Creamy Polenta

Total Time

Prep/Total Time: 25 min.


4 servings

Updated: Oct. 21, 2023
Serve this side with roasted chicken or grilled pork instead of potatoes or rice. Dress up the polenta by topping with sauteed mushrooms, onions and spinach. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen


  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional


  1. In a large heavy saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a gentle boil; slowly whisk in cornmeal. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon for 15-20 minutes or until polenta is thickened and pulls away cleanly from side of pan. Stir in butter until melted. If desired, stir in Parmesan cheese.
Creamy Polenta Tips

Can you use other types of cornmeal to make creamy polenta?

Polenta can be made with any type of cornmeal—the bag can be labeled polenta, cornmeal or grits. Traditional recipes use coarsely ground yellow cornmeal, but you can use white cornmeal as well. For a smoother, creamier polenta, look for fine- or medium-grind cornmeal, or use stone-ground cornmeal to create a coarser texture. The cooking time and liquid ratios may need to be adjusted based on the type of cornmeal used, so taste and adjust as you go if you’re making substitutions.

How do you serve creamy polenta?

There are a few different ways to serve creamy polenta. Just after cooking, it’s best to serve it warm in a bowl. Alternatively, you can let the polenta cool on a rimmed sheet pan or in a casserole dish. As it cools, the polenta firms up and can be sliced into squares or wedges. To reheat the polenta, pan-fry or grill the squares.

What do you serve with creamy polenta?

Creamy polenta is an excellent a side dish for meat, poultry, fish or vegetable-based main dishes like roasted vegetables. When served as a porridge in a bowl, it’s the perfect base for soaking up the sauce in a rich ragu, stew or meaty braised recipes like short ribs. We also love serving pan-fried polenta squares as part of a brunch plate with fried eggs.

Lindsay Mattison, Taste of Home Contributing Writer

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 196 calories, 6g fat (4g saturated fat), 15mg cholesterol, 491mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 2g fiber), 3g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1-1/2 fat.