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Basic Polenta Recipe: How to Make Classic Italian Polenta

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: May 19, 2020 • 1 min read

If you have yellow cornmeal and a pot, you can make polenta. This simple Italian dish is a great base for ragùs, roasted or sautéed vegetables, tomato sauce, and other comfort foods.



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What Is Polenta?

Polenta is a porridge made of coarse- or medium-ground cornmeal common in Northern Italian cooking. Some polenta varieties include other grains like ground buckwheat or ground rice. A coarse-ground polenta yields a thicker mixture that is best for frying and baking until crispy, while a medium-ground polenta yields a creamy texture that makes a great side dish for stews or slow-roasted meats, like pot roast.

Simple Polenta Recipe

Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Cook Time
30 min


  • 1 cup polenta (or medium-ground cornmeal)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, to serve (optional)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)
  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, bring 4 cups of water to a strong boil.
  2. Add the polenta to the boiling water in a steady stream, whisking continually.
  3. Once you’ve added all the polenta, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue whisking until the polenta no longer sinks to the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add salt and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until polenta is creamy, about 30 minutes.
  5. For a cheesy polenta, finish with butter and parmesan cheese. For a vegan polenta, add a drizzle of olive oil.

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