What Are Dough Conditioners? How to Use Them

Thank you for sharing!

Although optional, there are times in your cooking and baking plans when you might decide to add a dough conditioner. This article will fill you in on dough conditioners and how they’re used so you can cook like a pro!

What are dough conditioners? A dough conditioner is a chemical or ingredient that goes into the dough to improve its texture, elasticity, and/or strength. Examples include emulsifiers, oxidants, and enzymes. To use a dough conditioner, add a small amount (about a teaspoon) to your dough recipe. 

Ahead, I’ll talk about dough conditioners in detail, including the different types and how they work. I’ll also explain how to use them and the pros and cons. 


What Is a Dough Conditioner? How Does It Work?

Dough conditioners are referred to as bread improvers, improving agents, and flour treatment agents, among other names. The conditioner is simply a chemical or ingredient added to your dough to make it better.

How the dough becomes better varies. Its texture could improve, or perhaps its elasticity increases so the dough is nice and stretchy. 

What are the types of dough conditioners? They include emulsifiers, oxidants, enzymes, and reducing agents. Let’s talk more about each type of dough conditioner and how it works now.


Think of an emulsifier as a crumb softener. 

The emulsifier amalgamates the gluten for increased handling capacity. Further, emulsifiers rebalance the dough’s environment due to the fat-soluble and water-soluble regions. 

When baking bread or pizza, the consistency of the crumbs will be excellent, hence why emulsifiers are also known as crumb softeners. Further, the dough uniformity will be noticeably improved. 

The volume of your bread should be greater than if using the same dough but without an emulsifier, but you have to give the dough more proofing time. 

Examples of emulsifiers are calcium stearoyl lactylate or CSL, monoglycerides, stearoyl lactylates or SSL, diacetyl tartaric acid esters of monoglycerides or DATEM, and lecithin. 


Oxidizing agents or oxidants will oxidize the gluten’s free sulfhydryl groups. What results are disulfide bonds that allow for gluten structures with cross-linking. 

In other words, your dough is stronger.

In some instances, oxidants can be bleaching agents so the dough has a uniform color. This isn’t always the case though. 

The list of oxidants as dough conditioners are potassium bromate, potassium iodate, azodicarbonamide or ADA, and ascorbic acid or vitamin C.


In the dough are molecules, in which enzymes begin to break down. In doing so, the yeast now has the food source it needs to produce gas and ferment the dough, aka make it rise. 

Enzymatic dough conditioners include xylanase, lipoxygenase, protease, amylase, cellulase, and lipase. 

Reducing Agents

Finally, there are reducing agents. These agents chip away at the protein network, which leads to a weaker flour. Although you’d think this is a bad thing, it isn’t.

The weaker flour means the dough has better machinability, less proofing time (which is perfect if you want to make dough fast), and less mixing time. 

Reducing agents used as dough conditioners include non-leavening yeast, sodium bisulfite, fumaric acid, L-cysteine, and inactivated yeast. 

How to Use Dough Conditioners

Dough conditioners sound rather multifarious, at least at first glance. I mean, azodicarbonamide? Diacetyl tartaric acid esters of monoglycerides? What a mouthful.

Fortunately, although the ingredients are complex, using a dough conditioner is not. 

Dough conditioner is available in powder form, and you can usually buy the stuff a pound or more at a time. 

Like you would when adding yeast, sugar, and salt to most bread or pizza dough recipes, you mix the dough conditioner right into the flour.

If you’d like to learn more about pizza dough and the best ways to store it, I suggest reading the article I wrote titled Best Ways to Store homemade pizza dough.

How much dough conditioner do you need? That depends on the quantity of flour. The dough conditioner quantity should be between 0.5 percent and four percent of the total flour weight. 

Yes, that’s a huge discrepancy, so use your discretion when cooking and baking. 

If you’re only making a little bit of dough, then use less dough conditioner. For bigger recipes, up the amount of conditioner.

If you’re making high-fiber bread or whole-wheat pizza dough, then using more dough conditioner is warranted. The increased amount will encourage gluten development. 

I will say this – when it comes to dough conditioner, less is always more. 

The ingredients in the dough conditioner will disrupt the dough’s balance in some way (albeit for the better), but going too far in one direction can result in a dough that has too much stretch or is even too tough.

Here’s another pointer: when making your dough, you need to follow the correct order of ingredients. First, add your bread flour or 00 pizza flour. Next, your dough conditioner should go in, then the yeast, salt, sugar, etc. 

