How to Tell If Pizza Dough Has Gone Bad? (Explain for Beginner)

Have you ever wondered how long pizza dough lasts? It’s a question that many newbie pizza-makers have asked themselves, and one that can be difficult to answer. After all, there are multiple factors at play here, such as how well you store it, where you store it, the storage temperature, and finally, the amount of yeast and water used in the dough.

Pizza dough is a very perishable item, which means that it has a short shelf life (up to 5 days in the refrigerator) and must be used quickly after being made. If you don’t plan to use the dough right away, it’s important to freeze it properly so that you don’t end up with spoiled pizza. When frozen, the dough will typically last up to 3 months.

The truth is, most people don’t think about the shelf life of their pizza dough until after they’ve opened it and realized that it has gone bad. So here I am today to tell you all about pizza dough expiration dates and storage methods so that you don’t have to Google your way out of a potential disaster anymore.

Tell-tale Signs That Your Pizza Dough Is Beyond Rescue

Pizza dough can go bad quickly if not stored properly. If it’s sitting out for over 8 hours, the chances are high that the dough is spoiled.

how to tell if dough has gone bad

If you’re not using your pizza dough right away, store it in the fridge for 3-5 days. This will slow down the activity of yeast and keep the dough fresh longer.

Signs of Bad Pizza DoughDescription
Sour or off smellIf the dough has a sour or off smell, it may have gone bad due to bacteria or yeast growth.
Strange or abnormal colorIf the dough has a strange or abnormal color, such as gray or green, it may have gone bad due to bacteria or mold growth.
Sticky or slimy textureIf the dough is sticky or slimy, it may have gone bad due to bacteria or yeast growth.
Hard or dry textureIf the dough is hard or dry, it may have gone bad due to drying out or being left out for too long.
Powdery or chalkyIf the dough has a powdery or chalky texture, it may have gone bad due to drying out or being left out for too long.

The best way to tell if your dough has gone bad is by looking at its appearance and smell. If it’s dried out, cracked, or moldy, then you should discard it immediately because there’s no fixing that kind of damage. Below I have summed up the unmistakable signs of spoiled pizza dough:

1. Change in Texture and Mold Growth

The easiest way to tell if a pizza dough has gone bad is by looking at its texture. If the dough is severely dry, cracked, or become moldy, then you should discard it immediately because there’s no fixing that kind of damage. Due to the high moisture content of pizza dough, it’s highly susceptible to mold growth. 

mold grow in Pizza Dough

Mold can be identified by its off-white or black color and fuzzy texture. If you notice that your pizza dough has developed mold growth, don’t think twice and throw it away. Mold is not only unsightly but also dangerous because it can cause food poisoning if ingested.

2. Color

If your dough has a greenish tinge, it’s likely that the flour used to make it was contaminated with mold spores. This could happen if you use a cheap brand of flour or if you leave your pizza dough out for too long before using it.

If you notice specks of grey on a completely dry and cracked surface, it means that the dough is way past its prime.

A greyish appearance can also be a sign of over-proofed dough or freezer burn. Either way, the dough is of no use to you now. A well-proofed dough should be light yellow, while an under-proofed dough will be on the whiter side of the spectrum.

3. Smell

Spoiled pizza dough will smell sour and alcoholic. That’s because over-proofed dough undergoes a chemical reaction that creates acetic and lactic acid. If you notice this smell, it’s best to throw the dough away.

A sour smell is also a sign of bacteria growth and should be avoided at all costs. Even though appearance can be deceptive at times, a bad smell will never be misleading.

How Long Can You Store Pizza Dough in the Refrigerator?

If you plan on making pizza shortly, it’s best to store your dough in the refrigerator. This will slow down the growth of yeast and prevent it from spoiling too quickly. 

How To Store Pizza Dough In The Fridge Overnight | Food Talks

You can keep your dough in the fridge for up to five days before using it, but be sure to bring it back to room temperature before using it. For best results, try to bake the dough within three days of refrigeration.

How Long Can You Freeze Homemade Pizza Dough?

Your homemade pizza dough will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure to freeze it only after letting it rise for at least an hour. This will allow the yeast to activate, which will make for a more flavorful crust when you’re ready to use it again. 

To freeze the dough, cut it into small balls and put them in freezer bags or wrap them tightly with cling film. Use a double layer of cling film and put the dough into a freezer-safe bowl to keep the moisture out and minimize the risk of freezer burn.

How to Thaw a Frozen Pizza Dough?

There are a couple of ways to defrost frozen pizza dough. The method you choose will depend on how quickly you need to use the dough. Here are your options:

The Cold/Warm Bath Method

To speed up the thawing up, fill a bowl with cold water and place the wrapped pizza dough in it. You can also use warm water for the same. Just make sure the water isn’t hot to the touch. The cold/warm water bath method should defrost the dough in 1.5 to 2 hours or less. 

