As someone who wrote a cookbook on salads and is a vegetable enthusiast, I can confidently wax poetic on the subject—vegetables are my thing. Most people, however, think that because of this, I only reach for fresh produce, preferably from an adorable farmers market with a cute but practical tote bag on my arm. Well, yes, I do shop at my neighborhood market weekly and I am a staunch supporter, but my freezer is also full of frozen vegetables.
Not only did I grow up on frozen vegetables, but when I studied dietetics in college—I am also a registered dietitian—I was taught that vegetables are flash-frozen at the peak of ripeness, which means they retain just as many nutrients as their fresh counterparts. I’ve never forgotten this and since, I’ve kept bags of frozen broccoli, peas, artichokes, and beyond at the ready, to reach for when my crisper drawers are empty.
While I grew up eating microwaved frozen vegetables, I know better now: Roasting frozen vegetables is the best way to make them taste as delicious as possible. Over the years, I learned a few things that make all the difference. Because what you’re after is crispy roasted vegetables and not soggy, rubbery ones. Here are five tips for roasting frozen vegetables:
1. Buy the right kind of frozen vegetables:
Bagged frozen vegetables are always superior to boxed because you can cook as much or as little as you need without having to thaw the entire box. I prefer unseasoned frozen vegetables, too, so that I can control how much salt is on them and can add my seasonings to jazz them up.
2. Don’t thaw frozen vegetables:
Frozen vegetables are icy, so when you thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or out on the counter for a little bit, the ice inevitably melts and the vegetables become sodden. Even if you pat them dry, they’ll still cook up to be soggier than if you cooked them straight from the freezer because they’ve absorbed a good deal of the water already.
3. Crank up the oven temperature:
I roast fresh vegetables at 425°F but turn up the heat when cooking frozen vegetables and roast them at 450°F. You're after crispy, browned-in-spots roasted vegetables and not steamed vegetables. This extra high heat helps quickly evaporate that ice on the frozen vegetables I mentioned above so they’ll roast instead of steam.
4. Preheat the baking sheet while you preheat the oven:
Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven while it preheats. This is another way to avoid steaming your frozen vegetables. Dumping the frozen vegetables out onto a hot baking sheet means they’ll start cooking immediately before any excess moisture on them has a chance to soak in.
5. Be generous with oil and seasonings:
Before roasting frozen vegetables, toss them generously with oil (I like olive oil) and season them well with salt and pepper. The oil ensures they’ll cook up to be crispy. And since frozen vegetables have been hanging out in the freezer for a bit, they can handle a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper to rid them of any dull flavor. Raid your spice cabinet, too: Chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and garam masala are just a few jars I often reach for.