Polenta: A Quick Tutorial

Polenta is one of my favorite things because it is so versatile and super tasty.  Maybe you have heard of it or you’re scratching your head right now going, “Po-whatta?”  Polenta is a fairly simple dish made of cornmeal that has been boiled into a porridge like consistency.  After it has been boiled, polenta can be served in a variety of ways.  You can eat it as is, or you can let it set and bake, fry, saute, or even grill it.  It pairs well with so many things; one of my favorite ways to eat it is to top it with a mushroom gravy. Because it is so easy to make, polenta makes a really great side dish, but it can easily be made into the main course.  I have a few different recipes that utilize polenta that I plan on sharing soon, but I thought that I would just give you the basic steps to making polenta as well as a few easy ways to “fancy” it up.


Basic Polenta

Polenta topped with my favorite mushroom gravy

Polenta topped with my favorite mushroom gravy

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3-4 cups water/milk/non-dairy milk*
  • 1 tsp salt

*If you are going to be eating the polenta in it’s porridge like form, use 4 cups of your choice of liquid.  If you want to let it set and then use it, use 3 cups.  I like doing a mix of water and either almond or coconut milk.  Using milk makes it a little creamier than just plain water, but water works just as well.


1.  In a medium saucepan bring your water/milk and 1 tsp salt to a rolling boil.  Once at a boil, grab a whisk in one hand and your one cup of cornmeal in the other.  Slowly add the cornmeal to the water while constantly whisking with your other hand.  This helps to make sure there are no lumps.

2.  Turn the heat down to low and cook until the cornmeal is nice and thick and starting to pull away from the sides of the pot.  Stir often and watch out for polenta splatters!

3.  You can eat it as is at this point or you can let the polenta set so you can slice it and bake or grill it.  Grease or line any pan that has an edge with parchment paper and pour the polenta out.  Spread the polenta evenly and place it in the fridge for at least an hour or in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Once the polenta is set you can cut it up and prepare it however you would like!


That is seriously it when it comes to making polenta.  I told you it was really easy!  Now there are a few things that you can do to jazz it up and make it even tastier.  You could:

  • Add in shredded cheese or butter to make it even creamier.
  • Try out different seasonings. I like adding in garlic and Italian seasonings as well as taco seasonings
  • Top with gravy, vegetables, meat, or any kind of sauce
  • Use it as the base for a casserole (I have a recipe for this coming soon!)

Experiment with a few different things and find out what you like best.  Polenta is a very neutral canvas when it comes to food, so it is really easy to pair with many different creations.  Go pick up a bag of cornmeal (if you can find it in bulk, it is really cheap!) and get your polenta on!