Creamy Vegan Polenta Recipe

This vegan polenta recipe comes out perfectly creamy: no dairy needed! Here’s how to make this Italian standard into a plant based side dish.

Vegan Polenta

Usually polenta is stuffed with the brim with dairy. But guess what: you can make a creamy vegan polenta recipe with no dairy at all! Milk, butter and cheese normally play starring role in helping to achieve that signature texture. But here, veggie broth and cornmeal achieve the creamiest vegan polenta you can find. Whether you eat vegan on the regular or just want to eat more plant-based recipes, this one is for you! Now, let’s get cooking.

What is polenta?

Good question! When Alex and I first started cooking, I had no idea what it was. All I knew was that it sounded glamorous! It actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Polenta is a humble Italian-style cornmeal porridge. It’s similar to American-style grits, and is often found on restaurant menus. But though it’s often made by chefs: it’s also very easy to make at home. All you need is 5 ingredients and 30 minutes.

Vegan polenta

How to make vegan polenta

This vegan polenta recipe is truly easy: you’ll start with a few raw ingredients and they easily transform into the creamy Italian porridge. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cornmeal: Use medium grind for a little texture. We prefer using yellow cornmeal for color, but you can also use white.
  • Vegetable broth: Using vegetable broth adds a complexity of flavor.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil adds depth and richness: if you have another vegan oil you prefer, feel free to use it!

Some vegan polenta recipes use nutritional yeast to mimic a cheesy flavor. You could add this if you like, or even your favorite dairy-free cheese. However, you don’t need to add anything to this base recipe: it’s delicious with just salt and pepper!

We do not recommend substituting grits for the cornmeal. Grits are coarser than cornmeal, which won’t give you the texture you want. Some packages are also labeled with the word “polenta”, which you can use as well. But plain old cornmeal does the trick!

vegan polenta

Storing leftover polenta

When this vegan polenta recipe is hot or warm, it will be naturally creamy. As the polenta cools, it starts to harden. If you leave it out on the stovetop, you’ll notice it starts to harden. You can easily reconstitute the polenta by mixing it with a little water and reheating it.

If you have leftover polenta, it will harden in the refrigerator. So you’ll want to do the same thing: when reheating, place it in a pot on the stovetop, add a splash of water or almond milk and stir until it returns to a creamy texture.

Polenta is also served hardened: you’ll find that cooked polenta found in stores in tubes in the refrigerated section. You can make your own hardened polenta by pouring this creamy polenta into a sheet pan in an even layer and refrigerating it. After refrigerating, you can cut it into pieces and cook it in a skillet in a little olive oil until golden on both sides: or you can grill it.

Polenta with tomatoes

Serving this vegan polenta recipe

Most often, we serve this vegan polenta recipe as a side dish. But you can do many other things with it! It’s perfect as a bowl meal. Here are a few ideas on how to serve vegan polenta:

  1. As a side dish.
  2. With white beans and tomatoes (omit Parmesan).
  3. Add roasted tomatoes.
  4. Top with mushrooms and beans.
  5. Add roasted Brussels sprouts and pecans (omit Parmesan).
  6. Top with roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
  7. Add roasted butternut squash, pecans and sage.
  8. Top with ratatouille.

How would you serve it?

This vegan polenta recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Vegan Polenta

Creamy Vegan Polenta Recipe


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (24 votes, average: 4.21 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This vegan polenta recipe comes out perfectly creamy: no dairy needed! Here’s how to make this Italian standard into a plant based side dish.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup medium grind cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring the vegetable broth to boil in a medium sauce pan. Once boiling, whisk in the cornmeal in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue whisking until the polenta begins to thicken (around 1 to 2 minutes). Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
  2. Reduce the heat so that the polenta bubbles slowly. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until the cornmeal loses its raw flavor (taste every so often to check).
  3. When the polenta is complete, turn off the heat and add the olive oil, and more kosher salt and pepper to taste. You can cover it to keep it warm before serving. If the polenta becomes too thick, you can stir in a bit of water to loosen it up.

  • Category: Side
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Vegan Polenta Recipe

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

3 Comments

  • Reply
    BertaAnne
    March 22, 2020 at 2:05 am

    As a child I enjoyed Fried polenta w/honey, it was a favorite . Now that I am older and live alone this is my Sunday start before heading to the farmers market.
    For years I made a dish similar to this using, red wine, it was a family favorite.
    Once I am over Covid-19 I will make your recipe. How can I go wrong if it has polenta under it! Thank You!!raf
    Stay Positive! Stay Healthy!

  • Reply
    Harmonee
    May 19, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    I am excited to try this but just realized I don’t have enough corn meal. Do you think this can be made with instant corn masa? That’s what I have on hand.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      May 19, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      Sorry! I don’t think that will work.

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