Creamy Polenta and Reheating Tips

Polenta with corn flour and corn cobs
Nico Tondini / Getty Images
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
362 Calories
20g Fat
36g Carbs
12g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 362
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 25%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 52mg 17%
Sodium 833mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Protein 12g
Calcium 296mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Polenta is a simple Italian dish of cooked cornmeal, somewhat similar to Southern-style grits. It can be prepared in various consistencies and is a tasty accompaniment to hearty dishes like beef stew. Polenta is also delicious on its own as a breakfast cereal. 

Polenta is easy to prepare and cooks quickly. Cook the polenta a bit longer if you prefer a thicker consistency. Grated cheese adds extra flavor to this traditional dish.

Save any leftovers in the refrigerator. Polenta is easy to reheat, and you can do that in several ways.

  • Chilled polenta can be cut into squares–or any shape–and sautéed in butter for an excellent breakfast or side dish.
  • Or you can cut chilled polenta into small circles and crisp them in a skillet—they will be very much like little arepas—and then top them with something tasty, like aji de gallina or avocado salsa, for example, to make a nice little appetizer. If you spread the polenta into a thin layer in a pyrex dish while it is warm, it will be easier to cut into circles.
  • To reheat polenta back to a creamy consistency, heat it gently on the stove or microwave, adding a bit of water or milk as needed until it reaches the desired consistency.


  • 2 cups cornmeal (yellow, coarsely ground)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the cornmeal in a heavy stockpot.

  3. Gradually add 2 cups of water and the salt to the cornmeal, whisking the mixture well as you add the water until the cornmeal and water are well-mixed and free of any lumps.

  4. Bring the remaining 2 cups of water to a boil.

  5. Add the boiling water gradually to the cornmeal mixture, whisking at the same time

  6. Cook the cornmeal over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer.

  7. Add the milk and butter and continue to cook over low heat, stirring, for 10 minutes longer.

  8. Taste the polenta for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

  9. Add more liquid (milk, cream, or water) if the mixture seems too thick. If the mixture is too thin, cook the polenta a bit longer–watching carefully and stirring constantly to prevent sticking–until the desired consistency is reached. The mixture should be thick but will thicken even more as it cools.

  10. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheddar and Parmesan until they are melted and incorporated.

  11. Serve polenta warm with extra grated Parmesan cheese on the side.