For the first time in five years, the frozen food market is showing signs of growth, as an increasing number of people are warming up to the idea of shopping in their grocer’s freezer. The Washington Post suggests that millennials have finally ventured beyond the avocado displays to discover the “cheap and easy access” that frozen foods provide, while others have just shrugged off the idea of eating out.
Meanwhile, I’m over here like “HEYYY, WHAT HAVE Y’ALL BEEN WAITING FOR?” I’ve always been a big fan of the freezer aisle. And, because I love the satisfying ding of a microwave and I love eating six or seven of something, I’m freaking crazy about frozen appetizers. (I’m also hopeful that consuming enough of them will, one day, result in Avengers-like superpowers.)
Whether you’re preparing for a party, having a few friends over, or just want to nibble on a tiny bagel pizza, here’s my worst-to-best ranking of 10 appetizers you can grab the next time you’re in the frozen section.
(Image credit: Andrea D’Agosto)
Corn Dogs/Mini Corn Dogs
A good corn dog can give your kitchen all of the excitement of the State Fair, minus the Tilt-a-Whirl, the guy who’s guessing your weight (even though you explicitly asked him not to), and the chance of throwing three darts and winning a giant stuffed bear. On the other hand, without those things, it’s not a fair as much as it’s just you, at home, eating a hot dog on a stick.
Make it fancy: 10 Easy Ways to Dress Up a Corn Dog
These always seem so good in theory, but they’re either still half-frozen on the inside, or they’re filled with yellow cheese lava that forces you to hold it on your tongue for an uncomfortable amount of time before you can finally swallow it. Meanwhile, everyone in the room has tried not to notice the half-chewed cheesy pepper in your mouth.
Make your own instead: Baked Bacon & Cheddar Jalapeño Poppers
Are your parents hosting a party in 1982? Then pick up a box of these, and put them on a serving plate right between the cheese fondue and the Flock of Seagulls cassettes.
If I say that these are better than the ones they serve at the gas station down the street, you’ll know so much about me and my eating habits.
These are an underrated, overlooked frozen option, and they’re hard to beat when they’re cooked in butter and served with a generous dollop of sour cream. The only downside is that you really do have to pan-cook these, because the microwave just won’t do them justice.
Make your own: Sauerkraut, Potato & Cheese Pierogi
There’s a bar near my house that serves a giant pretzel appetizer that comes with an equally giant $12 price tag. I’ve never bought it because, for that kind of money, you can get a couple of boxes of frozen soft pretzels, some pub cheese to dip them in, and a jar of fancy mustard. (Also, who among us hasn’t had a very specific craving for one of these?)
Make your own: How To Make Soft Pretzels
The last time I served potato skins, a sort-of friend said “Oh, they’re ironic.” First, no, that’s not even how you use that word, and second, no, it’s because there is no better delivery service for cheese, bacon bits, and chives than a potato half. (He left after 20 minutes, and he complained that all of the skins got eaten before he could have one. GOOD.)
More on Potatoes and Potato Skins
Here’s where you realize that this piece isn’t called “The best healthy frozen appetizers that you can buy.” No one needs to justify hunks of cheese, in any context.
No, I’m not a child, but thank you for asking. Have you tried the dinosaur? They’re the best. (Fine, you could swap these out for frozen chicken satay, which are super easy, infinitely customizable based on what kind of sauces you serve with them, and might, IN SOME SITUATIONS, be a better choice than a nugget shaped like a stegosaurus.)
Related: Taste Test: Frozen Chicken Nuggets
You know exactly what these are and why they’re superior — which is why you’ve hidden a bag of them underneath the rest of the stuff in your freezer. Be proud of your pizza bites! Hold them aloft like Rafiki lifting baby Simba and say, “I have impeccable taste in frozen appetizers.” Because you do.
Disagree with my ranking? Let me know in the comments below.