Can Bread Machine Dough Be Refrigerated?

Published Categorized as Food
Dough being mixed in a bread makerGrashAlex /Depositphotos

Make today, bake tomorrow. You can do this with hand-made dough, but can you also do it with machine-made dough?

The great thing about a bread machine is that it not only frees up your hands but also your time.

When a countertop machine can mix, knead, and bake your loaves of bread, all you have to do is put in the ingredients, press the button, and then go about your day as usual. In a few hours, the kitchen will smell like bread and the little helpers will be eager to bite into each and every single bite.

Bread machines can also be a real boon for making doughs ahead of time. For example, you can make a dough in the machine now, transfer it to a covered bowl and refrigerate it overnight, then bake it in the oven in the morning.

I know the practicalities of this can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before—which is why I wrote this post for you.

Can You Refrigerate Bread Machine Dough?

Here’s a common scenario I’m sure you all will find very familiar:

It’s the weekend. You want freshly baked bread for Sunday lunch, but you’re not so keen on having to get up at 6 AM to make it from scratch. This begs the question, can you mix and knead the dough in the bread-making machine on Saturday eve, then store it in the fridge and bake it up on Sunday morning?

Why yes, you can certainly store the dough from the bread machine in the refrigerator. Just put it in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and then put it on any shelf in the fridge where it will keep for 1-2 days.

Not only does the dough remain edible, but it continues to rise in the fridge. The yeast cells will keep working wonders on the dough, making it ferment, albeit slowly due to the lower temperature, and ameliorating its aromas and flavors.

This technique works especially well with bread machine pizza dough. After a day or two of refrigeration, the pies are noticeably more aromatic and flavorsome.

How Long Can You Refrigerate Bread Machine Dough?

When you freeze the dough, the yeast activity is effectively put on pause, so you can freeze the dough for months, sometimes even years, without affecting the quality of your baked goods.

The same can’t be said for refrigerating dough. Fridge temperature retards yeast activity but doesn’t halt it altogether. This means that bread machine dough can only be kept in the refrigerator for so long until it over-ferments.

As a golden rule, bread machine dough will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. With that being said, it’s best to bake it within the first 24-48 hours of refrigeration, because after that time the dough may be over-risen and even turn slightly sour.

How to Store Bread Machine Dough in the Fridge

If you want to make the dough in the bread machine, keep it in the fridge overnight, and then bake it in the oven, follow the steps below and everything will be just fine.

Step 1: Make the dough. Put the ingredients in the bread machine and set it to the “dough only” setting. (Depending on the make and model of your bread machine, that setting may be named somewhat differently.)

Step 2: Place the dough in a large bowl or Dutch oven. By the time your bread machine finishes kneading, the raw ingredients will have combined and turned into a uniform mass in the shape of a dough ball. Transfer this ball to a large container with plenty of space.

Step 3: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or layer the wrap between the body and lid of the Dutch oven. Your fridge is a generally humid container for food. And yet, if you leave the dough uncovered, it will still dry out in there. To prevent this, wrap the container tightly with plastic wrap.

Step 4: Refrigerate—this step is quite self-explanatory. Place the dough in any compartment of the fridge, close the door, and leave it there overnight. Remember that raw bread machine dough can be refrigerated for 3-4 days, but retains its best quality only for 24-48 hours.

How to Bake Refrigerated Bread Machine Dough

So you made the dough last night and followed all the instructions above.

“What’s next, Jim?” Don’t worry, folks. This is Home Cook World, we’ve got it all for you! As always, we’ve thought of all the questions you’ll have—from making to refrigerating to baking yesterday’s machine-made dough.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to the desired temperature. The exact temperature will vary from one recipe to the other, no question, but the minimum preheating time required is always the same. In general, you should preheat your oven for at least 15-20 minutes before putting the dough in.

(If you’re using a pizza stone or baking steel, preheat the oven with it for 1 to 1½ hours. These things take time to accumulate heat, so the longer, the better.)

Step 2: Remove the dough from the fridge 10-15 minutes before baking. Baking works best when the room-temperature dough comes into sudden contact with a hot surface. Take the time to temper your dough, and you will be rewarded generously.

Step 3: Put the dough in the oven and let it bake without interruption until it is fully cooked. It’s okay to take a peek through the window during that time but, don’t open the oven door until you are 90% sure that your baked goods—whatever they are—are as good as done.

Step 4: Patience, as they say, is a virtue. Rest the baked goods for 20-30 minutes. Unless we’re talking pizza, in which case a resting time of 3-4 minutes is right about enough, you want to rest your homemade loaves of bread for at least 20-30 minutes before you slice into them.

The Bottom Line

Yes, you can refrigerate bread machine dough.

Simply prepare the dough using the “dough only” setting on your bread-making machine, then transfer it into a covered bowl or Dutch oven and refrigerate it. The raw, uncooked dough will keep for 3-4 days—but should be used within 24-48 hours when it will retain its best quality.

Not only does the refrigerator preserve the dough, but the yeast continues to work wonders and make it rise—slowly. So don’t be surprised if the next day the dough has risen to the top of the bowl or all the way to the rim of your Dutch oven!

For best results, remember to preheat your oven for enough time and rest the final product, for a few minutes if it’s pizza and at least 20-30 minutes if it’s bread, before cutting into it and sending it to the table.

Related: How to Use a Bread Machine

By Jim Stonos

When Jim isn't in the kitchen, he is usually spending time with family and friends, and working with the HCW editorial team to answer the questions he used to ask himself back when he was learning the ropes of cooking.