Pizza Dough Not Rising: Why and How to Fix It

If there is one thing that’s true for pizza dough, it’s this: it needs to rise. Can you imagine trying to deal with pizza dough that hasn’t risen? Talk about a tasteless, flat failure. If your pizza dough isn’t rising like it’s supposed to, there can be many reasons behind it. 

Most of the time, it’s an issue with the yeast. Either the yeast was old, you didn’t use enough of it, you used too hot or cold water, or you simply didn’t “activate” it by kneading. Sometimes it’s a simple issue of not waiting long enough or rising in too cold of temperatures.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle, and throughout my years of baking, I have grown fond of making pizzas. While I haven’t run into too many pizza doughs that wouldn’t rise, I had my fair share of a few, especially in the beginning.

Let’s talk about the top reasons why your pizza dough isn’t rising and how you can fix it.

Why Is My Pizza Dough Not Rising?

If you look inside the bowl and notice that your pizza dough isn’t rising, that’s a problem. Good pizza requires a dough that’s properly risen or “proofed.” So what’s the deal? There are actually a few things that may have gone wrong. Let’s take a closer look.

Issues With the Yeast

Yeast can be a pesky ingredient to work with, but it’s essential for causing the rise in your pizza dough. If your pizza dough isn’t rising, it likely has something to do with the finicky yeast. 

  • It’s old. You can’t use old yeast. You just can’t do it. Old yeast will not activate and, therefore, not work. To check if your yeast is alive and well, mix a teaspoon of yeast with sugar in a half cup of water. If it foams, it’s alive.
  • It’s dead. And you killed it. Well, maybe not you, but the hot water you added to your ingredients. Too hot water will kill yeast and halt proofing. Never use water that’s more than 140F.
  • The water is too cold. Now, this isn’t exactly a bad thing. Some would even say it’s a good thing since it will heat up while kneading. However, too cold of water can cause yeast to slow way down, leading to a much longer proofing process.
  • The water is bad. Water riddled with chemicals, contaminants, or too much pH can cause the yeast to die or not work. It’s recommended to use bottled water or filtered water when making pizza dough.
  • Not enough yeast. Sometimes, you’re simply not using enough. Make sure you’re following your pizza dough recipe to a tee. Double-check to make sure you’re using the correct measurements.

Not Enough Kneading

Kneading is 100% essential for making pizza dough. When kneading, yeast converts the sugar in the dough to CO2. The CO2 gas is then trapped in the dough, causing it to rise for an undetermined amount of time (could be anywhere from an hour to 24 hours).

Needless to say, kneading is crucial and shouldn’t be skipped or rushed. In fact, it is recommended to knead the dough for at least 15 minutes for proper gluten development. If you need help kneading (haha), check out this handy video.

It’s Too Cold

Some chefs will tell you that a cold, slowed-down proof is best – and most of the time, I agree. But having hours on end is not always ideal. Sometimes, you need your pizza dough the same night you made it. 

Well, a cold environment can cause the pizza to rise slowly. This is why chefs place pizza dough in the refrigerator when they aren’t on a time crunch. But if your kitchen itself is chilly, even leaving the dough on the countertop can cause the pizza dough to rise too slowly.

What can you do? One great option is to place the dough inside of your oven. Don’t turn it on. Instead, let the dough enjoy the warmer and constant temp of the oven. It will speed up the proofing process. Add a glass of hot water to speed things up more.

You Didn’t Wait Long Enough

If you knead your dough and then stare at it, expecting it to grow like magic, you will be highly disappointed. Proofing will typically take a couple of hours. It’s a relatively slow process, especially in cold temperatures.

Sometimes, the issue is that you didn’t wait long enough. I’d say if you’re checking after less than two hours, you’re checking too soon. If you’ve waited four hours, and still nothing has happened, then it is likely due to your yeast or kneading issues.

How to Fix Pizza Dough That Isn’t Rising

The good news is, most of the time, pizza dough can be fixed. However, you can also nix the fix and make thin-crust pizzas. If you want to fix it, here are some simple solutions:

  • Add more/alive yeast. If your yeast was dead, buy fresh. If you didn’t use enough, add it in. Mix the amount called for with a bit of water and knead it into the dough to activate the proofing process.
  • Knead longer. If you know you didn’t knead like you were supposed to, and for long enough, then get back to work!
  • Wait it out. For those impatient bakers out there that simply didn’t wait long enough, keep waiting.

FAQs

Now you know why your pizza dough isn’t rising and how you can fix it. Want to learn more? Then check out these frequently asked questions below.

Can I still use pizza dough that didn’t rise?

Sure, you can! Just know that it is going to be thin crust pizza since it did not rise. Also, it might not have the same complex flavor profile as pizza dough that has been proofed. It should still turn out pretty good, though.

How can I tell if I killed my yeast?

There isn’t really a clear indicator that you killed your yeast. Most of the time, you won’t know until your dough doesn’t rise. Double-check to make sure the yeast was alive in the first place. Do so by mixing a teaspoon of yeast with sugar in water. If it foams, it’s good (and you probably killed it).

How much should pizza dough rise?

Pizza dough should rise double its size. Typically, this occurs anywhere between one and 24 hours after it’s been kneaded, placed in a bowl or container, and covered.

Does pizza dough expand in fridge?

Yes, it does, but at a much slower pace. However, giving the pizza dough that extra time to rise helps develop complex flavor profiles and a beautifully lightweight and airy texture that is highly enjoyable. 

Final Words

If your pizza dough isn’t rising, there’s no need to panic. Your yeast is likely just dead, or it was killed by accident. You can fix this by kneading some new, fresh yeast into your dough. Oh, and don’t forget to knead for at least 15 minutes and do your best job doing it!

Have you ever dealt with pizza dough that did not rise? What did you do to fix it? Share your stories (good and bad) with us below!

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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