Chefs share 16 of the best frozen foods you can buy

Niloo/ShutterstockSome frozen foods get a stamp of approval from chefs.
  • Insider asked chefs about some of their favourite frozen ingredients, meals, sides, and desserts.
  • Frozen vegetables, especially peas and corn, are big hits with chefs.
  • Some chefs said they enjoy brand-name items like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Mrs. T’s pierogies, and Eggo waffles.
  • Other culinary pros said they enjoy frozen Texas toast and waffle fries.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Frozen dishes and ingredients can be great to have on hand, especially if you’re short on time.

To figure out some of the best cold items to get at the grocery store, Insider asked chefs about their top picks.

Here are some of the best frozen ingredients, sides, meals, and desserts, according to the pros.


This chef likes to spice up Mrs. T’s pierogies.

Bob Berg/Contributor/Getty ImagesMrs. T’s pierogies.

“I always keep a couple of boxes of Mrs. T’s pierogies in the freezer. Some sour cream, apple sauce, and browned butter really dress them up, and they can be enjoyed as a hearty little snack on a cold day or even made into a meal. “

– Christopher Curren, executive chef at Fulton Market Kitchen


One chef said he swears by frozen sweet corn since it’s reliable for recipes.

Creative-Family/ iStockFrozen corn.

“Once an ear of corn is picked, the sugar inside the corn kernels that gives it such buttery sweetness starts to turn into cornstarch. This means that, over time, freshly picked corn becomes less sweet and more chalky. Frozen corn, however, doesn’t have the same problem and you can rely on sweet corn consistently.”

– Steven Lona, executive chef at Waterbar San Diego


He also enjoys frozen brussels sprouts so much that he doesn’t always buy them fresh.

miran/FlickrBrussels sprouts.

“[Frozen brussels sprouts] are so good, in fact, I have debates about why I would ever buy them fresh. They aren’t universally usable because they aren’t great for salads or frying (two rather popular methods), but for quick-cooking methods like steaming or stir-frying, they are the best.”

– Steven Lona, executive chef at Waterbar San Diego


Zatarain’s frozen dishes are popular with this chef because the beans aren’t overcooked.

SafewayRice and beans.

“[I enjoy] Zatarain’s frozen red beans and rice – the flavoring is excellent and the beans remain largely intact instead of cooked to death and pasty like some similar products. Of course, no frozen product is perfect … but all-in-all, it’s an outstanding frozen offering.”

– John Currence, chef at Big Bad Breakfast


Texas toast garlic bread can be a great addition to any Italian meal.

iStock/Getty Images PlusTexas toast.

“My favourite frozen food is Texas toast garlic bread. I love it because it can be used as a side with almost any Italian meal, like lasagna and chicken parmesan, or alongside other meals where garlic, butter, and bread would be a great compliment.”

– Carnell Freeman, owner and chef at Cee’s Fried Chicken


Stick to shrimp that’s been frozen right after harvesting.

Getty ImagesFrozen shrimp.

“My favourite frozen food to work with is shrimp (with the shell on, frozen in a block) because of their high quality and freshness, which is due to the immediate freezing after harvesting. Often times, individually quick frozen shrimp (IQF) that are peeled and de-veined are easier to use and cook with, but you run the risk of cooking lower quality shrimp that has marinated in a salt solution to artificially increase their size. Stick to frozen shrimp.”

– Brad Warner, executive chef at Bodega Negra at Dream Downtown


Gyoza wrappers can be useful for a variety of dishes.

tab1962/ iStockGyoza wrappers.

Imperial Dragon’s frozen gyoza wrappers work well for wontons, dumplings, etc.”

– Chris Morgan, former co-owner and co-executive chef at Maydan


This chef said Eggo waffles are an excellent breakfast choice.

Leah Rocketto/InsiderEggo waffles.

“I think Eggo [waffles] are the perfect frozen food – so easy to pop into the toaster oven to snack on or have for breakfast. They’re versatile enough to add toppings to … “

– Darryl Harmon, executive chef at Clinton Hall and Slate


This chef likes to have edamame as a snack or use it to improve a meal.

Getty ImagesEdamame.

“One frozen ingredient that I like to use at home is edamame beans. You can easily microwave or steam them, season them with a furikake mix, and eat as a snack before dinner. Another thing my kids like is to mix them into a stir-fry with rice and other veggies. It’s a good alternative to greens beans that kids like because it has a less chlorophyll taste and more of a sweetness to them … “

– Jason Arbusto, a chef and the culinary director for Craddock Terry Hotel at Bluffwalk Centre


This chef also enjoys frozen edamame, and he likes to pair it with pot stickers.

Andrew LaSane/InsiderPot stickers.

“For the frozen foods, I usually go for Ling Ling potstickers and frozen edamame. I don’t usually consume too many frozen foods but when I need a quick fix these are what I steer toward.”

– William C. Shine II, executive chef at Tap & Vine at 599


Ben & Jerry’s is a must-have for this chef.

Marina Nazario/Business InsiderBen & Jerry’s ice cream.

“I always have ice cream in my freezer as there are numerous great brands you can purchase that incorporate high-quality ingredients. I’m a huge fan of Ben & Jerry’s.”

– Ron Paprocki, executive pastry chef at Gotham Bar and Grill


Frozen grains can be easier to cook with than fresh ones.

Flickr/SweetonVegFrozen rice.

“The best frozen foods, in my opinion, would be grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and farro. I like them because some grains can take up to 30 minutes to cook, however, the frozen versions are all ready to go within minutes and cook at the perfect temperature – it takes out all of the guesswork when cooking on the stovetop.”

– Tamra Scroggins, a chef and the director of culinary at Daily Grill


Frozen peas can taste great when you use them right.

Ockra/ iStockFrozen peas.

“I think frozen peas are a great example of something that bodes well for customers as an item they feel excited and comfortable with as a quality frozen product, and I agree. I am still the guy with tote bags stuffed with nothing but fresh peas during their spring and summer seasons, but I’ve learned from a few great chefs that frozen peas can really taste great.”

– Chris Chapman, former head chef at Good Eggs


This chef said Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust is a great alternative to a homemade dough.

iStock/Getty Images PlusFrozen pie crust.

“Trader Joe’s frozen pie dough is my go-to. I love their pie crust. It’s good quality and if I don’t feel like making a crust from scratch, I don’t feel guilty about it.”

Barbara Rich, lead chef at the Institute of Culinary Education


Waffle fries can be great to have on hand.

from my point of view/ShutterstockWaffle fries.

“My favourite frozen food is definitely waffle fries. We try to always have them on hand when we just need something salty. We can’t eat cake all the time and they’re the perfect crunchy, hot, salty treat for the team to enjoy.”

– Angela Garbacz, chef at Goldenrod Pastries


This chef swears by just about any frozen item from the SeaPak brand.

TargetPopcorn shrimp.

“As a professional chef and private caterer, I am always on the lookout for quality frozen seafood and SeaPak fits the bill for every occasion.”

– Jennifer Hill Booker, executive chef at and owner of Your Resident Gourmet

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