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Instant Pot Polenta is a no-fuss method for creating a creamy cheesy side dish. Make this cheesy polenta recipe for dinner tonight!
Flavor of Polenta
Polenta is made from stone-ground cornmeal but it’s cooked slowly so that it ends up rich and creamy.
It can be enjoyed as a savory or sweet dish. Polenta tastes like a rich corn porridge, but there’s a natural sweetness from the cornmeal as well.
While it’s widely popular across Mexico, South America and the Caribbean, polentas’ roots are found in Italy, where they also call it Italian grits.
Best Ways to Use It
Italian cooks like to make creamy polenta with heavy cream and lots of cheese whisked in. It makes for a wonderful side dish, or cut into polenta rounds, it’s a delicious appetizer or breakfast treat.
It’s also common to see it in dishes like polenta bolognese, where hearty meat sauces are ladled over the top.
For those who don’t like making polenta from scratch, fully cooked polenta in a tube is available at most larger grocery stores. There are plenty of ways to use it from a tube, in both cold and warm preparations.
I love to make it from scratch, and while I enjoy the traditional cheesy method, often times I make a batch and pour it into a buttered dish to set up in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I pan fry it and serve it with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.
Cheesy Instant Pot Polenta
Because it is cooked slowly, typically one would spend lots of time stirring and keeping an eye on the stove top cooking polenta. The good news is, thanks to the Instant Pot, you can make a version with minimal effort on your part.
There’s no stirring involved, and honestly, the recipe is nearly fail-proof! There are just a couple of important things to keep in mind.
Video: Making Instant Pot polenta
Watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post to see my tips for making the creamiest polenta, whether it’s made in a pressure cooker or on the stovetop!
Tips for making creamy polenta
Water to Cornmeal Ratio
The correct ratio for making pressure polenta is 4-to-1. This means you need four cups of cooking liquid for one cup of cornmeal.
Use the Porridge Setting
Many people like to skip the preset options and use the manual setting when they make Instant Pot recipes. In most cases, it works perfectly fine but it doesn’t work well with Instant Pot polenta, oatmeal and slower cooking dishes like pudding.
The problem is, the low setting isn’t hot enough and the manual high setting is too hot for foods like those. Unfortunately, the dish ends up clumpy, with a pasty consistency.
Worse yet, there are times when it just burns completely to the bottom of the pot. Then you have to deal with the hassle of the dreaded Instant Pot burn message.
To create perfectly creamy polenta in the Instant Pot, use the porridge setting, following the manufacturer’s instructions for your make and model of pressure cooker.
Perform a NATURAL pressure release.
When the Instant Pot polenta finishes cooking, it’s very important that you allow the pressure in the pot to release naturally.
If you don’t do this, when you open the vent to release the pressure, the contents inside the pot will be forced upwards and may clog the steam release valve.
For this cheesy polenta recipe, I use fresh herbs and two types of cheese. Fresh parsley and basil add a ton of flavor, but oregano would be fantastic too.
You can certainly leave the cheese out if you want, or use different cheeses. Just be sure that they’re grated finely so that they melt well.
Cheesy Instant Pot Polenta + Video
- Add the polenta to the Instant Pot and pour the chicken stock over. Add the salt and whisk to break up and lumps. Cover and cook on Porridge setting – High Pressure, Normal with a total of 20 minutes.
- When done, allow a Natural Release (See Note 2) Release vent value and open lid. Whisk to stir and add the butter and cream. Whisk to incorporate. Add the cheeses and herbs, whisk again until smooth.
- Serve with fresh cracked black pepper.
- Feel free to use vegetable stock or water.
- Natural Release: per manufacturer’s instruction, this is when the cooker is allowed to cool down naturally until the float valve drops down. This may take 10-15 minutes after cooking is finished. After using the “Porridge” setting do not put steam release in venting position otherwise porridge will splatter through steam release. Use Natural Release.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.