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The 5 Best Substitutes for Polenta

Polenta is a traditional Italian dish made from boiled cornmeal.

It can be served as a side dish or used as an ingredient in recipes for main courses, desserts, and even bread.

While it is commonly associated with Northern Italy, polenta is enjoyed all over the country.

Despite its popularity, many people are unsure how to cook and use polenta.

Furthermore, several substitutes can be used in place of polenta.

This article will provide an overview of how to cook and use polenta and the five best substitutes for this versatile ingredient.

What is Polenta?

what is polenta

Polenta is a type of cornmeal porridge that originated in Italy.

It is typically made by simmering coarsely ground cornmeal in water or broth until it becomes thick and creamy.

The word “polenta” comes from the Latin for “pearl barley,” which was used to make a similar dish in ancient Rome.

It is common in Italy and other parts of Europe and is typically served as a side dish or as a base for other toppings.

Polenta can be made from any type of cornmeal, but the most common type is yellow cornmeal.

To make polenta, the cornmeal is boiled in water or broth until it becomes thick and creamy.

It is then served hot, with toppings such as cheese, vegetables, or meat.

Polenta is a versatile dish that can be adapted to different flavors and ingredients.

It can be served plain or with various toppings, making it a perfect option for casual and formal meals.

Whether you’re looking for a simple side dish or a hearty main course, polenta is a delicious option to consider.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Polenta

Although polenta is a dish commonly found in Northern Italian cuisine, it can be difficult to find in some areas.

If you’re looking for a polenta substitute, there are a few options available.

1 – Oatmeal


As anyone who has ever made porridge knows, oatmeal is versatile and delicious breakfast food.

It can be made with milk or water, sweetened with sugar or honey, and flavored with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.

However, oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast – it can also make an excellent substitute for polenta.

However, substituting oatmeal for polenta can add a new dimension to the dish.

Oatmeal has a creamier texture than polenta and absorbs flavors more easily.

As a result, it can be flavored with anything from Parmesan cheese to sauteed vegetables.

So next time you’re in the mood for something different, why not try substituting oatmeal for polenta? You might just be pleasantly surprised.

2 – Mashed Potatoes

mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are classic comfort food that can be enjoyed in countless ways.

They can be simple or loaded with toppings, but one thing is for sure – they’re always delicious.

Lately, I’ve been seeing mashed potatoes replaced by polenta on restaurant menus.

While both dishes are creamy and hearty, I prefer mashed potatoes to polenta.

One of the reasons I love mashed potatoes is because of their versatility.

They can be flavored in many ways, and there’s always room for experimentation.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy a good bowl of polenta from time to time, but it’s not my go-to comfort food.

Additionally, polenta can be a bit too heavy and dense.

When it comes down to it, I’ll always choose mashed potatoes over polenta.

3 – Rice Porridge

rice porridge

Rice porridge, also known as congee, is a popular dish in many Asian countries.

It is made by cooking rice in water or broth until it breaks down into a thick, creamy consistency.

While rice porridge may not be as widely known in the West, it is a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Rice porridge is often served with toppings, such as cooked eggs, pickled vegetables, or meat.

It can also be enjoyed as a simple and satisfying meal.

If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy rice, why not try rice porridge?

4 – Pureed Cauliflower

pureed cauliflower

Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes.

One way to use cauliflower is to puree it and use it as a substitute for polenta.

Polenta is a traditional Italian dish made from boiled cornmeal.

However, it can be quite heavy and unhealthy.

Cauliflower puree makes an excellent alternative as it is light and nutritious.

To make cauliflower puree:

  • Cook cauliflower florets in boiling water until they are soft.
  • Blend them in a food processor or blender until they are smooth. You can enjoy cauliflower puree on its own or use it as a base for other dishes such as roasted vegetables or fish.
  • Give cauliflower puree a try the next time you look for a healthy and delicious alternative to polenta.

5 – Mashed Pumpkin

mashed pumpkin

One of the best things about fall is all of the pumpkin-flavored food.

From lattes to muffins, it seems like pumpkin is everywhere.

But why stop at dessert? Pumpkins can also be a great addition to savory dishes.

One simple substitution is to use mashed pumpkin in place of polenta.

The earthy flavor of pumpkin pairs well with robust ingredients like grilled meats and mushrooms.

Plus, it’s a healthy alternative to polenta, which is often high in calories and carbs.

So next time you’re looking for a seasonal twist on an old favorite, give the mashed pumpkin a try.

You might just be surprised at how delicious it can be.


In conclusion, polenta is a great alternative to other starches such as rice and potatoes.

It is versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

There are many substitutes for polenta that can be used depending on your needs.

If you are looking for a gluten-free option, polenta is a good choice.

When it comes to substitutes, there is no one perfect replacement for polenta.

Try out a few of these substitutes to see which one you like the best.

Each option has its unique flavor and texture that will work well in different dishes.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Polenta

The 5 Best Substitutes for Polenta
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Oatmeal
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Rice Porridge
  • Pureed Cauliflower
  • Mashed Pumpkin


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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