How to Freeze Sourdough Bread Dough – Complete Guide

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Can you freeze sourdough bread dough? Yes, but how you freeze and bake it will determine the quality of your bread. Learn how to properly freeze and bake your dough so you can have delicious, fresh bread on demand.

Dough in bowl in banneton basket

I’ve been baking my family’s bread completely from scratch—and exclusively sourdough—for a full year. Though I’ve woven baking no-knead sourdough bread and sandwich bread into my weekly routine, I understand that it’s not realistic for many folks to bake 100% of their family’s bread every week.

I don’t freeze bread dough regularly, but I always want to provide tips and tricks to make scratch cooking and baking realistically accessible. You might aspire to live a scratch-made, homestead-ish life, but it isn’t always possible with a busy schedule. I totally get it.

So, I’ve been experimenting with ways to make homemade bread with as little effort as possible. One way you can do that is by freezing extra sourdough bread dough.

Of course, there is nothing better than fresh, homemade bread. But if that isn’t realistic for your schedule, freezing your dough is a close runner-up. The trick is knowing how to freeze and bake it for the best results.

I’ve tried various ways of freezing and baking frozen sourdough bread dough, and I’m here to share my results with you. That way, you can learn from my (many) mistakes and have delicious bread any time you want.

Dough in bowl and basket with text "How To Freeze Sourdough Bread Dough"

Why Freeze Sourdough Bread Dough?

Save time: Double or triple up your next batch of dough. Bake one portion as you normally would. Then, stash the remainder in the freezer for future use. This will save you a ton of time down the road.

Simplify your routine: If baking bread is part of your routine (or if you want it to be), freezing extra dough for later use can simplify the process, especially when you are in a pinch and during busy seasons.

Delicious and wholesome: Of course, everyone likes a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, but it feels easier to buy store-bought bread. The good news is that freezing dough makes it extremely convenient yet still homemade and wholesome, so you’d have to worry about grabbing bread from the store.

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    Three Ways I Tried Freezing Sourdough Bread Dough

    Believe it or not, the internet has opinions. And there are many differing opinions about the best way to freeze sourdough bread dough. To get a clear idea of what process actually yields the best quality bread, I experimented with three ways of freezing and baking sourdough bread dough.

    For all three tests, I froze the dough after the bulk fermentation.

    Bread 1: Shape, Freeze, Bake

    Woman holding sourdough bread

    For the first sourdough loaf, I wanted to see what would happen if I baked the dough from frozen. So I shaped the dough, put it in a bowl lined with floured parchment paper, and popped it in the freezer.

    To bake, I put the frozen dough directly in a piping-hot Dutch oven.

    The results? The freezing process worked well. However, the bread definitely needed a second rise. The crumb was gummy with large tunnels. And it didn’t develop a nice crust.

    However, there was a silver lining. My 3-year-old loved this bread. She liked that it didn’t have a crunchy crust, and she ate more than one slice. So, even though this wasn’t my preferred method, in some ways, it was a win—at least for my daughter.

    This bread was edible and is an excellent candidate for a comeback appearance as sourdough toast (because all subpar bread makes good toast).

    Bread 2: Freeze, Thaw, Shape, Bake

    Woman holding under-proofed sourdough bread

    The second sourdough boule was a giant fail. For this, I plopped the bulk fermented dough in a freezer bag without shaping it.

    When I was ready to bake, I thawed the dough at room temperature for a few hours before shaping it. However, the shaping was subpar. Sure, this could have been user error, but the dough was less responsive to my normal shaping technique.

    I also unintentionally skipped the second rise. It’s the first week of summer break, and life is chaos. So my mind went elsewhere, and I just tossed it right into the oven without thinking.

    The results for this loaf? Terrible. The inability to shape it resulted in a flat boule. And because it was underproofed, the crumb was gummy and had large tunnels.

    Technically, I think this could work if the dough were shaped properly and had a long second rise. But either way, this method seems unnecessary because shaping is easier before freezing.

    Bread 3: Shape, Thaw, Rise, Bake

    Winner, winner! Chicken dinner! I shaped the dough for the third boule and placed it in a floured banneton basket to freeze. Once the dough was frozen, I tried to move it into a ziplock bag, but it was completely stuck to the basket liner. So I just put the entire basket in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.

    When it came time to bake, I let the dough thaw and double at room temperature directly in the banneton basket. But it was still stuck to the liner. I had to peel the dough out, reshape it, then bake it.

    However, the bread still turned out great! The crust was golden, the crumb was acceptable, and it had decent oven spring. Technically, the second rise could have been longer (there was negligible gumminess). But it was a completely viable method and a delicious loaf of sourdough bread.

    Based on my informal (and unscientific but delicious) experiments, this is definitely the best option for freezing sourdough bread dough. However, I strongly recommend lining a bowl with parchment paper or plastic wrap and heavily flouring it when freezing the dough.

