Creamy Polenta and Reheating Tips

Creamy Polenta and Reheating Tips

The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
311 Calories
15g Fat
36g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 311
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 9g 43%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 571mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 210mg 16%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 248mg 5%
*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 coarsely ground yellow cornmeal

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste

  • 2 cups milk

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Creamy Polenta ingredients

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

  2. Place cornmeal in a heavy stockpot.

    Place the cornmeal in a heavy stockpot

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

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

     Gradually add water and the salt to the cornmeal

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

  4. Bring remaining 2 cups of water to a boil in a small pot.

    boiling water in a pot

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

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

    Add the boiling water gradually to the cornmeal mixture

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

  6. Turn on stovetop to medium-low and cook cornmeal mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes, until mixture comes to a gentle simmer.

    whisk polenta in the pot

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

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

    Add the milk and butter to the polenta

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

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

    Taste the polenta for seasoning

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

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

    Add more liquid to the polenta

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

  10. Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar and Parmesan until are melted and incorporated. Serve polenta warm with extra grated Parmesan cheese on the side.

    Remove polenta from the heat and whisk in the cheddar and Parmesan

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin