Proofing Dough in the Instant Pot creates the perfect, enclosed environment for yeast dough to ferment at a consistent temperature. This builds the gluten structure, makes dough more pliable, and results in optimal texture of baked goods. Perfect for Instant Pot beginners too!
Note: this article focuses on proofing yeast dough, not sourdough. We'll tackle that in another article.
What does proofing dough mean
Proofing dough, aka proofing bread, is a necessary step in developing the structure and flavor of yeast dough. Proofing requires dough to rest in a warm, humid environment where the yeast ferments the dough, causing it to expand. This helps develop the fluffy, chewy texture and comforting flavor we love about freshly baked bread and other baked goods.
Why proof bread in an Instant Pot
The Instant Pot creates the ideal environment for proofing. Here's how. When you proof yeast dough at an average room temp of 72°F, it can easily take a few hours to properly proof. The pressure cooker "yogurt" setting, intended for incubating yogurt, provides a steady temperature around 90°F. This proofs dough more efficiently, causing it to double in size in only 45 minutes!
Instant Pot proofing is also convenient because you can set it, walk away, and know that's it's doing its job, even in a chilly or drafty environment. Ultimately, the Instant Pot expedites the proofing process, allowing us to enjoy our baked goods sooner.
What recipes can be proofed in the Instant Pot?
The IP is excellent at proofing yeast dough recipes like soft French bread, Cranberry Walnut Bread, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, croissants, pizza dough, foccaccia, and donuts, to name a few. After dough is mixed and kneaded, into the Instant Pot it goes for a flawless proofing. As mentioned earlier, this helps baked goods become fluffy, tender, and more flavorful.
- pressure cooker - use a model with a 'yogurt' setting
- prepared bread dough - mixed or kneaded dough that's ready for proofing
- olive oil - prevents dough sticking to the pot (parchment works too)
- pastry brush - to apply oil to the pot (paper towel works too)
- lid - rest any lid or plate on top the pot during proofing. It should NOT be airtight.
How to proof dough in the Instant Pot
Step 1: Brush a light coating of OLIVE OIL inside the Instant Pot (or line with parchment paper).
Step 2: Place dough in the pot and flip it around enough to pick up oil from the pot. Rest the dough seam side down, tucking the sides under to tighten it into a firm ball.
Step 3: Rest any lid on top of the pot. Do not create an tight seal because air needs to escape.
Step 4: Select “Yogurt” button and toggle the "Adjust" button to the "Less" setting and allow dough to double in size (30-45 minutes).
Note: The display timer defaults to 24:00 hours. Adjusting is optional and is done with the "+ or -" buttons. I prefer to leave it alone and use a separate 45 minute reminder (for mobility).
Instant Pot proofing tips
oil substitute - You can use parchment paper to line the pot if you prefer to not use oil during proofing.
using the yogurt setting - Toggling the "Adjust" button to the LESS setting (recommended) creates the perfect temperature for proofing dough. The NORMAL setting may slightly overheat the dough and cause dry spots (not the end of the world). The MORE setting will cook your dough (not in a good way).
lid - any lid that rests on top of the pot works (pizza pan, glass lid, or plate). You can use the IP lid, but set the pressure valve to "Venting". Also, super large dough batches can stick to the lid during rising. My recipes are never large enough for this.
proofing size - Use the markings on the inside wall of your pot to tell if dough is proofed enough to have doubled in size.
Frequently asked questions
If your pressure cooker has a yogurt setting, you can proof bread dough in it. Look for the yogurt 'button' on the display panel.
As long as you have a pressure cooker with a setting that holds food at about 90°F, you can effectively proof dough in that cooker. Otherwise, you can use the "Keep warm" function for a few minutes to warm the pot, then shut it off and add the dough to the pot where it will benefit from the residual heat.
You need to rise the dough in the pot until it doubles in size. This process takes 30-45 minutes to proof simple yeast bread recipes such as soft French bread.
It depends. If the final bread shape and baking pan fits inside the pot, go for it! Typically though, the shape and size are too large to fit in the pot and require a different proofing method.
Proofing Dough in the Instant Pot
- Olive Oil (to coat surface), or parchment paper
- Bread Dough, * see recipe footnote about dough amount
Note: This is NOT a pressure-cooking method and the Instant Pot locking lid is not required.
- Brush a light coating of OLIVE OIL inside the Instant Pot (or line with parchment paper).
- Place dough in the pot and roll it around to pick up oil from the pot.
- Rest the dough seam side down, tucking the sides under to tighten it into a firm ball.
- Rest ANY lid on top of the pot. Do not use the Instant Pot locking lid or any object that creates a tight seal – the air needs to escape during the proofing process.
- Select “Yogurt” button, then toggle the "Adjust" button to the "Less" setting. Adjust the display timer to 45 minutes. During this time, yeast dough will double in size.
- Transfer dough out of the pot and, if further proofing is indicated on the recipe, repeat this process from step #1.
Traci's Recipe Notes
Nutrition data provided as courtesy estimates using unbranded ingredients from a nutrition database. Please consult preferred resource for precise data.