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The Frozen Vegetables Actually Worth Buying (and Ones to Avoid)

Not all frozen vegetables are created equal.

Published May 3, 2021.

Frozen vegetables are a great option for convenience. You can get a lot of vegetables for your money, and they’re especially good to have on hand for when you’re in a squeeze. Since they’re often frozen at the peak of freshness, they can also help you bring an out-of-season vegetable back in season.

But not all frozen vegetables are created equal. Some freeze better than others, and the ones that don’t freeze well aren't worth your time. This is because vegetables with a lower moisture content freeze better. Frozen vegetables with higher moisture contents can turn mushy when defrosted and pick up off-putting flavors.

Throughout the years, the test kitchen has learned what vegetables you should stock your freezer with, and which ones you’re better off skipping.

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Worth It!

  • Corn
  • Lima beans
  • Pearl onions
  • Peas
  • Spinach

These are great substitutes for the fresh versions. Of course, if you can get your hands on in-season produce, go for it. But with vegetables such as peas, we actually prefer frozen to fresh. You don’t have to spend the time shelling them, and they’re consistently sweet due to them being frozen almost immediately after picking. Fresh versions sit around, which causes them to lose their sweet flavor.

Spinach is a high-moisture vegetable that is an exception to the above rule because it doesn't need to retain its shape when it is used in cooked dishes.

Sometimes . . .

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans

These are acceptable frozen in certain applications. They work for soups, stews, and other dishes where they’re more complementary, and you don’t need the crisp texture that frozen versions lack. We prefer fresh when these are the star of the dish.

Don't Do It

  • Asparagus
  • Bell peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Snow peas

These vegetables have a high moisture content, and when reheated, often turn mushy. In short: They don’t taste like their fresh versions. These frozen vegetables should be avoided, by themselves or in medleys.

Photo: lssaurinko / Getty Images

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