Once the dough has softened, transfer it to an empty bowl and let it sit on the countertop for 30 minutes before rolling it out. Word of caution: make sure the dough is sealed properly before leaving it in water. Otherwise, the water may leak into the dough.

Thaw in the Refrigerator

This method takes a little longer, but it’s the easier way. Just put the sealed dough in a dry bowl and place it in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 6 hours. Once thawed, remove from freezer and let sit on the countertop for 30 minutes before rolling out.

Microwave

This is perhaps the quickest way to thaw pizza dough. But it’s also the riskiest because the heat can cook the dough, so be careful. For this method, take the dough out of the freezer bag or unwrap it, and put it on a microwave-safe plate. 

Cover it with a bowl to protect it from direct heat. Turn on your microwave’s defrost setting and defrost the dough in 30-sec increments for about 3 minutes. Place the dough in a dry bowl once thawed and let it sit for about 30 min on the counter before baking. That will do the trick.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Pizza Dough?

If your pizza dough has gone past its expiry date, it’s wiser to just let it go instead of trying to fix it. Eating pizzas made out of spoiled dough can cause food poisoning.

Common food poisoning signs include cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In rare cases, you may also experience fever, muscle pain, dry mouth, and headaches.

A rotten dough could be a breeding ground for E. Coli bacteria. It can be very dangerous because this species can survive in your stomach longer than other types of bacteria. 

If left undiagnosed, it can cause a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a condition that affects the kidneys and red blood cells, causing the latter to break down prematurely.

The longer you leave E. Coli bacteria in your system, the higher your chance of getting HUS. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to getting HUS, but it can happen to anyone. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above after consuming spoiled pizza dough, see a doctor immediately.

How to Prolong Pizza Dough Expiration?

Moisture and air are the biggest enemies of pizza dough. If your dough is stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly, it will stay fresh longer. Also, make sure that you keep the dough away from heat sources like ovens and stoves. 

The most foolproof way to prolong the life of your pizza dough is by freezing it. 

Tips for Prolonging Pizza Dough ExpirationDescription
Store in the refrigeratorPizza dough should be stored in the refrigerator to slow down the growth of bacteria and yeast.
Use an airtight container or wrapTo prevent the dough from drying out or absorbing other odors, store it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil.
Use within 2-3 daysPizza dough should be used within 2-3 days for the best quality and flavor.
Freeze for longer storagePizza dough can be frozen for longer storage, up to 3 months. To freeze, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil and then place in a freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Follow proper handling and preparation techniques.To prevent contamination, be sure to wash your hands and any utensils or surfaces that come into contact with the dough. Do not leave the dough out at room temperature for extended periods of time.

As you may already know, all biological activities are slowed down at sub-zero temperatures. This includes the growth of microorganisms that cause spoilage. If you want to keep your pizza dough for a long time, store it in the freezer and use it within three months.

Related FAQs

How long is takeout pizza good for?

The general rule of thumb is that takeout pizza will last for up to two days. Make sure to store it in the fridge and heat it up properly before consumption.

If you are going to refrigerate overnight only and you have a thing for cold pizza, like me, it’s safe to consume it cold. I have been doing this for years, and I’m still fit enough to write this article.

How long does refrigerated pizza last?

Ideally, you should consume the pizza within 2 days of refrigeration. However, according to the USDA food safety guidelines, the leftover pizza will last in the fridge for up to 4 days if refrigerated within 2-hours of baking. 

After the 2-day mark, it will start losing taste and texture. If you want to keep the pizza for a longer period, it’s better to freeze the leftovers. Yes, you heard it heard. You can also freeze cooked pizza for up to a month.

How long is cheese pizza good for in the fridge?

If stored below 40 degrees F, cheese pizza will stay good for about four days. 

Conclusion

Pizza dough is a perishable item, which means that it can go bad over time. If you plan on using your pizza dough within 5 days of refrigeration, it’s best to freeze it by tightly wrapping it with two layers of cling film or pop it in a ziplock bag. 

Do not be tempted to try and fix a bad pizza dough. If it’s too dry, has specks of green or grey on it, and smells sour, toss it out. Life is too short to get food poisoning from spoiled pizza dough. 

Tim Anderson
Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson is the founder of pizzapeopleaz® and has been in the pizza industry since 1998. Since then, his mission has been to make a pizza lover's guy into a personal pizzaiolo. And each year, he continues to help more people with Pizza chemistry, pizza Crust, pizza oven, and oven troubleshooting.

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