I’m sure you’re wondering, does dough conditioner increase the carbohydrate load of your dough or make it more calorically heavy? Nope, none of that, and that’s only because you’re using so little. 

The Pros and Cons of Dough Conditioners

Dough conditioners can be very advantageous, but there are downsides as well. This section will examine both sides of the coin. 


Keeps Your Bread or Pizza Dough Fresher Longer

Once bread goes stale, you’ll long for its former glory days of pillowy softness. If you made the bread from scratch, it’s even more heartbreaking when it becomes stale.

Using a dough conditioner can decelerate the staling process so you can squeeze more days out of that homemade loaf of bread. 

Could Lead to More Voluminous Bread

This is a point I touched on earlier. If you don’t mind giving your bread dough or pizza dough additional time to proof (or rise), you’ll see that having used a dough conditioner will increase the volume of the dough.

This means a bigger loaf of bread and a larger pizza. Who doesn’t want that? 

Allows the Crust to Develop Great Color and Texture

When baking bread especially, you want a golden-brown crust that’s firm and crisp but not too much of either. 

If you’ve pulled out one too many baked loaves of bread that are white or light tan, use a dough conditioner. The color of the crust will come out beautifully, not to mention the texture will be more desirable too. 

Creates a Soft, Delectable Crumb

For soft crumbs every time, a dough conditioner can help you. The ingredients will bolster the gluten which makes for consistently awesome crumbs. 

Produces More Gas so Dough Proofs Faster

When you want to eat bread now, the proofing time is especially aggravating. You hate having to wait an hour or several for your dough to rise, but you know it’s important.

What if you could cut your proofing time? You can with a dough conditioner. The ingredients in the conditioner produce more gas so the dough can rise faster. 

Increases Handling Tolerance 

If you’ve ever tried to toss homemade pizza dough like the professional pizzaiolos do, then you’ve probably ripped a hole or several in the dough before. 

While the holes are usually repairable with a bit of water and tucking, they’re a sign that your dough isn’t very pliable. Dough conditioner makes the dough able to better withstand handling, so go ahead, spin your pizza dough around a little!


Can’t Buy It at Your Average Grocery Store

If this is the first you’re hearing of dough conditioner, don’t feel bad. It’s not a product you’re going to find on the shelves of your grocery store baking aisle. 

Instead, you have to go hunting for it through restaurant supply stores or online retailers. That it’s not too easy to find can dissuade some bakers from using dough conditioner at all.  

Can Accidentally Use Too Much 

A heavy hand when using dough conditioner can be detrimental, as I talked about before. You can change the conditions of the yeast and other ingredients so much that the dough doesn’t come out right. 

Some Ingredients Might Not Be Very Healthy 

Arguably the biggest downside of using dough conditioner is that it might not contain the healthiest ingredients. 

Potassium bromate has been grouped into category 2B by the International Agency for Research on Cancer or IARC. To be a category 2B means that the dough conditioner could be carcinogenic to humans, but more research is needed.

Do You Need a Dough Conditioner?

Keeping all that in mind, is a dough conditioner worth using? 

I say yes, it can be! 

Let’s be real, dough can be very temperamental. It’s frustrating to spend hours in the kitchen prepping dough and letting it proof only for it to be uncooperative when you try to work with it.

Dough conditioner is meant to minimize the headaches you deal with when handling dough.

The conditioner shortens proofing time, makes the dough more pliable, and strengthens it so you shouldn’t have rips and holes in your dough.

Despite that a dough conditioner is sometimes chemically-based, it comes in a powder form no different than your favorite pizza flour or bread flour. All you have to remember to do is add it before the other dough ingredients (besides flour). Oh, and limit how much you use too.

Since you only need a little bit of dough conditioner at a time and since you can buy it by the pound, one bag should last you for a long time! 

Whether you make bread all the time or make dough from scratch on occasion when baking a homemade pizza, I’d recommend trying a dough conditioner.

Thank you for sharing!

Catherine Cruzz

I first fell in love with all things kitchen when I was growing up and working alongside my father in Florida at our family's appliance service and installation company. Many years later, and thousands of miles away from family I was enjoying a wonderful experience at a culinary school in Pennsylvania. That’s when I realized that along with my passion for holidays and cooking, I was still just as interested in the appliances, kitchenware, and cookware that I grew up around.

Recent Posts