Can You Leave Bread Dough To Rise Overnight?

Ah, the smell of fresh-baked bread is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. But, as anyone who’s ever attempted to bake bread at home knows, it’s not always a straightforward process. 

One common question that arises is whether you can leave bread dough to rise overnight. Some say it’s the key to achieving a perfect loaf, while others insist it’s a recipe for disaster. 

So, what’s the truth? Can you leave bread dough to rise overnight? Today we’ll explore the science behind bread dough and uncover the pros and cons of leaving it to rise for an extended period. 

Whether you’re a seasoned bread baker or a newbie looking to try your hand at homemade bread, read on to find out everything you need to know about leaving bread dough to rise overnight.

How Long Does Bread Dough Rise?

It depends; that’s the short answer. You can influence the proofing time of your bread dough by adjusting the temperature of your kitchen and the freshness of your yeast, as well as the humidity and water temperature.

It is possible to proof the dough in one hour (or less!) if your kitchen is warm. The process can take much longer at lower temperatures-upwards of two hours or even three hours.

Can I Leave My Bread To Rise Overnight?

The short answer is yes, you can let your bread rise overnight in the fridge. Prior to baking, though, be sure to bring the dough back to room temperature. 

In order to get a slightly sour flavor, you can allow your dough to rise at room temperature, but before you bake it, you’ll need to punch it down, reshape it, and allow it to rise again.

When the dough is kneaded underneath hands, the pressing, the rolling sensation is a tangible reminder that bread is still to be baked. 

As soon as the dough is kneaded and left to proof, it often becomes a forgotten bowl in the corner of a warm kitchen. 

The flavor and texture of dough that has been forgotten overnight depends on the temperature it was kept at, the ingredients and the desired texture.


When combined in room temperature dough overnight, ingredients that do not require refrigeration should be fine. It can go bad if left out for several hours if the dough contains milk-based products, like sour cream or yogurt. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, milk products that are left out at room temperature should not be consumed. This is not a problem if the dough has been kept in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less overnight.


When the dough is left to rise at room temperature, it typically takes two to four hours to double in size. Leaving this rise at room temperature for 12 hours may cause it to deflate slightly, but it will remain leavened. 

In some cases, it is best to leave the dough to rise overnight or to store it in the refrigerator. Due to the cooler temperature of the fridge, yeast is slower to work, resulting in a slower rise for the dough. 

Dough that’s been left in the fridge overnight will behave similarly to dough that’s been left to proof for the standard two to four hours in a warm place.

Flavor and Texture

When the refrigerated dough is left overnight, it will have a similar flavor and texture to the original recipe. If the dough is left on the counter for too long, it will develop a sour taste. 

It is possible that the bread’s texture will become thicker during the second rise and that it won’t rise as much in the final baking. 

Additionally, suppose you leave it overnight during the second proof. In that case, it will have a different shape than you expected since over-proofing expands the bubbles beyond what is normal, causing them to collapse when baked.


Leave the dough overnight without milk products if you don’t mind a slightly more sour, fermented flavor.

It is sometimes recommended to leave the dough out to get this flavor. You can make cinnamon buns by leaving dough to rise overnight to avoid a long morning preparation process.

Can I Refrigerate My Bread Dough And Bake It Later?

Yes, of course! It can be done with almost any recipe.

You can let your dough rise in the fridge for a variety of reasons, including developing flavor, working around a tricky schedule, or remembering that you were supposed to pick up a friend at the airport halfway through a bread recipe. 

Fortunately, it is also quite practical. You would choose a long (8- to 12-hour) refrigerator rise instead of a 1- to 3-hour rise at room temperature. 

As a result of the slow refrigerated rise, the process is called cold fermentation. The process has many advantages, including flexibility and taste. It is possible to incorporate this technique into just about any bread recipe.

When Can I Refrigerate My Dough?  

Typically, bread recipes call for two rises, a first rise (also called bulk fermentation) and a second or final rise. 

It is possible to chill your dough during the first or second rise. You should only do one rise in the fridge, and the other at room temperature if possible. Your yeast will not appreciate both rises in the fridge.

Is Refrigerating Dough Right for You?  

You can expect a boost in flavor whether you refrigerate the dough during the first or second rise. By fermenting your dough, you create organic acids that strengthen it and give it a very unique flavor. 

Are you still not convinced? Using the same recipe, try making two loaves. Immediately bake one loaf and overnight rise the other. When you bake the second loaf, you’ll be amazed how much more flavor develops!

When you refrigerate the dough to save time, consider your schedule carefully. If you have extra time tomorrow but are in a rush today, a first-rise refrigeration will work well.

Go for second-rise refrigeration if you have time to spare today, but only a short window to bake the next day.

How Long Should Pizza Dough Rest In The Fridge?

Pizza dough can be placed in the refrigerator and allowed to rise overnight for up to 24 hours. Let it come to room temperature 20-30 minutes before you intend to use it. Doing this lets you make your pizza dough a day in advance. This is a great way to entertain guests.

Leaving Your Dough Out At Room Temperature: Is It Safe?

It is not a good idea to leave bread dough out, unless you take the right steps to prevent it from over-fermenting, so it is better to store it somewhere cooler, like in your refrigerator, rather than leaving it out.

Bread dough is generally safe to leave overnight, but it depends on the ingredients.

It’ll last quite a while at room temperature if it only contains flour, water, salt, and yeast (and oil). For the most part, it’s safe to bake and eat after sitting out for some time if none of your ingredients are contaminated with bad bacteria.

You shouldn’t let enriched dough sit out for more than a couple of hours. You should store this dough in your refrigerator for safety because it often contains ingredients that spoil quickly, making it a breeding ground for bacteria.

Tips For Leaving Your Bread Dough Out Overnight

You’ll want to make sure that your dough is in the best condition whether it’s stored in a refrigerator or somewhere cold.

You can easily make small mistakes, but they can also ruin your dough, which will ultimately ruin your bread, so here are some tips for ensuring that your dough lasts as long as possible.

Separate The Dough Into Smaller Portions If You Can

If you are working with a large quantity of dough, you may have to wait a long time for a large volume of dough to chill in your refrigerator or cold place.

It takes so long to cool that the yeast can continue working at their normal speed, which increases the likelihood of over proofing. To cool the dough more quickly, it is a good idea to separate the dough into smaller portions.

Using this method reduces overfermentation risks to a great extent and leaves you with easy-to-handle dough balls. Doing this on the final proof is not a good idea since the dough has already been shaped.

Use Less Yeast

The amount of yeast you use should be reduced if you plan ahead and know that your dough will need to rise overnight.

You slow down the rise by using less yeast, since less gas is produced. You don’t have to worry too much about the dough over proofing since this can lengthen its rising time considerably.

It is still important to store the dough somewhere cool. Leaving the dough at room temperature will likely cause over-proofing even with less yeast, so you should cool it down to reduce yeast activity.


Leaving bread dough to rise overnight can be a game-changer for home bakers. The slow fermentation process that occurs during extended rise times can enhance the flavor, texture, and aroma of the bread. 

However, some risks are involved, such as over-proofing or the dough drying out. Therefore, finding the right balance and following the recipe’s instructions carefully is essential. 

With a bit of practice and patience, you can achieve delicious, artisan-quality bread right in your own kitchen. So, the next time you’re craving a fresh loaf, why not try leaving your bread dough to rise overnight and see what difference it makes? Happy baking!

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