How To Cook Polenta 3 Ways – Creamy, Grilled, and Fried

Home » COOK » Recipes » International Recipes » Italian » How To Cook Polenta 3 Ways – Creamy, Grilled, and Fried

To expand your Italian cooking skills we can show you how to cook polenta in three different ways! Polenta is an Italian pantry staple that can be served creamy, grilled, or fried, and pairs perfectly with many Italian entrées.

3-panel image with a dish of creamy polenta, a plate with fried polenta, and a plate of grilled polenta sprinkled with herbs. Text overlay says"Italian Polenta. How to Cook It - 3 Ways!". Similar photos of the recipe from various angles are used throughout with different text overlays unless otherwise described.

Affiliate Disclosure
I have included affiliate links to useful products and services related to the topic of this post.
This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Read Full Disclosure Policy

How To Cook Polenta

The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions, to ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required and understand the steps and timings involved.

Polenta is a versatile and adaptable dish that may be made in a variety of ways.

Depending on family traditions and personal preferences, it can be cooked with water, milk, chicken stock, or vegetable broth.

Plus, you may add grated Parmesan cheese, butter, and/or any combination of fresh herbs and spices to make it your own.

Water, according to some purists, is the only appropriate liquid for cooking polenta since it produces the lightest, most distinct corn flavour.

Others, on the other hand, say that using chicken or vegetable stock gives the polenta more flavour, while some like the richer and creamier taste of using milk or half-and-half (single cream).

This recipe can be used as a starting point for further customization and can then be adjusted to fit your tastes.

This version is great as is as a hot and satisfying side dish, but it may also be refrigerated and then grilled or fried later.


Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe

While most ingredients can be bought in grocery stores, for your convenience, any specialized or notable ingredients and equipment needed for this recipe have been linked to Amazon or other stores if available online. Staple ingredients such as oil, salt, sugar, etc., aren’t always included here as you’re likely to have those in your kitchen. The complete list of ALL ingredients with measurements is found on the recipe card.

Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog use both cup measurements and/or weighted measurements. American cups and kitchen food scales are handy pieces of equipment to have in your kitchen as it means you’ll be able to make all of the different recipes on my blog. I try to give American, imperial, and metric measurements in my recipes. Please note, you can mix cup measurements with weighted measurements, but never mix imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.,) with metric (kilograms, grams, litres, etc.,).

Creamy Polenta Recipe

Recipes To Serve With Polenta

Here are some recipes for you to serve with your polenta:

More Italian Recipes

Looking for more Italian-inspired dishes to make? Check these recipes out next:

Grilled Polenta Recipe

How Do I Cook Polenta?

Check out the printable recipe card below with full ingredients and instructions. Any demonstration photos do not print out to save your ink.

Recipe for Grilled Polenta

How To Cook Polenta 3 Ways

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

To expand your Italian cooking skills we can show you how to cook polenta in three different ways!


  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup medium or coarse polenta or cornmeal
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (optional)


  1. Creamy Polenta Instructions. Heat water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until almost boiling. Once the water starts to bubble, whisk in polenta and continue stirring continually until it starts to thicken. Season with salt, to taste, and stir to combine.
  2. Reduce heat to just below medium and continue cooking for 4-45 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes, until the polenta pulls away from the side of the pan and becomes soft and tender.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter, if using. Taste and add more salt, if desired. Serve creamy polenta immediately as a side dish or top with your favorite savory main dishes, such as a meat ragu.

    Creamy Polenta
  4. Fried Polenta Instructions. Grease an 8” x 8” glass baking dish with olive oil (or spray with a non-stick cooking spray). Spread prepared creamy polenta into the baking dish in an even layer. Cover and refrigerate until polenta is firm to the touch.
  5. Remove from the refrigerator and gently loosen around the edges of the baking dish with a butter knife. Place a paper towel over the top of the polenta and hold it in place with your hand. Gently turn the baking dish upside down while supporting the contents with your hand. Tap the bottom of baking dish until polenta is released.
  6. Carefully transfer the solid sheet of polenta to a cutting board. Cut the polenta into quarters, then cut each quarter in half diagonally to create 8 wedges.
  7. To fry, add a little olive oil to a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the polenta wedges and cook until golden brown on each side, approximately 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and serve immediately with your favorite toppings or marinara sauce to dip.

    Fried Polenta
  8. Grill Polenta Instructions. Repeat steps 4 – 6 above.
  9. To grill, spray a grill pan or the grates of a gas grill with non-stick cooking spray. (Clean the gas grill grates with a stiff wire brush before spraying).
  10. Heat grill pan over medium heat or pre-heat gas grill to medium. Carefully brush both sides of each polenta wedge with a little olive oil before placing it on the hot surface.
  11. Cook until each wedge is golden brown and nice grill marks appear. Flip and repeat on the other side. Remove grilled wedges from heat and serve immediately with your favorite toppings, in salads, or with a bowl of hot soup.

    Grilled Polenta
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 235mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g

This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

Did you make this recipe? Share it!

Tag The Purple Pumpkin Blog on Instagram with the hashtag #TPPBRecipes!

Make It A Special Dinner!

You’ve made the side, but what about the rest of the courses?

Here are additional recipes to create a menu for a dinner party or special meal:

There are 500+ Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy – please feel free to check them out too.

Please share this post with your family and friends on social media – just use the buttons below! Your shares are how The Purple Pumpkin Blog grows and I am sincerely grateful every time you share something. ♥