How to Make Perfect Polenta


Polenta is nothing more than coarsely ground cornmeal. 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. It's a great base for any kind of saucy meat or mushroom ragout.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
35 mins
Additional Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
55 mins

Perfect polenta is easier to make than you think! This top-rated polenta recipe will rival what you'd get at your favorite Italian restaurant.

What Is Polenta?

Polenta is a northern Italian dish made of yellow cornmeal. It's soft and creamy when it's freshly cooked, with a texture similar to porridge. When it cools, it becomes firm enough to be easily sliced with a knife.

Learn more: What Is Polenta and How Is It Made?

How to Make Polenta

You'll find a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions in the recipe below, but let's go over the basics:

Perfect Polenta Ingredients

These are the ingredients you'll need to make this polenta recipe:

· Water: You'll need about four cups of water for every cup of polenta.
· Salt: Don't forget to salt the water before adding the polenta!
· Polenta: Find it in the rice aisle at the grocery store.
· Butter: Three tablespoons of butter adds richness and moisture.
· Cheese: Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese takes this polenta over the top.

How to Cook Polenta

Here's a very brief overview of what you can expect when you make polenta at home:

1. Add the polenta to salted boiling water.
2. Simmer until the polenta is slightly thick.
3. Cover and continue cooking until the polenta is very thick.
4. Stir in the butter and cheese.

Tip: Cooking time will depend on the grind of the polenta, so you'll have to adjust accordingly.

How to Serve Polenta

When it comes to enjoying polenta, your options are limitless! You can use it wherever you'd normally use rice or potatoes. Serve it as a side dish or top it with your favorite meat or veggies. Explore our collection of Polenta Recipes for delicious inspiration.

How to Store Polenta

Store the cooked polenta in a shallow, airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. We don't recommend freezing cooked polenta, as it will likely change textures as it thaws.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

"Nice, simple polenta," says one Allrecipes community member. "Use this as your base and add other ingredients should you want to add more flavor. I served it with salmon."

"This is the best recipe and I am so truly converted now," according to Djinni. "It was so creamy and smooth. The butter and Parmesan elevated the flavor (I also added a chicken stock cube to the water)."

"The recipe is very easy, almost foolproof," raves Mark E. "The polenta is wonderful. The creamy texture paired very well with my steak."

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams


  • 4 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 cup polenta

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided

  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish


  1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan; pour polenta slowly into boiling water, whisking constantly until there are no lumps.

  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until polenta starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Polenta mixture should still be slightly loose. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, whisking every 5 to 6 minutes. When polenta is too thick to whisk, stir with a wooden spoon. Polenta is done when texture is creamy and the individual grains are tender.

  3. Turn off heat and gently stir 2 tablespoons butter into polenta until butter partially melts; mix 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into polenta until cheese has melted. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes to thicken.

  4. Stir polenta and transfer to a serving bowl. Top polenta with remaining 1 tablespoon butter and about 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish.

    How to Make Perfect Polenta
    How to Make Perfect Polenta.

Cook's Note:

Cooking time will depend on the grind of the polenta, so you'll have to adjust accordingly.

Editor's Note:

This pairs perfectly with our beef short ribs recipe.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

291 Calories
15g Fat
31g Carbs
9g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 291
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 8g 41%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 1186mg 52%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 12mg 60%
Calcium 202mg 16%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 15mg 0%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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