Creamy Oven-Baked Polenta Recipe | Alexandra's Kitchen (2024)

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5 from 18 reviews

//By Alexandra Stafford onNovember 30, 2017 (updated January 28, 2023) Jump To Recipe

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This creamy, oven-baked polenta recipe is a game-changer. It’s a hands-off process: there’s no stirring or careful monitoring at the stovetop here. This recipe takes 5 minutes to prep, and 60 minutes later it’s done.

Creamy Oven-Baked Polenta Recipe | Alexandra's Kitchen (1)

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I helped out with a little dinner at the Vischer Ferry General Store. We made salad with orange-shallot vinaigrette, peasant bread,sherry vinegar chicken and polenta, which I had forgotten how much I love. We roasted the polenta in the oven usingPaula Wolfert’s recipe, which I had heard about over the years, but, for whatever reason, namely Mark Bittman’s Polenta Without Fear, had never made.

Friends, roasting polenta in the oven is a game changer — it frees up your cooktop and, more important, YOU. While the polenta bubbles away in the oven, you can sauté greens or poach eggs or steam broccoli or take a bath give the kids a bath, etc. No need to worry if the polenta is sticking to the pot, running out of liquid—in the oven it cooks slowly and evenly.

How to Make Oven-Roasted Polenta

This is how you make it: whisk together polenta, water, and milk with a pad of butter and a pinch of salt; throw the pot in the oven; remove it about an hour later. It’s the easiest thing in the world, and this time of year, I could eat it with everything: slow-cooker beans, braised short ribs, sherry chicken, roasted mushrooms, or as here with caramelized cabbage and a poached egg on top.

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Oven-roasted polenta with slow cooker beans:

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Creamy Oven-Baked Polenta Recipe

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5 from 18 reviews

  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8
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Description

Adapted from this Fine Cooking recipeby Paula Wolfert.

Oven-baking polenta is game changing: just throw it in the oven, give it a stir 40 minutes later, bake it for 20 minutes more. For years, I’ve made Mark Bittman’s Polenta without Fear, which is also simple, but I prefer the hands-off nature of the oven-baked version.

(See notes below the recipe for making Instant Pot polenta.)

I love the combination of polenta with a poached egg and a drizzle of truffle oil. A side of sautéed greens makes the meal feel more complete. Here I’ve served the polenta with another Paula Wolfert/Fine Cooking recipe for caramelized cabbage, which takes longer than quickly sautéing greens, but which is a good one to know should you find yourself overloaded with cabbage, as I found myself a few weeks ago.

Polenta is also delicious with this sherry vinegar chicken, braised short ribs, and most recently I spooned these slow-cooker beans over it, which was also delicious.

Re water: If you use 5 cups of water, it will take longer for the polenta to thicken up, but in the end, it will be ultra creamy and delicious. Four cups still yields a creamy polenta, and it will allow the polenta to thicken more quickly. You can use all water if you don’t want to use any milk.

Ingredients

  • butter for greasing
  • 1 cup medium-coarse or coarse cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 4 to 5 cups water, see notes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • eggs for poaching
  • splash vinegar
  • shaved parmesan, for serving, optional
  • sea salt, pepper, truffle oil for serving, optional
  • sautéed greens alongside, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a large ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven. Pour in the cornmeal, water, milk, butter, and salt, and stir with a fork or whisk until blended. The mixture will not look emulsified.
  2. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Stir the polenta, taste, add salt if needed, and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes or longer—until it reaches the desired consistency you like. Remove from the oven, stir, and serve immediately or cover and keep warm until you are ready to serve.
  3. To poach eggs: bring a shallow saucepan filled with water to a boil. Crack eggs into individual ramekins or small bowls. Add a splash of vinegar to the water. Lower the heat so that the water is barely simmering—it should barely be moving. Slowly lower each ramekin to the water and pour out each egg. Set a timer for 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift egg out to test for doneness—the whites should be completely set; the yolk should feel soft to touch. This will take practice—after you make one or two, you will know by touch if the egg is done to your liking. I typically poach eggs for 4 to 5 minutes, but the length of time changes depending on how many eggs I am cooking at one time. Note, too, that you may have to adjust the heat level to keep the water at a bare simmer. When the eggs are done, transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly.
  4. To serve: Spoon polenta into bowls. Top with shavings of parmesan, if desired, and top each mound of polenta with a poached egg. Season with a pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with truffle oil, if desired. Serve with greens on the side, if desired.

