Forgive me for being a novice. I like having frozen spinach, onions, broccoli, and vegetables since they're convenient and don't spoil. But I only know the practices for cooking, and in particular, stir frying fresh vegetables. As a basic example, you heat up the oil, toss in the onions/garlic, then the leafy greens (with maybe some salt to reduce them), then the other veggies like broccoli.

How can I treat the frozen veggies such that they behave and cook like normal freshly chopped vegetables? One thing in particular is I like them getting seared by the hot oil.

The only method I have now is to microwave them for a bit (with perhaps a bit of water), and then to use them when they seem sufficiently unfrozen, but this usually leaves 30% of it frozen, 40% fine, and 30% vaporized by the microwave.

Any advice? Bonus points for speed, convenience, and simplicity (I'm a lazy college student who likes using pre-chopped vegetables and only one cooking vessel).

2 Answers 2


The first thing is to do is thaw them properly before you cook them, half frozen vegetables will cool your pan too much. I often thaw frozen vegetables by soaking them in hot tap water, this is pretty quick and doesn't scorch them like microwaving them might. This might take a bit more time than microwaving but it's a much better result.

You will never get the same result as fresh using frozen vegetables, this is because freezing changes the structure. Water expands when it freezes, rupturing cell walls, which impacts some vegetables more than others. Peas, freeze very well, carrots pretty well. Green beans, broccoli, cauliflower freeze okay, they come out a bit more limp than fresh. Thin leafy vegetables like spinach don't freeze well at all, they come out very limp, almost as if they're cooked already. This isn't a deal-breaker, just something to be aware of. On the rare occasions I use frozen spinach I will squeeze the hell out of it after thawing as it's water-logged.

Cooking order will be important to sauteing them successfully. Water is the enemy of getting color on your vegetables, so you want to make sure they are relatively dry before you add them. Hardest vegetables go in first, like carrots, then medium ones like beans and broccoli, last you add the leaves because they take the shortest to cook and will give off a lot of water no matter how well you wrung them. You want the vegetables to be mostly cooked by the time you put the spinach in as the water will put an end to any browning. Peas go in last, they only need to be warmed through.

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    It is also an idea to fry them before you freeze them, and fry them up again for serving. The lower water content and the oil/butter coating improves most vegetable's "freezability". But nothing beats freshly chopped.
    – Stian
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 13:19

If you don't feel like waiting for them to thaw, you can submerge the bag in hot water like @GdD mentioned.

I prefer steaming frozen vegetables however. The trick is properly steaming them though.

I love using the frozen steamables, I just pop them in the microwave for the set time and they're always cooked perfectly. But if the bag of frozen veggies isn't in a "steamable" bag, then you can grab a glass bowl (like the pyrex storage containers) and put a tiny bit of water at the bottom and dump the veggies in it. Next, put the lid over it and seal it except for one section so steam can escape and microwave it for 4:30-5 min. If the veggies seem very frosty, then don't put any water in it because it melts sufficiently. When I do this, the veggies always come out perfectly/evenly cooked (not too hard or soft).

But if you like to stir-fry, just toss them in the stir fry after to get some quick color to them. Or steam it for slightly less time so it can stay on the stove longer without becoming over-cooked. Steaming vegetables cooks things pretty evenly, so I think it'd be your best bet. Its just steaming means the container needs to be sealed enough to keep the pressure, but have a super small gap somewhere to let it escape when it builds too much.

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