Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (2024)

Published May 22, 2019.This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Creamy polenta is an amazing Italian recipe of cooked yellow cornmeal in a seasoned broth and finished with butter and parmesan cheese for the perfect side dish.

Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (1)

This is such a staple in Italian cuisine. Polenta is incredibly easy to make and can be made in a variety of ways, from soft creamy polenta like this recipe or even fried up and served as a cake. Regardless this recipe will give you perfect polenta every time and make for an amazing side dish to any main entree.

Polenta

It is essentially the Italian version of the southern classic, grits. This polenta recipe is made from cornmeal; That’s it. The cornmeal used in this dish is a different breed of corn cut differently, so it’s not a perfect 1-to-1 comparison. However, the flavor profiles are very similar, and the method is just about the same.

So the next time you see a package of cornmeal at the grocery store, that is your first step to making a creamy polenta recipe.

Is It the Same as Grits?

They are both very similar, but classically grits are made from white corn hominy, while polenta is made from yellow corn. Also, I think you’ll find the yellow cornmeal cut specifically for polenta to be much more coarse in texture.

What is Polenta Made Of?

It’s simply two ingredients, but there are countless ways to enhance it to make it taste better. The two most simple ingredients are chicken stock and cornmeal. The other ingredients you can add to help enhance the flavors are:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Herbs

Is It Bad For You?

In its simplest form containing only chicken stock and cornmeal, polenta is relatively healthy, with a good amount of fiber and protein. It’s when you start to add in all of the fats that it can begin to become unhealthy.

What Is the Ratio of Polenta to Water?

If you want this to be a super creamy polenta, use a ratio of 4:1 liquid to cornmeal. If you want the regular version, then it is 3:1 liquid to cornmeal, which is actually what I used in this recipe.

How to Make Polenta

Making this creamy polenta recipe is so incredibly easy that you’ll wonder why you haven’t made it before.

It starts with caramelizing up some chopped yellow onion and finely minced garlic cloves in a small amount of olive oil in a 6 or 8-quart pot. This can take up to 10 minutes or so but will be well worth it when it comes to the result.

Once the onions and garlic are brown in a medium-size pot in olive oil, add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.

Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (2)

When the stock is boiling, pour in the cornmeal while vigorously whisking constantly to ensure there are no clumps in the polenta. Turn the heat down to medium-low. This is the most important stage of the entire cooking process because the cornmeal needs to be cooked without any chunks in it. This process can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the creamy polenta is finished, it should be smooth with no crunch. At this point, stir in some whole butter, Parmesan cheese and salt, and pepper.

How to Serve Polenta

It’s not only delicious as a side dish, but it is also a recipe that works great as a main component of the main meal. For example, you can fold roasted vegetables and chicken into it, or you can put some creamy shrimp all over the top of it.

I recommend trying and using polenta as the base of the main entree or as a side dish or eating it as it is because this recipe is delicious all by itself. Try serving it with these recipes:

  • Chicken Cacciatore
  • Beef Braciole Recipe
  • Steak Pizzaiola

Make-Ahead and Storage

How To Reheat: Add the desired amount of polenta back into a medium-size pot over low heat with a 1/2 cup of chicken stock. You may need more chicken stock.

Make-Ahead: You can make this recipe up to 1 day ahead of time.

How To Store: Store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (3)

chef notes + tips

  • I prefer medium coarsely ground cornmeal to make the creamy polenta because I like it to be a bit more grainy.
  • In my personal opinion, I think onions, butter, and cheese is the perfect addition to a basic recipe.
  • It is ok to sub unsalted butter for olive oil when cooking the onions.
  • You can substitute the chicken stock for vegetables or water when cooking the polenta.
  • If you wanted to kick it up even more, you could caramelize some mushrooms or root vegetables during this cooking stage. The point I’m trying to get at is that this creamy polenta recipe is malleable; customize it to your tastebuds!

More Amazing Side Dish Recipes

  • Boiled Green Beans Recipe with Butter Glaze
  • Parmesan Truffle Fries Recipe
  • How to Make a Traditional Ratatouille Recipe
  • How to Make Scalloped Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese

Be sure to follow me onFacebook,Youtube,Instagram,andPinterest,and if you’ve had a chance to make this, then definitely drop me a comment and a rating below.

Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (4)

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Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese

Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (5)

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4.96 from 23 votes

Enhance your main entree by serving this tasty and easy to make Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese as a side dish for your next meal.

Servings: 8

Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 small diced small yellow onion
  • 2 finely minced cloves of garlic
  • 6 cups of chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
  • 2 cups of medium ground cornmeal
  • 2 ounces of unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a medium-size pot on medium-high heat add in the olive oil and cook the onions and garlic until they are browned about 3 to 7 minutes.

  • Pour in the liquid and bring to a boil.

  • Once boiling pour in the cornmeal while continuing to vigorously stir with a whisk to ensure no clumps are formed, about 15 to 20 minutes. When the cornmeal is poured in, turn the heat down to medium-low.

