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How to Proof Dough in the Instant Pot

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Learning how to proof dough in the Instant Pot is probably one of the best kitchen hacks that I’ve found in a long time. It provides a beautiful, soft dough that rises consistently every time!

I’ve been thinking about this post for weeks but wasn’t sure how to go about writing it. It’s not like our usual recipe posts where we talk about the recipe, give the ingredients, instructions, tips, and we’re done.

This post is different. It’s more about a process of “How-to” do something, and it doesn’t involve a specific recipe.

All this came about when I needed a loaf of bread for our homemade beef bolognese post. I meant to pick one up at the grocery store to use as a prop but forgot.

It made sense to whip up a quick French bread recipe. The only problem was the time it would take for the bread to rise.

Fluffy bread dough on a gray plate.

I used this homemade French bread recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, and got to the part where the dough is supposed to rise. John and I needed to run a couple of errands, so I put the dough into the Instant Pot and crossed my fingers

After arriving home, I found a beautiful, huge amount of dough. It rose even more in the Instant Pot than it ever would have on the counter. Since then, I’ve been using the Instant Pot to proof bread dough.

There are two ways that I’ve used the Instant Pot to proof dough. One is with the yogurt function and the other is using the keep warm function.

The yogurt function is my preferred method, but it’s not available on all Instant Pot models. The keep warm function serves a workable backup.

How to Proof Dough in the Instant Pot Using the Yogurt Function:

Start by using a dough that needs to rise in a bowl or vessel for its first rise. This method is not ideal for dough that needs to be shaped before rising.

Make the dough according to the recipe. Instead of placing the dough in a bowl, covering it, and letting it double in size for 1 – 1 1/2 hours in a warm area, it’s going to go into the Instant Pot.

Equipment You’ll Need:

Prepare the Liner:

Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil into the liner of the Instant Pot. The olive oil is used to coat the dough and prevent it from drying out and sticking to the liner.

Adjust the amount of olive oil as needed if 1 teaspoon doesn’t completely coat the dough.

Teaspoon of olive oil being poured into the instant pot.

Coat the Dough:

Place the dough into the Instant Pot and roll in the olive oil to evenly coat.

*If you don’t want to use olive oil, place the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper, and drop it directly onto the liner of the Instant Pot.

Ariel view of a ball of dough in the instant pot.

Add the lid:

Set the ball of dough in the center of the liner, and cover the Instant Pot with a glass lid or plate that fits snuggly around the edges.

Set the Timer:

Press the yogurt button on the right side of the Instant Pot, and ensure that screen says “Less.” That means that less heat is being used to heat the liner.

In this case, less is best. Next, use the + and – buttons to adjust the time to 30 minutes. The amount of time is not set in stone and can vary depending on the dough.

I don’t watch the dough like a hawk and chose 30 minutes as an estimate (half the time a normal recipe says). It’s always worked perfectly, so I’ve never changed it.

That being said, some dough may take less time to rise and others may take more. Thirty minutes is a good starting point.

Instant pot showing 30 minute timer on the yogurt function.

Remove the Dough:

After the time is up, check to see if the dough has risen to the recipe specifications. If so, remove it from the liner. If not, set the time for a few more minutes.

Ariel view of proofed dough in the instant pot.

I stay pretty busy taking photos, shooting videos, doing dishes, etc., so I’m not tempted to take a peek at what’s happening inside the pot.

It’s important not to remove the lid from the Instant Pot while the dough is rising. Removing the lid could cause the heat to escape.

Some dough recipes require a second rise. If feasible, the Instant Pot can be used for the second rise as well.

How to Proof Dough in the Instant Pot Using the Keep Warm Function:

Equipment You’ll Need:

Like I was saying above, many Instant Pot models do not have a yogurt function. After testing out a few different methods, the keep warm function seemed to be the next best option.

Start by placing a trivet with handles into the Instant Pot. Place the dough into a glass bowl, lightly roll in olive oil, and set the bowl on the trivet.

Cover the Instant Pot with a glass lid or plate. Press the keep warm button until the screen shows “less.” Mine automatically defaults to “more” which is too hot for the dough.

Next, use the + and – buttons to adjust the time to 30 minutes. After the time is up, check to see if the dough has risen to recipe specifications. If so, remove from the Instant Pot. If not, adjust the time for a few more minutes.

Proofed pizza dough on a gray plate.

Drawbacks to Using the Keep Warm Function:

The keep warm function is great in a pinch. However, in my opinion, it’s a tad too warm for dough.

The first time I tried it, the dough was placed directly on the liner and the temperature was set to “more.”

Unfortunately, the dough began to cook and dry out.

The second time, I used the bowl and trivet method listed above. It worked well, but I was only able to use half the amount of dough since the bowl was small.

I didn’t want to run the risk of the dough expanding over the bowl. Additionally, the bottom of the bowl and the dough felt overly warm from the heat of the liner.

If you have the ability to use the yogurt function, that would be my recommendation.

Have Questions About How to Activate Yeast?

We have a How To Activate Yeast post that helps troubleshoot issues with proofing yeast.

Recipes to Try:

We haven’t had great success with proofing sourdough bread in the Instant Pot. I’m talking about real sourdough that utilizes a starter not Greek yogurt.

If you’re looking for sourdough bread recipes, check out our sister site More Than Meat and Potatoes. We have several, and the list is growing.

Here are a few recipes that work great if you’d like to try how to proof dough in the Instant Pot for the first time:

Don’t forget to check out our Proofing Dough in the Instant Pot web story!

Gray plate of pizza dough in front of a black and white towel.

How to Proof Dough in the Instant Pot

Yield: 1 Dough
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $1.50

Proofing Dough in the Instant Pot is probably one of the best kitchen hacks that I've found. It provides a dough that rises consistently every time!

Materials

  • 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Prepared Dough (ingredients already mixed)

Tools

  • Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker (one that utilizes the yogurt function with a glass lid is preferred)
  • Glass Lid
  • Glass Bowl (if using the alternate "keep warm" method)
  • Trivet with Handles (if using the alternate "keep warm" method)

Instructions

  1. Place 1 teaspoon olive oil into the liner of the Instant Pot. Place prepared dough into the liner and roll it in oil ensuring even coating. Top down view of dough in the instant pot.
  2. Use a glass lid or plate to cover the liner. Turn on the Instant Pot using the yogurt button, and make sure the screen says "less" under the time. Use the + and - buttons to adjust the time to 30 minutes. Front panel of the instant pot.
  3. After the 30 minutes is up, remove the lid. If the dough has risen to the specified size, remove it and continue with your recipe. If not add additional time. Puffy dough in the instant pot.

Notes

*We used a 6-Quart Instant Pot for this post and have not tried another size for comparison. (Link to our model of Instant Pot is listed below. See photo of the Instant Pot.)

*Please see post for links to equipment needed, more in-depth information, and links to recipes. 

*Please refer to the post for instructions for proofing dough using the "Keep Warm" method.

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