About 13 percent of the U.S. population eats pizza on any given day, according to a USDA report. If you're trying to save money or improve the nutritional quality of the pizza you serve your family, you may consider making your own pizza using frozen pizza dough.
But note that defrosting frozen pizza dough may require a little planning ahead... Otherwise, you may be calling your favorite pizza shop for delivery.
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How to Thaw Frozen Pizza Dough
Pizza expert and food writer Arthur Bovino, aka the Pizza Cowboy, explains that fridge or counter thaws are both acceptable.
"Thawing in the fridge will take a much longer period of time — anywhere from 8 to 12 hours — so this is more likely to be an overnight option and not something you'd do if you're using the same day."
Here's how Bovino recommends approaching each method.
A Note on Food Safety
Although the USDA states that any food left at room temperature for more than 2 hours should be discarded to avoid the risk of food-related illness, pizza dough is an exception.
“Many pizza recipes call for anywhere from a 24-hour to 48-hour rise at room temp,” Bovino says.
1. In the Refrigerator
Keep your frozen pizza dough in an airtight container, such as a sealed plastic bag or a vessel covered in plastic wrap, and plan to let it thaw in the fridge for about 8 to 12 hours, Bovino says.
After the dough is completely thawed, you'll need to let it rise.
"Remove from the fridge, form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl and cover so the dough is not exposed to the air," he explains. "Allow to reach room temperature (about half an hour) and then let the dough rise, about 2 to 4 hours."
2. On the Countertop
If you're taking frozen pizza dough right out of the freezer and thawing it on the counter, you can expect it to take about 2 hours, Bovino says.
"Make sure it's in a sealed container or bag while thawing," he says.
After the dough has thawed, undertake the same steps you would if you were thawing it from the fridge: Form a ball of dough, place it in an oiled bowl and allow it to rise completely (about 2 to 4 hours).
Don't Thaw in Cold Water: You might’ve heard that you can thaw frozen pizza dough in cold water. After all, the USDA recommends cold-water thawing as one of its primary options for frozen foods.
But Bovino discourages people from using this method. “I've never done this and wouldn't recommend it,” he says, citing the excessive work and potential problems involved, such as a leak in the bag’s seal. “Also, you risk activating the yeast on the dough's outside while the yeast in the middle is still frozen,” he says.
Does Frozen Pizza Dough Need to Rise After Thawing?
When you're thinking about the time needed to thaw your pizza dough, don't forget to factor in the necessary time to let the dough rise.
Both refrigerator and countertop thawing methods require time afterward for rising, per Bovino's recommendations. This takes about 2 to 4 hours.
You'll also want to add extra yeast to your dough, according to Kansas State University. Freezing has the potential to damage the yeast, so using extra will ensure your dough rises after a length of time in the freezer.
Although freezing your pizza dough is a convenient option, it doesn’t always result in an ideal finished product. “Letting the surface of the dough get exposed to air will make it harder to stretch and create an undesirable texture,” Bovino says.