Choosing between frozen or fresh vegetables may feel tough, but this is one case when the convenient frozen option can be just as nutritious as the fresh. Learn more about which frozen veggies give you the best bang for your buck and the best methods for cooking frozen vegetables.
Not all processed foods are bad.
While some processing removes essential nutrients from our foods like fiber and vitamins, other methods can lead to a healthier result, like fortified milk.
Frozen vegetables are another "processed" food that’s incredibly nutritious. These veggies freeze at peak ripeness and often contain more nutrients than fresh vegetables that spend days deteriorating as they travel to our closest grocery store.
Below, you'll find out more about good frozen vegetables to choose to add some extra convenient nutrition to your diet for a lower price than fresh!
Frozen vs. Fresh Vegetables: Are Frozen Vegetables Healthy?
It's a common misconception that quick-frozen vegetables aren't as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. While fresh veggies are highly nutritious and an in-season ripe and fresh veggie likely is a little higher in nutrition, there are plenty of times when a bag of frozen vegetables is your best option!
A fresh vegetable isn't always in-season, especially in areas that experience winter. Out of season veggies contain fewer nutrients, whereas frozen veggies are harvested and frozen at peak nutrient time.
Fresh produce needs to travel from the farm to the warehouse, and eventually from the grocery store or market to your home. Over time, fresh veggies lose nutrients and antioxidants, but the nutrition in frozen veggies stays intact for as long as it remains frozen.
The travel time involved means we pick many veggies before their peak ripeness, which under-develops the nutrients. And wilting, rotting, and spoiling is a concern - there is a much smaller potential for food waste with frozen veggies, which keep well in the freezer for months on end.
A few other great things about using frozen produce:
- No need to wash, chop, or clean-up – frozen is super convenient!
- Offers year-round access to produce, even when out-of-season.
- Usually is less expensive, which will help lower your grocery budget.
- Frozen vegetables' nutrition is undeniable – they're full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Any frozen produce can contain more vitamins and minerals than days-old fresh produce, though cooking may affect those numbers. Either way, one of the best things you can do for your diet is to include more veggies, no matter what form they come in!
Do Frozen Vegetables Taste as Good as Fresh?
Frozen vegetables taste great, but the only caveat is you have to cook them, whereas fresh veggies can be enjoyed fresh off the vine, steamed, or cooked into your favorite dishes.
10 Healthiest Frozen Vegetables
These are some of the best-tasting frozen vegetables you can find that will be delicious cooked into almost every meal! With a few basic techniques, you can quickly learn how to make vegetables taste good, including frozen ones – there will not be a floppy, soggy green bean in sight!
Plus, with many highly nutritious options, you cannot go wrong by grabbing any of these items on our frozen vegetables list.
#1: Frozen Peas
Frozen peas are just as nutritious as any fresh ones, and you can easily pop them into any dish. These peas come already shelled, which can be tedious when you buy fresh.
Peas also contain 9 g of protein per cup, making them one of the best additions to up your protein intake in a vegan curry or pasta.
#2: Frozen Green Beans
These tasty, low-calorie, and high-fiber veggies add a pop of color and plenty of sweet flavor to every meal.
Serve green beans steamed on the side of your dish, or toss them right into the mix.
#3: Frozen Broccoli
Broccoli is one of the more nutritious cruciferous veggies you can find, and frozen broccoli nutrition is just as valuable as fresh – it retains its nutrients very well when frozen.
And because of its lower water content, you can easily roast up some frozen broccoli with a few spices, sea salt, and pepper to a perfectly crisp texture that won't be too soggy.
#4: Frozen Spinach
High water content greens, like romaine or butter lettuce, fall completely apart in the freezer – spinach and kale make excellent options for the freezer.
You won't be able to make a freshly-tossed salad with frozen spinach, but you can toss it into almost any other cooked dish, from pasta sauce to curry, for a big hit of nutrients and vitamins.
Frozen spinach retains folate even better than fresh spinach does, so you won't be sacrificing its health benefits by choosing a convenient frozen option. It’s also already wilted down into dense chunks, whereas if you try to cook with fresh spinach, it seems to evaporate into thin air – you need to use a ton of fresh spinach to yield a cup cooked.
Drain your spinach in a rolled kitchen towel very well after thawing to avoid a watery mess.
#5: Frozen Cauliflower
We love cauliflower because it's one of the rare veggies that taste relatively mild while still offering a lot of nutrition.
Whether you want to make cauliflower mash or riced cauliflower, it's essential to defrost and drain the cauliflower florets to avoid excessive water and sogginess.
Fresh is still your best bet if you're breading or roasting your cauliflower, as it holds up better and gives you that crispy, crunch texture you want.
You can purchase frozen pre-riced cauliflower, which holds its shape even better than attempting to rice frozen florets and provides an easy replacement for rice or grains, ready in an instant.
#6: Frozen Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are among the most underrated healthy frozen vegetables that can taste delicious when prepared the right way. One simple tip to remember: don't defrost your brussels sprouts before you roast them, as they'll become more bitter and watery.
Instead, roast your sprouts straight from frozen for the best results. Douse them in some Buffalo sauce with blue cheese for some out-of-this-world good brussels sprout "wings."
#7: Frozen Butternut Squash
We love butternut squash, but a fresh one is a pain to prepare – you need an ultra-sharp knife and lots of elbow grease to cut through one of these bad boys.
Frozen squash is healthy and already prepped into peeled chunks for you, making preparation a breeze. You can also grab frozen butternut squash puree to add to your favorite soups and butternut squash noodles for a quick, grain-free pasta option with some extra nutrients like potassium, vitamin B6, and folate.
Frozen sweet potatoes are another option that you can use in place of butternut squash for a similar flavor and texture.
#8: Frozen Corn
In some ways, frozen corn is the healthiest option for you. It contains almost half the sugar as the fresh stuff and much less than canned corn as well. You also don't need to deal with a messy cob, making it much handier, though a little less fun than eating a sloppy cob of corn at a summer BBQ.
Be sure to drain your corn after thawing to avoid sogginess, then toss it into your favorite chili, salsa, or stew recipe.
#9: Frozen Mushrooms
Though mushrooms' texture might make you think they won't make it through the freezing process without turning to slime, the results will surprise you. While they can be a little wet and slimy once thawed, you can saute them in a dry skillet to allow most of the extra liquid to evaporate.
Mushrooms are another fantastic high-protein veggie – or fungi, technically – that can up the protein content of vegan and vegetarian meals.
#10: Frozen Carrots
These veggies have a mild sweetness that makes them pleasing for most palates, even the pickiest kiddos! Carrots are in-season most of the year, but they only last a few days in the fridge before they start to lose water and nutrients.
Frozen carrots maintain their nutrients much better, as they're frozen quickly after an in-season harvest.
Frozen Mixed Veggies
Frozen veggie blends provide an inexpensive option to get various nutrients in one easy meal.
Final Note: How to Prepare Frozen Veggies
You can prepare frozen vegetables with plenty of cooking methods, including roasting, baking, and frying.
No matter which preparation method you choose, it's critical to adjust your cooking time, as frozen veggies take a shorter time to prepare than fresh ones. Keep an eye on your veggies and cut the cooking time down as needed – some veggies will only need half the usual time!