Why is my pizza dough not rising?

Is your pizza dough not rising as much as you would like it to? In this article we tell you everything you need to know about how and why pizza dough rises. First we explain what causes pizza dough to rise. Next we cover a few common reasons why pizza dough does not rise so that you know what to look out for. Finally we provide tips to help make sure your pizza dough rises properly next time. 

How to make pizza rise more

What causes pizza dough to rise?

What causes pizza dough to rise? Pizza dough rises when the yeast in the pizza dough converts sugars and starches into carbon dioxide. The resulting carbon dioxide creates air bubbles in the dough that makes the dough more light and fluffy and causes it to expand. The physical conditions the yeast are operating under affect the rate at which the yeast convert starches and sugar into carbon dioxide. Yeast are generally more productive when they are in warm temperatures (but temperatures that are too hot can kill yeast). 

Why is my pizza dough not rising?

Why is your pizza dough not rising? There are a few reasons why your pizza dough might not be rising. Here are the most common reasons why pizza dough fails to rise. 

  • Yeast was bad. If your dough is not rising that might mean that your yeast was bad before you even opened the package. Check out the expiration date on the yeast that you used. If the yeast was nearing the expiration date then it is more likely that bad yeast prevented your pizza dough from rising. You should also look at how your yeast was stored. If your yeast was stored in a very hot location such as right next to or above your oven then the yeast might have been overheated and killed while in storage. 
  • Yeast killed during the cooking process. If your yeast was alive and active at the beginning of the cooking process but your pizza dough still failed to rise that might mean that your yeast was killed during the cooking process. The most common way that yeast is killed during the cooking process is by adding water that is too hot. If you add water that is very hot to your pizza dough it will overheat your yeast and kill it. 
  • Too cold for yeast activity. If you think that your yeast was still alive and your pizza dough rose a little that might indicate that your pizza dough was left in too cold of a location to rise. The rate at which yeast converts sugar and starches into carbon dioxide is affected by the temperature at which the pizza dough is stored. The yeast will work faster when it is stored at a warm temperature (as long as the temperature is not hot enough to kill the yeast). If the pizza dough is left at a very cold temperature the activity of the yeast will halt completely.  
  • Yeast could not get to the food source. The composition of your dough affects how easily the yeast is able to get to its food source. If your pizza dough is dry then the yeast will have more trouble getting to its food source because yeast can move around faster in water. If your dough has a lot of fat in it the fats might also prevent the yeast from getting to its food source. 
  • Other ingredients slowed yeast activity. There are a few other ingredients that slow yeast activity. One common ingredient is salt. If there is a lot of salt in your pizza dough then your dough might need to rise longer. Depending on where you live, the tap water might also contain chemicals that slow down yeast activity. 
  • Air bubbles escaped from the dough. It is also possible that your yeast was producing carbon dioxide bubbles but the air bubbles were escaping the dough. This might happen if you did not knead your dough enough (does not apply to gluten free dough). When you knead your dough it builds up gluten networks that trap air bubbles in the dough. 

Cooked gluten free Hawaiian pizza with bbq sauce, pineapple, jalapeño, and red onion.

How to make pizza dough rise

Is your pizza dough not rising as much as you would like? Follow these tips next time you make pizza to make sure your pizza dough rises. 

