Pan-Fried Polenta Cake – an Easy Side Dish

Polenta is a classic Italian comfort food made of boiled cornmeal. Historically polenta was made with cornmeal combined with other grains. Today, polenta is often served as a soft, creamy creamy pureed dish, or it is cooled to solidify into a loaf that can be baked, fried, or grilled. It is often used as a gluten free substitute for pasta.

pan fried polenta cake

The ratio for a good pan-fried polenta ‘cake’ is one volume of cornmeal to three volumes of liquid. 

What is polenta?

Polenta is yellow cornmeal cooked with water or a flavoured broth to which extra ingredients can be added. Fresh herbs and cheese are the classic flavour makers added to this dish.  Polenta can be served as a side dish or a main dish. Polenta is a good alternative for rice or pasta and commonly served with sauce dishes.

Why pan-fried polenta cake?

Once the polenta is cooked, allowing it to cool down makes it a solid mass. It can then be sliced or cut in any form or shape and pan-fried or grilled. Use non-stick cookware to form an outer crust and ensure the inside stays soft and creamy. 

pan fried polenta
pan fried polenta cake

Pan-Fried Polenta Cake

Polenta is a good alternative for rice or pasta and commonly served with sauce dishes.
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Side dishes, Vegetarian
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 people
Calories 147 kcal

EQUIPMENT (click pictures for details)



  • Bring the milk, chicken stock and thyme to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
    pan fried polenta the making
  • Reduce the heat and whisk the polenta gradually into the milk then whisk constantly until thickened and cooked.
    pan fried polenta the making
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan and butter until well combined. Season to taste.
    pan fried polenta the making
  • Pour the hot polenta onto an oiled tray, cover with a cling film and let it cool.
    pan fried polenta the making
  • Once cooled, unmould the ‘polenta cake’ and cut into equal square or rectangular pieces.
    pan fried polenta the making
  • Heat the olive oil and butter over a medium low heat and gently fry the polenta.
    pan fried polenta
  • Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve immediately.
    pan fried polenta cake


  • The polenta can be prepared a day in advance and kept for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Nutrition for 1 portion

Calories: 147kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 5gFat: 5gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 111mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 207IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cornmeal, polenta
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