Ultimate Guide: Perfect Parmesan Polenta!

by | Nov 30, 2023 | Sides | 0 comments

Today, we’re diving into a dish that’s as versatile as it is delicious – Creamy Parmesan Polenta. Polenta, a traditional Italian staple, is renowned for its adaptability and simple elegance. Whether you’re a traditionalist or an innovator, this dish has something for everyone.

The Versatility of Polenta

First off, let’s talk about polenta’s flexibility. Traditionally made from cornmeal, it can be cooked with water, milk, or broth. Each choice brings a unique twist – water for a lighter taste, broth for more flavor, and milk for creaminess. In this recipe, we’re mixing water and milk for a perfectly balanced creaminess.

Traditionalists vs. Innovators

Interestingly, there’s a bit of a debate among polenta enthusiasts. Purists argue that water is key to preserving the corn’s natural flavor. Others prefer the richer taste from broths or milk. What’s your take? I say, there’s no harm in experimenting to find your perfect polenta!

Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Preparation Time

Prep time is a breeze – just 5 minutes. Cooking takes a bit longer, about 45 minutes, but it’s absolutely worth it. This recipe serves six, ideal for a family meal or a gathering with friends.


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup course ground polenta or cornmeal
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Optional: fresh rosemary or parsley for garnish

The Cooking Process

Heating water and milk in a saucepan, we bring it to a boil before adding salt and polenta. Whisking is key to prevent lumps. Then, it’s all about simmering and stirring. Once cooked, we mix in butter and Parmesan cheese for that irresistible creaminess.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this delightful dish in bowls, topped with more Parmesan, a pat of butter, and fresh herbs. It’s a comforting, heartwarming meal that’s sure to please.

Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Polenta is a very flexible and versatile dish that can be prepared so many different ways. For example, it can be made with water, milk, chicken stock, vegetable broth or a combination of these depending on family traditions and personal preferences. You can further customize polenta by adding grated Parmesan cheese, butter, and/or any combination of fresh herbs and spices as we have in this recipe. 
Some traditionalists argue that water is the only acceptable choice for making polenta because it yields the lightest, most distinctive corn flavor. On the other hand, some argue that chicken or vegetable stock infuses the polenta with more flavor, while others prefer the richer and creamier taste associated with using milk or half & half. 
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: polenta, parmesan
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 206kcal



  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup course ground polenta or cornmeal
  • 5 tbsp butter divided


  • fresh rosemary or fresh parsley for serving


  • Heat water and milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. 
  • Once water starts to bubble, add salt and gradually whisk in cornmeal. Continue whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, covered 25-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, so that polenta does not stick to bottom of pan. Polenta will thicken as it cooks.
  • Once it is finished cooking, remove from heat.
  • Add 3-1/2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until incorporated.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • Ladle into serving bowls. Serve warm, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese, a small pat of butter and fresh herbs on each bowl.


Calories: 206kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 486mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 414IU | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 0.3mg


So, there you have it – Creamy Parmesan Polenta, a dish that’s both simple and sophisticated. It’s perfect for any meal, be it a casual family dinner or a special occasion. Don’t forget to play around with the ingredients to find your favorite version. Happy cooking and enjoy your meal!

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