  • Test yeast in water. If you are working with yeast the first thing you should do is put the yeast in a bowl with warm water and sugar and let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes. If the yeast are alive and active then you should start to see foam on the top of the water. For some types of yeast you need to go through this process to activate them. We recommend going through this step even if you are using yeast that do not actively require it. This way you will know whether your yeast are alive before you go through all of the work of making your dough. 
  • Use warm but not hot water. The water that you add to your yeast needs to be warm but not hot. If the water is too cold then the low temperature will reduce yeast activity. If the water is too hot then it will overheat the yeast and kill them. As a rule of thumb you should be able to put your finger in the water for 10 seconds without feeling discomfort. If you feel discomfort then your water is likely too hot. Yeast usually work best at 75 – 90 degrees and start to die at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Use tap water. Some tap water contains chemicals that inhibit yeast activity. This is not overly common and it is much more likely that your dough is not rising because your yeast is bad or because the dough was left in too cold of an area to rise. If you have tried out all of the other tips and none of them have helped you then you might have chemicals in your tap water that are slowing yeast activity. If this is the case then you should use bottled water rather than tap water to make your pizza dough. 
  • Reduce the amount of fat and salt. If your pizza dough has too much salt or fat in it then the yeast will not be able to work as quickly to create carbon dioxide. If you think this is your problem then you should compare your pizza dough recipe to a few other recipes online to see if it looks like your recipe has a lot more fat and salt in it. If your pizza dough recipe has a similar amount of fat and salt to other recipes you see online then this is likely not your problem.
  • Let the dough rise in a warm area. This is a tip that you are likely to get a lot of mileage out of. Yeast will only create the gas bubbles that make pizza dough rise if they are in a relatively warm environment. If your pizza dough is not rising then the first thing you should do is move the pizza dough to a warmer environment to rise. You can move the pizza dough to a sunny windowsill, an area near a heating vent or radiator, or an area near a warm stove or oven that is being used. If your oven has a proofing setting then this is a great time to use it! Ideally your dough should rise in an area that is 75 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Let the dough rise for longer. If your pizza dough did not rise enough then letting it rise is another easy step you can take to get the dough to rise. You should let your pizza dough rise however long it takes to double in size. The amount of growth that your pizza dough gets is more important than the exact amount of time it takes to achieve that growth. If your pizza dough did not rise at all that might be an indication that the yeast are dead and the dough will not rise no matter what you do. If the dough has risen a little but not as much as you would like then giving it more time will likely help. 

Spreading pizza dough for gluten free pizza crust

What happens if pizza dough doesn’t rise?

  • Tough, dense pizza crust. If your pizza dough does not rise enough then you will likely end up with a pizza crust that is tough and dense. No one wants a tough pizza crust!
  • Soggy pizza crust. Pizza dough that has a lot of air in it generally makes a crust that is nice and crispy. Pizza dough that does not have enough air in it is more likely to make a crust that is soft and soggy. This is because pizza dough that is light and airy heats up faster. 

Does pizza dough need a second rise?

Does pizza dough need a second rise? The answer to this question will vary depending on who you ask but we recommend letting your pizza dough rise for a second time after you shape it into a pizza crust. The process of shaping the pizza dough into a pizza crust knocks a lot of the air out of the dough. Letting the pizza dough rise for a second time help get more air back in the dough. 

We recommend leaving the pizza crust to rise for another 20 minutes in a warm area after you shape the pizza crust. You should cover the pizza dough with a sheet of saran wrap any time you leave it to rise so that it does not dry out. We recommend giving pizza crusts a second rise because pizza crusts that have more air in them turn out more crispy.

Our favorite pizza recipes

Spreading pizza dough for gluten free pizza crust

If you want to try a new pizza crust recipe then you should check out this recipe for gluten free pizza crust. This recipe is made using gluten free flour but you could also substitute in regular all purpose flour if you do not have a gluten allergy. 

A gluten free calzone. The calzone is cut open so that you can see the mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, and basil inside.

Are you looking for a fun new twist on gluten free pizza? Check out this recipe for gluten free calzones. In this recipe we tell you everything you need to know about how to make calzones from scratch with easy step-by-step instructions.

Fully cooked caramelized onion and pear pizza

If you are looking for an absolutely delicious pizza recipe that is packed with flavor then you need to check out this recipe for caramelized onion & pear pizza. This pizza can be made with a gluten free pizza crust or a regular pizza crust. 

A fully cooked buffalo cauliflower pizza with mozzarella cheese, buffalo sauce, buffalo cauliflower, sour cream, red onions, green onions, and a gluten free pizza crust.

Can’t get enough of that tangy buffalo sauce flavor? Check out this recipe for buffalo cauliflower pizza! This tasty pizza is loaded with spicy buffalo sauce, flavorful buffalo cauliflower, creamy sour cream drizzle, zesty onions, and lots of mozzarella cheese. It is one of our absolute favorites!

Other pizza recipes we love

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