Three different ways to make Polenta (Fries, Grilled & Traditional). First, the traditional one is served with spicy & smoky pulled pork, grilled as a side dish to anything from the BBQ or the gluten-free crispy baked fries.

Spicy & Smoky pulled pork on polenta

Polenta is a fun gluten-free ingredient to play with! Here are three different ways to make Polenta (Fries, Grilled & Traditional), with three different textures going from smooth to crunchy. I always make too much polenta, so I spread the leftovers in a rectangular Pyrex, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge. The next day you can use the compacted or “cake-like” polenta and make a different meal with it by grilling it “steak style” on the BBQ or baking or air frying the sticks until the perfect crunchy polenta fries.

Types of Polenta

polenta pin

The perfect polenta is smooth and shiny, similar to the texture of a fluffy mashed potato. Some put cream in it, others milk or broth, but most purists would tell you simply water is needed. On the market, they sell instant polenta, polenta or cornmeal. The difference here is mainly how they ground the corn meal resulting in different thicknesses, affecting the final product’s cooking time and texture. Sometimes the “instant” polenta is pre-cooked and turned back into a fine sand texture. This last one is ready in just 3 minutes!

Traditional Polenta

Polenta (Fries, Grilled & Traditional)

Let’s clarify: polenta is an art and takes quite a while to make… about 50 minutes and some serious arm muscles to achieve the perfect consistency.  The technique is turning every 5 minutes the polenta until ultra smooth and the sides no longer stick to the pot. The purists would tell you to use a wooden spoon solely and always turn the polenta in the same direction… If you don’t have time or muscles… don’t despair; there is a trick to help shorten the cooking process by half. Soak the cornmeal/Polenta in water for a few hours before cooking.

If you intend to make a silky smooth polenta, use a standard grain, as mentioned above. This way, you’ll get this corn cloud just right. For topping the smooth polenta, I’ve used a delicious Spicy & Smoky Pulled Pork recipe from fellow Aussie blogger Blogtastic Food (check it out here).

BBQ Side Dish

However, the “instant” version is great for making grilled polenta or fries! It cooks rapidly and holds better once cold, so there is less chance of breaking it. If you intend to make a silky smooth polenta, use a standard grain.

As for the grilled polenta, I’ve served it with grilled zucchini slices and a salad, but it would suit any piece of BBQ meat, fish or seafood.

The Fries

Polenta baked fries

Tired of the same old fries?? These polenta fries are a welcomed change and fun for the kids and their grown-ups! Plus, no gluten involved! I’ve served them with a garlic-yogurt dip, but it could be any sauce; mayo, ketchup, etc. You can do them in no time in the Air Fryer or bake them to avoid adding too much oil. This way, they are a healthy, easy and yummy side dish for the whole family!

Other Recipes Suiting Polenta

*The quantities are all the same for the three recipes.

Polenta (Fries, Grilled and Traditional)

5 from 39 votes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 5 people
Calories 171
Three different ways to make Polenta (Fries, Grilled and Traditional). First, the traditional one is served with spicy & smoky pulled pork, the grilled one as a side dish to anything from the BBQ or the gluten-free crispy baked fries served with a garlic-yogurt dip. 

Ingredients

  • 1 l water
  • 120 g polenta ((instant polenta if your intent to grill or make fries))
  • 25 g butter ( or olive oil)
  • 2 tbsp parmesan (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions 

Traditional Polenta (if soaked for hours before, it saves 20 minutes)

  • Soak the polenta in the water for a few hours. Optional
  • Add the drained polenta and salt to the cold water.
  • Heat the polenta until first bubble appears and turn to low heat.
  • Stir every 5 minutes for about 30-50 minutes or until the sides of the polenta come off the pot when stirring. (50 min. if not soaked)
  • Add the butter and parmesan, mix and serve.

Grilled Polenta

  • Cook the polenta following the instructions.
  • Add the warm or leftover polenta in a container to make about a 2-3cm thick polenta cakes and cover with plastic wrap, leave in the fridge until needed
  • Cut into big pieces.
  • Bring a grill pan or BBQ to high heat, spray a little oil on the grill surface and polenta and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.

The Polenta Fries

  • Follow same two first steps as the grilled polenta.
  • Cut into small sticks.
  • Lightly spray olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Cook at 200°C (400F) for 12-15 minutes in the oven (8 minutes in Air fryer) or until golden and crispy.
Author: Marie Breton
Calories: 171kcal
Course: Plato principal, side dish
Cuisine: Italiana
Keyword: BBQ, corn, fries, gluten free, grilled, polenta

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 538mg | Potassium: 180mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 923IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Facts
Polenta (Fries, Grilled and Traditional)
Amount per Serving
Calories
171
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
5
g
8
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Trans Fat
 
0.2
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.4
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
12
mg
4
%
Sodium
 
538
mg
23
%
Potassium
 
180
mg
5
%
Carbohydrates
 
29
g
10
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
8
g
9
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin A
 
923
IU
18
%
Vitamin C
 
10
mg
12
%
Calcium
 
35
mg
4
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

32 Comments

  1. Gloria Duggan Reply

    WOW…I love polenta and these are great ideas/ways to enjoy it. I especially like the “fries” option and will have to try that out soon.

  2. The bricks are perfect for BBQ season! I whip them up a lot when there’s vegetarians around the table or when our small cherry-tomato crop is asking for an open-sandwich-style base 😀 The fries are entirely new to me! I’ll give them a go the next chance I get, thanks for the inspiration~

  3. I love polenta but have only had it the ‘cake like’ way. Will have to try the creamy way in place of potatoes.

  4. Lynn | The Road to Honey Reply

    Oh my Marie. . .those Polenta fries are absolutely screaming my name. They look incredible and are such a nice change from regular fries. BTW. . .with polenta taking so much time and effort to make, I love that you present 2 delicious and fun ways to repurpose it. So good!

    • Yes, because every single time I make polenta, I do too much… and figured I could give extra ideas to do with the leftovers.

  5. I made polenta last night but damn if we didn’t eat it all. I have made polenta fried before too, but I’ve never made a grilled polenta steak. I will be rectifying that immediately!

  6. Derek @ Dad With A Pan Reply

    You had me at Polenta fries! That sounds really inriguting, and I need them in my life now! haha

  7. You know, I’ve just never gotten into polenta. I don’t really know why. But these dishes have inspired me to give it another go! I especially like the idea of grilling it!

  8. What a great variety of polenta cooking methods. The fries look really impressive, I think I will try to make them for my kids next time!

  9. Pingback: Eight Different Delicious Pulled Pork Ideas - Blogtastic Food

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