How to Proof Pizza Dough

When it comes to making pizza, one thing should never be forgotten: the proofing stage. While many things go into making pizza dough, this is one of the most important steps. It’s also the easiest because you don’t need to do anything. But how do you do it?

If you’ve stumbled onto this article, then you came here for one thing: to learn how to proof pizza dough. Well, I suggest kneading the pizza dough and breaking it into smaller balls. Then, cover in an airtight container and leave on the counter (or oven) for 1+ hours.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle, and I am a self-taught baker. I’ve been baking for years and have really enjoyed my time spent making pizzas. There’s a lot that goes into making a pizza, but proofing pizza dough is probably the easiest part. And I’m here to share with you how to do it.

Let’s talk about proofing pizza!

What is Proofing?

Before we dive into how let’s talk about what. What exactly is proofing, and why do you need to do it?

Don’t let anyone tell you to skip proofing or be impatient. Pizza dough that has not been successfully proofed all the way can end up with a pizza that’s flat, incredibly dense, and possibly awkwardly shaped. It sounds like a disaster, right?

That’s because proofing is necessary. Sometimes referred to as “proving”, proofing is the process where pizza dough is left to sit to allow the yeast to eat the sugars found in the dough. The yeast then converts the sugars to CO2, giving the dough volume, flavor, and texture.

How to Proof Pizza

Proofing pizza is really easy. As long as you have an airtight container large enough to hold the dough or a bowl and parchment paper, you can proof your dough.

There are two methods: quick and cold. They’re somewhat similar, but the cold method will take quite a while longer. There are benefits to this, though, so keep reading.

Quick Method

The quick method is the method I use most often. Here’s how to do it. 

  1. Start by kneading the dough thoroughly. Kneading is one of the most critical steps in making pizza. Don’t try to cut corners. 
  2. Place the dough in an airtight container. It can also be placed in a large bowl covered with parchment paper or a kitchen towel. The goal is to keep it covered and free from air. Otherwise, it could dry out.
  3. Let it proof on the counter or oven. Make sure that the oven is not turned on, though. The benefit of using an oven is that the temperature will remain constant, producing better results.
  4. Once proofed, split the dough into several small balls. 
  5. Place in separate airtight containers or bowls.
  6. Proof for another hour or so, then stretch and bake.

Now, some bakers will tell you that you can separate the dough into balls without doing the first proof as a single ball of dough. While you can be successful in doing so, the yeast will work much better if it’s left intact for the first proofing.

Cold Method

The cold method takes longer, but in the end, you gain a heightened depth of flavor and a crispier texture. So, if you’re looking for an airier pizza instead of something a bit denser, the cold method might work for you. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Knead the dough. Remember – this step is super important, so take great care of kneading your pizza dough.
  2. Place the dough in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also use a bowl that is covered entirely to avoid dreaded dried-out dough.
  3. Let it ferment for up to 48 hours.
  4. Form into balls and proof at room temperature. Make sure that the dough balls are completely covered. Again, this all has to do with avoiding air hitting the dough and causing it to dry out.

How to Know When Bread is Done Proofing

See? Proofing bread is a cinch. All you need to do is remember that the bread needs to be kneaded properly and placed in an airtight container (or another covered bowl that will block out the air).

That’s great and all, but how do you know when it’s actually done proofing and ready to bake? There are two indicators that your bread is done proofing:

  • It has doubled in size. The entire goal of proofing your pizza dough is for it to double in size. So, if you look at your pizza dough and it has, in fact, doubled, it’s likely done and ready for baking.
  • You do the poke test. The notorious poke test is one of the easiest ways to tell if your bread is done proofing. Simply poke it (somewhat assertively) and wait for the reaction. Does it spring back? Not done. Did it leave a slight indentation? Done!


Okay, you’re all set, bread-proofing masters! But if you still have some questions, don’t worry – I’m here to help you out. I have found some of the most frequently asked questions on the net, and I’m here to share the answers.

How long should pizza dough be proof at room temperature?

Honestly, it depends on the type of dough you’re making. But basic pizza dough shouldn’t take longer than a few hours. In fact, some can proof in as little as a single hour. Just keep an eye on it and follow the recipe’s instructions for the best results.

Should you proof pizza dough?

Absolutely! But the same is not true for those using instant yeast. This yeast is specifically designed to bypass the need for proofing. If using another type of yeast, though, it will need to be “activated” and proofed for the best results.

Final Words

Proofing pizza dough is easy. All you need to do is knead the dough and stick it in an airtight container. Then, split it into smaller balls of dough and proof again.

How do you proof your pizza? Comment 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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