  • Finish off the polenta by stirring in butter, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper until completely combined. Cook for a further 5 minutes over low heat. Garnish with parmesan and parsley.

  • Serve hot, enjoy!

Notes

CHEF NOTES:

  • How To Reheat: simply add the desired amount of polenta back into a medium-size pot over low heat and add in about a 1/2 cup of warm chicken stock to reconstitute it and loosen it up. You may need more chicken stock.
  • Make-Ahead: You can make this recipe up to 1 day ahead of time.
  • How To Store: Store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • I prefer to use medium ground cornmeal to make the creamy polenta with because I like it to be a bit more grainy, but that’s just me, so feel free to use a finer ground.
  • In my personal opinion, I think onions, butter, and cheese is the perfect addition to a basic recipe.
  • It is absolutely ok to sub unsalted butter for olive oil when cooking the onions.
  • You can substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock or even just water when cooking the polenta.
  • If you wanted to kick it up, even more, you could caramelize up some mushrooms or root vegetables during this cooking stage as well. The point I’m trying to get at is that this creamy polenta recipe is malleable, customize is it to your tastebuds!

Nutrition

Calories: 328kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 12gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 444mgPotassium: 335mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 242IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 111mgIron: 2mg

Course: Side Dish

Cuisine: Italian

Author: Chef Billy Parisi

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50 comments

    • deb

    As I’ve gotten older my tastebuds have changed and I’m not always in to parm. I know, but it is what it is. Can you recommend A less pungent substitute for some of the parm? I will try this recipe regardless because I absolutely LOVE polenta.
    Thanks

    • Reply
    • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (6)

        Not sure there is one tbh.

        • Reply
      • sue

      😋😁👋soon as I get paid

      • Reply
      • Michael Southern
      • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (7)

      Recently served this as a side to your Classic Chicken Cacciatore recipe and it was a hit.

      • Reply
      • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (9)

          delicious!

          • Reply
        • Cecilia A O’Shaughnessy
        • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (10)

        yum!
        My mom grew up in northern Italy, in the piedmont area. She never described polenta like this!

        • Reply
        • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (11)

            one of my favorites!

            • Reply
          • Giuseppina D’Ippolito
          • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (12)

          Best polenta,

          • Reply
          • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (13)

              many thanks!

              • Reply
            • James

            Turned this into fried cakes served with roast chicken in a Red pepper sauce and fried green beans

            • Reply
            • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (14)

                amazing!

                • Reply
              • Rebecca S
              • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (15)

              This polenta recipe was really delicious. My whole family loved it.

              • Reply
              • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (16)

                  excellent

                  • Reply
                • Marilea
                • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (17)

                So delicious and customizable!

                • Reply
                • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (18)

                    Yes!

                    • Reply
                  • Sherri Voebel
                  • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (19)

                  This is creamy and delicious! 🧀🧀🧀

                  • Reply
                  • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (20)

                      yup!

                      • Reply
                    • Ellen Troyer
                    • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (21)

                    I so love your recipes and cooking skills classes. I’m serving this tonight made with my homemade chicken bone broth, which I make twice a month with budget friendly Costco roast chicken carcasses, yellow onions, celery, and whole head of garlic, . I’m serving this tonight with sautéed mushrooms and a green salad. My guests are both vegetarian perfectly OK with my dishes made with bone broth.

                    • Reply
                    • Cora
                    • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (23)

                    Excellent recipe! My S.O. and I have been trying to “watch” what we eat, so anytime I even mention “cheese grits” he says NO! Apparently, if I call it “parmesan polenta” it’s ok for us to eat. LOL! We paired it with Steak Diane, which of course is definitely not “watching” what we eat, but these are his rules. I ALWAYS have grits on hand so I had to adjust the time for a bit longer. I used my own homemade chicken stock, what are the odds that I had 6 1/2 cups left after I had canned the rest. Yum! I will be using this recipe again. Thank you!

                    • Reply
                    • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (24)

                        Hilarious! thanks for giving it a shot!!

                        • Reply
                      • Susan
                      • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (25)

                      I used fine grain so cooking time was less but it came out delicious. I added some extra butter when it got a little stiff. Definitely make it again.

                      • Reply
                      • Lynn
                      • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (26)

                      The BOMB!!! I live in Switzerland and polenta is popular in many areas…with that said, my Swiss husband is not a huge fan of polenta BUT…tonight he is a converted “Chef Billy” polenta lover. I followed the recipe as written…the polenta was done before my main dish so at the last minute I added the last of the white wine we were having for aperitif along with some more parmasean cheese….it was delicious! Thank you! So happy I found your site!

                      • Reply
                      • Dallas
                      • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (27)

                      This is my ‘go to’ recipe when I don’t want to cook rice. Not many people even know what polenta is! What a shame! One of those great comfort foods. I spread my leftovers in a glass bowl and slice @1/2” thick, brown in butter in the morning and cook an egg to top it off. My mom was Italian and this was a regular in our home! Thank you for sharing.

