This Creamy Parmesan Polenta Recipe pairs well with almost everything. Made from ground cornmeal, milk, and rich parmesan cheese, this easy and gluten-free side dish tastes so heavenly.Jump to Recipe
Ground cornmeal is stirred together with milk, butter, and parmesan cheese to create a rich and creamy side dish. It’s a high carb, low calorie alternative to other starches, like pasta, potatoes, and rice, and is naturally gluten-free.
This creamy polenta recipe with parmesan cheese has a buttery smooth texture and mild flavor, helping it pair well with almost anything! Layer it on the plate as a soft bed for an impressive ribeye steak on date night or serve a scoop with mushrooms on top for a flavorful side to enjoy with weeknight dinners. There’s no wrong choice!
What is polenta?
Polenta is a creamy, porridge-like side dish made from coarsely ground cornmeal. Just like its alternatives (mashed potatoes, rice, and pasta), polenta can be served with a variety of flavors, seasonings, nuts, seeds, meats, and vegetables. It’s easy to make too! All you need are pantry-staple ingredients like milk, broth, cheese, and seasonings.
Creamy polenta ingredients
- Polenta – Polenta is made from cornmeal, which needs to be ground in a specific way to achieve the perfect texture. I recommend using stone-ground, coarse, or medium ground cornmeal. Don’t use fine ground or instant polenta or else it will turn out like a paste.
- Parmesan cheese – Use freshly grated parmesan for the absolute best results. The parmesan is stirred into the polenta, infusing beautifully balanced and salty flavors.
- Milk – I like using whole milk for its richness but you can use any kind you have at home. Heavy cream should work too, but use a little less than what’s in the recipe.
- Chicken stock – Or vegetable stock for a vegetarian alternative.
- Butter – Unsalted is best.
How to make creamy polenta with parmesan cheese
- Heat the milk and broth: Pour the milk and broth into a saucepan and bring it up to a boil. Add the salt once it’s boiling then turn the heat to low.
- Whisk the polenta: Slowly whisk in a bit of cornmeal at a time until it’s all added. Cook uncovered until the mixture is thick and fluffy.
- Add the butter and cheese: Take the polenta off the heat and stir in the butter and parmesan cheese until it melts.
- Serve and enjoy: Serve each scoop of warm polenta with more butter, parmesan, and herbs on top and enjoy.
How to make polenta cakes
Polenta actually firms up as it cools, meaning you can slice the leftovers into small polenta cakes! To make polenta cakes, spread the fresh and hot polenta onto a baking sheet and leave it to cool in the fridge. Slice the firm polenta into small cakes or fries, then bake, pan-fry, or grill until slightly crispy.
Tips to make the best homemade polenta
- You’ll know the polenta is ready when it begins to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
- If the polenta is too thick, stir in some extra broth.
- If you’re serving polenta on its own, top it with nuts, herbs, fresh pepper, cheese, or seasonings to make it pop.
Homemade polenta is delicious as a side or a bed to almost anything you like. Use these suggestions to serve it yourself:
- Meat: Just like cauliflower mash, polenta can be used as a creamy bed for a ribeye steak, pork chops, vinegar chicken, or fish.
- Vegetables: It pairs so well with roasted cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and any other vegetable you love.
- Toppings: Add a dollop of your favorite pasta sauce, romesco sauce, nuts, seeds, gremolata sauce, or pesto on top of each scoop of polenta.
Storing and reheating leftovers
To store, keep the creamy polenta in an airtight container or bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To reheat, add a few tablespoons of liquid (either milk, broth, or water) to a saucepan over low to medium heat. Add the leftovers and stir. Cover the pan and cook until it’s warmed through, making sure to stir the mixture a few times.
Tools for Creamy Parmesan Polenta Recipe
More easy creamy recipes to try
- Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
- Corn and Lemon Orzo Pasta
- One Pan Chicken and Gnocchi
- Penne Alla Vodka
If you give this Creamy Parmesan Polenta Recipe a try, let me know in the comments below. I love seeing your pictures too, so please tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog and use #lenaskitchenblog so I can share them to my page!
Creamy Parmesan Polenta Recipe
- In a saucepan or small Dutch oven, bring the stock and milk to a boil. Add salt. Turn down the heat to low.
- Slowly sprinkle a little bit of the polenta at a time into the pot while whisking at the same time. Turn the heat to the lowest heat, cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until it’s thick, fluffy, and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Remove from heat, gently stir in 5 tablespoons of butter, parmesan cheese, and any additional salt to taste if needed. If the polenta becomes too thick, you can add some extra broth.
- Serve while still warm with an additional piece of butter, sprinkled with additional cheese and fresh herbs.