How to Make Polenta

Make perfect, creamy polenta every time.

Polenta is a deliciously dreamy and versatile dish. It’s a great basic building block for so many recipes and it’s doggone good all by itself. There are several ways you can make it, but nearly all of them start with hydrating cornmeal into a creamy pot of goodness, so we are going to learn how to get that right. We'll also learn what you can do with your perfect polenta once it’s done — is loaded with recipes and inspiration.

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1 Pick Your Polenta

Polenta is a staple in my kitchen. If you find yourself trolling the aisles of your local grocer looking for a bag specifically labeled “polenta” though, you will likely be out of luck. Unless you are in a specialty food store, what you will most likely find is going to be medium or coarsely ground cornmeal. Check with the flours and breading, and if you don’t see it there, look with the gluten-free products. Polenta is naturally gluten free because it is basically just milled corn.



To make PERFECTLY creamy polenta, you need a 4:1 liquid to dry polenta ratio. That’s 4 parts liquid to 1 part dry polenta. For the liquid you can use water, milk, broth or any combination of those. In my example here I chose to use 2 cups of water, 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of polenta. I opted for half water and half milk because, for me, that is the perfect level of creamy richness. Feel free to play around with how much water vs. how much milk or broth is best for you, but remember to always follow the 4:1 ratio.


If you read recipe reviews about polenta on the internet, you’ll see lots of complaints about all the stirring. “I love polenta, but hate all the stirring!” or, “This recipe is great, but my arm is tired from all the stirring.”
These complaints are unfounded. Here’s why: you aren’t making risotto, you’re making polenta. Yes, you do need to stir often, but this is not like making a roux where constant whisking will make or break.
To make perfect, creamy polenta you are going to bring your liquid to a gentle simmer. If you are using milk, watch it carefully because milk has a tendency to bubble up and over when it gets too hot. Once it simmers, stir in your dry polenta. When you initially add it, it can have a tendency to clump. Just whisk until it moves freely around in the liquid and is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Drop the heat to medium. If your polenta starts to spit or pop, reduce the heat even further. Then you’ll want to just whisk vigorously every 1-2 minutes. This is not constant stirring, just stay nearby.
Cook for 15-18 minutes total. Then stir in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.


Your polenta is ready to eat. Just like this with a little pat of butter, it is incredible and qualifies as one of my favorite comfort foods. creamy polenta favorites include:
 •  Polenta with Garlicky Greens
 •  Chicken Rustica over Polenta
 •  Polenta Meat Stew
 •  Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta
 •  Mushroom Topped Steaks with Creamy Polenta
You can spoon your creamy polenta into a greased baking dish, cover with parchment or plastic, press gently to flatten it and fill the corners of the pan, and then chill overnight until it’s solid. After that you can cut it into squares and fry. fried polenta favorites include:
 •  Polenta Fries
 •  Basil Cheese Polenta Wedges
 •  Rosemary Polenta
 •  Cheesy Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Polenta Wedges
You can also grill polenta. Try this Parmesan Polenta for Grilling or these Grilled Polenta Rounds.

About Heather T.

Heather, who runs, has been making messes in the kitchen since she was a little kid when her mom handed her a cook book and told her, “If you can read, you can cook.” Today she serves up fresh, healthy eats, easy weeknight meals and decadent sweet treats.