How Long to Let Bread Cool

I know the most difficult part of baking anything is waiting for it to cool, but cooling your baked goods – especially bread – is critical to the process. That said, you should always cool your bread on a rack for around an hour (this number can change based on the type of bread).

Hi! My name is Michelle and to say I am a bread fanatic would be a major understatement. I love all kinds of breads, whether it’s a zesty lemon treat for breakfast or a robust bread for making sandwiches. That said, I make and cool lots of bread and I’m here to share!

Letting your bread cool is a critical process in bread baking, so knowing how long is the “correct” amount of time is imperative. This article will teach you how long to let bread cool based on the kind of bread you’re making, as well as some other interesting information about bread cooling.

Let’s get cool – bread, that is.

How Long Should You Let Your Bread Cool?

How long your bread needs to cool is solely dependent on the kind of bread you’re baking. Here’s a rough estimate.

Small Rolls/Loaves20 Minutes
Bread baked in loaf pan1 Hour
Large free-form loaf1 to 3 Hours
Sourdough loaf6 to 8 Hours
Rye flour loaves24 to 48 Hours

Really, the goal is to let your bread cool for as long as possible. Of course, waiting two days for Rye bread to cool is asking a lot. These times are simply rough estimates. As long as the bread is at room temperature, it is perfectly fine to start slicing.

Why Does Bread Need to Cool Before Slicing?

I know, it’s difficult not to slice into your freshly baked, perfectly warm bread. But by doing so, you will be doing your bread a huge disservice. The fact is, there are a few key reasons why bread needs to cool entirely before being sliced and consumed. 

Natural Steam Release

Cutting into a warm loaf of bread will allow steam to release rapidly. What does this mean for your bread? It can dry out much quicker than you’d like. 

By allowing the bread to cool, steam can be released slowly and naturally. This seals in moisture and freshness, leaving you with a beautiful texture that can last for a few days longer than the latter.

Increased Flavor

Did you know that plenty of the delicious flavors of bread occur after baking, instead of during? As the bread cools down, flavors continue to develop. This is even truer for sourdough and rye bread that have intricate flavors.

Gelatinizing Starch Molecules

What? I know this sounds like you just stepped into your sixth-grade science class, but I’ll make it simple to understand. 

  • Starch molecules in the bread absorb at around 150F.
  • Starch retrogradation, or the release of moisture, occurs below 150F.

Basically, your bread will begin the starch retrogradation process while it’s cooling. This process ensures that the bread reaches the correct texture. Slicing during the starch retrogradation will halt the process and give your bread a gummy, sticky, or otherwise undesirable texture.

Where Should Bread Cool?

Now you know how long to cool your bread and why it is 100% important to let it cool entirely before slicing and eating. But where you cool your bread is also of utmost importance.

Don’t let your bread stay in the pan while cooling, otherwise, you may end up with a soggy crust (yuck!).

Instead, always let your bread cool on a wire rack. A wire rack allows for proper air circulation around the entire loaf of bread rather than just the top. By doing so, you will let the bread cool down and crisp up as it is supposed to. (Yum!)

FAQs

Needless to say, cooling bread is a key part of baking bread. But if you’re still curious about how long to let the bread cool, check out these frequently asked questions below.

How do you cool bread after baking?

It’s pretty simple, really. All you need to do is place your bread on a cooling rack and let it sit for the correct amount of time. When the bread comes to room temperature, you can start to slice it. If you want to eat warm bread, let it cool entirely and warm up a single slice in the oven.

What happens if you don’t Cool bread?

If you don’t cool bread all the way, you will likely end up with a gummy or sticky bread that lacks flavor. It will also dry out a lot quicker than bread that has been allowed to properly cool.

Should I wait for bread to cool before storing?

Absolutely, yes! Storing bread that has not cooled all the way can become soggy with an undesirable texture. That said, wait for the bread to cool before slicing and storing. Keep it in a bread box or brown paper bag for the best results.

How long can bread sit out after baking?

Bread can be left at room temperature for up to four days. It shouldn’t be left sitting on the countertop, though. Place it in a bread box or brown paper bag. If storing in the freezer, wrap it with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to lock in moisture and avoid freezer burn.

Should you cover bread while cooling?

You should not cover bread while it’s cooling or you may end up with too much moisture and sogginess. Some bakers say that placing a clean dish towel over the bread is fine, but personally, I do not do this. 

Final Words

Letting your bread cool entirely is important for the final result in terms of flavor and texture. The amount of time your bread needs to cool changes depending on the type of bread. However, most bread will need at least an hour, and the longer you wait, the better.

Do you make homemade bread? How long do you let it cool? 

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Kathy Dunham

    In your instructions for cooking bread you never mention at what point you remove it from the pan. Do you let it cool for 15 minutes or so before taking it out of the pan or do you remove it right out of the oven?

    Reply
    • Michelle

      Hi Kathy,
      Great question! Let it cool for five to ten minutes before moving to the wire rack.
      Happy baking,
      Michelle

      Reply