What’s the point of stocking your freezer for on-the-fly meals when defrosting takes forever? Don’t despair, we’ve found four foods that can take you from frozen to fed in a flash.
There’s no need to thaw frozen corn, beans, or peas before adding them to soups, pasta or stir fries, simply stir them right in — they’re small enough that they will heat through quickly.
More robust, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli can also be cooked from frozen, plus they’re pre-cut, saving you even more prep time. (Yes, you will eat your veggies!) Add them to stir fries and sautés to up the nutrient content — just don’t overcrowd the pan, it can lead to mushy vegetables.
There’s no debate that a fresh, juicy steak from the butcher is top choice, but if you happen to have steak in your freezer there is a way you can have a nice dinner on the table almost as quickly. Careful industry testing concluded that cooking frozen steaks directly from the freezer actually yielded better results (lower moisture loss and more even cooking) than using their thawed counterparts. For a quick weeknight meal, simply sear the steaks in a skillet before placing in the oven to finish cooking. Note: frozen steaks will need longer in the oven (about 18-22 minutes, versus 10-15 minutes for thawed).
Storage tip: For best results, freeze steaks uncovered on a baking sheet overnight, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, place them in a resealable bag and return to the freezer. This helps dry out their surface to prevent excess splattering during cooking.
Fish is another protein source that can be cooked straight from frozen. However, some varieties are better suited for this than others. Salmon and swordfish are best when cooked fresh or after thawing, but leaner fish like cod and tilapia hold up well when cooked from frozen since they manage to avoid the rubbery fate of their fattier counterparts. Just rinse with cold water, pat dry and roast or pan-fry.
Kitchen tip: If it’s salmon you’re craving, the best (and quickest) way to thaw it is by transferring it to a resealable bag, placing it in a bowl under running cool water in the sink. Using this method, an average-sized fillet should be thawed after about 20 minutes.
Frozen beef, chicken or turkey patties can go straight from the freezer to the grill, making them a great choice for a quick dinner during the summer months. Just ensure the meat reaches a minimum internal temperature of 160F for beef and pork, and 165F for poultry.
Watch: Chef Secrets with Chuck Hughes – Perfect Steak
Originally published July 2017; Updated July 2018.