10 Superfoods You Can Keep in the Freezer—and How to Cook With Them

Move over, ice cream!

Frozen blackberries in a bowl on pink background
Photo: Claudia Totir/Getty Images

There are foods and then there are superfoods. The latter category, while not nutritionally recognized, refers to particularly nutrient-rich foods that provide a myriad of important health benefits. These foods, which are often low in calories, may do things like strengthen your immune system, promote good gut and brain health, and help prevent certain diseases.

Chances are you have some of these edible superstars in your refrigerator or pantry already, (shoutout to spinach and green tea!)—but what about the freezer? As it turns out, that extra cold compartment next to the fridge isn't just a place to store a pint (or two) of ice cream and some frozen appetizers. Believe it or not, several superfoods can stay fresh in the freezer for months at a time, so long as they are stored correctly, while others (think berries and broccoli) can easily be purchased frozen, kept in the freezer, and used as needed.

Whether you choose to freeze certain superfoods or buy them frozen, they don't typically lose much (or any) of their nutritional value once they migrate to the freezer. What's more? If you often find yourself throwing away that fresh kale you never got to use, or tossing a mushy avocado in the garbage, utilizing your freezer may actually help you consume more superfoods and cut down on any unnecessary food waste. Plus, keeping these foods in a place where they won't easily spoil means you can throw together a healthy smoothie or whip up a nutritious stir fry in a matter of minutes.

Keep reading for a list of superfoods to stock in your freezer!

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Small but powerful foods like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are packed with antioxidants, which can protect cells from damage by free radicals—unstable atoms that impair healthy cells and may contribute to the aging process, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease, among other conditions.

Stock up on frozen berries and toss them in a smoothie directly from the freezer, or let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight and use them to top a yogurt parfait or a salad. Need a superfood fix ASAP? Deforest a handful of frozen berries in the morning and enjoy them as an afternoon snack.

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Salmon has earned its distinction as a superfood because of its impressive protein and omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy fat that your body doesn't make, which means they must come from food. They help with blood clotting, muscle movement, and can fight harmful inflammation throughout the body. And according to several studies, higher omega-3 intake is linked to decreased age-related mental decline, and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.

While you can freeze salmon, frozen salmon filets are easy to find at your local grocery store, and will keep in the freezer for about a year. The smaller ones (around 6 ounces) can actually be popped in the oven or air fryer directly from the freezer, so you don't even need to worry about letting them thaw first. However, if you'd rather let your salmon thaw overnight, that's fine too. You can use thawed salmon filets in this easy Sheet Pan Salmon With Potatoes and Broccolini recipe, which is ready in 25 minutes.

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Like salmon, tuna is an excellent source of protein, which helps build muscle and keeps you full, and omega-3 fatty acids. Fresh tuna steaks will maintain peak quality in the freezer for about two to three months, but you can also purchase frozen tuna steaks to put directly in the freezer. These will stay fresh for approximately nine months. Once thawed, feel free to cook the tuna steak as you normally would. This Seared Tuna with Tomato-Olive-Caper Salad recipe is a restaurant-quality dish that takes just 20 minutes to make.

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Need a quick vegetable side for dinner? Frozen broccoli to the rescue! This cruciferous green veggie is a superfood because it's an excellent source of satiating fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin K. It also provides vitamin A, folate, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium. Because it's so nutrient-dense, broccoli has many nutritional benefits, including giving your immune system a boost, safeguarding your heart, and protecting your joints.

Sauté frozen broccoli florets with garlic and olive oil for a simple side or pasta add-on, or free up some freezer space and save time by tossing frozen broccoli pieces into your next veggie-packed stir fry.

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Brussels Sprouts

Much like frozen broccoli, frozen Brussels sprouts are there when you need 'em in a pinch. What's more? These cruciferous veggies are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They're loaded with antioxidants, support gut health, can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and boost bone health, among other things. If you're tight on time, you can roast Brussels sprouts directly from the freezer for an easy side dish. This recipe for Crispy Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta and Lemon pairs well with just about any main course, and if you've got any leftover sprouts you can toss 'em in a salad or grain bowl the next day as part of a superfood lunch.

RELATED: 30 Healthy High-Protein Recipes (That Taste 10 Times Better Than a Shake or Snack Bar)

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This superfood has been trending for years, and with good reason. It's packed with vitamins K, A, and 71 percent of your daily value of immune-boosting vitamin C. Not impressed? The dark green veggie is also an excellent source of calcium and iron. While frozen kale won't thrive in a salad (let's leave that for fresh kale leaves) you can easily toss frozen kale in a smoothie or sauté it as part of a healthy side dish.

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Fermented foods like kimchi boast impressive ​​immune- and gut-boosting benefits, and while not all fermented foods freeze well, you can totally stick kimchi in the freezer without sacrificing much flavor or texture. If the kimchi is store-bought and unopened, it can go in the freezer as is, and if it's homemade, you can place it in an airtight container and then put it in the freezer. Once frozen, kimchi will stay at its crispiest and most flavorful for about three months. To use this frozen superfood, simply thaw it in the fridge overnight, or sauté the frozen stuff using a little cold water. You can eat kimchi on its own, or use it to make Korean-Style Lettuce Wraps.

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If you've spent any time in the frozen foods section of your local grocery store, you've likely seen pouches of frozen (often puréed) açaí berries. The tropical fruits are packed with antioxidants, may improve "bad" cholesterol levels, and, per a 2014 study, can protect your brain from damage as you age. Keep packets of frozen açaí berries on hand to make vibrant smoothie bowls for breakfast or liven up some plain Greek yogurt.

RELATED: Power Up Your Morning Smoothie with These 6 Unique Superfoods

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Avocado's distinction as a superfood that can promote heart health, lower blood pressure, and more is no secret. And while it might not seem like you can freeze a fruit known for its ability to brown quickly, freezing avocado is totally doable. In fact, a ripe avocado can be frozen mashed, puréed, or cut into chunks, and will stay fresh for about six months. To minimize browning, just add a bit of lemon juice and store the avocado in an airtight storage container or vacuum-sealed bag. You can also find frozen avocado pieces at the supermarket. Though an avocado's texture will change a bit once it's spent some time in the freezer, you can still use frozen avocado in a smoothie or, once it's thawed a bit, spread on a flavorful piece of toast or in guacamole.

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If you've ever cooked with lentils before, you know just how easy it is to make too much of these little legumes. Cooked lentils, which are packed with fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals, will keep in the freezer for about six months. Once that lentil craving hits, just pop your frozen lentils in the microwave or add them to whatever hot foods you may be cooking, like a curry. Once thawed, lentils can add fiber to a grain bowl or salad, or be tossed in a soup for an extra protein boost.

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