How to Make Fried Polenta: A Simple and Delicious Recipe

Looking for an easy recipe that combines crispiness and deliciousness? Look no further! We have the perfect solution for you – fried polenta. Whether you want a satisfying vegetarian meal or a flavorful side dish, this versatile dish will surely impress your taste buds.

This easy-fried polenta recipe will guide you through the process of creating perfectly crispy polenta cakes. The secret lies in starting with cold and firm polenta, which is then pan-fried to golden perfection. Whether you have leftover polenta or prefer to make it from scratch using coarse ground cornmeal, this recipe will be your go-to for creating that satisfying crunch.

Key Ingredients for Fried Polenta Cakes

Fried polenta cakes are simply delicious creations made by refrigerating pre-cooked polenta or instant pot polenta until it becomes cold and firm, and then cutting it into various shapes before frying. To create these heavenly polenta cakes, you’ll need a few key ingredients that come together to create a rich and creamy texture:

  • Coarse Ground Yellow Cornmeal: The backbone of the cakes, providing a grainy texture with a subtle corn flavor that enhances the other ingredients.
  • Liquid Base: Options include water, stock, or milk, each adding moisture and influencing the overall creaminess and flavor of the polenta cakes.
  • Butter: Adds a velvety smoothness to the polenta. It gives the cakes a luscious mouthfeel and enhances the overall taste profile.
  • Fresh Herbs and Seasonings: Customize your cakes with choices like rosemary or thyme, allowing you to tailor the flavor profile to your taste.
  • High-Heat Cooking Oil: Essential for frying the polenta cakes to achieve a golden, crispy exterior. Suitable oils include vegetable or canola for their ability to withstand high temperatures.
Round polenta cakes with coriander on a tray.

Whether shaped into delightful little cakes or transformed into crispy polenta fries, these ingredients ensure each bite is a blend of textures and flavors, perfect for impressing guests or as a standout vegetarian dish.

Make the Polenta First

You’re one step closer to delicious fried polenta! Before you can fry it to crispy perfection, you’ll need to make the polenta itself. The cooking process is straightforward and results in a creamy and flavorful base for your fried polenta cakes.

To make the polenta, start by combining coarse ground cornmeal, stock, and cream in a saucepan over medium heat. The combination of stock and cream adds a rich and indulgent taste to the polenta. As the mixture heats up, be sure to stir constantly to prevent clumping and ensure a smooth texture.

If the polenta becomes too thick, don’t worry! Simply add a bit more water to thin it out to your desired consistency. Remember, you’re in control of the cooking process, so feel free to adjust the liquid as needed.

Creamy polenta topped with rosemary in plate on a table, with tomatoes and herbs on the background.

Once the polenta has thickened and absorbed the liquid, it’s time to amp up the flavor. Fold in a generous amount of butter and fresh herbs of your choice. The butter adds a luscious silkiness to the polenta, while the herbs infuse it with aromatic goodness.

Now that your polenta is perfectly seasoned and ready to go, transfer it to a greased sheet pan. Spread it out evenly, ensuring a smooth surface. This will allow the polenta to set properly as it cools.

Pop the sheet pan into the refrigerator and let the polenta chill for at least two hours. This will give it ample time to firm up, making it easier to cut into cakes for frying.

Cooking ProcessTips
Combine cornmeal, stock, and cream in a saucepan.Stir constantly to prevent clumping.
Add water if the polenta becomes too thick.Adjust the liquid to your preferred consistency.
Fold in butter and fresh herbs for added flavor.Experiment with different herb combinations.
Pour the polenta onto a greased sheet pan.Ensure an even and smooth layer.
Refrigerate for at least two hours to set.Allow the polenta to firm up for easy slicing.

How to Make Polenta Cakes

Now that you have your firm and chilled polenta ready, it’s time to transform it into delicious and crispy polenta cakes. Follow these simple steps to achieve mouthwatering results:

Polenta cake topped with rosemary in a pan on a serving board placed on the table.
  1. Cut the set polenta into your desired shapes, whether it’s rounds, squares, or any other creative form you prefer.
  2. If you notice any excess moisture on the surface of the polenta slices, gently pat it dry with a paper towel. This will help the cakes achieve a crispier texture during frying.
  3. Prepare a pan with enough oil for frying. It’s important not to overcrowd the pan, as this can lead to uneven cooking. Instead, fry the polenta cakes in batches, giving them enough space to become golden and crispy on each side.
  4. Place the pan over medium heat and carefully add the polenta cakes. Fry them until they turn a beautiful golden color and become crispy on the outside.
  5. Once fried, transfer the polenta cakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off any excess oil. This will help maintain their crispness.
  6. If you’re preparing multiple batches, keep the finished polenta cakes warm by placing them in a preheated oven while you work on the next batch.