                      • Reply
                      • Bill
                      • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (28)

                      I use corn meal that is locally grown and locally milled and the ground is moderately course. But the corn used is hickory cane, a white variety. Do you think that this could substitute for the yellow meal?

                      • Reply
                      • Maria

                      Could you add dried thyme towards the end of caramelizing the onions/garlic or would you recommend fresh?

                      • Reply
                      • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (29)

                          dry at the beginning, fresh at the end.

                          • Reply
                        • Cindy
                        • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (30)

                        This is a fantastic recipe and me being a Ukrainian I had to change it of course but it’s absolutely delicious. I cut up a pound of bacon & fried it with the onions & garlic. Used chicken stock for the liquid and used about 1/2 to 1 cup of 18% cream to make it a bit thinner. It was so delicious I didn’t even put in the cheese. Thank you Chef 👨‍🍳

                        • Reply
                        • Chara

                        That looks delicious. We eat grits frequently, so this looks like a great variation. I have 2 questions: what is the brand/style of pitcher you pour in the stock with? Is it measured or just a plastic pitcher? I always end up with several measuring cups dirty to get the stock measured. What size grind should the cornmeal be or does it matter? Thanks!

                        • Reply
                        • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (31)

                            It is a plastic measuring pitcher, not sure of the brand as I got it from a restaurant store. The grind doesn’t matter.

                            • Reply
                          • Erika P
                          • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (32)

                          This recipe made me look like a polenta pro even though I’m a first-timer.

                          It was so delicious! Perfect as-is but it could easily accept modifications and added flavors and still be great. I chilled it into bars and made “polenta fries” with a marinara dipping sauce. Yum!

                          • Reply
                          • Jo Sprawls
                          • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (33)

                          Need six stars for this recipe. Made it for the first time last week. Enjoyed so much, making again this week. I put in pyrex dish and chilled. Sliced half inch pieces and browned. Served with fresh chopped tomatoes, basil, a bit of garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. I did not even want to eat my main. This is a fantastic recipe and easy to follow. Thank you. Big fan.

                          • Reply
                          • Jen Desposato
                          • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (34)

                          Fantastic recipe!! We are a family of six from the US but in Brazil for a year – in “shelter at home” during pandemic and polenta is a staple here in Brazil. I had never cooked it before and it turned out amazing!! I made enough for three meals so I’ll top it each night with something different:) Or maybe pan fry some on day three and top with meat and marinara. Thanks so much!!

                          • Reply
                          • Michelle
                          • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (35)

                          Delicious easy recipe

                          • Reply
                          • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (36)

                              Thank you!!

                              • Reply
                            • Dave

                            I remember my grandmother substituting part of the water with milk and using a cup of parmesan cheese. What does this do to the recipe?

                            • Reply
                            • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (37)

                                It would maybe make it a little creamier but with all the butter and cheese I already have in there probably not much.

                                • Reply
                              • Donna Morris
                              • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (38)

                              Wow!! Absolutely delicious! You made it so simple and easy to follow. Thank you! 👏I added mushrooms to the onions and garlic and it was a huge success! 👏

                              • Reply
                              • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (39)

                                  Delicious!!!!

                                  • Reply
                                • Kathy buskett
                                • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (40)

                                I never made polenta before tonight. Looked up this recipe and used onions and garlic, leeks and mushrooms and grated cheese. Wow. It was awesome. Thanks I’ve now got a new starch for my dinner rotation!

                                • Reply
                                • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (41)

                                    oh man the added stuff you put in there sounds amazing! So glad you love this recipe 🙂

                                    • Reply
                                  • Kaye Edwards
                                  • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (42)

                                  Last week was the first time I made polenta and the recipe was easy to follow and the end result was delicious! I am about to make it for a second time with some sautéed pinto beans! YUM! Thank you for sharing this tasty recipe.

                                  • Reply
                                  • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (43)

                                      Kaye this is amazing thank you so much for the kind words and giving it a try!

                                      • Reply
                                    • JoAnne
                                    • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (44)

                                    Wow! This turned out fantastic. I served it in a shallow bowl with roasted veggies on top. So yummy. I can’t wait to put braised lamb or beef on top of it or on the side.

                                    • Reply
                                    • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (45)

                                        So happy this turned out so well for you, thank for trying it out!!

                                        • Reply
                                      • Sara
                                      • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (46)

                                      Yum! This is almost exactly how I make my risotto – but I need to try polenta soon!! Love it!

                                      • Reply
                                      • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (47)

                                          same technique 🙂

                                          • Reply
                                            • Laura

                                            Do you have to stir it the whole 15-20 minutes?

                                            • Reply
                                            • Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (48)

                                                No but keep an eye on it especially at the beginning because it will clump.

                                                • Reply
                                        Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese (2024)

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