How to Make Grit, Polenta or Risotto Cakes

Pan fried Risotto Cakes
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Do you often find yourselves with leftover grits, polenta, or risotto? One tasty way to use it up is by forming it into cakes, which you can fry. The grit or risotto cakes are delicious on their own, or served under a pile of sauteed vegetables or perhaps in place of an English muffin in eggs Benedict. They are easily frozen to fry up later if you're not ready to eat them within a day or two.

Or try serving them in a recipe like sauteed chard, green beans and shrimp over grit cakes.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 20 minutes


  • 2 cups or more cooked grits, risotto, or polenta
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Equipment Needed: Baking sheet, parchment paper, rubber spatula, round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, plastic wrap, nonstick skillet (one to try: Bialetti Aeternum Nonstick Cookware), turning the spatula.

Here's How

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray. Using a rubber spatula, spread warm grits, polenta or risotto onto the pan in an even layer, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Allow ‚Äčto cool completely.
  2. Using a round cookie cutter, biscuit cutter or glass jar, cut out rounds from the cooled grits, polenta or risotto, making cut-outs as close to each other as possible to maximize space. Gather up the excess grits or risotto and pat flat again to cut out more rounds, as you would with cookie dough. You can make the cakes any size, but a good size for serving is around 3 inches.
  1. Wrap each round individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  2. To pan-fry the rounds, thaw the cakes if they were frozen. In a large nonstick skillet, add enough canola or vegetable oil to coat the bottom completely. Add a pat of butter for flavor, tilting pan to melt butter and distribute it evenly on the bottom of the pan.
  1. Dust the cakes lightly with flour. When butter is melted and foaming, place cakes in the pan (they should sizzle a little when they touch the pan) and cook over medium-high heat until the underside is browned and crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip the cakes over and cook the other side until browned, another 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve hot.