Italian Sausage Polenta Recipe

5 from 9 votes

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My sausage polenta is a creamy cornmeal dish with a robust Italian sausage ragu. Make this Italian polenta recipe for a flavorful dinner!

This cheesy polenta recipe is topped with a delicious Italian sausage ragu that only takes about 30 minutes to make.

Italian sausage ragu served over plate of creamy parmesan polenta

However, if you have time, simmer the ragu for several hours, then make the polenta just before serving. As a result, the sauce will taste even better.

What is a ragu?

Simply put, it’s a meat-based tomato sauce used in Italian cooking. Typically, the sauce comes with a serving of pasta.

The flavors are similar to a Bolognese, but the ratios for the ingredients are slightly different between the two. So, as a result, a ragu is thinner overall.

Different regions of Italy have their own versions that may include a variety of vegetables or large cuts of meat with sausages.

ingredients on a table to make Polenta and Sausage

Sausage polenta with ragu

Simmer the Italian sausage ragu to allow the flavors to meld together. Then, spoon some over a bowl of homemade Italian polenta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Ingredient notes and substitutions

Note: This is just a partial list of ingredients. For the full ingredient list, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Italian sausage ragu

  • Hot Italian sausages – Since the meat will be removed from the casings, bulk sausage can be used instead. You can also use sweet Italian sausage if you prefer the ragu to not be spicy.
  • Tomato paste – This helps thicken the ragu with the short cook time. If you’ll be simmering the ragu low and slow instead, you can leave this out altogether.
  • Dry red wine – While this does add a depth of flavor to the sauce, it can be omitted if you don’t have any on hand or need to make the dish without alcohol.
  • San Marzano tomatoes – These are known for their sweet flavor and low acidity because of where they are grown, but any brand will work just fine.

Italian polenta

  • Dry polenta – Technically polenta is the name of the dish, which is made from cornmeal.

Choosing a package of cornmeal marked “polenta” isn’t necessary, However, there are different grinding sizes for cornmeal, so polenta cornmeal will have the best texture.

  • Heavy cream – Using cream instead of water is the secret to this cheesy polenta recipe. It creates a rich, creamy texture and enhances the flavor of the cornmeal.

However, if you find it to be too rich, just add a bit of chicken stock or additional water.

  • Romano cheese – While polenta is usually made with Parmesan, I prefer the bolder flavor of Romano. Feel free to use Parmesan instead, but be sure to taste before adding salt.
overhead image of Italian sausage ragu in large pot with white kitchen towel on the handle

Italian polenta recipe video

Watch the video in the recipe card below to see exactly how to make the sausage polenta ragu dinner.

Making the ragu

  1. Brown the meat and saute with garlic.
  2. Next, add the wine, sugar, and spices and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer until thickened, adding the fresh basil towards the end so it doesn’t wilt.

Cook the polenta

  1. While the ragu is simmering, bring a pot of water to boil with salt and olive oil.
  2. Whisk in the cornmeal, a little at a time, to avoid lumps. Cook on low until the polenta thickens.
  3. Then, add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Continue cooking, thinning with additional liquid if needed.

Finish and serve

  1. When the polenta is done, spoon into a bowl and top with a scoop of ragu.
  2. Sprinkle grated Parmesan and parsley over the top before serving.
side view of Italian dinner with sausage ragu over cheesy polenta

Recipe notes

  • Storage – Keep in separate containers in the refrigerator. The ragu should be used within 3-4 days, while the polenta will last for up to a week.
  • Freezing – Since dairy doesn’t usually freeze well, I wouldn’t recommend freezing this particular polenta. However, ragu freezes beautifully and can be stored for up to 3 months. Just thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Reheating – Simmer the ragu in a saucepan on the stove until warmed through. For the polenta, either heat on the stove or in the microwave with additional liquid or cut into squares after it’s chilled and saute in butter.

Other polenta recipes to make

Save time and effort by making Instant Pot Creamy Polenta instead! It tastes great as is or can be paired with the ragu from this recipe.
Otherwise, here are some other variations on this classic Italian dish:

overhead image: sausage link on top of creamy polenta with ragu sauce

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Italian sausage ragu served over plate of creamy parmesan polenta

Italian Sausage Polenta Recipe + Video

5 from 9 votes
My sausage polenta is a creamy cornmeal dish with a robust Italian sausage ragu. Make this Italian polenta recipe for a flavorful dinner!
Servings: 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 28 minutes
Total: 38 minutes


Sausage Gravy




Sausage Gravy

  • Remove sausage from casings. In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium high and add sausage meat. Break up with wooden spoon and brown, 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the wine (optional), tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes.
  • Simmer until reduced slightly, about 20 minutes (Start to make the polenta). In last 10 minutes of simmering, add the basil and stir. Season the sauce with more salt to taste.


  • Bring water, olive oil and salt to a boil.
  • Slowly whisk in the dry polenta and to avoid lumps. Cook on low for 10 minutes. This will sputter so keep on low and watch out.
  • Add the heavy cream, black pepper, grated Romano cheese. Stir to incorporate. Simmer for another 15 minutes more. If it gets too thick you can thin it out with more chicken stock or water, to your liking.
  • Season to taste and take off the heat. Divide polenta in serving bowls and top with sausage gravy. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and parsley.



  1. Per The Kitchn, San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the rich volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius, which gives them a sweet flavor and low acidity and they are coveted for their firm pulp, deep red color, easy to remove skin and low seed count. Feel free to use whatever brand you prefer.
  2. Feel free to grill extra sausages to serve on top as well (see pictured above).


Calories: 945kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 64g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 135mg | Sodium: 1786mg | Potassium: 1133mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1189IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 442mg | Iron: 5mg

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.

Course: Dinners
Cuisine: Italian
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    What a great recipe! The cheesy silkiness of the polenta matched with the subtle spice of the hot sausage and red pepper flakes in the ragu are amazing! The romano cheese was well worth the extra $$ over parmesan. Thanks Kevin!

  2. Also, about the cheese for the polenta. Is it one cup Romano cheese, grated, or is it one cup grated Romano cheese? I know, the debate is never ending.

    1. Judi, the sausage is crumbled and in the ragu sauce, just as written for the recipe. The sausage on top in the photo is an added one for the photo itself. See Recipe card Notes. Sorry if there was any confusion.

      1. It looks very nice and I’m going to try the recipe. Although it makes an appealing photo I’m disappointed that the photo doesn’t reflect the actual dish in the recipe. It’s a bit like bait and switch.

      2. So sorry for the late reply as I have been away on a much needed vacation outside the USA. Needless to say, about your inquiry… I had a leftover sausage and placed it on top for the photo. Like most photos of food and advertising the purpose is to sell the product, my recipe in this instance, and in the photo with the sausage it was creative license on my part. I will say the recipe itself as well as the video are correct. Sorry for any confusion Panny.