How to Make Polenta

Bowl of Herbed Polenta Alexandra Grablewski/Photodisc/Getty Images
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
411 Calories
4g Fat
87g Carbs
9g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 411
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 640mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 87g 32%
Dietary Fiber 8g 30%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 21mg 2%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 326mg 7%
*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, the Italian answer to cornmeal mush, is tasty, extremely versatile, and an ideal accompaniment to all sorts of things. Though it can be bought ready-made, purists are correct in saying that what one makes at home is better. In short, how to make polenta.


  • 1 pound cornmeal (slightly more, coarsely ground; you want cornmeal the consistency of fine- to medium-grained sand, not flour)

  • 2 quarts boiling water, plus more if needed

  • 1 teaspoon salt, heaping

Steps to Make It

  1. Set the water on the fire in a wide bottomed pot and add the salt.

  2. When it comes to a boil, add the cornmeal in a very slow stream (you don't want the pot to stop boiling), stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to keep lumps from forming.

  3. Continue stirring, in the same direction, as the mush thickens, for about a half-hour (the longer you stir the better the polenta will be; the finished polenta should have the consistency of firm mashed potatoes), adding boiling water as necessary. The polenta is done when it peels easily off the sides of the pot.​​

Making polenta from scratch like this takes a fair amount of effort because you really do have to stir constantly, or the polenta will stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. If you like polenta, you should consider purchasing a polenta maker, which is a pot with a motor-driven paddle that takes care of the stirring for you. Also, while polenta is nice year round, making it in the summer will heat your kitchen, which is something you would likely rather do without. Commercially prepared polenta doesn't have the consistency of the home-made variety but will work and is a terrific timesaver.