My bread smells like alcohol, can I eat it?

In this brief guide we will address the question, “my bread smells like alcohol, can I eat it? as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how to tell if your bread has gone bad and how you can get rid of the alcohol smell. 

My bread smells like alcohol, can I eat it? 

Yes, bread that smells like alcohol is safe to eat and does not mean it has gone bad. The alcoholic smell is usually just due to the over fermentation. The yeast in the bread utilises the starch molecules and converts them into carbon dioxide and alcohol. This is a process known as fermentation in which sugars are converted into gas and an alcoholic substance. 

And yeast is an ingredient capable of fermentation. As a matter of fact, bread is a fermented product. The critical step is the proofing time and the addition of yeast in the bread, which gives it the smooth, rich taste and a nice texture. Any change in the ratio of ingredients or any deviation will inevitably result in a change in taste, texture, or aroma of the finished product.

The smell of alcohol, or some people perceive it like that of a nail polish remover, or acetone (which is basically vinegar in its true sense) is all because of the same process of fermentation. The quantity of yeast and proofing time is what precisely determines the degree of fermentation in the bread making process. If you give it too much proofing time or add more yeast than required, you might be putting your bread at a risk of smelling like alcohol or over fermenting it, resulting in an unevenly risen dough or worse!

Keep in mind that the bread is safe to eat as long as you are sure that all the ingredients added are not contaminated with any other commodity. The smell of alcohol can also be observed if you let your bread stay out in the open for too long. Remember that fermentation is a process and it needs adequate environmental conditions to take place. When you put your bread out in the open, you are putting it at a greater risk of fermentation, because increased temperature supports the fermentation process. 

Just like when you baked your bread during the initial preparation where you were allowing the fermentation to take place, you could again be unconsciously promoting the process when you put it out in the open. 

Why does my bread dough smell like alcohol? 

There are two reasons why bread dough smells like alcohol

  1. Over fermentation 
  2. Adding too much yeast

It is important to note that fermentation is a natural process and the smell of alcohol vanishes when the bread is baked. It only smells like alcohol because of the fermentation process, but it is perfectly safe to consume such bread.

Why does my bread smell like alcohol? 

Sometimes, bread smells like alcohol when its dough is over-fermented and sugars get converted into alcohol or because of residues of it after the bake off.

What can you do about the smell? 

There are various factors that you need to keep in mind if your bread has develop this smell. Let’s start with simpler ones first, so we can take care of them one by one. 

  1. Yeast and overproofing 

You might have simply added too much yeast during the preparation. To avoid this negligence, always follow a recipe that you know of. You can get a lot of bread making recipes according to your taste online, and most of them are very detailed and accurate.

Like mentioned before, another reason is giving the bread too much proofing time. Again, following the recipe is the best approach. If you are still not sure about the proofing time and temperature, just let it sit in a dark place. Ideal proofing/rising of the bread is when the dough has risen double its original mass.

The dough rises as a result of the fermentation process, so the carbon dioxide gas will be produced inside and it will create the small gaps that you see in your bread. 

  1. Punching and re-proofing

Consider a case where you have accidentally left the bread for rising way longer than required. Now this is where you will have an over fermented bread that might smell. What are you going to do with it now? Throw it?

To deal with such a situation, give the dough a few good punches so that the trapped air and gluten network gets damaged. This will allow you to proof the bread again to get a uniform texture and a smooth, rich taste. When you bake it again, there are chances that the smell will go away. Otherwise, it would still be safe to eat.

Other FAQs about Bread which you may be interested in.

Why does my bread smell like chemicals?

How to tell if your bread has gone bad?

Like mentioned earlier, the best by date is just an estimate and your bread may still be fresh past this date. Therefore, as long as you are aware of the signs of spoilage, the bread will be safe to consume. Here are some classical indicators that help you identify that the bread is no longer fresh or safe to consume. 

  1. Mold

Mold is a type of fungus that grows in different colours. It could be black, green, white, or pink. If you see such a growth or color formation on your bread, you should discard it immediately. 

  1. Strange taste or hard texture

Even if your bread passes the first two indicators, and then does not taste right, it is better to just throw it away and not take any risks. Health is wealth! 

Similarly, if you leave your bread out in the open for too long, the bread will go stale and turn dry. This is also an indicator that your bread has now gone bad and it is time to throw it away. 


In this brief guide we have addressed the question, “my bread smells like alcohol, can I eat it?” and other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how to tell if your bread has gone bad and how to get rid of the alcohol smell.