What is the Best Water Temperature for Yeast?

If you’re making a loaf of bread, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, or any other recipe that requires yeast, there might be one question that continuously haunts you – “What is the best water temperature for yeast?

Working with yeast can be challenging as it is. It only gets infinitely more difficult when you don’t use the right temperature. After all, cold temps will cause the yeast not to activate, while too hot temps will kill it altogether. 

I’m Michelle, and I’ve been baking for years. I’ve learned the correct temps for all kinds of yeast. 

Active dry yeast works best with 105-115F, while fresh yeast needs a slightly lower temp of 95-100F. Instant yeast doesn’t need anything specific, but most recipes call for scalding temps of 120-130F.

Who’s ready to learn all about the best water temperature for yeast?

What is the Best Water Temperature for Yeast?

Water is essential to activate the yeast (a living organism). Once the warm water hits it, it “wakes up” and starts eating and multiplying. This causes carbon dioxide and ethanol to form, resulting in a dough that rises beautifully.

Needless to say, water is essential when using yeast. However, each kind of yeast has its own “needs” for water temperature. Knowing the right temp will allow you to successfully activate the yeast efficiently without killing it.

But wait – don’t some bakers use cold water rather than warm? Yes, some bakers do. But that’s only if they’re looking for a low-and-slow rise from their dough (in the refrigerator). Unless you’re using one of these specific recipes, I highly recommend warm water.

The other benefit to using warm water is that it will work far quicker than cold water. And as someone who is on the inpatient side, this is a must. 

1. Active Dry Yeast – 105-115F

Active dry yeast is a granular yeast that lays dormant until it’s “woken up” and dissolved in warm water. The ideal temperature for this type of ordinary yeast is 105F to 115F. Anything less than that, and the active dry yeast may not activate or take an extended amount of time.

2. Instant Yeast – 120-130F

Instant yeast – also referred to as RapidRise, Bread Machine Yeast, or QuickRise – are smaller granules than active dry yeast and do not require proofing before use. 

You can mix instant yeast with the flour and get the same results. However, it’s recommended to use water temperatures between 120F and 130F. 

3. Fresh Yeast – 95-100F

Fresh yeast is less common than its dried counterparts but still important to mention. Although fresh yeast does not need to be dissolved, it will start feeding and multiplying when exposed to warm water temperatures between 95F and 100F.

How to Measure Water Temperature

The easiest way to measure the temperature of your water is to use an instant-read thermometer. These provide accurate results, so you can feel confident whether you’re trying to find the right temp for yeast or want to ensure your steaks are cooked exactly how you like them.

If you can’t afford or don’t want an instant-read thermometer, you can always try to gauge the temperature using your body. Dip your finger in the water and rub it on your wrists. If it feels slightly hot but not scalding, you have the right temperature for your yeast.

Does Hot Water Kill Yeast?

Water that is too hot will ultimately kill your yeast. Most yeasts will start to deteriorate around the 130F-mark, but any temperature above 140F will annihilate it. That is why it is imperative to use the proper temperature of the water.

What Does Cold Water Do to Yeast?

Yeats can still rise with cold water. However, the process is slowed down immensely. So, if you’re using cold water, you can expect to place your dough in the fridge and allow it to rise for several days (it typically takes up to three days for a good rise).

What if You’re Using Milk?

Some recipes call for using milk rather than yeast. While the ingredients may be different, the temperatures remain the same. Scalding milk will kill the yeast, while cold milk will take longer to activate. Follow these simple guidelines for milk temperatures:

  • Active dry yeast – 105-115F
  • Instant yeast – 120-130F
  • Fresh yeast – 95-100F

FAQs

Each type of yeast has its own “recommended” water temperatures. Refer to the temperatures above or simply check the instructions to know which temp is right for your dough. Want to learn more? Here are a few more facts to check out.

Does water temperature affect yeast?

Water temperature affects yeast immensely. The warmer the water (although not too hot) will create a quicker rise. Colder water temperatures will allow for a low-and-slow method standard in certain types of bread, such as Artisan-style.

How do you tell if you killed your yeast?

If you kill your yeast, your dough simply won’t rise. If you want to check the health of your yeast before adding it to the rest of your ingredients, you can always mix it with some water and wait around ten minutes to see if it doubles or triples in size. If it doesn’t, your yeast is inactive, and you will need to buy fresh.

How do you activate yeast in water?

Activating yeast might sound complicated, but it’s quite simple. All you need to do is place your warm water in a bowl. 

Sprinkle some sugar into the bowl, then incorporate the yeast. Stir generously before allowing it to proof for 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, combine it with your dry ingredients.

Final Words

Yeast can be a little finicky, especially if you’re not using instant yeast. However, if you use the correct water temperatures and you have “live” yeast, it shouldn’t be too perplexing. Never use temperatures over 140F, as this will entirely kill any kind of yeast. 

What water temperature do you use for your doughs? Do you follow the recommendations above? Share 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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