Frozen vegetables can be just as healthy as fresh, but knowing how to cook them for the best texture and maximum nutrition makes all the difference.
Most of us have a negative opinion of frozen veggies from times in our childhood when they were microwaved or steamed into a limp, mushy mess of nothing resembling vegetables. And yet, we were forced to finish what was on our plate. Yuck!
No one wants to put soggy, tasteless, overcooked food in their mouth, but there’s hope!
In fact, roasting frozen vegetables can actually be delicious — it’s my go-to technique when I pull out a bag from the freezer. Sometimes I’m unable to decipher if the food started out fresh or frozen when it’s time to serve it.
Save yourself time and money, and join us as we break down the best way to roast those frozen veggies and how to use them to create delicious real food meals.
Why roast frozen vegetables?
Truth be told, the majority of my cooking is done with fresh vegetables — so many options, so much room for creativity, and a variety of delicious textures.
But there are some reasons I turn to my favorite frozen vegetables from time to time.
Fresh aren’t always available or practical
Fresh veggies aren’t always readily available, or actually that “fresh” after traveling far and wide to reach your local supermarket and your kitchen.
When veggies are picked specifically for the freezer, they are harvested at peak ripeness and flash-frozen to preserve the most nutrients. This allows us to enjoy nutritious asparagus in the middle of winter, or butternut squash in early spring.
There are also times when fresh vegetables aren’t practical. While we navigate the current COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have reduced the frequency with which we venture to the grocery store.
We still want the health benefits of eating our veggies, but fresh options only last in our refrigerators for so long. Frozen varieties are a great option for extending the number of healthy meals you can put on the table between trips.
Quick and easy cooking
Remember, when it comes to cooking with frozen veggies, the prep work is already done! No washing, peeling, or chopping required — talk about convenience.
Save yourself some time, the headache, and even a little bit of money while still putting healthy, real food on the table for your family.
The best frozen veggies to roast
Granted, not all frozen veggies are made for roasting. Let’s take a look at my top picks for those that are, and how to roast them for maximum flavor and texture.
From the bag to a hot pan, roasted frozen asparagus is a delicious side dish.
Cook at 425ºF for 15 – 20 minutes. Roasted asparagus can be brought to life with a drizzle of melted butter and a sprinkle of garlic upon exiting the oven.
You can always find a bag of frozen broccoli in my freezer because it roasts up so well.
Cook at 450ºF for 15 – 20 minutes, and you can sprinkle with Parmesan and a drizzle of lemon juice to finish.
In all honesty, frozen Brussels will never compare to fresh, BUT they can still be pretty darn good. And if I don’t have to spend 20 minutes trimming them, I’m a happy camper.
Cook at 450ºF for 15 – 18 minutes and drizzle with balsamic vinegar reserve after they come out of the oven.
Skipping the peeling, de-pulping, and chopping of fresh butternut squash is a huge win in my book.
Cook for 17 – 20 minutes at 450ºF and you have sweet and buttery morsels to go with any meal.
I often mix and match two or three bags of frozen veggies to roast together, but a California blend comes ready for this with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in one.
Top with fresh chopped herbs and lemon pepper, then roast for 15 – 18 minutes at 450ºF.
These sweet and nutritious crinkle-cut rounds will leave the whole family happy!
Toss with a touch of honey (or pure maple syrup), garlic, and dried parsley. Then roast at 450ºF for 15 – 18 minutes.
Frozen cauliflower tossed with your fat of choice, and some spices… yes, please!
Toss with healthy cooking oil, and a sprinkle of turmeric, garam masala, garlic, and salt. Roast at 450ºF for 15 – 20 minutes.
The consensus is that frozen green beans should be thawed and drained before they hit the roasting pan — otherwise, the water they contain will steam them in the oven.
Run frozen beans under cold water in a strainer and pat them dry. Roast in the oven at 425ºF for 18 minutes.
A version of healthy french fries? You betcha! Always look for plain diced potatoes because most others are mixed with inflammatory oils such as canola. It’s best to add your own healthier oils before roasting.
Toss with your favorite healthy oil and cook at 450ºF for 15 – 20 minutes.
How to roast frozen vegetables
Roasting frozen vegetables is very easy, but there are a few nuances to consider.
- Preheat the oven (usually between 425º and 450ºF). You want the oven hot to help evaporate the extra water in frozen veggies and give them a crispy texture.
- Add one tablespoon of avocado oil (higher smoke point than other healthy oils) to a rimmed baking sheet and place it in the oven while it’s preheating.
- Toss frozen veggies with one more tablespoon of avocado oil, or coconut oil, and spread evenly onto the hot pan. Remember to spread them out to avoid overcrowding, which results in steaming rather than a crisp roast.
Hear the sizzle and be careful — remind yourself that the pan just came out of the oven!
- Season veggies liberally with desired dried herbs and spices.
- Place the pan in the oven on the lowest rack (the hottest spot). Roasting frozen vegetables takes about 15 to 20 minutes, and I like to flip them halfway through cooking time.
When I roast fresh veggies, I always line the pan with parchment. But, when it comes to roasting frozen vegetables, I find a better browning effect when I add them straight to an oiled pan.
Ways to enjoy frozen vegetables
There are actually quite a few ways to incorporate roasted frozen veggies into your meals. Here are some of our family’s favorites.
Simple roasted vegetable side dish
Of course, they can stand alone as a quick and easy side dish! Maybe you have fresh potatoes on hand but no green veggies. Grab a bag or two of frozen broccoli to roast and add some color and nutrition to your meal.
Add roasted veggies to Buddha bowls
Base of a curry
Typically, curry is served over rice, but what about over roasted frozen broccoli, butternut squash, or potatoes for a punch of added nutrients? We love Ginger Shrimp Curry over roasted broccoli!
Top a salad
Roasting frozen vegetables of any kind adds taste, texture, and nutrition to any green salad. Yep, that’s right… cooked veggies on raw. Jazz up your next salad with roasted asparagus, carrots, or Brussels for caramelized flavor you just can’t beat.
Roasted vegetable puree or hummus
Use roasted frozen cauliflower to make a delicious hummus recipe and roasted frozen carrots or sweet potatoes blend into a tasty puree for a simple side. You can even roast frozen carrots in place of fresh to add to this Slow Cooked Tomato Soup recipe.
Get started roasting your veggies
Fresh vegetables aren’t always available, or practical, but the good news is that their frozen cousins can be just as healthy, and even tasty, if you know how to cook them.
You are now armed with tips on which frozen vegetables to choose, how to roast them, and ideas for using these convenient produce options to create healthy meals!
It’s time to get cooking.