How to Prepare Polenta the Classic Way

How to Prepare Polenta the Classic Way


  • Water
  • Polenta
  • Salt
  • Butter


  1. Measure out the water and corn meal in a 4:1 ratio; 4 cups of water per 1 cup of polenta.
  2. Add water to a large stock pot and turn the heat on high. Once the water is at a near boil, add a bit of salt to the water (~1 teaspoon), and let the water continue to a full, rolling boil.
  3. Add the polenta to the water slowly enough that the water continues to roll throughout the pouring process. This helps keep the polenta kernels from sticking to each other.
  4. Reduce the heat and stir the polenta semi-constantly for the next 30-35 minutes with a large spoon. The polenta should start to come together.
  5. Once this happens, it's time to finish off the polenta with a bit of butter (as much as you feel comfortable with), and continue stirring until the sides of the polenta start to pull easily from the sides of the pot.
  6. Put a little bit of water into a serving bowl and pour the polenta into it. The water should keep the polenta from sticking.
  7. Serve and enjoy!


  • Feel free to finish off your polenta with different cheeses or herbs. Mascarpone and parmesan are favorites.
  • You can use broth instead of water to imbue your polenta with more flavor. Keep in mind, however, that stock will usually imbue your polenta with a duller color.
  • If you don't want to stir it for the whole 30 minutes, try stirring at least for the first 5 minutes, and then cover it loosely with aluminum foil. After 25 minutes pass, you'll probably find that your liquid and polenta have separated, but just gently stir them back together with a wooden spoon and finish the polenta as you would normally.

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Photo Credits: Simply Recipes, Real Simple