Oven Baked Polenta

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Baked Polenta is a simple and delicious side dish that is perfect for pretty much any meal. If you’re stuck in a rice and potatoes rut, this baked polenta recipe is a great way to shake things up.

Have you tried polenta? This was the first polenta recipe we tried years ago and it most definitely was not the last. It is completely kid approved but flavorful enough to serve to any discerning adult.

Oven Baked Polenta

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I’ve had polenta on the list of foods I want to try for over a year now. I finally decided to make it along with the Twisted Chicken Piccata I posted yesterday. They went together perfectly.

What is polenta?

Polenta refers to a creamy porridge made from coarsely ground cornmeal. It is often prepared with milk and butter. It’s is soft and creamy when it is first cooked, but it hardens into a firmer dish as it cools. The hardened version of polenta can be sliced and served like a loaf.

It is traditionally an Italian dish, although polenta is made all over the world today. With budget-friendly and easy to find ingredients, baked polenta is a side dish you need to try. I guarantee you’ll be as impressed as I was.

Baked Polenta Recipe

While it’s often made on the stovetop, I used the oven-baked method for making this polenta. Seasoned with a simple blend of salt, pepper, and marjoram, I was so impressed by how flavorful the finished side dish was!

This polenta recipe really couldn’t get any easier. All you do is combine cornmeal with water, salt, and pepper in an oven-safe dish. Then cover and bake for 30 minutes. At the halfway point, give the polenta a stir.

After baking, add milk, butter and either dried or fresh marjoram and whisk quickly until the polenta becomes smooth and creamy. Serve immediately.

Oven Baked Polenta

Microwave Polenta

I learned by accident that you can also make polenta in the microwave! The first time I made this recipe, my very old oven caught fire and started sparking.

Since the polenta was already partially cooked, I pulled it out of the oven and finished cooking in the microwave.

I simply placed the glass dish in the microwave and continued cooking it that way, stirring every couple of minutes until it was done. It worked out great!

It’s still simpler to pop it in the oven and walk away until it’s done, but in a pinch, the microwave definitely works.

Creamy Baked Polenta

What to Serve with Polenta

When it comes to side dishes, you’re hard-pressed to find anything that goes so well with so many different main dishes. Oven-Baked Crispy Chicken and Pan Fried Italian Chicken Thighs are terrific with polenta.

Baked Polenta would also be a perfect match for Balsamic Glazed Meatloaf. With a mild flavor and creamy texture, polenta is delicious with so many different entrees!

Creamy Polenta is a favorite side dish!

Polenta Recipes

Back when I posted this baked polenta, I was right to predict that we’d be enjoying a lot more often in the future. In the years since I first made polenta, it’s become a regular side dish on my dinner table.

If you like cheesy side dishes, try this Creamy Cheesy Polenta; it’s always a favorite with my kids! For something with a bolder spice level, you might enjoy Paprika Manchego Polenta.

These Polenta Fries are on my list to try soon as well!

I can’t wait for you to try this easy cornmeal side dish made right in the oven or microwave.

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Creamy Baked Polenta

Oven Baked Polenta

4.20 from 5 votes
Recipe from and with thanks to Martha Stewart
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 3/4 cup cornmeal I used freshly ground corn, but store bought works as well
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon (optional) dried marjoram or 1 teaspoon fresh


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a covered dish with a lid, whisk together the water, cornmeal, salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 30 minutes*, stirring halfway through.
  • Remove from the oven and add the milk, butter, and marjoram, if desired. Whisk quickly until the polenta is smooth and creamy. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Calories: 116kcal · Carbohydrates: 15g · Protein: 2g · Fat: 5g · Saturated Fat: 3g · Cholesterol: 11mg · Sodium: 529mg · Potassium: 77mg · Fiber: 2g · Sugar: 1g · Vitamin A: 133IU · Calcium: 15mg · Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 11/8/11 – recipe notes and photos updated 2/19/20}

Baked Polenta Recipe

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Nami | Just One Cookbook says

    What a beautiful dish and photograph – I love the comfort feeling I get from the photo. We're waiting for the new fridge delivery next Tuesday too. How exciting!! =) Next one should be oven… how nice you get a new oven!

    • Mary Younkin says

      Yes, it reheats nicely. It will be firm enough to slice after cooling completely. (Lots of people prefer their polenta firm.) I typically add a splash of milk to ours if I’m reheating so that I can stir it again once it’s warm. Creamy and about the consistency of mashed potatoes is my favorite wait to eat polenta.

  2. Doris M says

    I made this polenta in a toaster oven using a ramekin and it was so yummy! I added in about 2oz of dill havarti and 2 tbsp of marscapone instead of milk and butter at the end and it came out delicious. Thank you for teaching me how to make one of my favorite dishes.5 stars

  3. August Mohr says

    I was expecting to find comments about the recipe. I guess I’ll have to try it for myself.

    I am not fond of Martha Stewart’s penchant for Kosher Salt. I’d appreciate a conversion to regular salt so I don’t get the dish too salty when I substitue.

    Gossip about new appliances from people who’ve never tried making the dish seems a little out of place here. That conversation is fine, I’d just prefer it not be as comments on a recipe. Right now I’m focussed on some quick polenta for a poached egg brunch.

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi August, I’m honestly not sure what you’re talking about here. However, you can easily swap in table salt for the kosher salt in any recipe by using half the recommended amount. In my experience, it’s far easier to oversalt a recipe with table salt than with kosher salt. I hope you enjoy the polenta!

  4. Robin says

    Followed recipe as written only to find the polenta very watery at end of 30 min. Ended up putting it in microwave for 8 minutes more. Also found it a bit too salty.1 star

    • Mary Younkin says

      Grits and polenta are both made from ground corn. Polenta, is made from yellow corn, and the consistency is closer to mashed potatoes (or even firmer than that, depending on how it is cooked.) While grits are normally made from white corn (or hominy). Grits will usually end up being finer and smoother and the consistency is more like cream of wheat.

  5. Andi says

    Followed this recipe as written and turn out creamy and delicious. So easy to make it in the oven.

    Almost didn’t make because so many comments were from people who hadn’t even tried it out. I like to read what others review usually before trying something new. Unless someone has a question about the recipe or comment that they made it after making it, why just leave a comment saying you need to try it or looks good, etc.!5 stars

  6. Melissa says

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I have made this several times and it always turns out great.5 stars