Notes

For Instant Pot Polenta:

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • pepper
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (1.5 ounces)
  1. Combine the polenta, water, and salt in the Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes; let release naturally for 10 minutes. Uncover and stir — a flat-bottomed whisk is great for this. Add the 4 tablespoons butter, pepper to taste, and 3/4 cup (1.5 oz) parmesan.
  • This is adapted from Sarah Copeland’s Instant Family Meals … hoping to do a blog post on it soon.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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    81 Comments on “Creamy Oven-Baked Polenta Recipe”

  1. AndyReply

    Ali this recipe did NOT go as you said it would… but it’s entirely my fault 😂😫 I decided to up the measurement of polenta to feed more people, and I drastically upped the water because I was thinking about work and basic arithmetic isn’t my strength.

    I was serving it with a slow cooked Irish stew so luckily I whipped out some home made bread from the freezer then toasted it for my guests so it worked out just fine… but I now have a vast quantity of slightly over-wet polenta I’m not sure what to do with.

    It did thicken after another hour in the oven but I feel it might be too thin for frying. Any thoughts at all? At least it doesn’t feel like a painful waste of funds as it’s so cheap, but wasteful nonetheless!

    • Alexandra StaffordReply

      Oh Bummer! So sorry to hear this. A few thoughts: You could simmer it very slowly over low heat until it thickens — this may take an hour or more or less. Polenta does thicken as it cools, so you may find it’s already a little bit thicker. My only other thought would be to add more polenta… after you simmer it for a bit, if it doesn’t seem like it is going to thicken up, whisk in more polenta and let it cook stovetop until it thickens. If you want to email me a photo or DM me a video on Instagram, I can try to brainstorm further 🙂

  2. Cristy M.Reply

    I LOVE polenta but rarely make it at home. When I originally saw this recipe I thought “I can do that!”
    I made this tonight with a slow cooker pot roast – YUM YUM YUM.
    Hubby said the polenta was restaurant quality. I added about a cup of freshly grated Parmesan once it was done.

    • Alexandra StaffordReply

      Yay! So nice to read this, Cristy! Thanks so much for writing and sharing. Parmesan + Polenta = Heaven 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. KarenReply

    Oh my word!! That cabbage and poached egg over polenta looks like a great big hug!! Yum!

    • Alexandra StaffordReply

      It truly is, Karen! I could eat like that every night 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Caroline DonnellyReply

    I mill my whole dent corn from Barton Springs Mill in Texas. I use my Mock Mill and can grind at whatever coarseness I need. For polenta I grind slightly coarse I then use my hands off version of polenta . I use my double boiler. No need to stir frequently or heat up the oven. It cooks beautifully and only requires a couple quick stirs. It then stays hot over the water while I finish whatever we are having beneath it. We like sautéed mushrooms with preserved lemons. Yum. Hope this offers others an alternative method.

    • Alexandra StaffordReply

      That all sounds wonderful, Caroline! Thanks so much for writing and sharing all of your notes. I have been seriously considering getting a mock mill. One day!

  5. Kristen FinnemoreReply

    IN.THE.OVEN?!?! Mind blown…. of course! makes total sense. Thank you!!!!!!

    • Alexandra StaffordReply

      Yay 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. LyndaReply

    Can I double the recipe by using bigger casserole. Will timing be different?

    • Alexandra StaffordReply

      Yes! Timing should be roughly the same.

  7. Kathryn FiscelliReply

    Does the grind of the polenta matter? Will this method work with fine or medium ground polenta?

    • Alexandra StaffordReply

      Yes, either is fine!

  8. Kathryn J RegnerReply

    Ali, will this also work with grits (I’ve heard elsewhere that they are basically the same).
    Thanks!

    • Alexandra StaffordReply

      Yes, it should!

  9. judeReply

    another brilliant recipe, ali. what a great hack to be able to pop this into the oven and let it do its magic. ate mine covered in caramelized napa cabbage. truly yum!

    • Alexandra StaffordReply

      Yum! That sounds like a perfect meal for this time of year, Jude. Thanks for writing!

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