7 Vegetables You Should Never Buy Frozen — and the Ones You Should

Bags of frozen veggies

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Frozen vegetables

Freeze Warning

Frozen vegetables can be a real time- and money-saving shortcut in the kitchen. But not every veggie will be as tasty frozen as it is fresh. Freezing changes the taste and texture of some vegetables more than others, which will affect your finished dish. Here are the vegetables you should avoid buying frozen, plus the ones that you should always have on hand.

Frozen white cauliflower and healthy food vegetable background.

1. Cauliflower

Let's face it: cauliflower is all about texture. There's not a ton of flavor there, and it's usually used as a starch replacement or to add bulk to dishes. That makes freezing it all the worse, since you're losing that snappy, fresh texture. Once frozen, it becomes rubbery and falls apart easily, making it seem overcooked no matter how you prepare it.

Organic Sliced frozen vegetables (sliced frozen red, yellow and green bell peppers)

2. Bell Peppers

Is there anything sadder than a limp, mushy bell pepper? We don't think so, but that's what you'll get in frozen bags of bell pepper strips. They become waterlogged and the skin seems tough (probably because the rest of the flesh is so slack). Plus, peppers are mostly sold in bags of mixed colors, so you can't choose only the sweet ones or the ones that look best in your dish.

Onion slice on white

3. Onions

Pre-chopped frozen onions seem like a time saver since they're the base of so many dishes — not to mention chopping them can make you cry. But once they're frozen, they lose their potency. Plus they get kind of leathery, and don't seem to break down quite as easily as their fresh counterparts. And since whole onions are so cheap, you're definitely not saving money buying frozen either. (Pearl onions are the exception to this rule, since finding and peeling fresh ones can be difficult.)

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frozen vegetable in a bag

4. Broccoli

Broccoli florets are like little sponges. When you cook frozen broccoli, all that melting ice tends to stay trapped in the florets. Sure, it'll eventually evaporate, but it takes a lot longer to cook, and by that point, it's already mush. Plus chopped broccoli pieces come in all shapes and sizes, so you end up with some toothsome stems and green mush all at once.

Related: 24 Healthy Recipes You'll Never Know Were Made With Frozen Produce

frozen brussels sprouts
Svetlana Monyakova/istockphoto
Frozen asparagus

6. Asparagus

Somehow, asparagus seems to lose 80% of its texture when it's cooked from frozen. It's a delicate vegetable to begin with, and freezing breaks down its structure even more, resulting in limp stalks. We know it's absolutely delicious, but this is one vegetable that should only be savored fresh and in-season. 

Frozen vegetables

7. Mixed Vegetables

Frozen vegetable blends seem like an easy way to get some variety in your diet, but the problem is that all those different veggies cook at different rates. So you'll always have mushy, falling apart broccoli when the carrot coins are just cooked through, for instance. The only exceptions to this are bags of peas and carrots, since both are tiny and cook almost immediately in whatever you're putting them in.

Background of frozen garden peas
john shepherd/istockphoto

Frozen Vegetables You Should Buy

Luckily, not all frozen veggies turn out terribly, and some are even better frozen than fresh due to short growing windows and freezing them right when they're picked. These are the vegetables you should always stock in your freezer for cost and convenience.

  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Edamame
  • Green Beans
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Spinach (for cooked applications)