For some reason, humans are almost unstoppable when it comes to eating raw dough. We don’t know what it is! Maybe it’s the impatience of waiting for the uber delicious final baked dish, or maybe it’s boredom.
Either way, we’ve all heard the warnings. Don’t eat raw dough; you could get sick. You’ll end up in the hospital!”
But no one has ever explained why — and to be completely honest, we’ve eaten raw dough before, and nothing happened to us. Well, not yet at least.
So today, we look at the question, can you eat raw pizza dough? In short, you can, but you really shouldn’t. The potential risks involved are simply too high! Bacteria that are commonly found on raw pizza dough include E. coli and Salmonella, not to mention other bacteria that sit on the undercooked toppings.
In this article, we’ll explain why you shouldn’t eat raw or undercooked pizza dough, what the risks are, the potential symptoms of food poisoning, and how to avoid it completely.
We’ve even included a handy guide on how to prevent undercooked dough entirely!
Raw Vs Undercooked Pizza Dough
First, it’s crucial to recognize the difference between undercooked pizza dough and raw uncooked pizza dough. Both look very similar, but spoiler alert — you shouldn’t eat either of them!
Undercooked pizza dough refers to areas in an assembled and “baked” pizza that hasn’t been completely cooked. The outside is usually dry and appears to be baked, but once you tear the dough apart, the inside is still slightly doughy.
Raw pizza dough, on the other hand, hasn’t even begun cooking yet. It usually happens in the center of the pizza or a thicker area that hasn’t yet cooked.
Now, one is definitely far riskier to consume than the other. But still, both can have some serious health effects.
Should You Eat Raw Pizza Dough?
Bottom line: as we’ve already made very clear, raw or underbaked pizza cannot and should never be eaten.
There are loads of people that say, “it’s fine, it’s fine!” But the reality is that many ingredients could carry seriously dangerous bacteria. It’s not that you are guaranteed to get sick from eating raw pizza dough. But the risk is too high.
It’s the same when people talk about slightly undercooked chicken or pork. It’s not set in stone that you’ll get Salmonella. But these two ingredients are known to carry a higher chance of giving it to you!
So, don’t eat it — don’t even taste raw pizza dough. You can suffer from food poisoning that could land you in the hospital!
Risks Involved When Eating Raw Or Undercooked Pizza Dough
There are a few different ingredients that go into making pizza dough that can potentially carry a ton of risk if the dough isn’t cooked correctly.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at a few of them!
Flour is grossly underestimated as a potential health risk. Remember, flour isn’t heat-treated at all.
When you buy and use flour, it’s technically raw. This means that it could carry a ton of bacteria. The most common one you’ll find on this ingredient is E. coli (Escherichia coli).
And before you ask: No, the bleaching and grinding of the wheat doesn’t kill the bacteria. The only way to effectively get rid of them is by heat-treating (a.k.a. baking or cooking) the flour.
Eggs are an ingredient that is infamous for causing food poisoning. If your undercooked pizza dough contains any, which most recipes do, you may want to think twice about eating it.
Raw and undercooked eggs can carry Salmonella. That is why eggs need to reach a baked or cooked temperature of 160ºF (71ºC). You can test the internal temperature of the dough using a probe thermometer.
Pizza dough specifically is actually only properly cooked around 200-210ºF (93-99ºC). A way around this is to use heat-treated eggs or pasteurized eggs.
Obviously, the toppings don’t form part of the pizza dough. But if the dough is undercooked, it’s likely your toppings will be too.
Depending on what toppings you’ve added and how you have added them, this can carry a whole bunch of risks on its own.
Seafood pizza is especially well-known to carry bacteria like Listeria, Shigella, Vibrio, and Salmonella.
Symptoms Of Food Poisoning
Naturally, there are varying degrees of food poisoning. If you’re lucky, you get away with mild symptoms, but even these aren’t a walk in the park!
E. coli symptoms usually involve stomach problems and vomiting. The symptoms usually appear about 3-4 days after ingesting the bacteria and start with cramps and diarrhea.
E. coli is also well known for causing HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome), which can lead to a stroke and death!
