Instant Pot Polenta - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Instant Pot Polenta

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

My Instant Pot Polenta is a warm bowl of creamy, nourishing goodness without all the work!  Polenta typically involves standing over the stove, whisking a pot constantly for 30 minutes, but this recipe will save your arm strength for digging into the yummy dish.


Corn is delicious in so many ways, from grilling and slathering in butter and eating off the cob to being added to chili and salsa, and made into popcorn!  Corn can also be dried and ground into three similar, but different products, cornmeal, polenta and grits.


This product has a slightly grainy texture, more coarse than wheat flour, but finer than polenta and grits.  It is sometimes referred to as “cornflour” as well.  It is not to be confused with corn starch, which is used to thicken gravy, pies and other foods.

Cornmeal has many delicious uses including the key ingredient for making cornbread. If you need some inspiration, look no further than my Gluten Free Cornbread!  It can also be used as a batter for deep frying and used to dust baking surfaces before making bread and pizza. It lends an essential texture to the best pizza crust!


Grits are a popular breakfast item in the South, which is believed to have originated with Native Americans.  Grits are usually made from hominy and have a slightly coarser grind than cornmeal.  Grits can be used to make my Instant Pot Polenta, it will make for a smoother texture and light color that diverts from the classic yellow color of polenta. I prefer using the vibrant yellow “polenta”, which is a coarse ground cornmeal.

Hominy, what grits are made from use either yellow or white “field corn.” They are processed, by what is known as nixtamalization.  The corn is soaked in an alkali (basic pH) solution to remove the hull and germ of the corn. This causes the grain to puff up to about twice its normal size, looking like a giant corn.  Hominy is extra starchy and when cooked is smooth and creamy and is delicious with bacon, crab, shrimp and more!


Polenta likely was first enjoyed in Northern Italy and is made from coarsely ground corn, with a vibrant yellow color. This type of corn is sometimes referred to as “flint,” it has a hard, starchy center, which gives the classic toothsome, gritty texture to my Instant Pot Polenta. My favorite brand is definitely Bob’s Red Mill.

Polenta is simmered and stirred until the natural starches are released leading to a creamy and hearty dish.  Typically polenta requires continuous whisking, similar to risotto, which leaves me so tired that I can hardly pick up a utensil to eat it! That’s why I came up with my Instant Pot Polenta! All the deliciousness, but less work!

What to Serve Polenta With

My Instant Pot Polenta is a starchy decadent base for your next meal! Pretty much anything that you would pair with pasta, goes with polenta.  I love serving it with red sauce and meatballs. I have SIX meatball recipes on my website that could all work with polenta, may I suggest my Vegan Meatballs, Greek Lamb Meatballs and for a super speedy option, try my Microwave Meatballs.

For a lighter pairing with my Instant Pot Polenta, try serving it with roasted vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts or any winter squash like butternut or delicata squash.  It also pairs well with sauteed mushrooms and a fried egg. If you have other favorite combinations. Please share in the comments!

Dairy-Free Polenta

My Instant Pot Polenta is made by simmering butter, and finished with creme fraiche and parmesan. It is naturally gluten-free, and can easily be made dairy-free and vegan. The butter can be replaced with olive oil or coconut oil.  The parmesan can be replaced by nutritional yeast.

You could leave it there and enjoy a very simple dish and go big on the vegetables, mushrooms and other toppings. Or you can opt to add coconut milk, Tofutti® cream cheese, coconut milk yogurt, or your preferred plant-based “original” flavor milk.

Let’s Get cooking!

My Instant Pot Polenta provides a simple, stress-free way to make a classic dish.  If you are looking for more Instant Pot recipes check out my new cookbook, Mediterranean Pressure Cooking! Feel free to replace the vegetable broth with chicken broth/stock for a more savory flavor.  The parmesan is a key ingredient that can be substituted with nutritional yeast to make it vegan and/or dairy-free.

On the off chance you have any leftovers, it will store in the refrigerator for up to 6 days! It will harden up in the refrigerator, and you will want to add in liquid when you heat it up (similar to heating up leftover mashed potatoes). Use whatever you like––stock, milk, cream, etc. Enjoy!

Similar Pages

Looking for more Instant Pot recipes? Try my Instant Pot Pasta, Instant Pot Bean Soup or my Instant Pot Artichokes.


  1. Learn the Difference Between Cornmeal, Grits, and Polenta. The Spruce Eats. Accessed December 4, 2020.
Over Head, Instant Pot Polenta

instant pot polenta

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword: instant pot, polenta, pressure cooker
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Release time etc: 20 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Abbie Gellman RD


  • pressure cooker


  • 4 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter diced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup coarse-ground yellow polenta/corn grits
  • ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/3 cup crème fraiche
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Place the stock, butter, and salt in the electric pressure cooker and turn on the sauté function. Allow butter to melt and mixture to simmer, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Stir in polenta and whisk constantly for 2 minutes.
  • Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. After cooking, let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes then quick release. Unlock and remove the lid.
  • Whisk polenta and stir in parmesan, crème fraiche, and black pepper. Continue to whisk together until cheese has melted and polenta smooths out a bit, approximately 1 minute.
  • Transfer to a serving dish.



Simple Swap: Can’t find crème fraiche? Mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, or sour cream can be used instead.

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