If it’s anything the Italians know how to do, it’s creating an amazingly delicious dish and polenta is no exception. Polenta is a dish that is essential boiled cornmeal (and historically other grains). Although it can be served as a hot dish, such as porridge, it can also be solidified into a loaf that can be grilled, baked, or fried. We have put together a list of some of the best polenta recipes that are simple to make!
See also: Italian Appetizer Recipes You Can Copy
1) Basic Polenta
We have to start with the basics. This first polenta recipe teaches you how to make original and plain polenta. However, when seasoned with salt and butter, it’s quite delicious!
The ingredients are simple. In fact, there are only 4 of them:
- 6 cups of water
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 3/4 cups cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
As if it couldn’t seem more simple, there’s only 1 step! Which is as followed:
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the butter, and stir until melted.
2) Creamy Vegan Polenta Recipe
This next recipe is for the vegans out there. Although somewhat similar to the previous basic polenta recipe, this one adds certain elements while still taking out the non-vegan elements (the unsalted butter).
The ingredients for this recipe are:
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup medium grind cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh ground black pepper
Although there are a couple of extra steps to this one, it’s still just as easy to make!
- Bring the vegetable broth to boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, whisk in the cornmeal in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue whisking until the polenta begins to thicken (around 1 to 2 minutes). Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Reduce the heat so that the polenta bubbles slowly. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until the cornmeal loses its raw flavor (taste every so often to check).
- When the polenta is complete, turn off the heat and add the olive oil, kosher salt and pepper to taste. You can cover it to keep it warm before serving. If the polenta becomes too thick, you can stir in a bit of water to loosen it up.
3) Garlic Parmesan Polenta
This first recipe follows the loaf version of polenta. It combines delicious flavors such as garlic and everyone’s favorite, Parmesan cheese. It takes only half an hour to make, so you can cook it at home, even if you’re short on time!
The ingredients you will need are:
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3.5 cups water
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
There are only 4 steps, and they are super simple. They are as followed:
- Add the water and salt to a saucepot and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, add the polenta while continuously whisking to prevent lumps. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer until thickened.
- Once thickened, stir in the butter, grated Parmesan, and garlic powder until smooth. Serve warm, or spread the mixture out into a square or round casserole dish and let cool in the refrigerator, uncovered, until solid.
- Slice the solid polenta. Add a small amount of canola or vegetable oil to a non-stick skillet and warm over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and glistening, but not smoking, add the polenta slices and cook until golden on each side. Add more oil as needed to fry the remaining slices.
4) Polenta Sausage Triangles
This next recipe kicks it up a notch, adding meat into the mixture. It also adds flavors such as celery, garlic, and onion. Although we are using instant polenta for this polenta recipe, we think it still counts. This polenta recipe serves 8 people (about 16 triangles) making this the perfect appetizer at your next get together. *Note: You must prepare polenta up to 2 days ahead.*
The ingredients are pretty simple:
- Cooking spray
- 8 ounces reduced-fat pork sausage (such as Jimmy Dean)
- 3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 3/4 cup finely chopped celery3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups
- 1% low-fat milk
- 1 cup instant polenta
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
There are only 3 steps to creating this recipe (once your polenta is prepared, of course), which are:
- Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage; cook 2 minutes or until sausage begins to brown, stirring to crumble. Add onion, celery, and garlic; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add 1 1/2 cups water and milk to sausage mixture in pan, and bring to a boil. Gradually add polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in salt. Cook for 3 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Spoon polenta into an 11 x 7inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cool to room temperature; cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
- Cut the chilled polenta into 8 squares, and cut each polenta square diagonally into triangles. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil; swirl to coat. Place 8 triangles in pan; cook for 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining olive oil and polenta triangles.
5) Caprese Polenta Bites
This next polenta recipe is combined with another classic Italian dish: caprese. Taking only 30 minutes to make, these are the perfect poolside appetizer.
This delicious recipe only needs 7 ingredients to prepare:
- 1 tube (16 oz.) herbed polenta – cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1/2 tube fresh mozzarella – cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 12 grape tomatoes (or 6 cherry tomatoes cut into halves)
- 1 small bunch fresh basil, separating leaves from the stem
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Salt and pepper to test
It’s broken down into 4 simple steps, which are:
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, place polenta slices side by side in skillet and heat until both sides are a deep golden brown and crispy, about 15 minutes total.
