I always keep a variety of vegetables in the freezer for quick and easy meals. You can’t beat the convenience of frozen vegetables. I add them to soups, stir fried dishes, pasta, and rice bowls. They also come in handy when I have last minute guests staying for dinner. When that happens, I need to cook an entire bag or two of frozen vegetables to go along with grains or a simply prepared protein main dish.
I was skeptical that I could cook frozen vegetables in my air fryer without them getting soggy. However, I discovered that the air fryer actually keeps the vegetables a little more crisp than sautéing them in a pan with oil or broth. And, I can cook a sizable amount at once. There is no need to defrost before cooking.
Best Frozen Vegetables for the Air Fryer
You probably could air fry most frozen vegetables. However, those with a lot of moisture don’t fare as well as the dryer varieties. Cruciferous vegetables seem to do well when air fried. I have also found that the quality of the frozen vegetables makes a difference.
What do I mean by “quality” of frozen vegetables? My family prefers to eat mostly organically grown, non-GMO, flash frozen vegetables. I find that growers and packagers of organic frozen vegetables make the effort to flash freeze them as soon as they are picked to ensure freshness and a nice, crisp texture. That said, many of the popular, non-organic, frozen vegetable producers are trending this way as well. Just look on the package for the term “flash frozen”.
Try to avoid veggies that have added ingredients, such as butter, sauce, or broth. These additions will steam the vegetables. As well, skip the vegetables that are labeled as microwavable (right in the bag). These are designed to cook in minutes by steaming inside the bag. You never want to place a plastic bag inside your air fryer.
Some of the frozen vegetables that cook well in the air fryer:
- Broccoli florets
- Brussels sprouts
- Carrot slices
- Cauliflower florets
- Whole green beans
Be mindful that the temperature and timing will differ for each type of vegetable. For instance, I find that broccoli takes less time than other cruciferous vegetables. This is true whether fresh or frozen. I have accidentally charred more than one batch of broccoli florets in my air fryer. The exterior is black, while the interior is al-dente. These end up bitter and not cooked through.
I have not tried frozen leafy greens, such as spinach, but I have my suspicions they won’t fare well. I will have to experiment. I have tried frozen winter squash cubes. Unfortunately, they got very mushy. I simply mashed them after cooking and served with a pat of butter.
Here’s the thing, frozen vegetables are a good deal. They are affordable, store well for a long time, and probably won’t break the bank if you ruin one batch. So, experiment until you get it right. Stand by the air fryer and check the veggies often while they are cooking. 10 to 15 minutes of attention isn’t much of a sacrifice for perfectly cooked vegetables. Air fried frozen vegetables can be a life saver when that afternoon visit from friends or family turns into cocktails and dinner.
Air Frying Mixed Frozen Vegetables
I enjoy the different packages of mixed frozen vegetables. The mix I chose for this recipe includes larger cuts of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. The larger florets and slices seem to hold up quite well in the air fryer. Smaller mixes, such as peas with corn kernels and small carrot cubes cook too quickly. Also, these little frozen nuggets can fall through the holes in the basket as they shrink while cooking.
While it isn’t necessary, I like to lightly coat the frozen veggies with some olive oil and dress them with some dried herbs. I used an Italian seasoning blend, salt, pepper, and a little sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
Keep an eye on the vegetables and rotate them half way through the cooking process. I found that 10 minutes at 375°F worked well for this mix. Remember not to defrost the vegetables before placing them in the pre-heated air fryer.
You could toss these with gluten-free pasta and top with feta cheese and kalamata olives for a filling entrée. That is exactly what I did with the vegetables. I started the pasta, elbow macaroni in this case, about 5 minutes prior to dropping the vegetable into the air fryer so that all were ready around the same time. You can slice the olives and crumble the cheese while everything is cooking. This is a complete meal in about 15 minutes. Skip the cheese for a vegan version. Substitute zucchini noodles for keto and paleo diets.
Air Fryer Frozen Broccoli, Carrots, and Cauliflower – (Gluten-free, Vegan, Keto, and Paleo)
- 3 cups frozen mixed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower
- 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend (or basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme)
- 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
Total time:15 min – Prep time:5 min – Cook time:10 min per batch – Serves:3 people
1. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F for 5 minutes.
2. Place the frozen vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Pour the olive oil over the vegetables and toss to coat. Sprinkle the herbs, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast over the vegetables and toss again.
3. Add the vegetables to the crisper plate or basket of the air fryer in an even layer*. Cook for 5 minutes. Shake the bucket, or rotate the vegetables. Continue to cook for an additional 4 to 6 minutes until the vegetables are tender and cooked through to a warm temperature. Taste one to test for doneness.
*If the air fryer is quite small, you can cook in 2 batches.
4. Place the cooked vegetables on a serving platter. You can top with more nutritional yeast before serving.