    Comparison of sourdough bread baked from frozen

    Tools You May Need

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    • Bowl or banneton basket – Any bowl or basket suitable for proofing dough will do. Just make sure you line it with parchment paper or plastic wrap.
    • Plastic wrap Cover the dough with plastic wrap for the initial freezing.
    • Freezer bag or airtight container – Once your dough is frozen, transfer it to a ziplock freezer bag or an airtight container for long-term storage.
    • Parchment paper – In my experiments, I found that placing the dough on heavily floured parchment paper was the most fool-proof method.
    • Cast iron Dutch oven – A cast iron Dutch oven creates the best oven spring because it locks in the steam. Also, a Dutch oven can be used on the stove, so it is a versatile piece of cookware to have around.

    How To Freeze Sourdough Bread Dough

    Make the Dough

    Follow the instructions for your favorite sourdough recipe and allow it to bulk ferment.

    The bulk fermentation usually takes between 8-12 hours, depending on your dough and the temperature (dough ferments faster in warm temperatures and slower in cold temperatures).

    You’ll know when your dough is ready when it is approximately doubled in size and domed on top.

    Dough in parchment-lined bowl

    Shape the Dough

    Line a bowl or basket with parchment paper or plastic wrap and heavily flour it. You can also spray or rub a little oil on the parchment or plastic wrap to prevent sticking. Note: I do not recommend using a cloth-lined banneton basket or bowl. In my experience, the dough stuck to the cloth and was impossible to turn out, even after thawing.

    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. Freeze until the dough is completely solid, about 8 hours.

    Sourdough bread dough in bowl for freezing

    Transfer the Dough

    Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer it from the bowl to a freezer-safe plastic bag or airtight container. The goal is to prevent freezer burn, so remove as much air as possible.

    At this point, your dough can chill (literally) in the freezer for up to a month.

    Sourdough bread dough prepped for freezing

    How To Bake Frozen Sourdough Bread Dough

    When you are ready to bake, remove the dough from the freezer and place it back into a floured and parchment-lined bowl (this will help the dough hold its shape as it thaws and rises).

    Cover the dough with plastic wrap, a damp towel, or beeswax wrap.

    Allow the dough to completely thaw and undergo a second rise at room temperature or a warm spot. For me, this took about 8 hours, so plan accordingly. If you are working a few days ahead of the game, you can also let the dough thaw in the fridge for a few days.


    Bake according to the recipe’s instructions.

    Woman holding no-knead sourdough bread

    Tips for Freezing Sourdough Bread Dough

    • Freeze on parchment paper or plastic wrap – When I froze my dough in a cloth-lined banneton basket, it stuck so badly that I couldn’t get it out. So it’s a good idea to avoid this problem altogether and freeze it on floured parchment or plastic wrap.
    • Use oil – If you are worried about the dough sticking to the parchment paper or plastic wrap, spray it with a little olive or avocado oil or lightly grease it with coconut oil.
    • Avoid freezer burn – Make sure the dough is wrapped tightly and sealed in an airtight bag or container.
    • Use active starter – Though you can bake using inactive starter, it will slow the bulk fermentation. Active sourdough starter contains more viable wild yeast and bacteria, which speeds up the fermentation process.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How Long Can You Freeze Sourdough Dough?

    Frozen sourdough bread dough is best used within one month, but it can last up to three months in the freezer.

    Will Bread Taste the Same if the Dough Was Frozen?

    No matter which way I tried freezing, thawing, and baking it, the sourdough loaves made from frozen dough were a little more dense than fresh bread. However, it was still delicious. And remember, if it doesn’t turn out for some reason, you can always make homemade breadcrumbs with it!

    Can You Freeze Sourdough Starter?

    Yes! Freezing sourdough starter is a great way to preserve your starter. That way, if something goes awry, you have a backup. The wild yeast and bacteria can survive freezing temps for up to a year, so you don’t even have to worry about feeding it!

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    Can I Freeze Other Types of Sourdough?

    Yes! In fact, you can freeze just about any type of dough. Sourdough pizza dough is easy to freeze and use because it doesn’t require a second rise. Freezing cookie dough is also one of my favorites because I don’t always want dozens of cookies sitting around—but I always want a cookie.

    Also, sourdough bread freezes really well. So you can definitely freeze sourdough bread, either as a whole loaf or sliced. It’s a great way to extend the shelf life of leftover sourdough bread that you can’t use up in time. I like to freeze an entire loaf of sandwich bread for those weeks when I know I will be too busy to bake.

    I also like to make sourdough discard crepes and flatbreads and freeze them. Just let them cool to room temperature before freezing. For serving, pop them in the microwave for a few seconds or let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so.

    Woman hold sliced sourdough toast in a freezer bag

    At What Stage Can I Freeze Sourdough Dough?

    You can freeze dough at any stage, but I have found that freezing it after the bulk fermentation works the best. I recommend jotting down on the freezer bag or container what stage your dough was at when you froze it because, if you are like me, you will forget when it comes time to bake it. If you know what stage it was at, you’ll know what to do with it come baking time.

    How Do You Defrost Sourdough Bread Dough?

    I like to let mine sit out on the counter to defrost. But you can also defrost frozen sourdough bread dough in the fridge for a few days.

    More Sourdough Recipes and Tips You’ll Love

    If you tried freezing your sourdough bread dough, leave a comment and let us know how it went!

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