- While frying polenta slices, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium heat and let reduce for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken slightly.
- Place slightly cooled polenta slices on a plate. Top each slice with a slice of mozzarella, a basil leaf, and a grape tomato (or halved cherry tomato, cut side down).
- Drizzle slices with olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
6) Herbed Polenta Fries
This next polenta recipe may be our new favorite. And once you make it, you’ll quickly see why. It can serve as the perfect side dish at your next dinner party!
The ingredients are simple:
- Olive oil for brushing
- 3 1/4 cups cold water
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 teaspoon chopped sage
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
- Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with oil.
- Combine water, polenta, herbs, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, until polenta begins to pull away from side of pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in cheese and butter until incorporated, then transfer polenta to baking dish, spreading evenly with a dampened rubber spatula. Chill, uncovered, until set, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with oil.
- Unmold polenta, then cut into 16 (about 4- by 1-inch) sticks. Brush tops with oil and space evenly on baking sheet. Broil about 4 inches from heat until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
7) Creamy Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms
This next dish is the perfect comfort meal. Not only does this recipe teach you how to make the creamy polenta, but it also adds the delicious flavor of the roasted mushrooms.
To create the creamy polenta, you will need:
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup stoneground polenta not instant
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Extra Parmesan cheese for serving optional
To create the roasted mushrooms, you will need:
- 1 lb. Baby Bella mushrooms stems removed and cut in half
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
To make things even easier, both the polenta and the roasted mushrooms can be prepared in just 3 steps, which are as followed:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place mushrooms in a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add in garlic and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Spread mushrooms evenly onto a large greased baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender, stirring once. Remove from the oven and stir in parsley.
- While the mushrooms are roasting, make the polenta. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, water, and salt over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. When it simmers, slowly pour in the polenta and whisk to combine. Reduce heat to low and partially cover the pan with a lid and cook, whisking vigorously every 5 minutes. Make sure you scrape the sides of the pan. Cook until liquid is absorbed and polenta is creamy, about 30 minutes total. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese.
- Divide the polenta into four bowls. Top with roasted mushrooms and garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.
8) Eggplant Polenta Stacks
If you’re someone who is usually running short on time, then this recipe is perfect for you. Taking only 15 minutes to prepare and using some of the most delicious vegetable, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.
The ingredients you will need are:
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 small eggplant, halved
- 3/4 c. chopped onion
- 2 small zucchini
- 1/4 c. sliced sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
- 1 tube ready-to-heat polenta
- 1 large plum tomato
- 1/2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella
- 1 c. marinara sauce
- Garnish: chopped fresh basil
Although it seems like there are a lot of ingredients, the steps are easy:
- Heat 1 of the oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet. Add eggplant and onion. Cover and cook over medium-high heat 4 minutes, stirring a few times until slightly softened.
- Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in skillet. Add polenta; cook 2 minutes over medium-high heat until bottoms are golden.
- Off heat, turn polenta and spoon the vegetable mixture onto polenta (it’s OK if some falls onto the skillet). Top each with 1 slice of tomato and sprinkle with cheese.
- Place skillet over low heat; cover and cook 2 minutes or until cheese melts. with basil, if desired, and serve with sauce.
9) Cheesy Polenta and Mushroom Pizza
Personally, we think that we saved the best for last. The best meaning pizza, of course! The ingredients are delicious and it only takes 25 minutes to prepare!
Your ingredients are:
- 1/2 c. instant polenta
- 1/4 c. grated Parmesan (1 oz)
- 2 oz. Gruyère or Swiss cheese
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 oz. small button mushrooms
- 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms
- 1 shallot
- 1 tbsp. small fresh thyme sprigs mixed green salad
To cook, you will need to:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook the polenta according to package directions. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, 1/4 cup Gruyère and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Scrape the polenta onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out to form a 3/4-in.-thick oval.
- Heat broiler. Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add half the mushrooms and cook, tossing often, until golden brown and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Cook the remaining mushrooms with the remaining Tbsp oil.
- Return the first batch of mushrooms to the skillet and toss with the shallot, thyme, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
- Scatter the mushroom mixture over the polenta and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Gruyère. Broil until the cheese begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Serve with a salad, if desired.