How To Make Polenta – Your New Favourite Side Dish

Nov 20, 2020 | Cooking Tips, Recipes

Polenta is creamy, buttery, cheesy, and oh so delicious. It also happens to be very simple to make. If you can boil water and stir, you can make polenta. But why should you? You should make polenta not only becasue it is delicious but because it makes a great side dish for meat sauce, vegetarian ragu, braised meats, and more. It also can be eaten on its own with butter and cheese or topped with sausage and egg for a hearty breakfast. The point is that polenta is one of those all-purpose dishes that is a must for anyone who loves to cook or eat. Today, I’m going to show you how to make it. Are you ready? Good, let’s get to it.

How to make polenta

What is Polenta?

what is polenta?

Polenta is ground dried corn (cornmeal) cooked in boiling liquid (water, milk, or stock). The cooked cornmeal thickens and takes on a porridge-like consistency that is great when paired with rich tomato-based sauces or with lots of cheese and butter.

Different Types of Polenta

There are two main ways to serve polenta. They are creamy and firm. Firm polenta is creamy polenta that has had a little more moisture cooked out of it, and then it has been left to cool, cut into shapes and recooked. Creamy polenta has a higher moisture content and is served fresh. Firm polenta can be cut into many different shapes and fried or seared to develop a crisp exterior and a soft interior. Creamy polenta should resemble scrambled eggs.

Polenta Ingredients

Polenta really only has a handful of ingredients. They are cornmeal, liquid (water, milk or stock), seasoning (salt and pepper), cheese (usually parmesan) and butter (to add flavour and creaminess). Other ingredients added to polenta can include bay leaves, herbs like thyme and rosemary, different types of cheese like cheddar and asiago, or even onion and garlic.

How To Make Polenta

To make polenta, bring a pot of water to a boil (use four to five times more liquid than cornmeal), add the seasoning and herbs if you’re using them, then whisk in the cornmeal. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, continuing to stir, for about twenty minutes. Once the cornmeal has softened, and it resembles scrambled eggs take it off the heat and stir in some parmesan cheese and butter. Taste the polenta and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

What to serve polenta with

My favourite thing to serve with polenta is beef or pork braised in a rich tomato sauce. You can do the same with mushrooms. I also really like it served as a side with roasted meats. And I love it for breakfast with sausage, egg, and lots of cheese. Essentially, it can replace pasta or potato in most cases.

how to make polenta

Perfect Polenta

Have you ever dreamed of a creamy side dish, made of corn and loaded with butter and cheese? Yes, you have? Oh, fantastic! Have I got the thing for you. This polenta fits all of those wants.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Corn, Cornmeal, Polenta, Side Dish
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef’s Notes


  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 4 cups Boiling Water
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 tbsp Butter


  • Add the salt and pepper to the boiling water then whisk in the polenta.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and cook the polenta, stirring constantly until it resembles scrambled eggs. About 20 minutes.
  • Take the polenta off the heat and stir in the butter and parmesan cheese.
  • Serve the polenta as it is, as a side dish with meat sauce or roasted meat, with mushroom ragu, or for breakfast with fried eggs and sausage. You can also spread the polenta out on a sheet pan and cool it, then cut it into shapes, and pan fry it to get a crisp exterior and a soft interior.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


Polenta is one of the most versatile, easy to make, and delicious side dishes you’ll find. Not only that, but it seems fancy. It seems like the kind of thing that can only be made by true masters, but it really isn’t. Anyone, and I do mean anyone, can make polenta. So what are you waiting for? You probably already have all the ingredients on hand. Get cooking! And for more on polenta, take a look at this post I wrote way back in September of 2018 called Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Polenta.

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