By Nadia Hassani
June 05, 2019

What is Polenta? What is Polenta Made of?

Polenta is a north Italian dish made of coarsely ground corn.

Freshly cooked, polenta is soft and creamy, like porridge or mush, and makes a terrific bed for sauces. It's a good gluten-free substitute for just about any dish that calls for pasta. When polenta cools, it firms up enough to be sliced and fried or layered like pasta sheets. Need more reasons to love simple, versatile polenta? Check out 8 Great Reasons to Love Cooking with Polenta.

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What is the Difference between Grits and Polenta?

There are several differences between grits and polenta. Grits are usually made of white corn, whereas polenta is always made of yellow corn. Polenta is coarser and flakier than grits, so in its cooked form it's chewier. Grits are finer and softer, and they become gelatinous when cooked.

Grits are from the American south, where they are also served for breakfast. Polenta is from Italy. Their different origin also determines the way they are served. Grits are also eaten for breakfast whereas polenta is mainly served as a main course and side dish at other meals.

What is Polenta Log?

Precooked polenta is sold in the shape of a polenta roll, also called tubed polenta. All you need to do it slice and fry it.

What is the Difference between Polenta and Semolina?

As polenta is made from corn, it's gluten-free. Semolina, on the other hand, is coarsely ground high-gluten durum wheat used to make pasta, cakes, and breads.

What is Polenta Cake?

Polenta is not just used in savory dishes, it is also great for cakes. Gluten-free polenta cake often contains almond flour or finely ground almonds.

"Polenta is a perfect base for any kind of saucy meat or mushroom ragout," says Chef John. "The classic ratio is 1 part polenta to 4 parts water, but I like to measure the polenta just a little scant of a full cup. I often use chicken broth instead of water." See how it's done:

Some Favorite Polenta Recipes

"Easy and delicious creamy polenta," says Keith Haney. "Makes a great side, appetizer, or base for a hearty stew."

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

"Refrigerated polenta with a stove top sauce," says SPICYGIRL. "We prefer the flavored polenta and spicy Italian sausage and also use spicy Italian seasoning to give it some more kick, but you can also use the regular sausage and Italian seasoning. This will serve 4 to 6 people."

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"A delicious medley of hot Italian sausage and peppers is spooned over creamy Parmesan polenta in this satisfying weeknight recipe," says Julie Hubert.

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"Creamy polenta without any animal products," says Buckwheat Queen. "Serve this for a savory accompaniment to your meals. Polenta goes very well with tomato-based dishes, beans, and sauteed mushrooms."

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

"This is a great twist on the traditional french fry," says ALEC1967. "If you don't want to go to the trouble of making your own by scratch, you can always buy prepared polenta at just about any grocery store, slice them into fries, and fry."

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"This recipe is a perfect way to highlight and use fresh summer tomatoes," says rjohl. "It makes a great side dish for grilled chicken or pork chops."

Photo by Molly

"So easy and so good!" says Angie S. "This recipe is great as-is, or can be a start for so many variations."

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"A delicious, quick, vegan comfort food meal," says shelbyRS93. "I like to add a little hot sauce (such as Tabasco) or cayenne pepper, but that's just me!"

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Check out our collection of Polenta Recipes.