Then there’s the dreaded Salmonella bacteria, which we’ve all likely suffered from at one point or another.
The symptoms can start showing after a couple of hours and can last up to a week! Common symptoms of Salmonella include diarrhea, a very high fever, and stomach cramps.
How To Fix Undercooked Pizza Dough
Once you see that your pizza dough is still raw or undercooked, it is best to put it back in the oven, even if you had the pizza delivered!
If you are at a restaurant, send the undercooked pizza back immediately.
If you are making pizza at home or need to fix a delivery pizza, here’s what to do:
- To continue cooking the pizza inside the oven, preheat the oven to 360ºF (180ºC).
- Once heated, place the pizza on a baking tray, pizza pan, or pizza stone.
- Bake the pizza until it reaches an internal temperature (at the thickest part) of 200-210ºF (93-99ºC).
If you don’t have a probe thermometer, you can always break open a thick piece. Cooked pizza dough should be fluffy, dry, and soft — it shouldn’t be doughy.
How To Avoid Undercooked Pizza Dough
Here are some tips for fixing undercooked dough if you’re eating out or making pizza at home!
For Store-Bought Pizza
If you bought pre-cooked pizza from a store or restaurant, naturally there isn’t much on your side to avoid undercooking the dough. In that case, just send it back so they can give you a new, completely cooked one.
If it’s a repeating problem, just don’t buy from them again. It also helps to leave a public review so that others know to avoid this health risk.
For Homemade Pizza
If you are making pizza at home, always follow the baking times and temperatures in the recipe. If there aren’t any, a pizza should bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on the temperature.
Naturally, the higher the temperature of the oven, the shorter the cooking time will be. If you are using tools like a pizza stone or pan, this will help speed up the process as well.
Here are some other tricks you can use to ensure your pizza comes out perfectly baked:
- Make a thin-crust pizza. It will cook much more quickly, more evenly, and is more likely to be completely cooked at the end. And who doesn’t love crispy edges?
- Don’t overload the pizza dough with toppings. Too many toppings can cause the dough to bake unevenly or even not at all. The thick layer of toppings could be preventing the dough from heating at the top, causing it to come out raw!
- Only add pre-cooked toppings if they need to be cooked. When adding toppings that take a long time to cook (longer than 10 minutes), it’s best to cook them separately and add them to the pizza toward the end.
- For example, if you have whole pieces of prawn, they will take forever to cook completely. That means the dough will be ready before the prawns are, which obviously carries many risks.
- Always ensure that your oven doesn’t have any hot spots. This can cause one part to overcook while the other remains raw. A pizza stone or pizza pan can help correct this issue.
- Use the correct baking times and temperatures. Your oven should be preheated and hot when you bake pizza.
- This isn’t a dish that uses medium temperatures — your oven should be set to at least 360ºF (180ºC), but most people bake their pizzas at 450-500ºF (230-260ºC).
Now that we’ve learned all about why you shouldn’t eat raw or undercooked pizza dough, plus how to avoid this from happening, here are some additional questions that we thought you might have.
How can you ensure that raw, store-bought pizza dough is safe to eat after it’s cooked?
We recommend only buying pre-made pizza dough from reputable brands. Then, you still have to check the product.
First, check the expiry date. Then, check the package for any tears — tears can allow bacteria to enter the dough! And finally, check the actual dough for signs of mold or discoloration.
How do you prevent the pizza dough from overcooking?
Now, in your pursuit to avoid undercooking the pizza, you may just end up burning the bottom or making the crust dry.
To avoid this, you can use a baking temperature of 400ºF (200ºC). Then, check the doneness of your dough after 10 minutes for thin-crust pizza. For thick-crust pizza, you can check the doneness after 15 minutes.
Can raw pizza dough rise in your stomach?
This is quite a scary thought, and the short answer is yes — under very specific conditions.
In a warm and wet environment that has optimal temperatures and a food source, the yeast found in raw pizza dough can continue to expand, which ultimately causes bloating.
There are some more serious side effects, but hopefully, bloating is all you’ll experience.