That’s it! You have successfully made polenta cakes that are ready to be enjoyed. Whether you serve them as a delightful appetizer, a tasty side dish, or incorporate them into a larger meal, these crispy treats are sure to impress.

Top Tips for Fried Polenta

Looking to perfect your fried polenta? Here are some top tips to help you achieve fried polenta perfection:

  • Maintain a medium heat oil temperature: To ensure your fried polenta turns out crispy and delicious, it’s important to maintain a consistent medium heat oil temperature. This will prevent rushing the cooking process and allow the polenta to cook evenly.
  • Consider the size of your polenta cakes: The size of your polenta cakes will affect the cooking time. Larger cakes will require more time to become golden brown and crispy. Keep this in mind when shaping your polenta cakes and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  • Roll the cakes in semolina flour: For an extra crispy texture, try rolling each polenta cake in semolina flour before frying. This will give your fried polenta a delightful crunch that pairs perfectly with its creamy interior.
  • Get creative with serving options: Fried polenta is incredibly versatile and can be served in various ways. Consider pairing it with marinara sauce for a classic Italian flavor, roasted red pepper relish for a tangy twist, or sautéed mushrooms and shrimp for a gourmet touch.

Now that you’re armed with these tips, you’ll be able to create crispy and delectable fried polenta every time.

Is Polenta Gluten Free?

Yes, both polenta and fried polenta cakes are gluten-free. Polenta is made from cornmeal, which is naturally gluten-free. However, if you choose to coat polenta fries in semolina flour before frying, they will no longer be gluten-free.

Polenta cake frying in a pan topped with sauce and basil leaves.

If you have celiac disease or follow a gluten-free diet, polenta can be a great option for you. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes as a substitute for gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, and rye.

It’s important to note that although polenta itself is gluten-free, it’s essential to ensure that the cornmeal used to make the polenta is free from cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains. Always check the packaging for gluten-free certifications and labels to ensure its safety for consumption.


Fried polenta cakes offer a delicious twist to traditional side dishes, combining the creamy texture of polenta with a delightful crispy exterior. Whether served as an appetizer or alongside your main course, these cakes are sure to impress with their versatility and rich flavor.

With simple ingredients and straightforward cooking steps, this recipe allows even novice cooks to create a sophisticated dish. Add your favorite herbs and toppings to personalize each batch, making your fried polenta cakes a new favorite at any dining table.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Fried Polenta

Crispy Golden Delight: Fried Polenta


Fried polenta is a classic Italian dish made from boiled cornmeal, sliced, and fried until crispy. It’s versatile, often served as an appetizer or side dish with toppings like sauce or cheese.


  • 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
  • 4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh herbs (like thyme or rosemary) to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese or vegan cheese, grated


  • Step 1 – Prepare the polenta. In a saucepan, combine cornmeal, stock, cream, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.
  • Step 2 – Once thickened, fold in butter and fresh herbs.
  • Step 3 – Transfer to a greased sheet pan, spread evenly, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until firm.
  • Step 4 – Cut the chilled polenta into desired shapes and pat dry if necessary.
  • Step 5 – Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry polenta cakes until golden and crispy on both sides.
  • Step 6 – Optional: Sprinkle fried cakes with grated cheese while hot.
  • Step 7 – Serve the fried polenta cakes hot as an appetizer or side dish.


Is fried polenta the same as polenta cakes?

Yes, fried polenta refers to polenta that has been shaped into cakes and then fried until golden and crispy.

Is frying the only way to cook polenta cakes?

No, you can also make polenta cakes from grilled polenta or baked polenta for a healthier option.

Is polenta a healthy food option?

Yes, polenta is a healthy source of carbohydrates. It contains complex carbs, fiber, and protein, while having a lower calorie and fat content compared to rice, potatoes, or pasta.

How long do fried polenta cakes stay fresh?

They are best enjoyed immediately but can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Can I use milk instead of water for creamier polenta cakes?

Absolutely, substituting milk for water in the initial cooking process adds richness.