ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Polenta, Information, Preparation, and Tips

Updated on July 17, 2011

Polenta is one of the most basic corn based foods in existence. Its simplicity (cornmeal cooked until tender) and versatility makes it one of the best choices to express healthy culinary creativity. Many cooks however, struggle with making a smooth, well cooked polenta and end up with lumpy, or undercooked mixtures

Polenta can be made from any type of cornmeal from coarse to finely milled varieties. Different types of cornmeal, white, yellow, blue, all can be used to make the base for a polenta. There really is no trick to the dish, a perfect polenta just requires a little knowledge of the technique and a clear vision for the dish.

squares of polenta
squares of polenta

When making polenta, choosing the proper type of cornmeal to suit your application is important. Fine ground cornmeal will create a more dense, pudding style dish while a coarse ground cornmeal will lead to a still tender polenta but one with a varied texture. The coarse ground cornmeal is the style that is used in traditional italian cooking. All you need for the most basic polenta is water, cornmeal and salt.

The equipment you need is simple, a large heavy bottomed pot, a whisk, and a wooden spoon. The pot should have a thick bottom, to prevent the polenta from burning during the cooking process.

The ratio for polenta is simple, start with 4 cups of water to 1 cup of cornmeal. Milk can be substituted for water for a richer polenta (see: more calories), I typically used 2 cups of milk (whole milk) and 2 cups of water.

Add your liquid and salt heat oon medium and add the cornmeal. Add it all at once, and use the whisk to break up the large clumps of cornmeal as the polenta cooks. The cornmeal typically takes 20 minutes to fully cook, and should be tender when you taste, and not gritty or hard. Stir, stir, stir, turing over the bottom which can burn and ruin your polenta very easily.

When cooking polenta you have to stir and whisk often. The cornmeal will tend to clump or harden at the bottom of the pot keeping the mixture moving prevents this and creates a more tender dish.

The cornmeal will set as it cools. The thicker you make the polenta, the more firm it will be once you serve it. A thick polenta can be poured into a pan, cooled or stored in the refridgerator and cut into bricks or cakes for frying, broiling, baking or grilling. Thin polenta will resemble a pudding or mashed potatoes and can be served as a side, or as part of a dish.

There are an incredible number of polenta recipes, many of which involve adding cheese, meat, or vegetables during the cooking process. Basic flavors coming from onions, olive oils, herbs or strong cheese make polenta a great vegetarian option. The trick to making many of these dishes is to simply time the addition of your ingredients to enhance the polentas texture, and not overcook them and have the flavors be lost in the process.

After you make polenta a few times you will grasp how the cornmeal cooks. Once you understand how long it takes until the meal is tender and which type of cornmeal you prefer (I like coarse ground) timing the addition of ingredients is easy. Vegetables should be added with about 5 to 10 minutes left in the cooking process, cheeses should be added within the last 5 minutes of cooking, meats in the last 2 to 3 minutes, garlic and onions can be sweated or cooked in butter or oil before the liquid is added and herbs can be added as soon as the polenta begins to absorb water.

When cooking polenta for the second time, be sure to grease / oil the pan you use, and let it get hot before cooking to prevent the polenta from sticking. Understand as well,that as it is heated, the polenta will loosen up and become less firm, meaning a once firm polenta can collapse when hot if you rest your meat or vegtables directly on it.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Joyce S 

      6 years ago

      This is a fantastic piece of information. I recall how my mother would cook this and fry it for breakfast, however we called it "Mush" which I still like today. When I eat out with some breakfast friends, they always know what I will be ordering. Makes me hungry for it right now.

    • Francesca27 profile image


      7 years ago from Hub Page

      I like polenta and you did a good job with this hub.

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      This is a great explanation of how to make polenta and of its uses. Thanks much.

      I learned about polenta when I read a book about Yugoslavia and have since wondered about making and using it, seeing it mostly in southwestern/Hispanic recipes.

      Voted up and bookmarked.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)