Steamed frozen vegetables are a great healthy way to enjoy more vegetables at mealtime. Cooking frozen veggies is easy and when done in the steamer, they come out tender and delicious. Plus the nutrients are retained a lot more than when boiling. Steaming is hands down the best way to cook any kind of frozen vegetable.
Whether you like frozen peas, corn, broccoli, or a mixture of vegetables, steaming them keeps them bright, fresh tasting, & nutritious. Enjoying frozen vegetables is a great way to have vegetables that taste almost as good as fresh. Plus they are often times more economical and most people enjoy a good bargain. So stock up on your favorite frozen veggies when they go on sale & enjoy a tasty cheap side dish.
This recipe is great any day of the week and any time of year. But I admit, I steam frozen vegetables mostly in winter and on busy school/work days. I eat more fresh vegetables in summer when so many are in season. I also find the school year lends to quick meal ideas and this is the ultimate fast vegetable side dish.
Cooked frozen vegetables go well with any pasta or protein. We enjoy the carrot, cauliflower, and broccoli mixture for its flavor and colorful blend. I serve it sometimes with my keto lasagna or comforting Salisbury steak.
Benefits of Frozen Vegetables
Fresh is best but if they were giving out Olympic medals for vegetables, frozen would get silver. Frozen vegetables are a great way to get all the recommended daily servings of vegetables. Not only are they healthier than canned or fried vegetables, but they also have a ton of other benefits. So yes, frozen broccoli is as good as fresh.
Here are all the reasons to love frozen veggies.
- Frozen vegetables lose fewer nutrients when cooking them.
- Frozen vegetables are easy to cook and typically need little to no preparation - yeah no washing, cutting, trimming, etc.
- Frozen vegetables can be enjoyed even when some produce is out of season.
- Frozen vegetables are more widely available and not restricted to what you get locally or will not spoil in shipping.
- Frozen vegetables save on waste. Much less food and money waste. Open a bag and use part of it and back in the freezer it goes until another day.
- Frozen vegetables are tasty and convenient - aka, all of the above!
This recipe works for any frozen vegetable. Whether it is a mixture, only one kind of vegetable, store-bought and prepackaged, or frozen from your home garden, steaming is a great way to enjoy them.
Frozen vegetables have similar vitamins, minerals, & health benefits as fresh vegetables. So grab a bag or box at the store and get cooking.
- Bag or boxed frozen vegetables
See the recipe card for quantities.
Best Frozen Vegetables to Steam
Just about every steamed vegetable cooks well when put in a steamer. However, they may take longer or shorter times for cooking based on how much you are cooking and which type of vegetable. For instance, frozen mixed vegetables with a combination of peas, carrots, and corn don't take the same amount of time as frozen Brussels sprouts.
The chart below is a great guide for the correct times for steaming the best frozen vegetables. If you want to cook a combination of 2 or more vegetables at once, I suggest mixing those that take the same amount of time. This way some are not still frozen while others are mushy. Frozen vegetables take anywhere from 2 - 10 minutes to steam.
All times are based on minutes AFTER the water has come to a boil and you have turned the heat down to a medium-low. The vegetables are in order of which cooks faster to those that take longer to steam.
- Artichoke hearts - 2-4 minutes
- Asparagus - 2-4 minutes
- Bell peppers & onions - 2-4 minutes
- Cauliflower rice - 2-4 minutes
- Okra - 2-4 minutes
- Spinach, kale, or other leafy greens - 2-4 minutes
- Zucchini spirals or noodles - 3-5 minutes
- Squash of any kind - 3-5 minutes
- Small diced peas, carrots, green beans, & corn - 5-8 minutes
- Whole or french cut green beans - 5-8 minutes
- Medium-sized pieces of broccoli, carrots, & cauliflower - 5-8 minutes
- Edamame (green soy beans in or out of the pod) - 5-8 minutes
- Corn on the cob - 7-10 minutes
- Whole Brussels sprouts - 7-10 minutes
- Whole pearl onions - 7-10 minutes
Instructions & How to Steam Vegetables
Gather the equipment needed to steam your vegetables. Some of you may have an electric plug-in steamer (my mom had one when I was growing up) but most people use a steamer insert in a pot. Therefore, that is what I will use in this recipe.
