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When should frozen vegetables be added to a slow cooker?

Adding frozen vegetables to a slow cooker can be a convenient way to incorporate more nutrients into your meals. However, timing is an important consideration when using frozen veggies in the slow cooker. Knowing when to add the frozen vegetables is key to ensuring they turn out properly cooked and not mushy. In this article, we’ll go over the best practices for adding frozen vegetables to a slow cooker.

Should Frozen Vegetables Be Added at the Beginning?

In most cases, it’s not recommended to add frozen vegetables right at the beginning when you first turn on the slow cooker. Frozen veggies contain a lot of moisture. If added too early, they will release this excess liquid as they cook, which can make the dish watery or thin out the sauce.

Instead, frozen vegetables are best added towards the end of the cooking time. This prevents overcooking and maintains texture. A general guideline is to add frozen veggies during the last 30-60 minutes of cooking time.


There are a couple exceptions where frozen vegetables can go in right away:

  • If you’re cooking a dish with a longer cooking time of 8+ hours, firmer frozen veggies like carrots, potatoes, and celery can go in at the beginning. Their sturdier texture holds up well to extended cooking.
  • Frozen onions, garlic, and herbs can be added at the start since they usually enhance flavor during the full cooking process.

Thawing Before Adding

Another option is to thaw the frozen vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker. Letting them thaw first reduces the amount of moisture released during cooking.

To thaw, remove frozen veggies from packaging and place in a colander. Run cool water over them for a few minutes until thawed. Drain well before adding to the slow cooker.

Thawed frozen veggies can go in earlier, during the middle of the cooking time, as they won’t release as much liquid.

Placing Frozen Veggies in a Slow Cooker

Where you place the frozen vegetables in a slow cooker matters too.

For the most part, you’ll want to place frozen veggies on top of or nestled into the other ingredients. Avoid stirring them directly into a sauce or liquid right away. This prevents them from cooking unevenly.

As the veggies thaw and release liquid, the sauce or broth will incorporate naturally. Give the ingredients a gentle stir towards the end to combine everything.

Vegetable Prep Tips

Here are some other tips for prepping frozen vegetables before slow cooker use:

  • Cut large frozen vegetable pieces smaller so they cook faster. Break apart any veggie chunks or cubes.
  • For greens like spinach or kale, chop while still frozen to avoid thawing into clumps.
  • Corn and peas can go in frozen since they maintain their shape well. There’s no need to thaw first.
  • If adding a frozen veggie blend, try to break it apart into individual veggies first for even cooking.

Ideal Frozen Vegetables for the Slow Cooker

Most frozen vegetables work well in the slow cooker. Some good options include:

  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Mixed veggie blends

Sturdier veggies with a firmer texture tend to hold up best to extended slow cooker times. Quick-cooking veggies like asparagus or zucchini become overdone and mushy more easily.

Dishes Well-Suited for Frozen Veggies

Many slow cooker dishes pair well with the addition of frozen vegetables:

  • Chili – Beans, ground meat, tomatoes, and spices make a flavorful base. Add corn, peppers, onions during the last 30 minutes.
  • Stews and curries – Tender meats and aromatic spices and sauces cook for hours. Finish off with cauliflower, carrots, peas.
  • Soups – Vegetable, bean, lentil, or meat-based soups all benefit from a boost of mixed frozen veggies near the end.
  • Pasta sauce – Jarred or homemade sauce simmered for hours tastes delicious with spinach and mushrooms added at the end.
  • Stuffed peppers – Fill peppers with rice, meat, and sauce, then top with frozen corn before cooking.

Tips for Cooking Frozen Vegetables in the Slow Cooker

Here are some final tips for successfully cooking with frozen vegetables in a slow cooker:

  • Always start with frozen veggies, not thawed. Thawing beforehand isn’t necessary.
  • Add veggies on top of or nestled into other ingredients, not directly stirred in.
  • For shorter cooking times under 6 hours, wait until the last 30-60 minutes to add frozen veggies.
  • For longer cook times of 8+ hours, firmer veggies can go in at the beginning.
  • Cut large frozen pieces into smaller sizes for more even cooking.
  • Quick stir towards the end to evenly incorporate as veggies thaw.
  • Add fresh herbs right at the end for maximum flavor and color vibrancy.


Mastering when to add frozen vegetables to the slow cooker results in tender, perfectly cooked veggies every time. In most cases, add them towards the end of the cooking time during the last 30-60 minutes. This prevents overcooking and maintains texture. Exceptions can be made for very long cook times or firmer veggies that hold up better. With the right technique, using frozen vegetables in the slow cooker is an easy way to pack extra nutrition into your favorite braised, stewed, and simmered dishes.