Chefs Reveal the 17 Items They Always Buy Frozen

gluten free bread
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This may come as a shock, but chefs don't always buy their ingredients fresh or make everything from scratch. Take New York chef Josh Gripper, who snacks on Jamaican beef patties late at night. He can't be bothered with making them from scratch, especially after a 12-hour shift. That's why his home freezer is always stocked with a few boxes of the pre-made kind. Georgia chef Chris Dickerson agrees. "If something's almost as good [frozen] but much simpler, it's a no-brainer. Practicality should be a consideration when cooking," he says. So, read on for more items chefs don't always buy fresh or make themselves.

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"My most consistent trip to the freezer aisle in my local grocery is definitely for ice cream, but whenever I need a dough (with the exception of pie dough), I always buy frozen. Phyllo dough, puffed pastry dough, and egg roll wrappers can all be made from scratch, but my Monday night off is definitely not the time for me to make any of those. My kids definitely don't mind that the buttery, flaky crust on top of their chicken pot pie was not handmade by their dad!" ⁠— Brian Landry, chef-owner of QED Hospitality

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Chefs Reveal the 17 Items They Always Buy Frozen

03 of 18

French fries

french fries
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"They are scientifically measured for sugar and starch content to make sure they're super crispy and crunchy every time you cook them. It's standard that frozen fries have already been cooked twice, making the consistency often better than that of fresh potatoes. Another pro tip is to make sure the frozen fries you're buying are 100% potato and free of any and all additives to preserve that authentic flavor." ⁠— Gabe Fenton, executive chef of Bourbon Steak at JW Marriott Miami

04 of 18


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"Freezing them actually helps bring out those anthocyanins (natural water-soluble pigments) and makes their blue color shine. The flavor never really suffers, and it's just a nice way to preserve them. Frozen blueberries were actually one of my favorite childhood snacks." ⁠— Matt Wynn, executive chef of Salve Osteria

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Tater tots

tater tots
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"They're great snacks and you can add all sorts of amazing toppings, but it's not worth all the time and labor to shred the potatoes and make at home because the frozen version works just fine." — Nina Compton, chef-owner of Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro

06 of 18

Peruvian peppers

peruvian peppers
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"Unfortunately, here in the U.S., we cannot find fresh Peruvian peppers like rocoto, aji amarillo, and aji limo. For that reason, we have to buy them frozen, but we always make sure they are frozen with IQF methods (individual quick freezing) to preserve flavor and texture." ⁠— Diego Oka, executive chef of La Mar by Gastón Acurio

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King crab legs

king crab legs
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"They are often caught and frozen at sea. Since the majority of king crab fishing is done in Alaska, due to its short season it's almost impossible to purchase fresh king crab locally." ⁠— Michael Schulson, chef, restaurateur, and founder and CEO of Schulson Collective

08 of 18


wild shrimp
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"I was fortunate enough one time to go out on a shrimp boat with the guys from Wild Ocean (Cape Canaveral Shrimp). They explained to me how the best shrimp is frozen on the boats themselves in a boat bag. Since then, I always feel like I get the best shrimp if it is in a boat bag frozen on the ship, with the shrimp heads and shells intact. We typically only buy wild shrimp instead of farmed and it has worked out well for us." ⁠— Danny Serfer, chef-owner of Blue Collar and Mignonette

09 of 18


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"Dumplings, really good dumplings. Finding quality, fresh dumplings can sometimes be difficult, but local Asian markets will stock all sorts of quality frozen dumplings that are delicious. Just remember that you get what you pay for!" ⁠— Ian Rynecki, executive chef of The Tasting Room at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

10 of 18

Jamaican beef patties

jamaican beef patties
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"They are delicious and are really hard to make. It's a good late-night snack when I get home after work. I particularly like the spicy ones." ⁠— Josh Gripper, corporate chef of NoHo Hospitality Group

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Octopus meat

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"After you cook it, the meat actually becomes more tender more quickly than it otherwise would be. It does not hurt the flavor or texture at all, either." ⁠— Sébastian Giannini, private chef and former executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC

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Chicken nuggets

chicken nuggets
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"I have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter at home, so chicken nuggets from Trader Joe's are a favorite. That and ice cream. Ice cream is not recommended when it's not frozen!" ⁠— Drew Adams, executive chef and owner of Meloria

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Puff pastry

puff pastry
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"It's like the secret, perfect little black dress in your closet. It's a home chef's workhorse. But making it from scratch is intimidating, time consuming, and labor intensive. I find the frozen ones to be just as good. The most important thing to look for on a puff pastry package are the words "all butter." And, whatever you do, let the puff pastry thaw in the fridge overnight and work with the dough when it's cold." ⁠— Donatella Arpaia, chef, restaurateur, television personality, and partner of Prova Pizza Bar

14 of 18

Ice cream

ice cream
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"Why? Because otherwise it would just be anglaise." ⁠— Steve McHugh, chef and owner of Cured

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"Often in fresh spring peas, the sugar turns to starch so quickly, compromising the flavor and texture of the peas. Frozen peas are flash frozen right after picking and often have a better texture." ⁠— Mike Davis, executive chef and owner of Terra

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Edamame beans

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"Similar to peas, they are just as good frozen versus fresh and still come out vibrant green with a nice firm texture. They are so easy to serve as a quick and healthy snack to nibble on for your guests before dinner. Just boil and toss in whatever you like (sea salt, togarashi/chili flakes, sesame oil, soy sauce, etc.) and serve. ⁠— Judy Joo, chef, restaurateur, and television personality

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Pearl onions

pearl onions
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"I love adding these to chicken pot pie, but I never want to peel them. The flavor of frozen pearl onions is almost as good as fresh. If something's almost as good but much simpler, it's a no-brainer for me. Practicality should be a consideration when cooking." ⁠— Chris Dickerson, chef and owner of Squirrel's

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Gluten-free bread

gluten free bread
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"Sometimes I'll buy it for my kids, but honestly that's about it." – Geoffrey Zakarian, chef, restaurateur, television personality, and partner of Point Royal

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