If you’ve never tried to cook frozen vegetables before, there’s no time like the present to start!
Frozen vegetables can be looked down on by some cooks, seen as less delicious and nutritious than fresh vegetables. We’re here to tell you that’s not true! Frozen vegetables can be just as healthy and delicious as fresh vegetables, especially if you learn to start cooking frozen vegetables in the right way.
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through 5 essential tips you need to keep in mind when cooking frozen veggies. This will ensure that every time you’re cooking frozen vegetables, they come out delicious.
Should I Buy Frozen Veggies or Fresh Veggies?
Before we dive into the tips, let’s learn more about what makes frozen veggies so great.
One of the biggest misconceptions about frozen vegetables is that they are not as good for cooking as fresh vegetables. While it’s true that there are some contexts where fresh is best, there are plenty of recipes out there that can take advantage of frozen vegetables without compromising quality.
The biggest argument against using frozen veggies is that they are less nutritious than fresh. However, frozen vegetables are flash frozen as soon as they are harvested, preserving a lot of their nutritional content. In fact, there are even studies that show that when comparing frozen and fresh produce, frozen vegetables were more likely to be better nutritionally when compared to fresh vegetables.
At the end of the day, you can buy either frozen vegetables or fresh vegetables. It all comes down to personal preferences and lifestyle. However, there are a ton of benefits to frozen vegetables which can make them a better pick over fresh for some folks.
Benefits of Frozen Veggies
What are the benefits of frozen vegetables? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why people prefer them:
Frozen vegetables are fast and easy to cook, making them a great solution when you are pressed for time. Where fresh vegetables often require some prep work, frozen veggies come prepared and ready to go for your preferred cooking method straight from the bag.
This is perhaps the biggest benefit for most home cooks. No longer will you have to worry about products quickly rotting in your fridge before you can use them. With frozen vegetables, your vegetable produce will stay nice and frozen until you’re ready for it, letting you keep veggies in your fridge longer until they’re ready for the dinner table.
As we touched on above, frozen vegetables are perfectly healthy as they are flash-frozen when harvested to capture their nutritional content. There are no worries about losing out on the benefits associated with eating vegetables, even when buying frozen.
The other massive benefit of frozen vegetables is that they are often way cheaper than fresh veggies. Those looking to save costs can find massive savings on their grocery bill by buying some things frozen instead of fresh. This is super helpful for those looking to save money, such as those trying to create healthy family dinners for large groups or college students who want to eat vegetables at a lower cost.
Frozen vegetables are also almost always available, which means they can be a consistent part of your diet, not seasonal. For many, using only fresh produce means they can only buy different vegetables at certain times of the year. With frozen veggies, you can always have your favorite roasted veggies on hand, year-round.
Types of Frozen Vegetables to Buy
While you can probably find most forms of vegetables out there frozen, there are some specific varieties we recommend trying out as a part of a healthy diet. These are our recommendations for frozen vegetables to look out for in the grocery store:
- Frozen Broccoli
- Frozen Mixed Vegetables
- Frozen Corn
- Frozen Spinach
- Frozen Kale
- Frozen Peas
- Frozen Brussels Sprouts
- Frozen Butternut Squash
- Frozen Edamame
How To Cook Frozen Vegetables: Our Top 5 Tips
Those cooking frozen vegetables should keep certain tips in mind to keep them tasting fresh and delicious, every time!
Here are our top tips for how to cook frozen vegetables:
Always Cook From Frozen
We know this one may sound strange, but it’s true! Frozen vegetables, in almost all cases, are better off being cooked from frozen, rather than allowing them to defrost before serving.
Why? When you defrost frozen vegetables, it can cause them to get more mushy, losing any existing crunchy texture. Unfreezing them can also cause vegetables to lose nutrients that are sealed in at the time they are frozen.
This happens because when we freeze veggies, the water inside of their cells expands. As a result, structural integrity becomes lost when you defrost frozen vegetables.
To avoid this, toss frozen vegetables in olive oil so they don’t stick together, season them, and then go on to your preferred cooking method. You can use this before you roast frozen vegetables, for sautéed frozen vegetables, or for any other kind of cooking where you’re putting vegetables in the oven.
You should only try defrosting frozen vegetables in specific circumstances, for example, when using frozen leafy vegetables like frozen spinach. Leafy greens can cook more evenly once they are defrosted, and won’t fill your pan with water as they melt.
Use Plenty of Seasoning
While this can be true for most cooking in general, the best way to ensure frozen veggies taste delicious is to make sure they are well seasoned.
When roasting frozen vegetables, you can toss them with olive oil or your preferred cooking oil, salt and pepper, and any other seasonings you prefer. The olive oil will keep your veggies well seasoned and can make frozen vegetables crispy during the cooking process. Additionally, a hot pan can help to ensure a nice crisp edge forms during cooking time.
The same is true when cooking frozen vegetables in other ways, for example, sauteed in a larger dish or popped into the air fryer. Salt and pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and fresh lemon are all great flavors that work for a majority of frozen vegetables.
Don’t Make Then the Star of Your Dish
As frozen vegetables can be more temperamental than fresh vegetables, we recommend using them most often when they aren’t the center of your main dish.
For example, if you are looking to prepare a standalone side dish of broccoli, you’ll get the best taste and texture possible by choosing fresh vegetables. However, for dishes where veggies are a part of a whole, for example, in a stew, soup, smoothie, salad, stir fry, etc., frozen veggies can truly come in clutch!
