Cold-Proofing Pizza Dough - Modernist Cuisine

Cold-Proofing Pizza Dough

MPMay 3, 2024


Proofing can be one of the trickiest steps to nail down when it comes to making your own dough. Temperature is one of the most important factors to consider. When possible, we prefer to cold-proof pizza dough. This technique, which involves refrigerating the dough for an extended period, offers not just convenience but also improved flavor. If you have the time, slowing down fermentation will actually help you gain greater control over your dough’s schedule and the ultimate taste of your crust.

Cold-proofing takes anywhere from 24 to 96 hours. It results in dough that’s not only easier to handle but also remarkably flavorful. Whether you’re using levain or a combination of commercial yeast and levain, this method works wonders. It’s essential to note that it might not be ideal for all dough types. For instance, we steer clear of cold-proofing for our pan-baked doughs as it can result in reduced volume. Remember, most refrigerators maintain temperatures of 0.5–4.4°C / 33–40°F, but for optimal results, adjust temp to about 4°C / 39°F.

Interestingly, Neapolitan pizza takes a different approach. In Naples, they proof their dough at room temperature year-round. Some adjust the yeast amount based on the season, while others resort to altering the salt content, which can lead to seasonally varying tastes. Conversely, in most parts of the world, cold-proofing for 24–48 hours is the norm. To cater to diverse preferences, we provide Neapolitan pizza dough recipes with both ambient and cold-proofing options in Modernist Pizza.

For those considering extending the cold-proofing period, especially if you’re not using malted flours, we recommend adding diastatic malt powder (DMP)* when you initially mix your dough. DMP compensates for the enzyme deficiency in the flour, which can adversely affect fermentation and crust color. This is especially crucial when there’s a high percentage of fermented flour. DMP boosts enzyme activity, starch degradation, and sugar production, resulting in that perfect browning we all desire. Pure amylase can also be used as an alternative and is readily available at beer-supply stores.

Cold-proofing can elevate your pizza game to new heights. Whether you’re a fan of thin-crust, New York, artisan, or even deep-dish pizza, this method is a game changer. Experiment, explore, and savor the remarkable flavors that emerge when you let time and temperature work their magic on your pizza dough.



  1. Pre-shape the dough balls and place them in a stackable tub or plastic sheet pan. Make sure to space them out evenly into a grid. Give them room so they don’t proof into each other too much.
  2. Lightly mist the surface of the dough balls with water.
  3. If in stackable tubs, go ahead and stack another tub on top. If using a sheet pan, cover the pan with plastic wrap or a tarp.
  4. Refrigerate.
    • For thin-crust, Brazilian thin-crust, and deep-dish pizza dough, we recommend 24-hour cold-proofing.
    • For Neapolitan, New York, and artisan pizza dough, we recommend 48-hour cold proofing.
    • We don’t recommend cold-proofing our focaccia or high-hydration al taglio pizza doughs.
  5. We also recommend tempering cold-proofed dough for 2 hours (or however long it takes for the dough to come up to 13°C / 55°F) before baking it.

*Diastatic malt powder can be purchased online or at some grocery stores.