Fried polenta

Fried polenta

1 h
With our recipe for fried polenta, you get a crispy take on this Italian classic. In its home country, polenta is often enjoyed as a thick and creamy porridge but in this version, the yellow cornmeal mash is allowed to set before it is fried with butter in a pan. These pan-fried polenta cakes are crispy and golden on the outside, while their interiors stay soft and creamy. As such, you get the best of both worlds in these beautifully golden slices that may serve as the perfect side dish or entrée.


  • Bring the broth to a boil in a pot. Slowly pour in the polenta while stirring.
  • Boil at low heat for about 10 minutes as you continuously stir.
  • Add shallots, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Cover a small baking tray (approx. 4 x 18 x 25 cm) with cling film.
  • Pour the hot polenta into the baking tray and smooth over the surface. Tap the baking tray against the countertop so the polenta becomes completely firm and dense. Transfer the covered polenta to the refrigerator until the next day.
  • Remove the polenta from the baking tray and cut it into pieces of a desired size.
  • Let the butter brown lightly in a pan and fry the polenta cakes for around 2 minutes at high heat until their surface is golden.
  • You may like to heat the fried polenta in the oven before serving it as a side to vegetables, fish, or meat.

You can change up the look of your fried polenta by experimenting with making different shapes and sizes. If you do not want to slice it yourself, you can even use a biscuit or cookie cutter to make fried polenta cakes that are round or shaped like something fun and different like hearts or stars for a themed or child-friendly dinner. A popular option is cutting the cooled polenta into French fry strips that may be fried to golden perfection and served as a side dish or snack with a dip like tomato sauce, pesto, or homemade mayonnaise flavoured with garlic, chilli, or seasonal herbs.


Frying polenta to golden perfection can be done both with this recipe to make pan-fried polenta and by using a deep fryer or oven to make deep-fried or oven-fried polenta. To deep-fry them, pour enough flavour-neutral oil to submerge the polenta cakes into a cast-iron pan and heat it over medium-high heat and fry until the pieces become crispy and golden brown. To make oven-baked polenta, place the polenta cakes in an even layer on a lined baking sheet and bake them for about 35 minutes at 220°C (regular oven) until their surface is crispy and golden brown.

Questions about fried polenta

With our recipe for fried polenta, you get a beautiful, golden side dish to serve with an array of different protein or vegetable options. Below you can learn more about fried polenta by reading our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the crispy side dish, including how to fry and freeze it.

What is fried polenta?
Fried polenta is a dish made by cooking cornmeal, slicing the set and hardened polenta mash, and frying it to ensure a crispy exterior with an inside that remains creamy. The delicious dish may be flavoured in any number of ways using different broths, herbs, spices, and vegetables and may be served hot or cold as an entrée, a side dish to different types of meat, fish, and vegetables, or a vegetarian main course.
How to fry polenta?
How long to fry polenta to achieve the signature crispy, golden surface depends on the size and shape of the polenta cakes. Polenta may be fried in oil, butter, or a combination of the two. Make sure that the oil or butter is hot enough, so the polenta does not stick to the pan, and use a thin spatula to flip the polenta cakes. Carefully work the spatula under them to not destroy the crispy crust.
What does fried polenta taste like?
Fried polenta, which, if cooked plain, naturally has a simple and sweet corn flavour, may be flavoured in a myriad of ways, starting with the type of liquid you cook the cornmeal in. Cooking the golden grains in vegetable broth, stock, or milk is an easy way to infuse your fried polenta with different savoury or creamy flavours. Adding fresh or dried herbs, spices, or vegetables is also a good way to vary the flavour profile of polenta. In our fried polenta recipe, we use vegetable broth, fresh thyme, banana shallots, and garlic to give it a savoury and herbaceous flavour profile.
What to eat with fried polenta?
Some options for how to serve fried polenta include using it as an entrée or side dish to your protein of choice. It tastes great with fatty fish like salmon and a large selection of different meat types like beef, chicken, and pork. Vegetarian options like lentils, mushrooms, and sautéed greens are also a wonderful match for polenta. You may also want to keep it simple and serve the polenta cakes with a flavourful sauce like your favourite tomato pasta sauce or use pesto or mayonnaise as a dipping sauce. The possibilities for what to eat with fried polenta are almost endless.
Can you freeze fried polenta?
The best way to save polenta for a later time is to freeze the set slices before frying them. Placing pieces of parchment paper between the polenta slices will keep them from sticking together and allows you to stack them. Wrap these stacks in two layers of cling film or one layer of film and one of aluminium foil before placing them in freezer bags or airtight containers. In the cold freezer environment, cooked polenta will keep for up to 3 months. Thaw the unwrapped polenta in your refrigerator for at least a few hours or a short time at room temperature before frying them.


Vegetable broth
1 l
Quick-cooking polenta (parboiled, coarsely ground cornmeal)
250 g
Finely chopped banana shallot
Finely chopped garlic cloves
Fresh thyme
4 tbsp
Coarse salt
1 tsp
Freshly churned pepper
Butter for frying
25 g

Delicious homemade fried polenta

The best fried polenta recipe turns the bright yellow cornmeal into beautifully golden slices that taste delicious with a large selection of meats and vegetables. Because it is made from cornmeal, it has a distinct, yet soft, corn flavour. In our recipe, this sweet taste is complemented by a savoury flavour from the vegetable broth, an earthiness from the fresh thyme, and given a hint of sharpness and plenty of umami flavour from the banana shallot and garlic cloves, making for a complex and delicious flavour profile.

The Italian classic with a crispy twist

Traditionally, polenta is served as a warm porridge with a soft and creamy texture. In our fried polenta recipe, the Italian corn mash is instead moulded before being allowed to set and harden overnight so it may be sliced and fried without losing its shape. By frying a set polenta, you attain a beautifully crisp exterior with a bit of light caramelisation on the surface while still retaining a soft and creamy interior. 

Pan-fried polenta slices

Side dishes should not simply be an afterthought and with these pan-fried polenta cakes, yours will not be. Creating well-rounded meals means paying close attention to all components of a dish. With a side dish like these polenta slices which have beautifully golden brown, pan-fried crusts, you will be able to plate a side that looks enticing and mouth-watering and introduces both crispy and soft textures into your meal.

Serve warm for a crispy dinner treat

Warm the fried polenta squares in the oven for a couple of minutes to make them hot and dinner ready. There are endless options for what to serve with fried polenta. Some wonderful dinner pairings include serving it as a crispy side dish to a decadent chateaubriand with Madagascar pepper sauce, pairing it with a lemon, garlic, and rosemary-flavoured oven-fried chicken, or plating it with a pork tenderloin with a delicious filling of bacon, hazelnut, and thyme.

Fried polenta also works well as a quick meal with delicious vegetarian options like herbaceous, pan-fried mushrooms, marinated lentils, or sautéed greens like asparagus, green beans, broccoli, and courgette. It is also delicious with some oven-roasted cherry tomatoes on top.

Add a cheesy touch

Polenta, whether soft or fried, is often made even creamier by adding freshly grated parmesan as it is cooked. The addition of this slightly salty cheese gives polenta a buttery richness that complements the naturally sweet corn flavour as well as the savouriness that cooking polenta in vegetable broth gives it. Parmesan may be replaced by other cheese types such as Asiago, Pecorino Romano, Grana Padano, Manchego, or goat cheese. Experiment with a creamy, cheesy addition as well as garnishing with grated cheese and fresh thyme as decorative and tasty fried polenta toppings that give the side dish a beautiful restaurant-like look.