Xi’an Famous Foods’ Spicy and Sour Lamb Dumplings
The frozen ones you get on Eldridge Street are cheaper, but these are bigger, better, and stuffed with remarkably juicy morsels of lamb instead of pork. After boiling, dress them up with the complimentary house soy-rice-vinegar-and-chile-oil sauce, and garnish with cilantro for the full effect.
30 dumplings for $20 at Xi’an Famous Foods, 81 St. Marks Pl., nr. First Ave.; 212-786-2068.
Trader Joe’s Chocolate Croissants
First you have to brave the T.J. crowds. Then you need to proof the croissants overnight, and, if you’re especially motivated, brush the tops with egg. But if there’s a lighter, flakier, tastier frozen pastry out there, we don’t know about it.
Four for $4.49 at Trader Joe’s.
Brodo’s Bone Broth
In addition to doling it out in paper coffee cups from a takeout window, Marco Canora sells his nourishing broths frozen in 32-ounce Mason jars. Just defrost in the fridge, heat, and sip.
$17 at Brodo, 403 E. 12th St.; window on First Ave.; no phone.
Hot Bread Kitchen’s Heritage Corn Tortillas
These frozen tortillas, made by the East Harlem–based nonprofit, are the next best thing to pressing your own. Thirty seconds a side in a dry skillet and you’re ready for tacos.
A dozen for $4 at Whole Foods Market Bowery, 95 E. Houston St., at Bowery; 212-420-1320.
White Castle’s Cheeseburger Sliders
Grayish-brown-meated, process-cheese-topped, spongy-bunned, and absolutely delicious. Steam them instead of microwaving for even better results.
Six for $5.69 at Gristedes.
Beecher’s “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese
Add the word “frozen” to the title, and “world’s best” doesn’t even seem like an overstatement. The tangy, bubbly bake of sturdy penne rigate is coated in a piquant two-cheese sauce (Beecher’s Cheddary Flagship and Just Jack) and seasoned with chile peppers and spices. It will ruin you for Stouffer’s forever.
$15 at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, 900 Broadway, at 20th St.; 212-466-3340.
Roberta’s Margherita Pizza
Savor the local terroir: Those spots of char along the cornicione were meticulously produced in the Bushwick restaurant’s wood-fired oven.
$12 at Foragers City Grocer, 300 W. 22nd St., at Eighth Ave.; 212-243-8888.
The ravioli at this Village institution come in three sizes and too many fillings to count. Go for the one-inch-square minis—their dough-to-filling ratio makes for a great al dente bite that stands up to any sauce.
$4 to $5 a pound at Raffetto’s, 144 W. Houston St., nr. Macdougal St.; 212-777-1261.
Ajinomoto’s Pork-and-Chicken Gyoza
Perfectly crisp and tender potstickers, all the more remarkable given the fact you cook them in a pan with nary a drop of oil.
Twelve for $3.29 at Sunrise Mart, 4 Stuyvesant St., nr. 9th St.; 212-598-3040.
Babeth’s Feast’s Pea-and-Fennel Velouté
How, exactly, does Babeth obtain the velvety smooth-ness of this soup? It could be the heavy cream whipped into the vegetable base, or maybe it’s those emulsifiers and thickeners. Still, for a thaw-and-heat potage, the texture is frothy and the flavors are aromatic and true, down to the faintest whiff of mint.
$6 for 14 ounces at Babeth’s Feast, 1422 Third Ave., nr. 81st St.; 646-759-7949.