Fri. Sep 30th, 2022

Creamy Parmesan Polenta Recipe | The Recipe Critic

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Creamy polenta is a perfect side dish for any meal. The comforting texture of ground cornmeal is cooked in a creamy mixture of milk, parmesan cheese, and melted butter.

Everyone loves a warm and creamy side dish to accompany their meal. My kids love any mashed potatoes like my Dad’s potatoes or my super easy crockpot potatoes. And really, you can’t go wrong with any sweet potatoes so this casserole is perfect for a side too!

Overhead photo of creamy polenta in a large gray pot.  A pad of butter and shredded parmesan cheese are garnished on top.  A wooden spoon is also sitting in the cooked polenta.

What Does Creamy Polenta Taste Like?

What I love most about this polenta recipe is the extra flavor from the garlic and chicken stock. I also love the addition of milk, butter, and melty parmesan cheese that gives it a creamy texture. These flavor combinations take traditional polenta to the next level, and I can’t wait for you to try it!

Creamy polenta pairs so well with so many dishes. Every time I serve it, people ask what I did to make it so creamy. You definitely need to make this recipe and serve it with my Cajun shrimp, my steak bites, or with this creamy chicken recipe!

Creamy Polenta Ingredients:

This creamy polenta recipe only takes a few ingredients! I love that I can throw it all in a pot and let it cook while I prepare the rest of my meal. This side dish is perfect for any meal, so I like always to make sure to have the ingredients on hand. Read my recipe card at the end of this post to get the exact measurements!

  • Olive Oil: This helps to saute the garlic.
  • Garlic: Who doesn’t love garlic?! I love how it adds a delicious flavor to the polenta.
  • Chicken Broth: I love the added flavor that comes from using chicken broth, but feel free to use water or vegetable broth.
  • Milk: Milk helps add a rich and creamy flavor.
  • Uncooked Polenta:  Polenta is made from cornmeal. I recommend using stone-ground, coarse, or medium-ground cornmeal. Try to avoid using fine ground or instant polenta because it will turn out like a thick paste.
  • Butter: I used unsalted butter in this recipe.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese adds a salty, nutty flavor. Don’t leave it out!
  • Salt: Polenta has little to no flavor all by itself. When you add salt, then it helps bring out the flavor and is a must.
  • Black Pepper:  Add black pepper to season and enhance the flavors before serving.

Let’s Make Polenta:

Making creamy polenta is easy, fast, and absolutely delicious! And I can tell you honestly that I prefer making polenta over mashed potatoes because I don’t have to peel the potatoes! You will see just how easily this recipe comes together and saves you time.

  1. Saute Garlic: Heat a large saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  2. Boil: Add the chicken broth and milk and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cook: Add the polenta and reduce the heat to a low simmer, then stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until combined and thickened, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add Butter and Cheese: Once the polenta is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the butter and parmesan. If the polenta becomes too thick, add more broth or milk.
  5. Season and Serve: Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
First process photo is the oil and garlic in a gray pot getting ready to sauté.  The second photo is the milk and chicken broth added to the pot.  The third photo is the uncooked polenta being poured into the pot.  The fourth photo is the cooked polenta with a dollop of butter and shredded cheese on top.

Tips For The Creamiest Polenta

Once you learn how to make polenta the way YOU like them, you’ll always want to be in charge of making them. I love to switch up flavors and use different seasonings and cheeses. Follow my fail-proof tips and tricks to making the creamiest polenta you’ve ever had!

  • Low and Slow: The key to cooking polenta is low and slow. Using low heat is important so that the polenta simmers and slowly releases the starches. This creates a decadent, silky-smooth texture. Whisking throughout the cooking process helps to prevent lumps from forming.
  • Flavor:  Because polenta absorbs the flavors so well, it makes it a great base for any seasonings! Try adding in some onion powder, Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper, and/or smoked paprika would be delicious.
  • Cheese: As long as it’s shredded, then any cheese flavor will work! Add in any of your favorites. I have also used cheddar and Colby Jack!
  • Thickness: The thickness of your polenta is totally up to you. You can change how thick or thin it is by adding or taking away the liquid.

Close up view of creamy polenta in a large gray pot with butter and shredded parmesan cheese on top.  A wooden spoon is lifting up a spoonful of polenta.

Storing Leftover Polenta

If you have any leftover creamy polenta, you will be happy to know that it’s easy to store and reheat! This is a great recipe to make ahead of time and just reheat it just before serving.

  • In the Refrigerator: Cooked and cooled polenta will keep well stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat: The best way to reheat the creamy polenta is on the stovetop. Just place the polenta in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a splash of water or milk and stir until warmed through and creamy. It thickens up quite a bit as it cools and is refrigerated, so you may need to adjust the amount of liquid you add. I usually end up adding ¼ cup of liquid, but you may need more or less. Add a little extra cheese melted on top and it’s ready to go!

Creamy polenta in a gray bowl with butter, shredded parmesan cheese, and cracked black pepper garnished on top. A striped gray and white kitchen towel is next to the bowl of polenta.


  • Heat a large saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

  • Add the chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil.

  • Add the polenta and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until combined and thickened, about 20 minutes.

  • Once the polenta is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the butter and parmesan. If the polenta becomes too thick, add more broth or milk.

  • Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!



Serves: 8

Calories190kcal (10%)Carbohydrates18g (6%)Protein7g (14%)Fat10g (15%)Saturated Fat5g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat1gMonounsaturated Fat3gTrans Fat0.2gCholesterol24mg (8%)Sodium889mg (37%)Potassium106mg (3%)Fiber0.3g (1%)Sugar2g (2%)Vitamin A299IU (6%)Vitamin C0.1mgCalcium156mg (16%)Iron0.4mg (2%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Side Dish

Cuisine American

Keyword 30 minute





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