Creamy Polenta

This creamy polenta recipe comes together in a flash, thanks to one simple prep step. Serve it as a side dish, or add flavorful toppings to make it a meal.


Everyone raves about Italian pasta and pizza, but if you ask me, polenta deserves just as much love. A north Italian porridge made of coarsely ground cornmeal, polenta is wonderfully creamy, with a lightly sweet, buttery corn flavor. Unlike oat porridge, it’s not a traditional breakfast food. Though I do eat it for breakfast on occasion (see page 49 of Love and Lemons Every Day!), I most often enjoy this smooth, savory porridge for dinner. Topped with cheese, herbs, cooked vegetables, or a flavorful sauce, it transforms into a mouthwatering comfort food.

Below, you’ll find my go-to method for making creamy, soft polenta in no time, plus my favorite ways to serve it. Try it once, and it’ll have a permanent place in your rotation of potatoes, pasta, and bread. It’s simple, healthy, and, most importantly, delicious.

Polenta recipe ingredients

How to Make Polenta

Polenta has a reputation for being a finicky dish – it can take up to an hour of stirring over the stove, and it’s easy to end up with a lump-filled mess instead of a smooth porridge. But when I want polenta, I want it now, so I developed an easy method for making creamy “instant” polenta.

Before I start cooking, I pulse the cornmeal in the blender so that the granules are less coarse. Made with this fine cornmeal, polenta is extra creamy, and it cooks in a fraction of a time. Once you try this method, you won’t make it any other way! Note: this method works perfectly with Bob’s Red Mill’s Coarse Ground Polenta.

After you pulse the cornmeal in the blender, sift through it with your fingers to break up any clumps. Then, bring 3 cups of water to a simmer in a saucepan, and gradually add the polenta, whisking constantly.

Add an additional cup of water to the pan and continue to cook, stirring, for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat as needed if the polenta starts to boil. If the porridge becomes too thick, stir in up to 1/2 cup more water.

Turn off the heat and add a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes before you eat. Enjoy!

Coarse and fine ground cornmeal in bowls

Polenta Recipe Tips

  • Sift through the blended cornmeal before you cook it. After you pulse the cornmeal in the blender, the fine grounds will have a tendency to stick together. To avoid ending up with large lumps in your cooked polenta, sift through the blended cornmeal with a fork or your fingers to break up any clumps.
  • Whisk constantly as you pour the cornmeal into the boiling water. Lumps are the biggest pitfall in making polenta, but it’s easy to avoid them. Pour the cornmeal into the water gradually – NOT all at once – and whisk constantly as you do it. The constant whisking will evenly disperse the cornmeal grounds in the water, so they won’t have a chance to clump together.
  • It’ll thicken as it sits. Cooked polenta thickens quickly, so if you don’t plan to eat it right away, you’ll likely need to thin it before you serve it. Reheat the thickened polenta on the stove over low heat, adding more water or olive oil, as needed, to thin it to your desired consistency. Make sure to taste and adjust the seasonings before you serve it. After you add the extra liquid, it’ll likely need another pinch of salt.

Polenta with Mushrooms and Chimichurri

Polenta Serving Suggestions

Polenta is a fantastic blank canvas for flavorful toppings. Most simply, I enjoy it as a side dish with a shower of grated Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper. On occasion, I’ll add roasted chickpeas or toasted pine nuts for crunch. Otherwise, I’ll top it with a cooked veggie and a punchy sauce to make it a meal on its own:

How do you like to serve polenta? Let me know in the comments!

Creamy Polenta recipe

More Cooking Basics

If you loved learning how to make polenta, try making one of these healthy cooking components next:

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Creamy Polenta

rate this recipe:
4.96 from 50 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves 4
This creamy, soft polenta is a delicious side dish or entrée! Because I pulse the cornmeal in the blender before I cook it, it comes together in no time, so it's perfect for busy nights.



  • In a blender, pulse the dry polenta to make the granules less coarse. This gives the polenta a creamy texture and helps it cook faster. Remove from the blender and run your hands through the dry polenta to make sure there aren’t any lumps.
  • In a medium pot, bring 3 cups of water to a high simmer. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Add 1 more cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. If your polenta is very thick, whisk in the remaining ½ cup water. The polenta should be creamy.
  • Turn off the heat and whisk in the olive oil and sea salt. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Season to taste and serve hot.


Note: Polenta will thicken as it sits. If you are not serving it immediately, you can reheat it by whisking in more water or olive oil to make it smooth and creamy again.
*I use Bob’s Red Mill


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Scarlet Arroyo

    In my family this is a traditional breakfast. We add a little salt, cinnamon, and milk. Once it is cooked we grate some fresh white cheese on top and a swirl of honey and chopped nuts.

  2. Tina Rinella

    Easy Polenta
    1/8 t salt
    3/4 c polenta
    3 c water
    Nuke for 8 min.
    Nuke for 3 min.
    Stir with lotsa butter/evoo
    General measurements – 1/4 polenta to 1 cup water

  3. Lynnell

    I grew up with “polenta” but at that time we called it cornmeal mush. It was not vegatarin
    at that time my parents seasoned with ham drippins . It was poor man’s food then, for family and dogs. When we had a dessert it was poured into pan baked and served with molasses or honey on top.

  4. SH

    5 stars
    Haven’t made this yet as I just made another and was eating it while scrolling other recipes 😂, but wondering what the difference between this method and using finer cornmeal is. Seems like extra work for no reason. Also, if you add the meal to a cup of milk before adding to boiling water it seems to not clump at all.

    • Candice

      I was wondering the same thing. I’m about to order some fine cornmeal and was wondering if I needed to purchase polenta separately or if I could use the fine cornmeal for polenta as well. I’m ordering from Anson Mills and they have fine polenta available too, but it’s still a little more course than their fine cornmeal so I don’t know if the fine cornmeal will work for both applications. Have you tried the recipe with fine cornmeal?

      • Jeanine Donofrio

        Hi Candice, I’ve found fine cornmeal to be a little too fine for this.

  5. Lydia

    5 stars
    I love the polenta recipe. I grow up eating it and love it!!! but yours are truly the best.

  6. Susan Lane

    I made the Polenta and we really liked it. I used it as a base for diced tomatoes, green chilis, sweet sausage and large garlic shrimp. I’d take a picture but we ate it all! I am so glad I didn’t have any grits and that I found your Polenta recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      • alexandra

        4 stars
        please try the traditional Romanian way… goat cheese, greek yogurt and a runny fired egg on top. 🙂

  7. Kaye

    5 stars
    really fast and easy recipe, very creamy without extra 1/2 cup water. I like to be able to fry it up in slabs,mmmm, Im having it with soy curl cacciatore. Thanks for recipe

  8. Cindy H

    5 stars
    It is fabulous with homemade ratatouille!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Ooh yes, delicious!

  9. Antonia

    It’s even better if you use milk or broth instead of water and add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan at the end. If you chill it in a pan and cut into squares you can bbq or air fry or grill also delish.

  10. Helene Anderson

    5 stars
    I chill it, cut it into small squares, saute the squares in butter, then put pesto on top. It is great with grilled asparagus or a tomato and mozzarella salad.

  11. yekta

    thanks for recipes
    how can I know about calories of any recipe?

  12. Joyce

    5 stars
    I kept mine light on salt as one of my favorite breakfast is polenta topped with fresh strawberries and mixed berries from the freezer. A final garnish of sweetened cashew cream to complete. Rest of the batch is setting up in a pan for cutting up into portions.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      That sounds so delicious! Thank you for the idea!

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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.