Recipes > Simple Polenta

Simple Polenta


Rich in corn flavor, this simple and tasty polenta pairs well with full-flavored dishes.
  • Serves: 4
  • Active Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins - 1 hr
  • Views: 47,921
  • Success Rating: 95% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Making the Polenta

Making the Polenta
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 to 6 cups liquid*
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 to 3 sprigs thyme or sage (optional)


To make the polenta, pour the cornmeal, salt and cold liquid (either water, stock, non-dairy milk or a mixture of all three) into a medium pot. Add the herbs, if desired. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. *Note: The amount of liquid you use will depend on the consistency you are looking for.

Once the polenta comes to a gentle boil, turn the heat down to low and continue to simmer until the polenta is done to your liking. This may take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the grind of the cornmeal. Taste the polenta for doneness. The grains should be fully hydrated and not al dente.

Step 2: Finishing the Polenta

Finishing the Polenta
  • 1 to 2 tbsp butter* (optional)
  • Plant-Based Parmesan


Once the polenta has finished cooking, remove any aromatics, if necessary.

Note: For a bit more flavor and shine the polenta can be finished with a knob of non-dairy butter and some Plant-Based Parmesan, if desired.

Taste the polenta for seasoning. Pour into bowls and top with your favorite sauce.


  • Carlos B
    Carlos B
    Could few drops of black truffle infused oil be added to the polenta?
  • Joe G
    Joe G
    Have fun with it. if you like truffle oil, it would be fantastic.
  • Clifford C
    Clifford C
    Are grits a type of polenta or another name for polenta? They look, taste, and feel almost exactly like grits. The only difference I notice is that grits are white. A different type of cornmeal maybe? If so, is it still cooked the same?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Here is a link to the discussion tab from the "How to Make Polenta Lesson" where you will find this same question as well as the answer. There is also a bit more discussion on this throughout that thread that you may find helpful. Cheers!
  • Ilun H
    Ilun H
    are there any shortcuts to cooking polenta- would it work faster if i soak them in water overnight?
  • Tony M Rouxbe Staff
    Tony M
    Never thougth of soaking polenta grits, but it may very well soften the grain and shorten the cooking time. Alternately, a pressure cooker may help, but I have never tried it.
  • Greg F
    Greg F
    Tried the pressure cooker once years ago. Wound up with a large hockey puck. Creamy polenta really benefits from being stirred. I have seen a few recipes that talk about soaking polenta (usually in lime water) but since the cooking time is a result of a preference of texture I don't know if it really speeds things up (I may just have to experiment with that). It makes some sense that it would. I've seen recipes range from 1:3 to 1:6 parts water to cornmeal. Obviously one will cook much faster than the other resulting in a different end product texture and mouth feel.
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    The ratios for cooking polenta vary depending on the final consistency one is looking for, i.e., a 1:3 would produce a stiffer polenta while a 1:6 would produce a looser polenta. This does not necessarily mean that the cooking time would be any shorter. Regardless of the ratio the polenta still needs the necessary time to absorb the liquid. You may also want to review the lesson on "How to Cook Polenta" for more information. There is even an attached drill-down called "Making Polenta Ahead" that you may find useful. Cheers!
  • Sean J
    Sean J
    how do you hold soft polenta for alacarte service
  • Kirk B
    Kirk B
    Hi Sean and really great question - a challenge in every professional kitchen indeed! From my past experience in professional kitchens, I used to cook polenta ahead of time and add my flavors to it at that time - such as parmesan, etc. I would then place the polenta it into a buttered ½ pan to cool. At service time, I would take a slice of polenta and saute' or grill it to order - I know, not exactly what you are looking for. Soft polenta is much more difficult to "hold" on the line. When I took that approach, however, I would make a batch of creamy polenta and place it in a baine marie covered with plastic in a steam table. (a Bain Marie is essentially one pot with a limited amount of water and another pot that fits into that pot and actually holds your product). When it was time to serve the polenta I would try to form the creamy polenta into a small oval portion on the plate - we called these quenelles or little footballs. For creamier polenta I would heat up some cream, to order, and add the polenta to it. It's a lot of work for sure but can be done! I hope this helps Sean. All the best and thanks for learning with Rouxbe! Chef Kirk

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