Depending on how many vegetables you are cooking, you will need a medium or large pot. Make sure you have a lid for the pot you are using. Also, make sure your steamer insert will fit into the bottom of the pot. If you are using a bamboo steamer over the pot, make sure it fits without steam leaking out the sides.
Steam on the Stovetop
Begin by placing 2-3 inches of water at the bottom of your medium or large pot.
Place the pot on your stove and turn the burner to high to bring it to a boil.
Once the water is boiling, carefully place a steaming basket inside the pot. Make sure that the basket is above the boiling water. If it is submerged or touching, carefully remove or pour out some of the water.
Once your basket is in place, slowly pour in the number of frozen vegetables you are steaming. Turn the heat down to low. I like to turn it to 3 on my stove. Lastly, cover the pot with the lid.
Use the guide above to steam for the number of minutes recommended. Do not go too far away since they can cook fast, between 2 - 10 minutes. No one likes mushy or discolored vegetables.
Once they are fork-tender/al dente and cooked to your preference, turn the heat off. Gently spoon out the vegetables into a serving bowl or plate for dinner.
Hint: season your vegetables or add other ingredients (see the next section) immediately. This helps the flavors to combine and ensures your side dish is still hot when you sit down to eat.
Jazzing Up Frozen Vegetables
Steamed frozen vegetables are tasty as is. Maybe add some salt and pepper and call it a day. But they can also make a good base for a side dish if you add a few more ingredients. Dress up frozen vegetables with these ingredients to make them great.
- Bacon - add fresh bacon bits for a protein punch.
- Cheesy - make a homemade cheese sauce and stir to combine.
- Citrus - add lemon juice or zest.
- Keto-Friendly - add butter or an alfredo sauce for a boost of fat.
- Italian - add olive oil, garlic powder, & grated parmesan cheese.
- Spicy - add chili pepper flakes along with salt & pepper.
- Stir Fry - add rice for a fried rice mixture that is fun & tasty.
Whatever vegetable you are steaming, keep in mind that all vegetables continue to cook even when you turn the heat off. As long as the frozen vegetables remain in the pot with the lid on (or even off), the vegetables will cook. Remove them immediately, season them, and serve them.
Vegetables will be overcooked, mushy, and not as appetizing if you leave them even a minute too long in the steamer. Have the rest of your meal ready to go and time for when the steamed vegetables are ready.
You will need a steamer of some sort to cook frozen vegetables. Here are some great options that are so versatile to make any number of recipes.
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Store leftover cooked vegetables in an air-tight container. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
I do not recommend refreezing. Once the frozen vegetables have been cooked, they will not hold up well to being frozen a second time.
Frozen vegetables are typically flash-frozen when they are at their peak. This helps retain all the health benefits. Once they defrost they will lose some of the vitamins and minerals as moisture is released from them.
Defrosting also can change the color and texture of frozen vegetables. It can also be pretty messy if the bag, box, or ziplock is not sealed properly. So for all these reasons, I do not recommend defrosting before steaming.
The best way to cook them so they are crispy and crunchy is by steaming them. When boiling or sauteeing, they take on moisture and become waterlogged. When steamed they sit about the water and take on very little added moisture. This ensures they can be as crisp as possible.
Steamed Frozen Vegetables
- Steamer insert/baskets & pot OR steamer
- Frozen Vegetable Mix see above for a guide to different kinds
- 2-3 inches water for the steamer/pot
- Grab a pot that has a lid plus your steamer basket or insert. Begin by placing 2-3 inches of water at the bottom of your medium or large pot.
- Place the pot on your stove and turn the burner to high to bring it to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, carefully place a steaming basket or insert in the pot. Make sure that the basket is above the boiling water. Remove excess water if necessary.
- Once ready, slowly pour in the number of frozen vegetables you are steaming. Turn the heat down to low. I like to turn it to 3 on my stove. Lastly, cover the pot with the lid.
- Use the guide above to steam for the number of minutes recommended. Do not go too far away since they can cook fast, between 2 - 10 minutes.
- Watch them carefully as they can cook fast. Once they are fork-tender and cooked to your liking, turn the heat off. Gently spoon out the vegetables into a serving bowl or plate for dinner.