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.
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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.,).
Recipes To Serve With Polenta
Here are some recipes for you to serve with your polenta:
- One-Pot Chunky Italian Meat Sauce Recipe
- Hearty Minestrone Soup with Arugula
- Instant Pot Chicken Marsala Recipe
More Italian Recipes
Looking for more Italian-inspired dishes to make? Check these recipes out next:
- Italian Pasta Puttanesca Recipe (with Anchovies, Olives and Capers)
- Italian-American Shrimp Oreganata Recipe with Cannellini Beans
- Colorful & Creamy Italian Risotto Primavera 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.
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup medium or coarse polenta or cornmeal
- Sea salt, to taste
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (optional)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Grill Polenta Instructions. Repeat steps 4 – 6 above.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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:
- Appetizer: Classic Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Glaze – An Easy Party Appetizer
- Soup: 30-Minute Instant Pot Tomato Soup Recipe
- Salad: This Classic Caprese Salad with Balsamic Glaze is Perfect for Sharing!
- Main Dish: One-Pan Chicken Cacciatore – Italian Hunter’s Stew
- Beverage: Watermelon Kiwi Cocktail with White Wine
- Dessert: Lemon and Fig Olive Oil Cakes with Mascarpone & Vanilla-Fig Jam
There are 500+ Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy – please feel free to check them out too.