Why Didn’t My Pizza Dough Rise?

Picture this: You’ve got your flour ready, your favorite toppings, and an energetic spirit to create the perfect homemade pizza.

You mix and knead, you let the dough rest, and you come back ready to create an artisanal masterpiece- but wait, something’s off. Your pizza dough hasn’t risen.

The excitement fades, and frustration begins to creep in. Don’t fret – you’re not alone.

Many pizza enthusiasts have faced this uncertainty before. Sometimes, it can be challenging to identify why your dough didn’t rise- but we’re here to help.

Let us delve into the numerous reasons why your pizza dough didn’t rise and offer a few tips to ensure that the next time you make dough, it rises perfectly. So, let’s get started and bake the perfect pizza from scratch.

How Does Pizza Dough Rise?

Fermentation, or rising, is a complex process influenced by a wide range of factors. Shortly, yeast eats sugars from flour and converts them to CO2 that inflates and increases the volume of your pizza dough.

Why Didn’t My Pizza Dough Balls Rise?

  • A lack of yeast fermentation may have resulted in your dough balls not rising. A variety of factors cause inadequate fermentation, but these are the most common.
  • The dough is too cold when it comes out of the mixer. If you want overnight, refrigerated dough, aim for an 80F temperature.
  • The dough was stored at a low temperature. Ensure that your walk cooler is not too cold. If you plan to use the dough balls right away, you will need to let them set longer at room temperature.
  • Your formula does not contain enough yeast. In future batches, increase the yeast by 10% increments to see if the rise is correct.

Here are the a few other reasons for dough not rising,

Too Cold Water

The yeast will slow down if the water is too cold. Eventually, the yeast will begin to work normally, but only after the dough has reached room temperature.

So, if you use cold water to start, the dough will rise slowly compared to lukewarm or room temperature water. Kneading the dough increases its temperature, one thing to keep in mind.

Therefore, starting with cool water might not be a bad idea. AVPN (The True Neapolitan Pizza Association) recommends starting with 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) water when baking Neapolitan pizza.

It will allow the dough to rise to the optimal temperature when you finish kneading.

Too Cold Rising Temperature

Your pizza dough may not rise because the room in which it’s rising is too cold. Yeast will grow slower at lower temperatures. A cold room will make the dough cool even if you start out with warm water.

Bad Water

The water you use will affect your yeast. Tap water quality varies by location. There are numerous factors that influence fermentation time, including hard water, pH, and chemicals added to the water. When in doubt, try bottled water instead of tap water.

Dead Yeast

Dead yeast is usually the cause of pizza dough that does not rise. Too hot water can kill yeast, or the yeast may be old and inactive.

Too Hot Water

It is possible for yeast to die if exposed to too high a temperature. Different types of yeast die at different temperatures.

But most types will die between 120 and 140°F (50-60°C). The yeast will die if you mix it with too hot water, resulting in a flat dough.

The Yeast Is Bad or Too Old

As yeast ages, it will cease to function. In particular, fresh yeast has a shelf-life of about 3 weeks. The shelf life of dry yeast is much longer, often 12 months, but too long, and the yeast goes bad.

How To Check If The Yeast Is Good

Check your yeast’s activity by filling a glass with warm water, yeast, and sugar (to feed it). Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. The foam should appear if the yeast is active.

Not Enough Yeast

You can speed up the rise of the dough by adding more yeast. It is therefore possible that the dough will not rise at all if not enough yeast is added.

How Much Yeast Do You Need For Pizza Dough?

Two factors determine how much yeast you need: the temperature at which your dough rises and the length of time it rises.

A typical Neapolitan pizza rises for 8-24 hours, and therefore requires very little yeast. Slow and steady is what you want. A slow rise usually requires around 0.2% yeast (in baker’s percentages).

Homemade pizza, on the other hand, usually takes 1-2 hours to rise, so you need much more yeast than Neapolitan-style pizza since more yeast is necessary to make it rise that fast.

It is common for this kind of pizza to contain between 3-5% yeast. Slow fermentation might be worth a try because the slow process adds more flavor, but we’ll talk about that another time.

You need different amounts of yeast depending on the temperature at which the dough is rising.

Your recipe may require more yeast if your water is colder than usual. Additionally, if the water is unusually hot, you may need to lower the yeast quantity.

You Didn’t Knead The Dough Enough

When you knead the dough, gluten develops. This is also important for the dough to rise. As yeast converts sugar into CO2, the gas must be trapped in the dough to rise. Gluten plays a part in this.

Wheat flour contains gluten, a type of protein. Gluten develops a strong network of gluten strands when hydrated and kneaded. Kneading the dough strengthens this network. In this network of small walls, CO2 is trapped, and the dough expands.

When the dough ferments, it is like a balloon that yeast is filling with gas. You won’t be able to hold onto the gas if you don’t knead the dough enough. As soon as the yeast starts producing gas, it will leak out.

Try inflating a balloon that is equipped with holders – it won’t work very well. Therefore, it’s important to knead the dough enough to develop gluten. Hand kneading usually takes 15-20 minutes.

Too Short Rising Time

Most likely, you didn’t give your dough enough time to rise. Neapolitan-style pizza requires patience, especially if you want to make it the right way.

How Is To Fix Pizza Dough That Not Rising?

A flat, dry crust will result from a non-rising pizza dough. You wouldn’t expect this from a great pizza! So, here are a few things you can do about it.

Give The Dough More Time To Rise

Be patient! Let the dough rise for a little longer if you’ve done everything above.

Check That The Yeast Is Working

Like in most bread recipes, Neapolitan-style pizza recipes don’t require a lukewarm water bath for the yeast to rehydrate. Therefore, checking your yeast’s effectiveness is a little harder.

Dry Yeast

You can check if your dry yeast is still active by putting a little bit in lukewarm water and watching if it develops. It shouldn’t take long for the yeast to become visible and smellable.

Your pizza should turn out fine if the yeast is working, and the other items should also work. Since dry yeast has such a long shelf-life, I personally use it all the time. My favorite yeast is Caputo Lievito.

Fresh Yeast

It’s usually easy to tell if yeast is fresh or not by looking and smelling it. The outside of the yeast becomes dark and dries out with age. It indicates that your yeast has gone bad, so if you try to bake with it, it will not work.

Add More Yeast To The Pizza Dough

If you think it contains too little yeast, add yeast to your dough by dissolving it in lukewarm water. If you suspect your yeast isn’t working properly, I recommend you check it as described previously.

Adding more water to the dough might also require adding more flour to prevent the dough from becoming too hydrated.

Increase The Temperature

You should first check the temperature where your dough is rising if it is not rising. The temperature should be between 73-75°F (23-24°C).

How To Increase The Temperature

To raise the temperature, you can place a cup of boiling water in the oven with the dough. By trapping heat in the oven, you will create a warmer environment for your dough.

Continue Kneading The Pizza Dough

The dough needs to be kneaded for at least 15-20 minutes in order to develop enough gluten in it. Make sure you knead the dough more if you have not already. Poke tests and windowpane tests can be used to check for gluten development.


In the end, creating the perfect pizza dough is all about precision, patience, and practice. If your pizza dough didn’t rise as expected, don’t get discouraged or disheartened; instead, use it as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Remember, there are numerous factors that can impact the rise of your dough, from temperature to moisture and even the quality of your ingredients.

By following the tips we’ve mentioned, such as using the correct yeast, kneading effectively, and giving it ample rising time, you’ll be well on the way to creating beautifully fluffy pizza dough.

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