How to Tell If Pizza Dough Is Bad? (Smell, Taste, Texture, Color)

By Kitchen Warrior | Pizza Baking and Cutting Tips

bad pizza

Unlike fruits and vegetables, it’s not easy to identify when your pizza dough has gone bad. There may not always be visible signs, but if your dough has been sitting for quite some time, you’re probably better off not consuming it. But how can you really know for sure if your pizza dough is bad? Believe it or not, there are some subtle and not so subtle ways to find out. If you want to know how to tell if pizza dough is bad, keep reading.

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What Does Bad Pizza Dough Smell Like?

Interestingly enough, pizza dough that has gone bad tends to smell a lot like beer. This is because the yeast in the dough has started the fermentation process, which in turn produces alcohol. While a hint of yeast in the dough is normal, too much fermentation in the dough will result in a sour, alcoholic taste when baked. 

Fermentation happens when yeast comes into contact with moisture and warmth. Yeast eats up the sugars in the flour and, as a result, carbon dioxide and alcohol is released. If your dough is left out for a long period of time, it will ferment faster, which will cause an even stronger smell of alcohol.

What Does Bad Pizza Dough Taste Like?

As you might expect, bad pizza dough will not only smell like alcohol, but probably also taste a bit like it too. When the dough is fermented for too long, the finished product will taste sour as a result of the excess alcohol and acids built up in the dough. If you have a suspicion that your pizza dough is sour, give it a whiff before tasting it. If you can smell the alcohol, chances are the dough will taste somewhat similar. 

What Does Bad Pizza Dough Texture Look Like?

Texture is another great way to tell whether or not your pizza dough has gone bad. If you pick up your dough and it has a dry texture that has begun to diminish, chances are it’s not good to use. A thin layer of crust may have also formed on top of the dough, which is another telltale sign that your pizza dough has gone bad. Oftentimes, the crust will be so obvious that you won’t even have to touch the dough to know that it is not safe to use.

What Does Bad Pizza Dough Color Look Like?

Anyone who has ever handled pizza dough knows that it’s typically a beige or off-white color. However, if you take your pizza dough out of the fridge and you notice that it has started to turn grey, you may want to go ahead and toss it. 

If you do not notice the grey coloring right away but you know the pizza dough has been sitting for some time, look a bit more closely. If you see any grey flecks on the dough, it’s starting to go bad. If your pizza dough has been left in the freezer for too long, you may also notice white spots or small crystals on it, which indicate freezer burn.

How Long Before Pizza Dough Goes Bad?

If you are in the middle of making a pizza but have to stop for some reason or another, you may be wondering how long you have before your pizza dough goes bad. How long your pizza dough will last all depends on how you store it. 

When left at room temperature, pizza dough will last anywhere between 4 to 18 hours. When left in the fridge, it will last a little bit longer, typically about three to five days. If frozen, your pizza dough will last about three months. As mentioned previously, however, you don’t want to leave your dough frozen for too long as it could end up being freezer burnt.

What to Do If Pizza Dough Goes Bad?

If your pizza dough goes bad, you will simply have to toss it out. Be sure to also thoroughly wash your hands as well as anything else that the dough might have touched to make sure it doesn’t contaminate anything.

5 Ways to Make Pizza Dough Last Longer

1. Use an Airtight Container

When storing pizza at room temperature, be sure to place it in an airtight container, or you can cover it up with plastic wrap. This way, it won’t dry out as easily and create that thin layer of crust that was mentioned earlier. It is also recommended that you brush the dough with a little bit of olive oil to not only keep the dough from drying out, but to make it easier to take out of the container or plastic wrap when you’re ready to use it again.

2. Adjust the Amount of Yeast

If you plan to store your dough in the fridge, be sure to adjust the amount of dough you will use to help with the fermentation process. Before you store it, split the dough up into balls and once again, place it into an airtight container that has been previously brushed through with olive oil. When you are ready to use the dough again, let it sit out for at least a half hour before using it.

3. Using the Freezer

Pizza dough that has been stored in the freezer tends to last much longer because of the fact that the fermentation process stops completely. Before you store your pizza dough in the freezer, split it up into even-sized balls and leave the dough sitting out for one to two hours first. You can put them in an airtight container or even in a resealable plastic bag because this will take up less space in your freezer.

4. Defrost Gradually

If you are ready to use your frozen pizza dough, be sure to leave it sitting out long enough for it to defrost. Don’t try to microwave or stick it in the oven to heat up. Take the dough out the day that you plan to use it and simply leave it sitting on the counter covered until it has defrosted completely.

5. Cold Fermentation

Leaving your pizza dough in the fridge actually helps to develop its flavor. However, you have to be sure to leave it in there for three to five days. This process will, in turn, slow down the rate at which the yeast digests carbohydrates and give your crust a better flavor and golden color when you finally bake it.


If you are planning on making a pizza, be sure that you are checking to see that your dough is still good to use. Using the above-mentioned tips, you can make sure you are staying safe and preventing illness from eating food that has gone bad. Lastly, be sure to store your pizza dough properly if you don’t plan on using it right away or you have any left over that you plan on using at a later time.