soft on the surface but still slightly frozen in the middle. Let it sit (covered) on the counter for another 30 minutes to completely defrost.
It might seem easier to simply pop the partially frozen dough back in the microwave for another minute instead of leaving it on the counter for 30 minutes, but this runs the risk of cooking the dough. Pizza dough can only be shaped and stretched in its raw form, so if you microwave it for too long you’ll just wind up with a dinner roll instead.
When the pizza dough is completely defrosted, let it proof at room temperature for another 1-2 hours before shaping and baking it.
How Do You Use Defrosted Pizza Dough
Using defrosted pizza dough is the same as using any other kind of pizza dough.
When the dough is completely defrosted and no longer frozen in the middle, let it proof at room temperature for around 1-2 hours. This gives enough time for the yeast to activate and fill the dough with gas which is a big part of what makes a pizza crust light and fluffy. Once the dough has proofed, you can shape or roll it into a pizza crust however you like.
However, this assumes that your pizza dough had already been properly shaped into balls prior to freezing them. If this isn’t the case, form your pizza dough into a tight ball immediately after defrosting and then let it proof for 1-2 hours.
How To Freeze Pizza Dough The Right Way
Freezing pizza dough is all about saving time. Ideally, you should be able to take your frozen pizza dough out of the fridge, let it thaw and proof, then immediately use it to make pizza. So if you just throw a blob of pizza dough into the freezer then have to thaw it, divide it up, shape it and proof it, you’re not really saving much time. Thankfully, there’s a better way.
The best way to freeze pizza dough is by freezing it at the very last step in the dough preparation process. This way, all you have to do is defrost it and let it come to room temperature. Here’s a quick set of instructions you can follow.
How To Freeze & Defrost Pizza Dough :
- Make you pizza dough as you would normally, or you can follow my recipe here.
- When the pizza dough is ready, divide and shape the dough into tight balls.
- Place each ball in a lightly floured tray and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Try using a tray with high sides so the plastic wrap doesn’t touch the dough. Reusable plastic containers with a lid work great for this as well.
- Let the dough proof at room temperature for approximately 1.5 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. When the dough is proofed adequately, it should have expanded in size and have small bubbles forming on the surface.
- Immediately place the entire container in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until it’s completely frozen.
- When the dough is frozen, remove each dough ball from the container or tray. You may need to pry them free from their container but that’s OK since they’re completely frozen and won’t be damaged.
- Place each frozen ball of dough into a tightly sealed zip-lock bag and put them back in the freezer.
- When you’re ready to use your dough ball, simply remove it from its zip-lock bag, place it in a covered tray or plastic container and let it defrost in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, when the dough is completely thawed, let it sit on the counter for 1-2 hours until it reaches room temperature.
- When the dough is room temperature, it’s ready to be shaped or rolled into whatever kind of pizza crust you like.
What I like about this way of freezing pizza dough is that the pizza dough is ready to go as soon as it reaches room temperature. This is because we divided, shaped and proofed it immediately before the freezing process, essentially freezing into place all the hard work ahead of time.
Related post: Can Pizza Dough Be Frozen? How To Freeze Pizza Dough
Will Pizza Dough Rise After Being Frozen?
Pizza dough will rise after being frozen just like dough that was never frozen would rise. However, the dough will need to reach room temperature first so that the yeast can reactivate and begin fermenting and producing gas again. For this reason, pizza dough will not rise if it’s too cold.
How Long Does It Take Pizza Dough To Thaw?
Pizza dough can take anywhere from 24 to just a few hours to fully thaw after being frozen depending on how you do it. If you thaw it in the fridge, it will generally take a full day to thaw. On a counter at room temperature, it will take a few hours to thaw and in a warm bowl of water it can take as little as 2 hours or less to thaw.
How Do You Get Pizza Dough To Room Temperature Quickly
The best way to bring pizza dough to room temperature quickly is to let it rest in a warm room for 1-2 hours. If you need to speed up this process, you can try placing the dough somewhere slightly warm like inside a (turned off) oven with the light on, or on top of a refrigerator (if it’s warm). Keep in mind that if you warm it up too quickly, the yeast can get out of control and your dough can over proof.