Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Polenta

This mushroom, caramelized onion, & polenta bowl is perfect healthy comfort food in winter. Seasoned with garlic and fresh thyme, it is vegan & gluten free.

This is a total mushroom lover’s comfort meal: creamy polenta and an herby sauté of mushrooms and onions. Pour a glass of red wine, and we’re in heaven.

Any mushrooms you like will work here. I love to wait until I see some great-looking chanterelles or oyster mushrooms at my market. Because they can often be pricey, I like to mix the “fancier” mushrooms with less-expensive crimini mushrooms.

Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Polenta

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • ½ cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ – 1 cup water, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • Sea salt
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino (optional), reserve some for topping
Mushroom sauté:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, sliced in thin strips
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms – I used a mix of chanterelles and criminis
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave, or sweetener of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  1. Combine the vegetable broth and polenta in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Immediately reduce heat to a very low simmer. Stirring occasionally, add the milk gradually as the polenta gets thicker. When you have added half the milk, add the garlic and a few pinches of salt. Continue gradually adding the milk, followed by the water, as needed, and stirring for up to 45 minutes. If you are tight on time, you can make this in 20 minutes, though stirring for 45 minutes yields a creamier texture. Taste and adjust seasonings as you go. Add the olive oil and the grated pecorino, if using. Polenta is done when it starts pulling away from the sides of the pot.
  2. When the polenta has about 10 minutes left, start the mushroom sauté: Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, garlic, and pinches of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 or 6 minutes or until onions and mushrooms cook down and caramelize.
  3. Deglaze pan with the balsamic vinegar, add the agave, and sauté for another few minutes. Add the fresh thyme leaves.
  4. Plate polenta and top with the mushroom sauté. Top with the reserved pecorino, if using.
Make extra polenta and store leftovers in a shallow baking pan. Slice into cubes the next day and bake or fry!


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Not sure if my first comment went through… oops! But I wrote that the lusciousness of this dish comes through in your photos. Although I have tried to make polenta, mine is never creamy but it is probably the polenta I am using. And my mouth is watering with the mushroom saute! Lovely.

  2. Caitlin from

    i haven’t had polenta in ages and i have been missing it for months! but, everytime i go to whole foods i just can’t seem to find any..

    i love that you made such a creamy polenta dish and that you topped it with mushrooms..i just love mushrooms. and your photography is gorgeous!

    • Jill

      According to Rachel Ray polenta must be stirred and stirred until its done. I have been too chicken to try but this recipe has changed my mind!

  3. This polenta looks delicious! I’m a huge fan, but often forget all about it when preparing meals. Will definitely have a go at this though 🙂

  4. Sarah from

    Mmm….polenta with mushrooms is my favorite combination! Now I’m hungry!

  5. Denise from

    I think soft polenta makes for an ultimate bowl/plate of comfort food. Love your pictures. I often make something similar, but add a little goat cheese as well. It’s a great combination I think.

  6. Jordan

    If you can’t find the finer milled polenta, you could probably just put the regular polenta in the food processor for a few seconds.

  7. Jacqui from

    I’ve haven’t had polenta in forever! I need to change that. Love your recipe!

  8. Wow this looks amazing and I love that it is so creamy with little to no dairy in it! Polenta is one of my favorites, but my hubby doesn’t care for it, so I rarely eat it. I need to change that.
    Beautiful photos BTW!

  9. I love polenta with mushrooms! It’s such a wonderful combination. Gorgeous photos, I’m so happy to have discovered your beautiful blog!

  10. I have been dying to have polenta! I’ve never tasted them but this recipe seemed fabulous!

  11. Yey – I have been looking for more polenta recipes and this looks absolutely delicious. Might even convert the other half to polenta yet with this! I am definitely going to try it.

  12. This looks divine! Love creamy polenta with the richness of the mushrooms. Yum! I too need to nail that polenta, I’ve never got it just right.

  13. Floortje

    I just made this – never made or ate polenta before in my life – and it was super delicious!! I almost forgot to put the graded cheese on, I think it does add that necesarry savory bite. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  14. My mouth is watering already! Such a wonderful flavour combination, paired with some beautiful photos! Can’t wait to try this one myself…


  15. Diane S

    Oh looking at the rest of the recipes and noticed this one. I also tried this and it is the only polenta dish my husband likes. Again Delicious, made exactly as she said used the cheese. Just right for 2 people.

  16. Jessica Ann

    I picked up “pre-cooked” polenta at Whole Foods. Do I still do the first couple steps for the polenta? I could not find quick cooking, just pre cooked!

    • jeanine

      Hi Jessica, I’m pretty sure pre-cooked and quick cooking are the same thing, you should be just fine to follow the directions as-is.

  17. Jessica Ann

    Ok great, thank you! The package didn’t really give specific instructions so I wasn’t sure if I was to follow your instructions or not

  18. Jessica Ann

    shoot, yes it’s in a tube! Whoops
    Maybe we’ll put the caramelized mushroom & onions over something else… quinoa?

  19. Jessica Ann

    I’ve never made polenta so this was definitely an experiment!

  20. Jessica Ann

    perfect! thanks for the help and for sharing your recipes! Your blog is beautiful by the way

  21. Bonnie from

    This looks so comforting! I can’t wait to make it!

  22. Donna

    Try Alton Brown’s polenta recipe, almost no stirring required!

  23. Paula

    You have 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance in the polenta ingredients section but I don’t see where it’s used in your directions. At what point should it be added in?

    • Heidi

      I just noticed the same omission. Will be curious to hear the response.

  24. Kim from

    Delicious thanks!

  25. Jess

    Oh my goodness, this was delicious! However I made the grits vegan by adding a 1/2 cup of miso butter. This is insatiably good!

    • jeanine

      ooh, miso butter sounds delicious! I’m adding that to my list to try, yum 🙂

  26. Hi, Jeanine and Jack,

    Thanks for the great recipe! I tried it tonight, and it was delicious!


A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.