This creamy polenta recipe is not only simple to make, but also versatile. You can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Flavored with butter, parsley and parmesan this homemade polenta is a tasty alternative to pasta or potato side dishes.
This post includes not only polenta recipe, but also answers to FAQ’s as well as serving suggestions or ideas and useful tips to achieve the best homemade polenta.
What is polenta?
Polenta is a dish of Italian origin made by cooking cornmeal in water, just like you would do when making oatmeal.
How to make creamy polenta at home?
First, you bring salted water to a boil and gradually add cornmeal, stirring constantly. It’s important to stir well at this stage if you don’t want to end up with a lumpy polenta instead of a creamy polenta.
Once you see the polenta is “spitting”, reduce the heat to low. You should be stirring it constantly for a further 5 minutes, then leave it cook slowly for about 30 minutes, mixing it from time to time.
When you are happy with the consistency of your homemade polenta, add parmesan, butter and parsley and give everything a good mix.
This is the time when you taste it and add more salt if it is needed. If not, you are ready to serve.
Breakfast – with sunny side up or poached egg and bacon.
When traveling in Italy ages ago, I ordered baked (or fried) polenta with chicken liver and it tasted amazing. If you like recipes with liver, you could give it a go.
Yes, it is.
Polenta cooked in water is low in calories. This batch contains 300 calories which is 150 per person if you serve 2 generous portions.
However, it can taste quite bland on its own. That’s why butter, parmesan and herbs are added. It makes homemade polenta extra delicious, but also increases the calorie intake to 466 per recipe – about 233 calories per person, again counting with 2 servings.
If you serve it alongside other side dishes, you would not eat as much, and you could easily feed more people (see more below in Tips section).
Tips for making creamy polenta from scratch
- Parmesan can be substituted with pecorino or grana Padano cheese.
- For best results, please use fresh flat leaf parsley – you can easily adjust the quantity to your liking.
- Homemade polenta can be cooked in water, stock/broth (of any kind) or milk. However, if you decide to use stock, you might want to omit salt completely and add only at the very end (if needed)!
- You need to stir it constantly at the beginning to avoid lumps as well as not burning it from the bottom.
- If you feel that your polenta is not creamy but rather thick, add more water. If it is too runny, cook it more. Note that it will thicken slightly more while cooling down.
- This polenta recipe should yield 2.5 cups of cooked polenta, which is a generous amount for 2 adults (1 and ¼ cups per person). If you are going to serve more side dishes alongside this, then this recipe could feed 3, even 4 people.
More Italian recipes you might like:
- Affogato – classic Italian dessert that anyone can prepare in minutes!
- Calzone Pizza – these delicious pizza dough pockets can be filled with anything you like!
- Bolognese Sauce – my recipe is developed for pressure cooker and I love how easy it is to make.
- 2.5 cups Water , see note 1
- ½ teaspoon Salt , see note 2
- ½ cup Yellow Cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter , see note 3
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan or to your taste
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley or to taste (Chopped)
- A generous pinch of black pepper
- Pour water into a saucepan, add salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, start adding polenta at stages, while whisking all the time. If you don’t whisk well, lumps will form.
- If you see the polenta starts “spitting”, reduce the heat to low and stir constantly for at least 5 minutes. Then, let it simmer for a further 30 minutes, stirring from time to time (at this stage swap a whisk for a wooden spoon – it will be easier to stir).
- Check, if the consistency is to your liking. If not, adjust: If too thick, add more water, if thin, cook longer.
- Finally, stir in butter, parmesan, parsley and black pepper. Taste it and add more seasoning, if needed.
- For creamy polenta that does not thicken to the point that you can slice it when cooled down, use 2.5 to 3 cups of water. If not sure, start with 2 cups and add more water if you see the polenta is way too thick to your liking.
- I usually start with ½ teaspoon of salt and add more at the very end. This way I make sure I won’t over-season my homemade polenta as parmesan itself is salty.
- You can use salted butter. If you do, then I would also recommend adding more than ½ teaspoon of salt after you have mixed in everything and after you have tasted it.
- This polenta recipe can be easily doubled. If you do, make sure to use a larger pot, not a saucepan. A 3-quart/3-liter one should be plenty.
- The longer you cook, the creamier your polenta but also the thicker, so keep an eye on it and remove from the heat when the consistency is to your liking.
- More answers to FAQ’s and useful tips can be found in the post above this recipe card.