Traditional recipes

Creamy Parmesan polenta recipe

Creamy Parmesan polenta recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Side dish

This easy recipe turns a block of ready made polenta into a deliciously creamy side dish that is simply delicious served with a hearty stew.

12 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 1 (500g) packet ready made polenta, sliced into small cubes
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 40g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 dash paprika

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:5min ›Ready in:15min

  1. Stir polenta and chicken stock together in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until the polenta is heated through completely, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove pan from heat. Stir Parmesan cheese, black pepper and paprika into the polenta mixture.

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Creamy Polenta Recipe

Shake off those cornmeal jitters and visions of clumpy, lumpy, dry polenta. Today we're sharing our perfectly creamy, Parmesan-laced, soul-satisfyingly basic polenta recipe.


Recipe Summary

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 ½ teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 1 ¼ cups coarsely ground cornmeal (polenta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 (4 ounce) links hot Italian sausage
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup basil marinara sauce
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 large basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced

Combine chicken stock, half-and-half, and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan cover and bring to a boil. Whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to low cook, whisking often, until polenta is soft, about 15 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add sausage links cook, turning often, until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Stir remaining 1 teaspoon salt, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red onion, and oregano into the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic cook and stir for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low pour in white wine. Stir in marinara sauce.

Slice sausages and return to the skillet. Cook, covered, until no longer pink in the center, about 3 minutes.

Stir 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and butter into polenta until melted. Season with black pepper. Divide polenta among 4 serving plates. Top with sausage and pepper mixture. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and basil.


Sometimes I just get overwhelmed by how delicious a dish can be even if it is super easy to prepare. And this is one of those dishes. This polenta truly could not be easier to build. And the flavor is superb. Perfect as a base for everything from Chicken Cacciatore to Savory Braised Beef Cubes. (Both just happen to be on this site BTW.) And don’t even get me started on how delightful this polenta would be smothered with some kind of creamy Italian shrimp dish! (Now added to my list of recipes to be developed.)

But aside from how great a base this makes for numerous saucy dishes, this polenta is perfectly delightful as a stand-alone side dish. And as we all know, creamy side dishes (think mac and cheese and mashed potatoes) are great favorites of kids. OK, they’re great favorites of adults too. But as adults, we know to eat less of these decadent dishes because of the calory content. So, full disclosure. This is not a low fat, low carb dish. This is a full-on comfort food dish. And at least here at Chez Carr, we only eat comfort food on special occasions. But when we do, whatever we are eating has to be really, really tasty. And this dish fits that description perfectly. So, give this dish a try next time you feel worthy of a reward. Because this is a blue-ribbon winner.

As always, treat yourself to good food every day. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to fix brownies or rhubarb crisp (recipe on the way) or even something as simple as oven roasted veggies. The food just needs to be well prepared. And well prepared does not mean the food has to be fancy. Well prepared means that you have given complete attention to bring out the best qualities of every ingredient you touch. Even a simple step like chopping up a carrot for soup should be considered important to the final product. Equal size pieces result in all the carrot becoming tender at the same time. And don’t forget presentation. Part of the pleasure of eating a fine dish is the presentation. Doesn’t take but a minute to add a sprinkle of fresh parsley, a bit of paprika, or a smattering of grated cheese as a garnish. But the eye knows when it is missing.

I guess the word that comes to mind most when I think of good cooking is mindfulness. Being conscious or aware when preparing a dish. So, on that happy note – have fun in your kitchen.

freshly ground black pepper

1 scant c. polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal) (not instant or fast cooking variety)

½ c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Bring broth, salt, and pepper to a boil in a medium-sized, covered saucepan. Whisk the dry polenta slowly into the boiling broth until all of the ground corn is stirred in with no lumps remaining.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking continuously until polenta starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. (Polenta mixture should still be slightly liquid.) Cover and cook for 30 minutes, whisking every 7 minutes or so. (When polenta is too thick to whisk, stir with a wooden spoon.) Polenta is done when the texture is creamy, and the individual grains of ground corn are tender.

Remove from heat and gently stir in the butter until partially melted. Then add in the Parmigiano-Reggiano until the cheese too has melted.

Cover and let stand 5 minutes to thicken. Stir, then taste to see if additional salt or pepper is required. Serve as a base for any saucy meat dish. Or plain. It’s wonderful just plain too!


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Great recipe. Use chicken stock instead of water for additional flavor kick. You will not regret it! No need for salt.

to enhance the ɼreamy'ness and overall flavor of the titled dish, substitute a 1:1 ratio of heavy cream and appropriate stock for the liquid. more decadent, luxurious, and full of flavor.

It was pretty easy to make, and really enjoyable!

Made to go with the Pork Chops recommended (they were better), and I might make this again with a little "tweaking". KIMBER

I had never made polenta before and wasn't really a fan of it until now. It was amazingly easy to make. Just be sure that you add the mixture a bit at a time and stir constantly. Our dinner guests loved it, my husband was crazy about it and I am going to make it for another dinner party this week. Simple to make and yummy. That's my kind of recipe.


Cornmeal is naturally gluten-free because it doesn’t contain wheat or gluten.

However, because cross-contamination can occur during processing, people who are very sensitive to gluten and those who have celiac disease should look for cornmeal that’s labeled and certified as gluten-free.


Creamy Parmesan Sour Cream Polenta

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Here’s a versatile little dish works equally well as a delicious main or a sumptuous side. Polenta is simmered in equal amounts milk and water, and melded with melty Parmesan cheese, tangy sour cream, and rich butter. All of these ingredients team up to create a lush, creamy consistency.

