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A bowl of polenta fries topped with Parmesan cheese with a side of ketchup and a drink.
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5 from 2 votes

Crsipy Fried Polenta Recipe

This crispy Fried Polenta makes a budget-friendly delicious gluten-free appetizer or side dish. You can cut them into different shapes to make pan-fried polenta cakes, slices, or rounds, or baked polenta fries.
Prep Time 12 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 9 polenta cakes
Calories174.5 kcal
Cost $0.40 per cake


  • 1 pot
  • 1 whisk
  • 1 Baking dish
  • 1 large cast-iron skillet or baking sheet, or air-fryer (depending on the cooking method you choose)


For the Creamy Polenta

  • 4 cups water for a vegan fried polenta (or low-sodium chicken broth for a non-vegan fried polenta with more depth of flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or ¼ teaspoon if you prefer your polenta less spicy, OPTIONAL
  • 1 cup coarse ground yellow cornmeal Alternatively, use a Ready-To-Serve polenta, about 18 oz (either Traditional or Basil Garlic flavor), which should be sliced in 1-inch circles and if you want, cut into a star shape or another shape of your choice using a cookie cutter. You can skip making this creamy polenta recipe if you use a ready-to-serve polenta.
  • 2 oz creamy goat cheese or cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter NOTE: For both a dairy-free or vegan version, omit the cheeses and use dairy-free butter.
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or chives

For Frying

  • cup avocado oil for pan-frying (or another mild vegetable oil with a high smoking point). NOTE: If making crispy baked polenta fries, use just 3 tablespoons of olive oil or avocado oil, plus table salt, and ground black pepper to toss the fries and bake them in the oven.

Fried Polenta Toppings (OPTIONAL)

  • Cherry tomatoes yellow and red
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Crumbled goat cheese to decorate (for a dairy-free and/or vegan version, omit the cheese or use a soy-based crumbled cheese)
  • Flaked sea salt or Kosher salt


Fried Polenta Cakes

  • Make creamy polenta: In a large heavy stainless steel saucepan, bring 4 cups of water or broth to a boil. Add both the salt and red pepper flakes. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. TIP: Never whisk in an aluminum saucepan or the result will be a grayish mess caused by scratching the pan with the whisk. Because of chemical contamination, the mixture will have to be discarded.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is soft, about 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and stir in the cheeses, butter, and herb until the polenta is smooth.
  • Lightly grease with oil or nonstick cooking spray a 12 x 9-inch baking dish or line with parchment paper overhanging on the sides to make it easier to remove the polenta from the baking dish.
  • Refrigerate: Transfer the hot polenta to the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly to about ¾ to 1-inch thick. Let it cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold and firm, for at least 4-6 hours or overnight.
  • If using a ready-to-serve polenta, just slice the polenta into ¾ to 1-inch thick rounds (thick enough not to get soggy); then, follow the instructions below. TIP: For crispier and thinner polenta cakes, use a cookie sheet instead to spread the creamy polenta in, refrigerate, cut into slices, and pan-fry them for 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Cut into slices and fry: You can keep the polenta rounds or cut the polenta into slices or the shape you want using a cookie cutter. Pat them dry with a paper towel! Heat a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and lightly cover the bottom of the skillet with the oil. Working in batches (do not overcrowd the pan or the polenta will steam instead of browning), pan-fry the polenta cakes until crispy and golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side.
  • Using a metal spatula, transfer carefully the polenta cakes to a large platter with a double layer of paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
  • If not serving immediately, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
  • Place the polenta cakes on a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while cooking the remaining batches, if any.
  • Transfer the fried polenta slices to a serving platter. garnish the top of the fried polenta with tomato halves, a few leaves of basil, a sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese, and a dash of flaked salt.
  • Serve fried polenta immediately either by itself or with a Chimichurri Sauce or Pesto Sauce on the side.
  • You can make this recipe quicker using instant polenta!

Baked Polenta Fries

  • Follow the instructions above to make the creamy polenta.
  • Refrigerate or freeze: Then, grease or line an 8x8 square baking pan with parchment paper. Spread the homemade polenta in an even layer in the prepared baking dish, let it cool, and cover with plastic wrap. You can either freeze it for 15 to 20 minutes, or until set, or refrigerate it for 1 hour.
  • Cut into sticks or fries: Next, preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C). Lift the polenta out of the baking dish and cut it into ¼-inch thick sticks or fries. Place the polenta fries on a baking sheet and gently toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
  • Bake: Spread the fries in an even layer and bake them for 15 minutes. Then, gently flip them and bake for 15-20 minutes more, or until extra crispy. Serve them with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley, oregano, or chives on top and a side of ketchup or aioli.

Air-Fried Polenta

  • Preheat the air-fryer to 350° F (180° C)
  • Pat dry the slices, place them in an air fryer basket in a single layer, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Air fry for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Recipe Notes

INACTIVE TIME (refrigeration): 4-6 hours
The yield will vary depending on:
  •  If the polenta cakes were homemade (9 medium cakes), store-bought (6 medium cakes), or cut into fries (enough for 2-4 people).
  • The size of the cookie cutter that was used to cut the slices or cakes.
The nutritional facts don't calculate the optional toppings. 
  • Fridge: Store cooled fried polenta in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to place them in a single layer in a parchment-paper-lined airtight container, covered with plastic wrap.
  • Freezer: Store leftover polenta in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Let it cool, place the pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and freeze them for about 1-2 hours or until frozen solid. Then, transfer the pre-frozen polenta pieces to an airtight container or a sealable freezer bag. 
  • To defrost, thaw the slices in the fridge, pat them dry with a paper towel, and either fry or reheat them. 
  • Reheating: Either reheat it in the oven or on the stovetop. For this, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C), place the polenta pieces on a baking sheet, and reheat for about 10-15 minutes, or until warm and crispy again. If reheating on the stovetop, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat for one minute on each side, or until warm and crispy. Do NOT microwave them as it can make them soft.


Calories: 174.5kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.2g | Protein: 3.5g | Fat: 12.2g | Saturated Fat: 3.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6.8g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 7.7mg | Sodium: 323.3mg | Potassium: 66.2mg | Fiber: 1.7g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 180.3IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 26.1mg | Iron: 0.7mg

** Nutrition labels on easyanddelish.com are for educational purposes only. This info is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate, since the nutrition content of recipes can vary based on ingredient brand or source, portion sizes, recipe changes/variations, and other factors. We suggest making your own calculations using your preferred calculator, based on which ingredients you use, or consulting with a registered dietitian to determine nutritional values more precisely.

Please note that health-focused and diet information provided on easyanddelish.com is for educational purposes and does not constitute medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Consult with your doctor or other qualified health professional prior to initiating any significant change in your diet or exercise regimen, or for any other issue necessitating medical advice.

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