11 Frozen Vegetables You Should Buy (Even in the Summer), According to Chefs

updated Jul 5, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

It’s summertime, and with the warm weather comes a rainbow of beautiful fruits and vegetables. The in-season produce is a sight to behold at your local grocery store or farmers market, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on frozen vegetable staples. 

Frozen vegetables offer convenience, affordability, and a longer shelf life than their fresh counterparts. And because vegetables are typically frozen right after they’re harvested, frozen vegetables tend to retain much of their nutrients.

We asked professional chefs to tell us about the frozen vegetables that they keep in their freezers year-round. Here’s what they had to say.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Peas

Frozen peas, if they are flash frozen then cooked correctly and shocked to maintain their vibrant green, are the exact same as fresh — without the hassle of shelling. They are also just as sweet and a more consistent product than their fresh counterparts. Many times fresh peas can be mealy or too starchy depending on size and length of time on the trellis in the sun.” — Bonnie Shuman, executive chef of Weavers Way Co-op in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Corn

“I always keep frozen corn in my freezer. It’s a versatile vegetable that can be used in many applications. I use frozen corn in cornbread, salsas, and even ice cream with mascarpone. Frozen corn keeps very well, and even when cooked in a stir-fry it holds its shape and taste.” Byron Gomez, executive chef of 7908 Aspen in Aspen, Colorado

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Butternut Squash

“I love having frozen butternut squash in my freezer. My favorite anytime soup is squash cooked with aromatics, a pinch of garam masala, a hint of coconut milk (also frozen), and plenty of lime juice. It’s refreshing, and really satisfying for a light meal.” — Amy Yi, culinary director of Genuine Foods in the Southeast and throughout the East Coast

Credit: Leela Cyd

4. Edamame

At home, we like to keep frozen shelled edamame in the freezer. Our kids love to snack on them and they make an incredible variation on a traditional hummus.” — Jonathan Benno, chef at Leonelli Restaurant & Bar in New York City

Credit: Guy Ambrosino

5. Okra

“I like to keep frozen okra on hand all year. It can be harder to find fresh sometimes. If I want something hearty in the winter, I’ll make a nice rich gumbo and add it. For the summer, I’ll just roast it for a light salad.” — Carolyn Nguyen, chef and owner of Revolution Taco in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Credit: The Kitchn

6. Cauliflower Rice

“I always keep frozen cauliflower rice on hand; it’s a great addition to any dish. I personally like to add it as a filling in Indian flatbreads or use it in pasta dishes to enhance the texture. Cauliflower rice is also delicious by itself; I often sauté it with an array of spices for a quick and easy dish!” — Maneet Chauhan, award-winning chef, TV personality, author, and co-founder of Morph Hospitality Group in Nashville, Tennessee

Related: The Best Flavored Cauliflower Rice in the Freezer Section

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Broccoli

“I always have a bag of frozen broccoli in my freezer. I love to make a broccoli pasta sauce for last-minute dinners. To make it, I simmer the broccoli in a 1/4 cup of water, a tablespoon of vegan butter, and a teaspoon of crushed garlic. I also add a dash of sea salt and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes. Once the broccoli is cooked all the way through, I put it in a blender and purée it before pouring it over my pasta. So delish!” — Mee McCormick, chef and owner of Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile in Nunnelly, Tennessee

Credit: Photo: Kristin Teig; Food Styling: Catrine Kelty

8. Artichoke Hearts

“Nothing makes me angrier than when I hear chefs dismissing frozen vegetables. I have yet to meet a frozen vegetable that I don’t love. My favorite at the moment is artichoke hearts. Roast them, fry them, or steam them. They are delicious any which way.” — Amanda Cohen, co-founder and chef of Lekka Burger in New York City

Credit: Emily Han

9. Ginger

“It gets soft once you thaw it, so you may need to use slightly more to get the same intensity as fresh. Other than that, the ginger stays good for months on end!” — Andrew Lim, chef and owner of PERILLA: Korean American Fare and Sir Chicken in Chicago, Illinois

Buy: Frozen Crushed Ginger Cubes, $2.99 for 2.5 ounces at Target

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

10. Kale

“I always keep frozen kale, along with mangos and berries, in my freezer for protein smoothies. Having it at the ready means I have no excuse not to eat my greens, plus it teaches my kids healthy habits too!” — Bonnie Morales, chef and co-owner of Kachka and Kachka Lavka in Portland, Oregon

Credit: Joe Lingeman

11. Spinach

“Frozen chopped spinach has always been a secret weapon of mine. It acts as a quick fix to making a weeknight pasta with fusilli, garlic, and lemon. It’s also the key ingredient for an easy spinach artichoke dip: Simply whip cream cheese and sour cream together, add thawed chopped spinach, marinated artichokes, grated Parmesan, and mozzarella, and bake until golden and bubbly!” — Mike Friedman, partner and executive chef of All Purpose Pizza DC

What are the frozen veggies you always keep on hand? Even in the summer …