Obviously, best practice for defrosting it to leave the pizza dough on the counter or in the fridge overnight, then let it rise before cooking it. However, I've got company coming tonight, and I forgot to defrost the dough last night. (It's supermarket frozen whole-wheat dough.)

How can I help the dough along? I've read that you can microwave the dough on a low setting to defrost it, but I'm a little uncertain about doing that.

Edit: I'm concerned that using heat to defrost the dough might cook it somewhat, which I don't want.

Related question: Defrosting pizza dough correctly?

9 Answers 9


If you dough is a disc shape: When I worked as a pizza cook at a popular fast food pizza place, we would put our dough still frozen into what we called a proofer. It was basically a heated cabinet around 130 F. It would defrost and have it's final rise in there. After that we would stretch to make the pizza. You could probably replicate this by putting your dough into a covered pan in the oven without preheating on "low" or "warm". You would also want to put a bowl of boiling water in there to add steam. Just make sure it doesn't burn or get up to temperature. You may want water or oil in there with it so it doesn't dry out.

If you dough is in a ball: I do this for other frozen foods, but haven't tried it on dough before. Put it in a sealed plastic bag and leave it in warm water. I like to leave it with a constant stream of warm water flowing over the object so the water stays warm. The heat should defrost it and the plastic should keep it dry.

  • You should never defrost with warm water it can promote bacteria growth. Defrosting with cold water works perfectly fine. Here is a good reference fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Big_Thaw
    – samack
    Oct 16, 2011 at 16:00
  • 6
    @samack: That's not really applicable to dough. Dough can be left at room temperature for a long time, it just ferments.
    – Aaronut
    Oct 16, 2011 at 16:33
  • very true, I would think bacteria growth would be the ideal situation. May 25, 2014 at 23:54

If you have a cast iron griddle or large cast iron pan, you set the frozen dough on it to greatly speed the defrosting process.

  • 2
    I do this for steaks sometimes.. like a radiator or cooling fins.
    – zanlok
    Feb 12, 2011 at 0:11

I have used the following method with success: Put ball of dough in a sealed ziploc bag (with all the air squished out) and submerge it in warm water. Every now and then, check on it and try to squash the dough out so that the frozen middle is more exposed to the warm water. It's not as instant as a microwave defrost, but it was still relatively quick and never seemed to have a detrimental effect on the dough.

  • 1
    In fact, if you do this with running water--even running water--it will be even more effective due to convection being very powerful at heat transfer.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Apr 18, 2013 at 22:32
  • I wonder if anyone has had success with sous vide defrosting of pizza dough balls?
    – Jenny Kee
    Feb 28, 2023 at 17:01

If you're willing to leave it on a counter overnight, you could also leave it in a warm place on a large surface that will conduct heat (eg, a metal sheet pan).

If you can add a fan, to force air below the pan, so the ambient air temp will warm the pan, thus warming the pizza, it'll defrost a little bit faster.

The other alternative is to increase surface area -- if you have something that you can cut in half safely, do that, and place the cut side down on the sheet pan to increase contact area.

(I freeze mine in lots of smaller balls, so I can defrost it more quickly by breaking them apart; once it's thawed, I can roll it back into a larger ball)


I did a combo of microwaving for 10 seconds at a time and then putting it in warm water. I had two frozen crusts and it worked perfectly with one and not so well with the other. I think the one that worked better soaked longer in the water. If this happens to me again I will probably just go with the soaking (and the soaking works much faster than you'd think.

  • 1
    Would you describe "much faster" in terms of seconds (or minutes)?
    – J.A.I.L.
    Nov 9, 2012 at 12:25

I did this one time as well. Life happens! I took the ball and put it in a floured bowl (please flour the bowl!) The I turned my stove on and placed the bowl on the stove for 1/2 an hour in the bowl with a damp towel on top. Worked like a charm!

  • 1
    Why flouring the bowl? I usually use a little olive oil so it won;t stick, but I never flour it. May 3, 2012 at 15:27

I am doing it right now using the defrost setting. My microwave has a selection for 0.1 lbs. For a large pizzas worth of dough, I used 0.2 twice, with about 5-10 minutes rest in between, then 0.1 again, & then I covered it with a damp hot towel. (I soaked it in hot tap water then wrung it out.) total time has been less than a half hour & its doubled in size already. P.S.- I had it in a plastic bowl with olive oil in it, about a quarter cup.


I just did this moments ago. Leave the dough in a sealed plastic bag and hit for 10 second intervals on the defrost setting on your microwave. Depending on how frozen it is, it will take a few hits.


I soften my ice cream using the defrost button in the microwave -- 7 to 10 seconds is more than enough. I don't see why it shouldn't work for pizza dough.

  • 2
    Because pizza dough isn't ice cream, and contains yeast. Feb 12, 2011 at 19:23
  • @Neil_Fein What's yeast got to do with it?
    – TFD
    Sep 26, 2011 at 10:56
  • 2
    Most people have normal microwave ovens that defrost very unevenly, and tend to ruin food. Yes there are some that work fine on defrost, but in my experience most do not!
    – TFD
    Sep 26, 2011 at 10:57

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