It’s easier to eat frozen vegetables when they are a part of a larger main dish rather than a side dish. When cooking them this way, it can be a lot easier to hide less than perfect textures that may happen during the cooking process. Next time you have a big recipe with vegetable ingredients, see if you notice any difference using frozen over fresh.Try Steaming Instead of Boiling
There are plenty of different cooking styles you can use to cook frozen vegetables, including trying to roast frozen vegetables, air fry them, saute them, and much more. All of these methods can be easy ways to make some delicious frozen veggies!
However, if you are planning to cook frozen vegetables on their own, not incorporated into another dish, we highly recommend that you steam frozen vegetables.
When you steam frozen veggies, you can quickly cook and defrost them without having them turn into mush during cooking time. The steam can cook your veggies, without having them sit in any liquid they might seep out in the process, helping them taste fresher and keep a better texture.
Of course, how you cook frozen vegetables depends on the specific dish cuisine you are making, so we know this method can’t be used all the time. It’s just something to keep in mind when making frozen veggies as a side dish, or in situations where your veggies deserve to shine on their own!
Select Carefully When Shopping
Another great tip for having delicious frozen vegetables is making sure you are selecting the highest quality vegetables possible! Not all frozen vegetables are made equal, and there are some quality checks you can do while shopping in store to ensure you’re making a good purchase.
When shopping for veggies like frozen corn, frozen peas, or frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer aisle, it’s a good idea to give the bag a few squeezes. If you can feel lots of solid frozen clumps of vegetables that have formed in the bag, it could indicate that they aren’t as high quality. This usually happens when frozen veggies defrost during transit, and are then refrozen when they arrived at the store.
As these veggies have had an interrupted freezing process, there’s a chance these veggies will be off in texture or may have lost some nutritional value as a result of thawing. If you can squeeze a frozen vegetable bag and get a good feel for loose, flash-frozen, individual pieces, they are likely higher in quality.
Frozen Vegetable Cooking Instructions
Here are some tips for the best ways to cook frozen vegetables. Please note that for all these instructions, we recommend you cook from frozen.
Sauteeing Frozen Vegetables
Sauteing frozen vegetables is an easy and efficient way to incorporate them into dishes like stir-fries. Here’s how to do it and ensure they still have a great texture and great taste.
- Put your saute pan on medium-high heat
- Add in frozen vegetables, with one tablespoon of your favorite cooking oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil)
- Cook your vegetables uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes
Steaming Frozen Vegetables
Steaming frozen veggies is an easy way to cook from frozen! Here’s how to do it:
- Fill a pot/pan with 2-3 inches of water, and allow to come to a boil
- When water is boling, place a steaming basket over top and add in vegetables and cover with a lid
- Allow vegetables to steam, watching closely, anywhere from 4-8 minutes
Oven Roasting Frozen Vegetables
Cooking frozen vegetables in the oven is easy and delicious. Here’s how to make delicious oven-roasted frozen vegetables:
- Set oven to 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit
- While the oven heats, add a thin layer of cooking oil, such as olive oil, to your roasting pan, and allow it to sit in the oven as it preheats
- Toss frozen vegetables in cooking oil such as olive oil, and desired seasonings
- Once the oven is at the desired temperature, remove your empty pan and add your vegetables, evenly spreading them across the pan
- Allow vegetables to cook for 20-25 minutes, flipping them when you are halfway through cook time
Grilling Frozen Vegetables
You can also cook your frozen vegetables on the grill! Here’s how to get it done:
- Prep your frozen vegetables by coating them in cooking oil, plus your desired seasonings
- Next, place veggies in a grill basket, or wrap them in tin foil
- Place vegetables on your grill, and set to medium-high heat
- Allow vegetables to cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping them halfway through cook time
Frozen Vegtables FAQ
Still got questions? Here are the most common asks people have about using frozen vegetables.
How long do frozen vegetables last in the freezer?
While this can vary depending on vegetable type and brand, in general, frozen vegetables are good in the freezer for 8-12 months of storage.
Are frozen vegetables better than canned vegetables?
In most cases, frozen vegetables are considered higher in quality than canned vegetables.
This is because frozen vegetables are fresh vegetables that were flash frozen, sealing in their nutrition content. In comparison, canned vegetables are often slightly cooked and might have additives like salt and sugar, making them less nutritious.
Should I thaw my frozen vegetables?
You should not thaw your frozen vegetables before cooking. When you thaw frozen vegetables the water cells that expanded during the freezing process contract, giving them a mushier texture.
To keep them as crisp as possible, it’s best to cook from frozen. There are some exceptions to this rule, mainly the use of leafy greens like frozen spinach or kale, which cook more evenly if you defrost them first.
What are the best methods for cooking frozen vegetables?
You can cook frozen vegetables using the same methods reserved for fresh vegetables! You can roast frozen vegetables in the oven on a baking sheet with olive oil, try grilled frozen vegetables on the barbecue, steam frozen veggies in a steaming basket, simmer them in liquid like chicken broth, or even toss them in cooking oil and air fry them.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to cooking frozen vegetables. All you need to do is get creative in the kitchen!
Hey, I’m Joey. I’ve been cooking since I was a little kid and love everything about it. You can find my writing about food, kitchen appliances (such as blenders) and much more. Thanks for stopping by!