Why does my bread dough smell sour?

In this brief guide, we will address the question, “Why does my bread dough smell sour?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how to tell if your bread has gone bad and how to reduce the sourness in bread.

Why does my bread dough smell sour? 

The bread smells sour if you use yeast in excess, ferment the dough for a long time, or at high temperature. The sour smell can also be due to spoilage or staleness, in that case, you can taste it to check if the bread has gone bad.

The sour smell in bread dough is primarily because of two reasons – over fermentation and adding too much yeast in the dough. If the smell is mild, it will bake off, but if your finished bread has such a smell, it means you probably over fermented it or used too much yeast as mentioned before. 

Bread is a fermented product that requires delicacy and balance in its ingredients. Bread having a sour smell is a common problem when it comes to homemade bread. Store-bought bread rarely ever has a sour taste when it is fresh from the store. 

It is important to note that sour smell in the dough and sour smell in the finished product (bread) are two different things. Both can be avoided if you get the recipe right and take care of the proofing time. You can read about the different problems and their reasons here

Why does my bread smell sour but no mould is seen?

If bread smells sour but no mold is present then it is because of the high-temperature fermentation of dough for a long period of time. The absence of mold indicates that the bread is not spoiled.

How to reduce sourness in your bread? 

Like I just mentioned before, sourness is a result of over fermentation or adding to much yeast during the preparation of bread. 

The critical step is when you’re adding yeast in the water-sugar mixture. Proofing is the process in which you dissolve yeast in a fixed amount of water, based on how much bread you want to make. This is the step where you can get your ratios mixed up, resulting in a sour bread. 

Note: Do not add yeast in when the sugar-water mixture is boiling hot. Wait for it to cool down until lukewarm and then add yeast in the mixture. This will give you a proper texture and flavour.

For a detailed recipe on how to make the perfect homemade bread, you can click here

Sourness is a sign of spoilage of bread, there are other signs of spoilage as well. 

What can you do about the sourness? 

You can avoid the sour smell by changing the type of yeast you are using in your bread making process. This can also be a result of using certain unhygenic measures like not cleaning the utensils and cross-contamination with other things in the kitchen. Your bread will be safe to consume with a bit off odour, but be sure to look out for any signs of spoilage discussed in the next part of this question. If you notice any of these signs, you should discard the load immediately and start preparing a new one.

Other methods to avoid such a problem include reducing the quantity of yeast, replacing hot water with cold in the preparation of dough, and reducing the proofing time of dough. You can read more about this here.

Other FAQs about Bread which you may be interested in.

Why does my sourdough bread smell like alcohol?

Why does my baking bread smell like vinegar?

How to tell if your bread has gone bad? 

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. Unpleasant odor 

This is perhaps the most common technique while handling any food product. Simply discard the loaf when you notice the odour of the bread has changed. It indicates either the presence of a contaminant or the growth of microorganisms. 

No, you might not want to discard it when there is any smell that matches that of an alcohol or a similar substance, because this is just a result of fermentation. We are talking about a characteristic pungent or a stale smell. This type of smell indicates that mould growth has started to take place. This is just one step before you start to see visible mold growth on the bread.

  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, “why does my bread dough smell sour?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how to tell if your bread has gone bad and how to reduce the sourness in bread.




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