Creamy polenta is a great side dish to serve in place of pasta or potatoes. Here are three delicious ways to make it – stovetop, Instant Pot and oven-baked.

Creamy Polenta

Creamy polenta makes an excellent side dish for a variety of entrées, especially when there's a savory sauce to spoon on top. Give it a try in place of pasta or potatoes – it's easy to prepare and makes a nice change of pace.

Here are a few examples:

We've included three different recipes here, one for making polenta on top of the stove, another for preparing it in the Instant Pot/electric pressure cooker and a third for baking it in the oven.

Each one has its advantages but no matter which one you choose, the finished product turns out smooth, creamy and delicious.

Creamy Polenta: Stovetop Method

This recipe is our go-to method for making polenta on the stovetop. It works consistently no matter what brand of cornmeal we use, and it's a terrific side to serve with “saucy” entrées.

We've also included a Garlic and Cheese variation below that's our favorite to serve with Italian-style main dishes.

Creamy Polenta: Stovetop Version

Creamy Polenta: Stovetop Version

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Our basic stovetop method for making polenta consistently no matter what brand of cornmeal we use and it's a great side to serve with "saucy" entrées.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup medium or coarsely ground yellow corn meal
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-3/4 cups water or milk, plus more if needed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half or light cream

Instructions

  1. Combine the chicken broth, water (or milk), butter, salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the corn meal, whisking constantly until well blended.
  3. Continue cooking until the polenta starts to bubble.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking frequently until the polenta is smooth and creamy, about 20 minutes.
  5. If the polenta thickens too much during cooking, add more liquid (broth, water or milk) until you like the consistency.
  6. Just before serving, stir in the half-and-half and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Notes

Recipe Variation: Creamy Garlic and Cheese Polenta

Follow all the instructions above, but increase the chicken broth to 3-1/3 cups and add 1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic. Once the polenta has finished cooking, stir in 1/2 cup of shredded asiago cheese and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese along with the half-and-half.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 25mg Sodium: 316mg Carbohydrates: 20g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 1g Protein: 6g
Note: Nutrition information is estimated and may vary from your actual results.

How to Make Polenta in the Instant Pot

Our basic recipe for creamy polenta is easy to make in the Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker). It turns out just as smooth and delicious as the stovetop version, but the pressure cooker eliminates the need for frequent stirring.

This method frees you up to work on other parts of your meal, but it's worth noting that the Instant Pot won't save you any cooking time.

Creamy Polenta: Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker Version

Creamy Polenta: Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker Version

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Our basic, creamy polenta recipe is easy to make in the Instant Pot and the electric pressure cooker eliminates the need for frequent stirring.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup medium or coarsely ground yellow corn meal
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 cups water or milk, plus more if needed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half or light cream

Instructions

  1. Press the sauté button on the pressure cooker and add the chicken broth, water (or milk) and butter.
  2. Allow the liquid to come to a simmer, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the corn meal, salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
  3. Cancel the sauté function on the pressure cooker, secure the lid on the pot and set the pressure valve to the sealed position. Program the cooker for 5 minutes on high pressure.
  4. Once the cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, then open the valve to release the remaining pressure.
  5. Once you open the lid, if you feel the polenta is too thick, stir in a little extra liquid (broth, water or milk).
  6. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, then stir in the half-and-half and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 25mg Sodium: 298mg Carbohydrates: 20g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 1g Protein: 6g
Note: Nutrition information is estimated and may vary from your actual results.

How to Make Creamy Polenta in the Oven

Baking polenta in the oven is an easy way to prepare this versatile side dish because it doesn't require too much hands-on time. It works out well if you can afford the extra time it takes to cook.

Creamy Polenta: Oven-Baked Version

Creamy Polenta: Oven-Baked Version

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Baking polenta in the oven is an easy, hands-off method of preparing this versatile side dish and works out well if you can afford the extra time it takes to cook.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup medium or coarsely ground yellow corn meal
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 3-quart casserole dish, preferably one with a lid.
  2. Add the cornmeal, chicken broth, water, milk, butter and salt. Stir to combine but don't be concerned if it separates, the polenta will come together as it cooks.
  3. Cover the casserole with foil and place the lid on top. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
  4. Uncover and bake until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 141 Total Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 13mg Sodium: 438mg Carbohydrates: 19g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 0g Protein: 5g
Note: Nutrition information is estimated and may vary from your actual results.