This creamy polenta recipe makes for a super-satisfying meal simply when sprinkled with a few chopped scallions or topped more heartily with grilled squash, steamed broccoli, or sauteed mushrooms. We also love it as an easy substitute for mashed potatoes: it’s the perfect base for pot roast or stew. When we make this in our house, it’s often a side for my carnivorous guy and a main for me, and we both feel like we got the better part of the deal.

In fact, this stuff is so wonderfully creamy, I almost named it “Uber Creamy Parmesan Sour Cream Polenta,” but then I had a tartlet moment with the word “uber.” You know, that episode of Friends? “Tartlet … tartlet … the word has lost all meaning!”

Note: We use Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits Polenta for this recipe. I thought it was important to mention the specific type of polenta we start with because quite honestly, I had always thought grits and polenta were different things, but perhaps not (can anyone enlighten me?)


Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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11 Comments

Fantastic recipe for introduction to the world of Palenta !
Never made it before. Used the recipe. Pleased. Worked well. Tastes great.
Will recommend. ?

So glad to hear it! Thanks for making it!

My husband and I are also Italian and I have been on the hunt for a great polenta recipe. I made your recipe with our steak Marsala for dinner tonight and it’s FANTASTIC!! Buttery, smooth and the cheese adds makes it creamy with a subtle kick to the flavor. Also a hit with my two boys! 5/5 stars! Thank you!

Wow this is high praise coming from Italians! Thank you SO so much! We are so glad to hear that your boys loved it too. Thank you for making our recipe!

I just made polenta recently for my very first time and I followed this recipe to a T and it turned out PERFECTLY. I made it a second time and same results – perfection.

Then I thought I’d try someone else’s recipe, just to branch out. Bad idea. I don’t know why, but they called for the same amount of polenta but HALF as much water. As you can imagine, 10 minutes in I had polenta burned to the inside of my pan. That was not fun to scrape out.

As my great grandmother always said, “don’t fix what’s not broken.” I’ll be sticking with your recipe from now on! Thank you SO much for sharing it!


Creamy Parmesan Polenta

I am going to go out on a limb and call polenta one of the most under-appreciated foods out there. (See also: celery). Polenta looks very plain Jane: a bowl of pale yellow corn mush that may or may not taste like sawdust. But appearances can be deceiving. Creamy parmesan polenta tastes incredibly satisfying: a soft and rich, with the simple-yet-perfect flavors of corn, salty pecorino-Romano and parmesan cheeses, and (of course) butter.

You may also like: Fried Crispy Chickpeas and Sheet Pan Pasta Pomodoro

Sometimes polenta makes an appearance as a side dish on casual Italian restaurant menus, next to the garlic sautéed spinach. Generally, though, polenta is almighty pasta’s sad understudy: waiting for its moment to shine, but rarely getting the spotlight. No more. Creamy parmesan polenta will be your new favorite side dish.

How to Make Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Polenta can be used as a base for meats, vegetables, or even all on its own. It only involves a few ingredients, so quality ingredients and the right method is key.


  • 1 cup water (more as needed)
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons whole basil leaves

In a saucier pan or saucepan, combine the water and milk. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. When it simmers, sprinkle the polenta gradually into the pot, stirring briskly with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Add a pinch of salt and continue simmering over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a whisk.

Cook for about 20 minutes, until the polenta does not have a gritty mouthfeel when tasted. Stir in 1/4 cup ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese and stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until the cheese is melted.

While the polenta is cooking, chiffonade the basil leaves: stack the leaves and roll tightly into a cigar shape. Use a knife to cut through the roll crosswise to make thin shreds of basil. Set aside.

To serve, spoon a portion of polenta (about 1/2 cup) onto each plate. Top with a dollop of about 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese and sprinkle with some of the basil chiffonade. Serve immediately.


Creamy Baked Parmesan Polenta

A big dish of creamy polenta is the perfect choice for cold, wintery days, topped with your favorite tomato sauce or a spoonful of slow cooked stew. My family loves polenta, but the traditional way of cooking it on the stovetop is a bit fussy, and requires about 45 minutes and LOTS of stirring. Because of the effort involved, I honestly do not cook polenta that often. I recently began to bake my polenta in the oven and find it a much easier way to prepare it, and although it still takes a minimum of 45 minutes to cook, it requires only one or two stirrings and you end up with the same creamy polenta that you would if you cooked it on the stove. If you have invited Nonna for dinner, she will not even notice that the polenta was baked instead of carefully cooked on the stove, though she might not approve of this less than traditional preparation method so I would keep that to yourself!

Polenta is so versatile, so do not simply look at it and think “mushy cornmeal”. My family actually prefers it spooned soft into a bowl and topped with a flavorful tomato sauce and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, but you can cool the polenta on a baking sheet until firm and then cut it into pieces and fry or grill it as a side dish, or cut the polenta (once cooled) into layers and create a lasagna type of dish using meat, sauce, and cheese which is also very tasty.

Although I chose to use grated Parmesan in this version, you can replace the Parmesan with Gorgonzola, or even goat cheese, or skip the cheese and simply leave the polenta simple. A spoonful of polenta makes a great side dish or platform for stews or braised meats, and is a great alternative to mashed potatoes or rice.

There are varieties of “instant” polenta on the market, but I really prefer the texture of the longer cooking polenta, and when you bake it as this recipe does, it is almost effortless. You can use any medium grain cornmeal to make polenta, although for this recipe I used Bob’s Red Mill Stone Ground 100% Whole Grain, Medium Grind cornmeal which I found took a little longer to bake than regular cornmeal.


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