polenta breakfast

Quick Breakfast Polenta

If you like oatmeal for breakfast, you'll love this. Creamy polenta with all kinds of add-ins makes a great breakfast.


Quick Breakfast Polenta

Jump to Recipe

What? You’ve never eaten breakfast out of a mixing bowl with a plastic spoon? Well, you haven’t lived my friend! I’m really living the dream these days.

But seriously, this meal is about as delicious, filling, easy and flexible as breakfast can get.

In fact, I think it’s maybe even easier and more flexible than oatmeal.

Quick Breakfast Polenta

Serves 2
Prep Time:
Total Time:
polenta breakfast
Print Recipe

Rate This Recipe

Just a moment please...

Did you make this?

Instagram logo

Snap a photo and tag @macheesmo so I can see your work.

If you like oatmeal for breakfast, you’ll love this. Creamy polenta with all kinds of add-ins makes a great breakfast.


1 Cup Dried polenta
3 Cups liquid (I used just water for my version, but you could use milk or any kind of stock as well)
Pinch of salt and pepper
Toppings a-plenty


1) Add polenta to a medium pot.  Add liquid along with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Most polenta needs 3 cups liquid per cup of polenta, but check your packaging.

2) Bring to a simmer and stir constantly until it begins to thicken.  Make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3) When it’s bubbling and the polenta is soft, it’s done.  You can thicken it up more if you want but I like mine a bit runny for this dish.

4) Top with any number of delicious things.


In the South, polenta is known as grits. Sometimes restaurants serve polenta as blocks (like this polenta with tomato sauce), but really grits or polenta is just ground corn that has dozens of different preparations.

I’m calling it polenta just because I recently got back from Italy and that’s what they call it there.

Grits? It’s just ground up corn!

Polenta is shockingly simple to cook. Just add it to a medium pot and add liquid along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Most polenta calls for about 3 cups of liquid per cup of polenta but you should check yours for instructions as the amount of liquid might change depending on how course the grind is on your polenta.

I just used water for my version (because that’s all I had), but you could use milk, any sort of stock, or a mixture. Milk will make the polenta really creamy and rich. Something like chicken stock would make it really savory.

Bring the pot to a simmer, stirring frequently to make sure the polenta doesn’t stick. Then turn the heat to low and simmer it, stirring frequently. It should start to thicken in no time.

polenta cooking
Bubble Bubble…

Meanwhile, find some add-ins that you’d like to top the polenta with, but don’t forget to stir the polenta every 30 seconds or so. This is where the real magic of this breakfast comes in. You can add almost anything to this stuff, savory or sweet.

For this version, I added some leftover dried fruits and nuts that I had in my pantry: Dates, apricots, and pecans. I also added in some brown sugar and a bit of butter.

add ins
Endless possibilities really.

The polenta will probably take about 10-15 minutes to cook again depending on your specific kind. I actually like mine a bit on the runny side for this meal. If it gets too thick then it will firm up really quickly as it cools. The corn should be tender but the thickness can vary based on your personal tastes.

This was my finished version after about 15 minutes of stirring and bubbling.

bowl of polenta
Looks kind of bland I know.

Then just top with anything you want and eat immediately!

polenta finished
Awesome breakfast.

This is actually a great meal for if you’ve had a few too many the night before (I made this the night after Betsy and I had a going away party). It’s simple to make and really flavorful and filling.

Here’s 20 things you could add to this that would be really good:

– Chocolate chips
– Cocoa powder
– Maple syrup
– Crumbled bacon
– Crumbled breakfast sausage
– Any dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, blueberries, etc)
– Any nuts at all (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc)
– Seeds (poppy, sunflower, etc)
– Butter
– Brown sugar
– Milk
– Goat cheese
– Sun-dried tomatoes
– Roasted peppers
– A poached egg
– Chopped shrimp (shrimp and grits)
– Chopped spinach
– Smoked paprika
– Gorgonzola (blue) cheese
– Shredded cheddar cheese (cheesy grits)

Have anything to add to the add-in list? Leave a comment!

14 Responses to “Quick Breakfast Polenta” Leave a comment

  1. OK, son… you are not from the South. With what you suggest as grits would never be served in the South. Go ahead and call it polenta. About the only thing you have correct (from a Southern perspective) is putting milk in the grits to make them creamier. If you want to make polenta into grits try adding shrimp, or maybe country ham, or bacon to grits. But real grits are enjoyed with just a dab of butter or red eye gravy. Nothing fancy…

    Also, grits make a great prep for a night of drinking. Not afterward. You can drink all night with the best of them if you eat a big bowl of grits before going out.

  2. Cork….Get over yourself….The awesome thing about a real Chef is his ability to improvise….and a person who is just a "cook" as yourself sticks to the recipe ….. Thanks for the cool recipe Nick…And Corky get over yourself!!! How you gonna go to someones personal website and flame them?…You Suck.

  3. My fater used to eat that but he used buttermilk to make and he used stone ground white grits and called the whole thing mush. We kids used to beg him for some of it but he wouldn't let us eat it.

  4. I discovered that a crock pot is handy for making polenta, too, when you aren't able to stand by the stove stirring. I love polenta and used to buy the "raw grits" in a 25# bag.

  5. We were watching Food Network this morning and someone was making polenta. Alexis asked me what the difference was between grits and polenta….I couldn't explain it. But I love grits…slow cooking coarse ground grits.

  6. 'IRregardless' of semantics and regional differences, your creative topping list inspired me to get back into pogritslenta myself! I'm thinking butter + goat cheese + hot sauce + egg, and separately, maple walnut. Thanks Nick, I hope you two have a great move!

  7. I grew up eating "cornmeal mush" (as my mother would call it) for breakfast & we would have it with butter & warm syrup. With the leftovers she would put it into a loaf pan and refrigerate it for the next day. She would slice it, dredge it in flour then pan fry it in a little butter until a beautiful delicate crust formed on the outside. That truly was my favorite way to have it & I still make it for myself today. :)

    Thanks for showing the versatility of this awesome product.

  8. I am from the upper midwest and grew up eating cornmeal mush for supper sometimes. My dad would just make it from cornmeal and serve it in a bowl with cold milk and white or brown sugar on top.

  9. Thanks for the ideas. I just made polenta for the first time (Im a Brit, its not a common dish over here!).

    I stepped a vanilla pod in hot water, than added equal part milk, the cornmeal, a dash of salt and white pepper, cinnamon powder, ground cardomom seeds, frozen blueberries and finished it off with chopped walnuts, brown sugar and maple syrup.

    It was awesome!

  10. My southern MIL would have had Karo syrup on hers as a child. I’ll add (even though I don’t eat them) some runny eggs and a bit of leftover pulled pork. Maybe for me some canned green chilis and fresh corn with a little sour cream and a rasher of bacon. Surely someone else could toss an egg on that, too.

  11. My southern MIL would have had Karo syrup on hers as a child. I’ll add (even though I don’t eat them) some runny eggs and a bit of leftover pulled pork. Maybe for me some canned green chilis and fresh corn with a little sour cream and a rasher of bacon. Surely someone else could toss an egg on that, too. Milk is necessary even if cut with broth or water, imo. It seems to transform the corn somehow.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *