How to cook polenta

How to cook polenta

How to cook polenta

5 February 2016

How to cook polenta

Polenta is a traditional Italian ingredient made from cornmeal, which had been eaten since Roman times. The name derives from the Latin pollen,meaning fine flour. Polenta is usually boiled in water (sometimes milk) until cooked through and either served straight away or chilled then sliced and fried. When prepared in the traditional way, polenta is cooked in a copper pot called a paiolo and stirred with a large wooden spoon known as the torello.




  • 100g of polenta, fine
  • 400ml of water
  • salt
Bring the water to the boil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan
Pour in the polenta whilst whisking the water and stir for a few minutes to avoid any lumps
Cook for around 45 minutes over a low heat, being sure to stir every few minutes so the polenta doesn’t catch
When the polenta is cooked and all the water absorbed season with salt and serve. Alternatively, pour into a shallow dish and leave to set in the fridge


For a creamier polenta, try substituting the water for milk or adding a splash of cream or knob of butter at the end of cooking. For an extra boost of flavour stir through some grated parmesan, chopped basil or cracked black pepper. To give the polenta a more savoury flavour, you could try cooking it with vegetable or chicken stock.

Serving Suggestions

Grazia Soncini serves her buttered polenta with Roast eel, garlic and rosemary while Anna Hansen serves hers with a Welsh lamb shank and Persian lime pesto. After cooking his polenta, Pascal Aussignac makes deliciously crispy Polenta fries.

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