Dough in the Fridge: A Guide to Its Shelf Life

How long does dough last in the refrigerator?
Knowing how long dough will last in the refrigerator is essential for any home cook who regularly makes pizzas, breads, flatbreads, cookies, and more. Properly storing dough and understanding its optimal use can make a significant difference in the outcome of your baked goods. In this article, we will explore the shelf life of different types of dough and provide valuable tips on how to store dough and determine when it has gone bad.

Typical yeast dough

Yeast dough, commonly used for bread and pizza, will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days if stored properly. To ensure its freshness, it’s important to store yeast dough in a properly oiled and sealed container. Here’s a step-by-step guide to storing yeast dough:

  1. Knead the dough to the desired consistency.
  2. Lightly oil a container and place the dough in it.
  3. Cover the container with plastic wrap to seal.
  4. Store the container in the refrigerator at about 40°F (4°C).

It’s important to note that the dough should be allowed to rise before refrigeration. The rising process can take up to 12 hours, so allow enough time for the dough to double in size before refrigerating. If you plan to freeze pizza dough, it’s a good idea to shape it first for added convenience.
If stored properly, yeast dough can maintain its quality for a few days in the refrigerator. However, after 2-3 days, the dough will begin to harden, lose its texture and taste. It can still be used, but it won’t produce the same results as freshly kneaded dough.

Non-Yeast Dough

Non-yeast dough, such as flatbread dough, has a slightly different shelf life than yeast-based dough. Flatbread dough made with water, salt, sugar, and all-purpose flour will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. However, it’s recommended that non-yeast dough be used within 3-4 days of kneading for best results.
If you have leftover non-yeast dough that you would like to store, follow these steps:

  1. Add a splash of water to the dough to loosen the gluten strands in the dough.
  2. Gently knead the dough to incorporate the water.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl.
  4. Store the container in the refrigerator.

Over time, the non-yeast dough may darken slightly due to oxidation, but it will remain edible for about a week. If you notice a darkened layer on the top, you can either cut it off or incorporate it into a fresh batch of dough to avoid waste.
Non-yeast dough can also be stored in the freezer for about 2-3 months. However, it’s recommended to divide the dough into smaller balls before freezing for easier handling. Place the smaller portions in a lightly oiled freezer-safe plastic bag and thaw overnight in the refrigerator when you’re ready to use. Avoid thawing the dough in the microwave as this can cause excessive moisture loss.

How to tell if dough has gone bad

It’s important to check if dough has gone bad before using it in your recipes. Here are some methods to determine the freshness of dough:

Visual inspection

Visually inspect the dough for signs of mold. Any green discoloration, fluffiness, or growth on the dough indicates spoilage. If you see mold on the dough, it’s best to discard the entire batch, as the mold may have already contaminated the entire dough, even if it’s only visible on the surface.

Tactile Inspection

Edible dough should feel dry, smooth, and slightly oily if oil has been added to the container. If you find slime or sticky material on the dough, it may indicate the growth of harmful bacteria. The presence of slime may also be accompanied by a foul odor. In such cases, it’s best to discard the dough and make a fresh one.

Extending the shelf life of dough

If you want to extend the shelf life of dough, there are a few methods you can try:

Commercial bread improvers

Commercial-grade bread improvers are special ingredients that not only improve the baking and flavor of dough, but also extend its shelf life. These additives help retain moisture and prevent staling, allowing dough to last longer without compromising quality. When using bread improvers, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Freezing dough is an excellent way to extend its shelf life. However, it’s important to follow proper freezing techniques to preserve its texture and flavor. Here’s how to freeze dough:

  1. Divide the dough into individual portions or shape it according to your intended use.
  2. Wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap or place in freezer bags.
  3. Label the packages with the date and contents to keep track.
  4. Store wrapped dough in the freezer.

When you’re ready to use the frozen dough, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Avoid thawing at room temperature or in the microwave, as rapid temperature changes can affect the quality of the dough.
By following these guidelines, you can maximize the shelf life of your dough and reduce food waste. Whether you’re working with yeast or non-yeast dough, proper storage techniques and regular inspections will ensure that your dough stays fresh and safe for consumption.

Bottom line

Understanding how long dough will keep in the refrigerator is essential for any home baker. Knowing the optimal storage conditions and usage times will help you get the most out of your dough and create delicious baked goods. Remember to store yeast dough in a properly oiled and sealed container in the refrigerator, while non-yeast dough can be stored for up to a week. Perform visual and tactile inspections to determine if the dough has gone bad and discard it if necessary. With proper storage methods and care, you can enjoy fresh dough for your culinary creations.


How long can yeast dough keep in the fridge?

Typical yeast dough will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days if stored in a closed container.

What happens to dough after it has been in the fridge for several days?

After 2-3 days the dough will start to harden, lose its texture and flavour.

Does non-yeast dough keep longer in the fridge?

Non-yeast dough, such as flatbread dough, can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, but it’s best to use it within 3-4 days for best results.

How can I tell if dough has gone bad?

Visually inspect the dough for mould or unusual discolouration. In addition, if the dough feels slimy or has a foul odour, this may indicate spoilage.

Can I freeze dough to extend its shelf life?

Yes, freezing dough is a great way to extend its shelf life. Divide the dough into portions, wrap tightly and place in the freezer. Thaw frozen dough overnight in the fridge before using.

Are there any additives or techniques that can extend the shelf life of dough?

Commercial bread improvers can help retain moisture and prevent staling, thereby extending the shelf life of the dough. Freezing is also an effective way of maintaining dough quality for longer.