How Long Can Dough Sit Out?

Not sure how long to let your dough sit out? Can it be left out on the kitchen counter? Should I put it in the fridge?? Well, I’ve collated the most common questions asked about storing dough. We’ll cover the safety reasons for leaving dough out, the types of dough that are ok to leave out and cover what happens when bread rises as well. I’ll also touch base on how artisan bakers treat their dough.

If you’re new to the site and you want to get the latest bread baking tips, pop your email address in the box at the bottom of the article. In the meantime, let’s cover the topic of leaving bread dough on the counter.

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support and I hope you enjoy the article!

How long can dough sit out on the counter?

The maximum amount of time dough can sit out the fridge for is four hours for yeast made bread, six for sourdough. Temperature, the characteristics of the sugars in the flour, amount of yeast and the humidity of the room alter the length of the rise.

The 7 Things You’re (Probably) Doing Wrong!

Improve Your Baking Skills With My Free Email Course- Sign Up Here!

Bread is a fantastically nutritious food source that many enjoy making at home. It’s especially fun to eat, and a lot of us take great pride in using our hands to turn the raw ingredients of flour, water, salt and yeast into delicious warm bread for our family.

Does a four hour maximum rise include the first and second rise?

A standard loaf of bread will have a first rise (bulk fermentation) of 2 hours followed by a second rise of 1 ½ to 2 hours. Artisan bakers or those with cooler kitchens may find that it takes longer for the bread to double in size.

How long can artisan bread be left out for?

Artisan bread makers use temperatures below 25C (77F) which is cooler than many standard commercial bread producers. They will also use less yeast in their recipes. This means the bread has a slower rise to develop flavour and can be left out for longer than four hours.

How yeast works in bread making

Simple sugars, broken down from the starch in the flour penetrate the cell walls of the yeast. This starts the process of aerobic respiration. Here, carbon dioxide gas is created alongside ethanol. Enzymes start to break down other types of sugar in the flour creating organic acids which add flavour and maturity to the dough.

Can dough sit too long?

If dough is left to rise for too long it will cause issues with the taste and appearance of the bread. Excess fermentation occurring in either the first or second rise can lead to a sour, unpleasant taste if the dough gets left for a long time. Over-proofed loaves have a gummy or dense texture.

I’ve left my dough out overnight, what should I do?!

If you’ve left your dough out for a long time, chances are that it will be overly gassy and smell a little alcoholic. The best solution here is to get the oven heated and get it baked as soon as possible. Perhaps place it in a tray that’s heavily greased with olive oil to make an impromptu focaccia.

How long can dough sit after refrigeration?

If dough has been kept in the refrigerator overnight it will take up to two hours to warm up. If the temperature of the room is cold and the size of the prepared dough is large it may be able to sit out for longer. Low amounts of levain award the dough a longer (slower) proofing duration.

How long can I keep bread dough in the refrigerator?

After the dough is kneaded, place in a mixing bowl that’s large enough to allow it to double. Cover with plastic wrap or tight-fitting seal and place in the refrigerator. The dough will last three days in the refrigerator and can last up to five, though, a slight degradation in quality should be expected.

How long can pizza dough be left out?

Authentic Napoli style pizza dough contains a small amount of yeast so is able to be left out longer than standard bread dough. If the temperature is cool enough a pizza dough can be left for up to 24 hours.

Can I leave pizza dough out all day or overnight?

Yes. Use yeast at a rate that’s below 1% of the weight of the flour. The temperature of the proofing environment should be below 18C to prevent it from over-proofing.

Can you leave dough to rise overnight at room temperature?

Dough that’s left to rise at room temperature typically takes between two and four hours to double in size. If left overnight, dough rises so high forcing it will likely collapse on the weight of itself, making the dough deflate. For best results always keep dough in the refrigerator when leaving to rise overnight.

Can I leave dough with eggs in it overnight?

If the eggs were previously stored in the refrigerator they will sweat as they warm to the temperature of the room which encourages bacteria to grow. It is best not to leave dough out that contains eggs for more than two hours.

Source: U.S. Department of agriculture

What can I do with dough that’s overproofed?

If the dough becomes overly gassy during the bulk fermentation phase, consider popping it in an oiled tray to turn it into focaccia. Pizza, though not as open airy can work well too. Worst case, bake it in a tin and it can always be turned into croutons.


The standard time dough can be left out for is 4 hours. But this can change depending on the ingredients used and the baking methods used. The use of science to study the bacteria growth generated during the baking process should be acknowledged. Though there is an element of watching the dough to see when it’s ready to move onto the next stage of the process.

To find out more about the length of time dough should sit out you may want to view the articles I’ve written on proofing and bulk fermentation.

Let me know in the comments below if I’ve answered your question and don’t forget to subscribe to the weekly email below.

Coffee powers me and my team to write baking articles like this one for no cost. If you found this article helpful and would like to treat us to a coffee, you can do so using the link below. Every coffee is thoroughly appreciated! Thanks!!

Buy Me A Coffee


  1. How long can I leave my dough out after it leaves the fridge and gets warm? Let’s say I have dough in fridge for 24-48 hours, then I take it out to warm up for 2 hours…after those 2 hours, how long can I keep it out to avoid over-rising? 4hrs?

  2. I can’t give you an exact time, there are so many variables such as the temperature of the fridge, the room temperature, how much the dough has been developed before it went in the fridge, the size of the dough piece and the amount or type of levain.

    That said, around 4 hours is usually good. You’re best looking at the dough, when it doubles in size, it needs to go in the oven.

  3. Hi there. If i make burger buns and want to refrigerate the dough before baking. Should I refrigerate the after the first rise or after the second (when i split them into individual buns)

    Many thanks and loved the post Very helpful!


  4. Thank you! You can do either. You should get better results after you’ve divided them. But, you’ll have to keep them covered to prevent them from drying out so it’s easier to do this during the first rise.

  5. Thanks a lot for your response. I appreciate it. One more question. If I par-bake pizza crust (2 mins, 500F on a stone)…and then I package it to freeze it. What is happening in the time as it gets packaged? What will be different if it sits around 5 mins or 50 mins before it gets into freezer?

    Also, what would be the “shelf-life” of a frozen par-baked crust? should I expect it to be more chewy the longer it stays in the freezer? is 6 months good?

    fyi this crust is (74% hydration, 5.7% olive oil, 2.6% sugar, 2.5% salt, 1.3% yeast).

  6. I’d wait for them to cool down and moisture to escape before packaging and putting them in the freezer if you can. I used to make sourdough pizza bases were packed in batches of 40 and frozen. It will degrade in the freezer, depending on the thickness of the base I’d say 6 months should be good as you have lots of olive oil, sugar and salt, but you’d have to test and see.
    Note: Most frozen breads will have ascorbic acid in the dough to help them stay fresh in the freezer. I forget the science behind why, but it’s worth doing a bit of research.

  7. Can you put yeast roll dough in the fridge over night if it has done the first rise? The dough dose have eggs in it

  8. I wanted to make a foccacia before work and cook it 7 hours later. What’s the best way to let it rise? Leave it in the fridge for that time? Thanks

  9. Sure, place it covered in an oiled tray in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge when you get home from work and place it in a warm place, ideally for 2 hours, but you can bake it earlier if you wish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *