The 11 Best Frozen Vegetables To Stockpile (And How To Cook Them)

Author: Liang

Mar. 07, 2024

Food & Beverage

There's nothing quite as delicious as a freshly-picked vegetable pulled straight from the earth, but this doesn't mean frozen produce doesn't have its place. Frozen vegetables are less expensive, and since they last far longer than fresh veggies, they can also help you eliminate food waste in your kitchen. The best part is that you don't necessarily have to sacrifice quality to add them to your diet.

Still, not all frozen vegetables are created equal. Think salad greens, green beans, or boxed vegetables covered in a cheesy sauce. If you're a little hesitant about buying the bagged varieties behind those glass door freezers, you should know that frozen veggies are processed at the peak of ripeness, when their nutrient levels are highest. And in some cases, frozen actually is a better choice over fresh.

Read on to find out which vegetables you should always keep in stock in your freezer.

Green Peas

Fresh green peas may be hard to come by, depending on where you live in the South. They're only available for a short season, and you have to shell them. Frozen peas are a great alternative. When cooked properly (boiling them quickly on the stovetop with butter), they bear a striking bright green resemblance and a sweet taste like fresh peas.

Recipe: Skillet Toasted Gnocchi With Green Peas

Recipe: Oven-Baked Risotto With Ham, Leeks, And Peas

Victor Protasio

Broccoli

Fresh broccoli begins to deteriorate and spoil after just a few days in the fridge. So if you don't plan to use up a whole head of fresh broccoli right away, cooking with frozen broccoli may save you more money and prevent food waste. When steaming frozen broccoli, be sure to cook off any extra water, so it's not soggy. Or, try roasting it on a sheet pan, which brings out the vegetable's natural sweetness and creates wonderfully crispy edges.

Recipe: Broccoli-Cheese Casserole

Recipe: Roasted Broccoli

Cauliflower

Like the other cruciferous family member, cauliflower is one of those versatile veggies that tastes just as great frozen as it does fresh. The snap-freeze process makes frozen cauliflower cheaper and easier to prepare. Whether you sauté, steam, or boil it, you still get all the vitamin C benefits with frozen cauliflower. And don't forget about frozen cauliflower rice—it's a great low-carb substitute for grains.

Recipe: Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

Recipe: Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Stacy K. Allen; Props: Julia Bayless; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

Okra

Fresh okra is at its peak in the summer months, but what if you get a craving for gumbo in the winter? Frozen okra can step in, and with good results. And when stored properly in the freezer, it won't spoil, which will happen quickly with the fresh kind.

Recipe: Classic Okra And Tomatoes

Recipe: Kardea Brown's Okra and Shrimp Soup

Carrots

While carrots are practically available year-round, fresh ones only last a short while in the refrigerator. frozen carrots are chosen shortly after harvest, allowing them to maintain their fiber, vitamin A, and beta-carotene nutrients. Plus frozen carrots are already peeled and prepped, so all you have to do is toss them in the pot.

Recipe: Ginger Carrots

Recipe: Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Melissa Gray; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Lima Beans

Tender, velvety lima beans (or butterbeans) are a popular Southern side dish and they're much easier to find frozen than fresh. We love them in this slow-cooked recipe, which is flavored with bacon, brown sugar, and onion.

Recipe: Creamy Lima Beans

Recipe: Home-Style Butterbeans

Spinach

Frozen spinach is full of fiber-rich nutrients, iron, and calcium and lasts much longer than fresh. But, the best incentive for using frozen instead of fresh comes down to quantity. Fresh spinach leaves tend to cook down significantly. Also, cooking with frozen spinach means you don't have to worry about squeezing out excess water when making a tasty spinach dip.

Recipe: Creamed Spinach

Recipe: Buttermilk Alfredo Chicken-Spinach Pasta

VICTOR PROTASIO; PROP STYLING: CLAIRE SPOLLEN; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts can be ridiculously expensive, especially when not in season. However, frozen Brussels sprouts are a lot less costly. You'll want to forego the defrosting to ensure you don't end up with mushy, bitter, or watery sprouts. Instead, coat them in a little olive oil and roast them for about 35 minutes until they brown and form a nice, caramelized crunch.

Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Recipe: Mini Meatloaves with Potatoes, Leeks, and Brussels Sprouts

Butternut Squash

With its high-fiber content and nutrient-dense properties such as potassium, folate, and vitamin B6, we should always make room for butternut squash in our diet. To take all the work out of peeling and chopping fresh butternut squash, grab a frozen bag to make a simple roasted dish. It's also sold as a frozen puree, which is fantastic for soups and pasta sauces.

Recipe: Butternut Squash Cake

Recipe: Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese

Greg DuPree, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christine Keely 

Corn

Opt for frozen kernels instead of canned for those long months when sweet corn isn't in season. It's just as sweet as the fresh kind and works well in cooked preparations. (If you're making a salad or using it raw, fresh corn is the better way to go.)

Recipe: Honey-Butter Skillet Corn

Recipe: Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

Field Peas

Field peas are another Southern treat in the summer months, but they are available year-round in your freezer section for rice dishes, soups, and sides. Better yet, look for bags of frozen field peas with snaps (green beans), and double your vegetable intake.

Recipe: Classic Hoppin' John

Recipe: Reunion Pea Casserole

Stacy K. Allen, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that many of you have been relying on frozen vegetables more these last few months than ever before? I actually hope so! Because these packages are not only super-convenient, they’re also budget-friendly shortcuts and a great way to boost a meal. (Fact: Frozen vegetables are just as nutrient-rich as fresh vegetables. Take it from me — a registered dietitian!)

The 11 Best Frozen Vegetables To Stockpile (And How To Cook Them)

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